The ROLE SDK – Widget Development for Responsive Open Learning Environments – Workshop at the PLE Conference

Join us on July 11 for a pre-conference workshop on widget development. Participation is included in the PLE Conference fee.

In this hands-on workshop we will introduce, demonstrate and actively work with the ROLE SDK in terms of usage, design, and concrete development.

You will be given the opportunity to play with the ROLE SDK, use ROLE technologies and learn how to implement ideas under the guidance of ROLE developers.

More information is available at

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Kerstin Schmidt and Maren Scheffel
Fraunhofer FIT, Germany

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PLE Conference – Programme Draft Melbourne

We’re now able to share the programme draft for the Melbourne venue of the PLE Conference. Papers are still under review but here are the main sessions.

PLE Conference 2012 – Melbourne draft programme

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Build your Responsive Open Learning Environment (ROLE) – Workshop at the PLE Conference

Would you like to learn about widgets and how you can build your personalised learning environment with them? Would you like to design your own learning widgets?

Join us in our pre-conference workshop on July 11. Participation is free if you register for the PLE conference.
More details are available here:

Looking forward to seeing you in Aveiro!

The ROLE organising team

Alexander Mikroyannidis – The Open University, UK
Denis Gillet – Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland
Sylvana Kroop – Centre for Social Innovation ZSI, Austria
Daniel Dahrendorf – IMC Information Multimedia Communication AG, Germany

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PLE Conference programme draft (Aveiro venue)

We’re now able to share the programme draft for the Aveiro venue of the PLE Conference. Papers are still under review but it’s already possible to present the main sessions of the conference.

We may now assure that we’ll have great workshops and session chairs 🙂

PLE Conference Programme draft (May 2012)

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Are you coming to the Aveiro venue?

Then you should take a look at this beautiful video from the University of Aveiro!

A few curiosities about the video:

  • 00:20 – the main entrance of the Department of Communication and Arts, the place where we work;
  • 00:25 – the SAPO lab at the University, the place where SAPO Campus was born and where we keep working on it;
  • 00:50 – one of the rooms from our colleagues of design where we will have the PLE Conference.
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Grainne Conole & Ricardo Torres Kompen at the PLEConf, the chemistry between us

As was mentioned in a previous post, one of the basic features of “the PLE Conference spirit” has been that the organizing committee has tried to organize not only an academic event, but also a different event of thought sharing; and to do it we have tried to include participants, as much as possible, in the crucial decision taking process. Consequently, one of the novelties In this PLE Conference 2012 (there are many) has been the election of the second day UNkeynoters by participants. And after that, we are very happy, not only because of the election, that is fantastic, but because Grainne and Ricardo have said yes and are coming to join us in Aveiro.

We don’t think that they need any presentation (you can see the UNkeynoters page if you are curious ), but we think that they deserve the best possible UNpresentation. So, here we go.

From the “formal” perspective we have to say that Grainne Conole is Professor of Learning Innovation and Director of the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester. But more than this, Grainne is one of the most interesting people working in the world of educational technology from the pedagogical point of view. In her research and publications she combines perfectly a strong pedagogical base, incredible hard thinking about education and learning from a challenging perspective of the role of technologies In this field. She has led and participated in amazing work groups –different projects and institutions- about educational technology, but always with this robust pedagogical interest.

As for Ricardo Torres Kompen, he is a researcher in the field of technology enhanced learning and multimedia. his perspective on personal learning environments is evidently pedagogical, but what i love most is that his work all these years has been really close to real teachers in training programs related to the use of Web 2.0 from the perspective of PLEs for teaching and learning. Ricardo is one of those responsible for the PLEConf adventure, and is also an interesting partner in any challenging project about education and technology that you may want to start.

Moreover, Grainne and Ricardo have many other things in common. They are passionate about their jobs, they are good conversationalist and lovely companions wherever they are; they both speak Spanish and English, they love good food, good people and interesting conversation. In addition, their “original” professional background is in chemistry, so probably is because of that –the chemistry between them and the world around them-, and also because I appreciate them so much personally and professionally, i think they are going to make an impressive UNKeynote with all of us.

It will be a pleasure to be a part of it, and i hope you all enjoy it too.

I’m looking forward to having a good discussion you all in Aveiro!

Grainne Conole & Ricardo Torres Kompen

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Keynote speakers for Aveiro: the PLE community has chosen!

This year we’ve launched an extra challenge to PLE conference community. As usual they need to write a great paper but they also need to indicate their preference for the day 2 keynote speakers in Aveiro.

And the community has chosen wisely 🙂

The confirmed keynote speakers for day 2 in Aveiro are Gráinne Conole and Ricardo Torres Kompen.

Welcome aboard!

PS. For more details check the Keynote Speakers page.

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The PLE Conference: the untold story

I had promised to write a blogpost on The PLE Conference, but as usual couldn’t find the time to do it. So, finally, here it goes.

The PLE Conference first became an idea back in 2009. A bunch of us got together for another conference, and at some point got fed up with it: same traditional format, people doing their thing and then disappearing (I know, we kind of did the same), the audience being basically the presenters themselves, no networking spaces, spotty WiFi and so on. It was not the only conference I had been to with those characteristics; 2009 was a very busy year for me in terms of conferences and events participation, and most of them failed to live up to my expectations.

Anyway; here we were, Graham, Cristina, Maria, Tobias and I. We also managed to kidnap Andrea, whom we had met after his presentation. We went to the seaside and a couple of drinks later, started talking about why conferences should be so, well, boring.

And then someone said “we should host our own conference”.

After a couple of minutes of silence, everyone started talking at the same time, with lots of ideas and suggestions. Eventually, we settled on PLEs as the focus of the conference: that was the reason we first got together as a team, and a couple of searches on Google showed there had been no face-to-face conferences on that topic yet. The only reference we could find was a virtual event.

After this, it was a question of deciding where to host it. (This is where I got tricked). Everyone said “Barcelona, of course!”. Called one of my supervisors at the time, who assured us we would have 100% support from the foundation (Citilab, where I worked between 2008 and 2011), and that was it. Barcelona would host The PLE Conference 2010.

What I didn’t realise then was that of course I was also automatically being appointed local organiser. If I had known the implications! (well, to be honest, if I had known, I would still have done it).

A couple of months later, we met again, at (surprise) another conference. By this time we have had a few emails and Skype meetings, and were ready to start working. Ilona became part of the team, as well as Linda and Rafa. And the hard work began. It was a lot of work: issuing the call, having weekly meetings, deciding on budget, trying to find sponsors, simultaneous interpretation, keynotes, accommodation, getting the venue sorted out, WiFi, setting up social networks presence and disseminating the info, getting papers, finding reviewers, deciding the final programme, sending papers back for corrections and revision, logo, banner, programme, finding “volunteers” (some of my students: Aleksandra, Andrew, Alex, ChengMarinaMartin), catering, setting up a space for the posters session, for the wine & tapas, lunch… It is amazing what happens behind the scenes, and you learn to have some respect for the people that organise this things. I can understand why some of them just go for the tried and proved template: thinking outside the box and trying to be innovative is risky and creates even more work.

You cannot do it alone. Yes, I was in Barcelona and had to deal with a lot of things other members of the team simply could not do. I had a lot of help from Citilab and many of my colleagues there worked really hard on this. i2Cat were also very supportive and sponsored the interpretation and part of the keynotes accommodation expenses. Some of the teachers that were participating in the HortDigital project also helped and María José even offered to host Joyce! The organising committee did an outstanding job, and we had several people helping just because they wanted to. My only regret is that I couldn’t participate in all the sessions, and that I had to completely miss some of them, as most of the time I was running up and down the building sorting things out.

For the second PLE Conference, I was still part of the organising committee, but with way less pressure; we had new members, and a great local team. Southampton was amazing, and kept the spirit alive. This year it has been harder for me to participate actively: lots of changes, both personal and professional, mean less time, but I have tried to keep the Twitter conversation going on, made it to a couple of meetings, did my reviews. I’m sure this year’s conference will be great, and I know that both the Aveiro and Melbourne teams are working hard on it, day and night.

BUT. It is worth the effort. Gemma has already written about this, so I won’t go over it again, but the unKeynotes, the backchannel, the networking, the participation… all this has made The PLE Conference an event that is fixed in my calendar. Even if I don’t attend any other event, this is the one I won’t miss. How long will it keep running? I don’t know. Would the name still be appropriate in 3 or 5 years? Probably not. And that’s actually a good thing, in my opinion. But if something will remain, it will be the spirit, the inspiration, the camaraderie. I am extremely proud of being a part of all this, and hope I can continue helping and participating for many more years.

Why are you still reading? Go mark July 11th to 13th in your calendar right now! You won’t regret it!

(Cross-posted from
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Why should you consider attending The PLE Conference 2012?

Have you ever been to a conference where keynote speakers included participants’ slides in their keynote? Graham Attwell and Alec Couros did it at The PLE Conference 2010

Have you ever been to a conference where keynote speakers asked the participants to answer their questions moving on an imaginary matrix on the floor? Jordi Adell and Ismael Peña did it at The PLEConference 2010

Have you ever been to a conference where keynote speakers asked participants to get into an imaginary fishbowl? Cristina Costa and Scott Wilson did it at The PLE Conference 2011

Have you ever been to a conference where you had to join one side of the debate? Graham Attwell and Hugh Davis did it at The PLE Conference 2011

Have you ever been to a conference where there was a video workshop? Joyce Seitzinger ran a video workshop at the The PLE Conference 2010

Have you ever been to a conference where there was a radio station? Graham Attwell always runs it!  

Have you ever been to a conference where there was a Pechakucha session? Linda Castañeda has always been involved in Pechakucha sessions at The PLE Conference

Have you ever been to a conference where there has always been a mediacast contest? Ilona Buchem always runs one at The PLE Conference.

Have you ever been to a conference where there is a permanent livestream on Twitter? Ricardo Torres has kept it alive since 2010

Have you ever been to a conference where there has been a prior debate on the social networks? Cristina Costa always fosters online debate in Crowdvine

Have you even been to a conference where participants had to bring their own creative badges? We all bring our own badges! 

Have you ever been to a conference with two venues… so far away and so close? THE PLE CONFERENCE 2012 has got two venues, Aveiro and Melbourne … and one powerful team!

Do you need more proof? Can you see that the PLE Conference makes a difference? If you have never attended The PLE Conference, it’s about time that you did it! Even in a year when all of us have suffered budget cuts, the PLE Conference is the one you cannot cut. The one and only one you cannot miss. And remember… The PLE Conference is not about technology, it’s about learning! Could there be a better slogan? So, are you coming to The PLE Conference 2012? You can choose a venue: Aveiro or Melbourne? You will be very welcome in both! Don’t hesitate and join us on July 11-13… We will be expecting for you!

Workshop at The PLE Conference 2011

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Melbourne Keynotes: Dr Alec Couros and Dr Inger Mewburn. Join us! #pleconf

We’re so excited to finally be able to confirm and announce the two keynotes for the Melbourne venue of the Personal Learning Environments conference (#pleconf). None other than Dr Alec Couros aka @courosa and Dr Inger Mewburn aka @thesiswhisperer ! Both have written extensively on digital scholarship and networked teachers and it will be wonderful to add this dimension to the conference.

Dr Alec Couros

Dr. Alec Couros is a professor of educational technology and media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina. He is one of the pioneers in exploring how networks, openness and collaboration are changing the face of education.

He is an abundant author and speaker on the concepts of networked learning and changes in education, both on his blog Open Thinking and in presentations and work around the world. And of course he was a keynote at the very first PLE Conference in Barcelona in 2010, running an innovative participatory streamed unKeynode together with Graham Atwell.

Dr Inger Mewburn

“Inger Mewburn is a Research Fellow at RMIT University‘s School of Graduate Research (SGR). She co-ordinates the ‘On Track’ generic skills workshop program; edits and writes for the Thesis Whisperer blog; authors and moderates online courses for HDR students; coordinates the RMIT Three minute thesis competition and conducts research in the field of doctoral education.

Her research interests are, in no particular order, research student experience; Academic sociology; Non verbal communication and social media / blogging. In a former life Inger worked in architecture practices and made interactive digital art work, which has appeared in magazines and exhibitions around the world including Australia, the UK,
France, Greece, Austria, China and the USA.

Inger is on Twitter as @thesiswhisperer – this is the best place to talk
to her as her email inbox is always full.”

Join us!

We hope you will come and join us in exploring this new field of personal learning environments and networks. Remember that there is still time to get your abstracts in for short papers, full papers and workshops. The Call for Papers has been extended until 31st March.

However, bear in mind that beyond the refereed papers, we will also be interested non-refereed submissions. The PLE Conference is a conference where sharing is everything. So if you would like to contribute your ideas or gather people’s thoughts in an existing format,  like pecha kucha, a demonstration,  a contributions to the Mediacast contest or have an idea for a new format, we’re here to listen!

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