1st Workshop on Exploring the Fitness and Evolvability of Personal Learning Environments (EFEPLE'11)

Held at the 2nd STELLAR Alpine Rendez-Vous (ARV) in the French Alps, 27-31 March 2010


In the recent decade a plethora of interactive software tools, be they open source or proprietary, have emerged and perished in the realm of technology-enhanced learning (TEL). Concomitantly, there have also been surge and demise of contents, social networks, and activities associated with the use of these TEL tools. It is intriguing to understand what factors contribute to their rises and falls, and how. While controversies on the viability of making an analogy between the evolution of natural and artificial objects prevail, it is deemed worthwhile to explore its potential for analysing the changes in TEL and charting the future.

In accordance with evolutionary theory, the fitness of an environment or tool can be defined with respect to its purpose and depends on the 'genes' from former generations. In context of TEL, these genes can be understood as features of existing tools and functionality being reused from software libraries or developed over multiple lifecycles thus leading to new generations of software artefacts. Personal learning environments (PLEs) aggregate these functionalities to enable learners to connect to peers and shared artefacts along their learning activities. Consequently, the success of a PLE can be measured by its uptake and usage within different communities of practice, its perceived effectiveness and efficiency in supporting the attainment of learning goals, its application beyond pre-defined purposes, its distribution and outreach beyond single communities, and its evolution to new PLE generations through active developers. Moreover, data mining of so-called variables of evolvability (e.g., perceived pragmatic/learning and hedonic/fun value) will enable the derivation of specific guidelines for designing and developing PLEs. Such empirically grounded guidelines, supplementary to those for generic IT applications, are currently lacking and much desired.

Overall, the main aim of the workshop is to explore the fitness and evolvability of PLEs in order to identify and understand characteristics and mechanisms for successfully evolving PLEs.

Workshop Topics
Given the interdisciplinary nature of the workshop, researchers and practitioners from technology-enhanced learning, software engineering, human-computer interaction (HCI), bio-informatics, and evolutionary biology are relevant stakeholders in the discussion. Focussing on PLE software evolvability and the Darwinist theory, the following topics of interest, albeit non-exhaustive, are identified to invite submissions, and important, stimulating discussions in the workshop: * Darwinist models of constructing and evolving personal learning environments * Data interoperability requirements for successful learning tools and environments
* Social requirements engineering and end-user development
* Effects of PLE technology on user behaviour and competence development
* Modelling, capturing, and support of PLE usage contexts
* User interface and usability issues of evolutionary PLEs
* Fitness measurement of learning tools and environments
* Analysis of emergent structures of PLE-based communities
* Case studies of successfully evolving (and endangered) PLEs

Workshop Format and Submission Procedure
Participants are invited to submit original unpublished research as one of the two types of contributions:
- full papers with up to 6 pages describing substantial, completed work
- position papers with 2 pages describing either results that can be concisely reported or work in progress.

Papers should be formatted with the template (http://www.acm.org/sigs/publications/proceedings-templates) and submitted as PDF-file to:

All submissions will be reviewed by the programme committee members according to their originality, significance, clarity, and quality. An open contribution process (i.e. shepherding) will be launched to engage dialogs between experienced and young researchers in the workshop blog already at the early stage to facilitate the writing up of papers. Furthermore, participants will be asked to carry out preparatory work before attending the workshop. Specifically, they should prepare an experiential report to describe how their PLEs have evolved over last three years. Pre-workshop virtual meetings can be arranged to discuss these preliminary findings. Highlights of these discussions will be documented and further analysed in the workshop.

Accepted submissions will be presented at the workshop (15 minutes) and discussed on a round table format (15 minutes). Additionally, a panel of four discussants with different expertise (software engineering/human-computer interaction, biology, and mathematician) will be invited to present their views (each 5 minutes) on the following statements: "An inherent property of PLE is evolvability, which can be modelled by Darwin's evolution theory and parameterized with the notion of fitness."

Important Dates
* Paper submission: October 30, 2010 *15th November 2010*
* Notification of acceptance: November 30, 2010 *7th December 2010*
* Submission of experiential reports: December 30, 2010 *7th January 2011*
* Camera ready submission: January 30, 2011
* Workshop date: March 30 -- 31, 2011

Programme Committee
* Christian Glahn, OUNL, the Netherlands
* Andreas Holzinger, Medical University Graz, Austria
* Ebba T. Hvannberg, University of Iceland, Iceland
* Ralf Klamma, RWTH, Germany
* Christian Prause, Fraunhofer FIT, Germany
* Christian Stary, University of Linz, Austria
* Katrien Verbert,  KUL, Belgium
* Paul Wernick, University of Hertfordshire, UK (to be confirmed)

* Effie Law, University of Leicester, UK
* Felix Mödritscher, Vienna University of Economics & Business, Austria
* Martin Wolpers, Fraunhofer FIT, Germany
* Denis Gillet, EPFL, Switzerland

The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391), an exempt charity 
in England & Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 038302).

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