Firstly, they allow students to type / cut-and-paste content directly into their PLC. You can, for example, provide a list of required content in text format for your students at relevant points in the course and it’s quick and easy for them to add this content to their PLC.
When you examine the template you’ll see I’ve allocated a lot of space to content (25 pages, each with space for 24 pieces of content) and it’s not obligatory to fill every line of every page with course content. The reason for including so many pages is simply technical; unlike with the paper-based version you can’t add pages as and when they’re needed.
Secondly, they can be stored and accessed electronically. The pdf file format allows data to be entered and saved and this file can be stored somewhere like Google docs or wherever you normally store such files.
This allows you to quickly and easily access student PLC files to see how they are coping with different types of content – something you can do at any time because students don’t have to carry around physical copies of their PLC. This also means it’s easier to makes copies of student PLCs and they’re less-likely to get lost or damaged than paper-based ones.
As we’ve suggested, a further use for PLCs is their ability to provide teachers with feedback about how both individual students and, equally importantly, the class as a whole is coping with different types of content.
An easy way to formalise this understanding is to use a simple spreadsheet to give a visual, tightly-focused, overview of where your students have good / partial / no understanding of specific areas of the course. In this example spreadsheet I’ve re-used the traffic-light / RAG system to identify these different levels of understanding:
There are, of course, other ways this data could be recorded / visualized (using a number system, for example) but you probably get the idea.