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The aim of this article is to contribute to the debate on PLEs in order to enrich the conceptual framework elaborated by educators and used by PLE developers. By doing so, we put the emphasis on how PLEs can contribute to enhance the users' ability to learn and suggest research orientations to study the learning processes supported by PLEs. Firstly, we review the main components of the PLE concept and suggest enriching it with scenarios of use. Secondly, we present the directions taken by PLE developers and propose that a PLE solution should not be conceptualised as a predetermined PLE structure but more as a tool to support learners in designing their own PLE. Thirdly, we outline our conceptualisation of PLEs as a learner's self-designed instrument. Fourthly, we discuss the instrumental approach for designing PLEs as it takes into account the personal dimension of a PLE to allow for an efficient, scalable design process.