Originally published in: Taraghi, B., Softic, S., Ebner, M. & De Vocht, L. (2013). Learning Activities in Personal LearningEnvironment. In
Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013
(pp. 2466-2475). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
Learning Activities in Personal Learning Environment
: Nowadays Learning Management Systems are an integrated part of educationalinstitutions. Teachers as well as learners profit from the so-called Web 2.0 applications in their daily learning process. Communication and collaboration between students have beenenhanced using mashups of Web 2.0 technologies. Smart mobile phones and the increasedavailability of free wireless network access points make the integration of all these tools in our personal daily life and personal learning process much easier than before. This publicationfocuses on the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) that was launched at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in 2010. It illustrates how the PLE at TU Graz has been extended tomove towards mobile PLE. Furthermore the learning activities of about more than 4000learners in the last two years are revealed based on the tracked user behavior. The activitiesand usage traces are modeled using domain specific semantic ontologies. The models are usedas the input for our Analytics Dashboard to visualize statistics and get a quick overview of learning habits and overall reflection usages and activity dynamics in the PLE.
Tim O'Reilly (2006) introduced the word Web 2.0 the first time in 2006. Since then many online Web2.0 applications and services have been raised like YouTube (for sharing Videos), Flickr (for sharing pictures),Slideshare (for sharing presentations), Scribd (for sharing documents), Mendeley (for sharing publications) or Delicious (for sharing bookmarks). The huge amount of such applications and their usage in learning andteaching has changed the online behavior and attitude of learners in respect to the new arising technologies(Downes, 2005). Many research studies have been carried out to observe and analyze how Web 2.0 applicationsauch as Weblogs (Farmer & Bartlett-Brag, 2005), Wikis (Augar et al., 2006), Podcasting (Towned, 2005) aswell as Microblogging or Social Networks (Ebner & Maurer, 2008) influence users and enhance education.Mobile learning has gained more attention since the growth of smartphones and mobile application,driven by Apple’s iPhone and Android mobile Operating System. It was first surveyed in 2000 to see how theuse of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) helps to increase the learning efforts (Kukulka-Halme & Traxler,2005). Nowadays, especially in industrialized countries, many people are permanently online, share differentresources and contribute to World Wide Web (WWW) with their mobile devices including teachers and learnersin context of E-Learning (Ebner et al., 2008). Due to the fact that mobile technologies and social web areavailable ubiquitously and are pervasively used, they have influence on our every day life and learningenvironments (Holzinger et al., 2006, Klamma et al. 2007). On the other hand the WWW provides lots of different services; each can be used for teaching and learning. It is quite challenging for education not to beoverwhelmed by all these various opportunities within a learning environment. Various studies on Web 2.0usage amongst students (Ebner & Nagler 2010) underline that it is hard to follow these tools and even more tomonitor them in an appropriate way. Mashups (Tuchinda et al., 2008) and personalization can be used tomanage this challenge in learning environments. This led us to the idea of Personal Learning Environment(PLE), where tiny applications (widgets) can be integrated and combined within a learning environmentmanaged by the learners according to their actual needs (Schaffert & Kalz, 2009).The PLE at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) was first launched in October 2010. The mainidea of using a PLE at TU Graz was to combine and integrate existing university services (Ebner et al., 2010) aswell as resources and services on WWW in one platform in a personalized way (Ebner & Taraghi, 2010). It bases on mashup of widgets (Taraghi et al., 2009a, Taraghi et al., 2009b, Taraghi et al., 2009c) that representthe resources and services integrated from WWW within the PLE. The PLE has been redesigned in 2011, usingmetaphors such as apps and spaces for a better learner-centered application and higher attractiveness (Taraghi,2012). The new User Interface (UI) relies on full widget or app-based architecture. It resembles pretty much tothe mobile app environments, i.e. a widget store is offered where the learners can install widgets on one or many spaces or personal desktops. The resemblance of the new UI to mobile app stores attracted the users a lot.The statistics show an increased number of active users in average. Figure 1 illustrated a user’s spaces (space 1in this case) where several widgets are installed and positioned by the user arbitrarily.