PLE (Phase 4) extension

Long Title: Personal Learning Environment (Phase 4) extension
Université de Genève
EPF Lausanne
Université de Fribourg - Universität Freiburg
Université de Lausanne
Universität Zürich
Domain: ELS
Status: finished
Start Date: 01.01.2013
End Date: 30.04.2013
Project Leader: O. Benkacem
Website: http://ple.unige.ch

The sustainability activities included making the recommendation engine an independent service, establishing a community of practice, finalization and dissemination of the e-portfolio practical guide and improvement of the used PLE software.

See also pre-studies and previous phases: Personal Learning Environment (phase 3), PLEfolio (phase 2), e-Portfolio pre-study (phase 1) and Pré-étude environnement personnalisé (phase 1)


Component Description
Moodle modules Report PLE extension /report in French with English summary)
Blocktype View Plugin
Mahara Connect Plugin
Mahara artefact external reource Plugin
Mahara modules
PLE UNIGE The Website promoting the project has been developed
RE components Recommendation System components
Graasp components Github repository with Graasp components
MyPLE MyPLE.ch social platform has been developed to help students choosing their ICT tools
Report of the preliminary study PLE Mise en place d'un environnement d'apprentissage personnalisé (report in French)
RE requirements Specification Recommendation Engine (RE) Specification
ICT needs for learning tasks Analysis of ICT needs for learning tasks of students
Usability tests Usability tests of Graasp with a limited number of Phd Students (report in French)
ICT work habits and support needs Analysis of ICT work habits and support needs of students. Design of trainings for ICT skills development and PLE usage
HEC-onnect.unige.ch Application and testing PLE with students (report in French)
PLE extension Report PLE extension (report in French with English summary)
e-Portfolio Video Video promotion of the portfolio process
e-Portfolio Guidelines Different guidelines for introduction and use of e-Portfolios
Publications Papers submitted to EIAH, PLE, ICWL, AIPU, ICALT and ECTEL conference

The main aim of the PLE project was to develop an ecosystem, which promotes interaction between the formal and informal worlds, without learning necessarily being an explicit objective.
This ecosystem consists of a personalised learning environment that groups a set of online resources, some of which come from institutions and some not. In this way, it ought to be possible to stimulate a new form of education, focused to a greater extent on the learner.

During the project, the following goals has been reached, mainly:

  • Community of practice setup;
  • Create learning networks where pertinent information and knowledge are shared between learners;
  • Boost active and collaborative learning, critical thinking and the building of knowledge creation;
  • Encourage students to use web technologies beyond social networks and apply them to improve their learning;
  • Offer of trainings for developing Soft Skills concerned with ICTs;
  • Open up new perspectives in knowledge construction for teaching staff (passing from course-centric Learning Management Systems (LMS) to PLEs)
  • Provide the necessary guidelines and video to introduce the ePortfolio and his metacognitive process.

After this project, the main idea is to favour this kind of collaboration, particularly in the field of digital literacy by creating a Community of Practice using the PLE platform and offering regular face-to-face soft-skills seminars.


By the end of the year 2012 the outcomes of PLE and its predecessors will mainly consist in prototypes. To make the proposed solutions more sustainable in particular, four aspects are concerned in this extension:

  1. making the recommendation engine an independent Web service;
  2. establishing a community of practice;
  3. producing a practical guide for using the e-porfolio;
  4. improving Graasp usability to increase its sustainability.


The first goal is to make the Recommendation Service (RS) an independent service, decoupled from existing applications, and having with its own user interface. This allows the RS to serve recommendations from any application supported to any application embedding its services with no dependencies on existing applications. The RS will allow the addition of new application as data sources for recommendations. The way of implementation will permit processing of background tasks.
The second goal is to establish the so-called "PLE Early Adopters", a "community of practice" (CP) that will work at extending and completing the online resources made available from the project. The current experience feedback, from seminars-pilot classes and from the development process, shows the need for a support activity after training sessions. The community of practice will use the PLE platform itself and organize a workshop to support its activities aimed at developing and maintaining a discussion on the experience made during the pilot courses that used Graasp.
The third goal is to finalize and disseminate the ePortfolio guidelines by offering suitable material and formats. Each Swiss institution will be able to either directly make the guidelines available to their community (e.g., teachers and/or students) or adapt them to their specific needs.
The fourth goal is to improve Graasp usability to increase its sustainability, taking into account the feedback collected at the soft skills workshops.


  • Recommendation Engine (RE):
    • While the initial goal was to enable the RE to provide recommendations, the overall infrastructure developed for that achieves a much broader goal of interconnecting data. Potential enhancements include combining the current recommendation approach with information filtering techniques and adding options such as fulltext, faceted and semantic search.
    • If several applications contribute to providing resources, a different approach is necessary, in which the concept of plugin is replaced in favour of a service-oriented architecture (SOA).
    • It is quite useful to deliver recommendations coming from the RS directly into the LMSs without having to log in the Dashboard. A RS module will be developed for Moodle that will display recommendations based on users' selection. On the implementation side, the Moodle module will display the recommendations fetched via REST services from the RS, using XML or JSON for data exchange formats.
    • Developing a user interface for administration of the RS. This interface should allow the monitoring and administration of the service without requiring access to the server configuration files,
    • Extensibility: enable the addition of further data sources and of different usages
  • Extension of Community:
    • SIG "Early adopters" extended to Community of "Early adopters". The Community is a sustainability action of the SIG but also a broader covering of the Swiss stakeholders.
    • Main events: Workshop 1 "Early adopters" extended to Workshop 2 "Early adopters".
    • Community tools: Graasp is the core tool of the SIG and of the Community. The actual PLE blog (assembling CIEL-UniGE and Centre NTE blogs) will be further extended with the blogs of new Community members.
  • e-Portfolio Guidelines finalization and dissemination:
    • Introducing ePortfolio to students (guideline for students)
    • Teaching the ePortfolio Way (guideline for teachers)
    • Technical guideline (guideline for the technical staff)
    • Institutional guideline (guideline for the board of directors and decision-makers)
    • German and French translations: guidelines for students and teachers
    • Customizing the design: enhance the visual impact of the guidelines by adapting their design according to the target audience.
    • Portfolio process video for students: produce a video (in German and French) introducing the portfolio process to students.
  • Usability and Sustainability of Graasp:
    • Design and implementation of real-time notification system embedded in the interface rather than merely relying on emails notifications with the possibility to have notification preferences. Both push and pull-based modes will be provided;
    • Make Graasp user interface compatible with iPad;
    • Enable Graaspit! on additional science and education portals;
    • Implement additional interface enhancements: according to users' feebacks and users' tests.