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Responsive Open Learning Environments (#PLE)

Responsive Open Learning Environments (ROLE) is a European funded project that has focused on both Self_Regulated learning (SRL) as well as the development and implementation of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). It aims to exploit web-based tools and technologies to empower learners to construct their own personal learning environments (PLEs). The overall goal is to create flexible, web based, open technologies for the federation and mash-up of learning services on a personal level.

The vision of ROLE is to empower the learner to build her own responsive learning environment. Responsiveness is defined as the ability to react to the learner needs – i.e. through recommendation, adaptation or visual analytics services that support the
learner to be aware of and reflect upon her own learning process.

ROLE interoperability framework

In recent years, research on mash-up technologies for learning environments has gained interest. The overall goal is to enrich or replace traditional learning management systems (LMS) with mash-ups of widgets and services that can be easily combined and configured to fit the learner needs. This paper (Towards Responsive Open Learning Environments: The ROLE Interoperability Framework)  presents the implemented prototype of the ROLE interoperability framework and a business and an educational case study. The paper also presents a future vision on the integration of pedagogical models to leverage the framework.

Responsive Open Learning Environments infrastructure

Main features:

  • The common technical infrastructure to support the assembly of widgets in responsive open learning environments is as attached here.
  • The core of the infrastructure is the widget container that enables the assembly of various widgets.
  • User activities with widgets and resources are tracked with the CAM widget.
  • Widgets can communicate locally in the PLE or remotely to widgets in other PLEs.
  • CAM service can provide personalised recommendations and visual analytics of CAM data.
  • The central identity provider allows single sign-on for the whole infrastructure.

ROLE established a series of models that enabled the project team to realise the widget functionalities as well as linked together.

Psycho-Pedagogical Integration Model (PPIM)

The underlying model is called the Psycho-Pedagogical Integration Model (PPIM). The PPIM has been defined for the ROLE project and builds on the concept of the SRL approach that is based on a cyclic model (Zimmerman, 2002).

The PPIM consists of three phases in which certain SRL activities are performed, namely the:

  • forethought phase e.g.  goal setting, planning and similar
  • performance phase e.g. self-observation processes
  • self-reflection  phase e.g. self-reflection processes

To meet the purposes of implementation in an online learning environment this model has been extended towards a self-regulated personalised learning approach by adding a self-profiling phase where learners can indicate their own preferences and select relevant resources.This can be achieved by finding and locating appropriate learning techniques, tools and materials by using a set of ROLE learning widgets.

The four phases of this learning process model are that:

  1. learner profile information is defined or revised,
  2. learners find and select learning resources,
  3. learners work on/with selected learning resources,
  4. learners reflect and react on strategies, achievements and usefulness of the selected learning resources/approaches.

Ultimately,  a further five key aspects have been derived from different learning theories which are included in the PPIM. These key aspects focus on:

  1. guidance and freedom
  2. motivation
  3. meta-cognition and awareness
  4. collaboration and good practice sharing
  5. personalisation

The key aspects are interconnected and also influence on each other. As they are derived from the components of SRL there is a strong connection to the self-regulated personalised learning approach and to the learning process model (Fruhmann, Nussbaumer & Albert, 2010).

Self-Regulated Learning (SRL)

Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) can be described in terms of learners determining their individual learning goals, selecting their learning aids and actively using them for their learning, as well as reflecting, monitoring and evaluating their learning approach to gain a deeper understanding of content.

Thus SRL effectively enables learners learn how to learn and, therefore, be in command of the own learning process. This often has a positive effect on both personal motivation as well as improving learning achievements.

How ROLE works based on SRL is illustrated:

Role and self-regulated learning

Learn more about SRL on an OpenLearn course developed by Open University UK.

CAM Tracking Service

CAM, Contextualised Attention Metadata, describes the interactions of the users with their learning environment, i.e. which resources are used within which applications and in which contexts. These data can be used for analysis and computing of personal, social and contextual information about users and applications.

The CAM monitoring is implemented as a database-driven client-server architecture. A JSON REST service provides persistence and data access of the CAM data. Each monitored user action is immediately committed to the CAM database, so that the current status of the user can be retrieved by self-reflection and recommendation applications. Because CAM is privacy sensitive, the service is protected with authentication and authorisation mechanisms.

Learn more

Although the ROLE project has ended in February 2013,  it is a major project covering many aspects of recent development in Personal Learning Environments. Even technologies might change, its concept and experience might be a good reference.

The Open University (OU) has produced an interactive eBook about ROLE. The content of the eBook has been adapted from the ROLE online courses available in OpenLearn ( and


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