Initial post on Game Enhanced PLE (Personal Learning Environments)

Warning: These are early (“Lv 0”) thoughts on a subject to which I have just begun directing my attention. As I have not yet made any attempts to align my terminology with pre-existing bodies of knowledge, I could easily be misrepresenting terms and contribute to confusion on the subject. Thus the reader is warned: I am not a source of expert information.

Having taught mathematics and physics at high-school level in the Norwegian school system for four and a half years, I have spent a good deal of time thinking about how to improve learning. Having a personal interest and affection for games in general, I first started searching the Web for ways of using game principles to improve learning. I discovered “gamification”, then “game enhanced learning (GEL)”, then “technology enhanced learning (TEL)”, and finally “personal learning environments (PLE)”.

  • Gamification: The use of game principles in order to make activities that are traditionally not considered as such more game-like and hence more “fun”. Proponents of the term appear to include both institution-based scholars such as Simoes et al (2013) as well as outspoken, enthusiastic, and highly knowledgeable individuals/entrepeneurs such as Y. Chou.
  • Game enhanced learning (GEL): Various scholars in Europe appear to have united under this banner. They recently published a book containing a collection of articles using the term. From my point of view it appears that proponents of “gamification” tend to take a slightly more applied approach (which is not to say that they do not concern themselves with theory and analysis, because they evidently do!) while the GEL camp appears to divide the subject of GEL into various narrower subfields which they then proceed to study in great detail. Another difference seems to be that GEL also includes the application of standalone games for various purposes in learning. The term known as Serious Games appears to concern itself with a particular subset of such standalone purposeful game applications.
  • Technology enhanced learning (TEL): A broader term than GEL, TEL includes every form of technology used to enhance learning. The EATEL association sponsors high-profile events for European researchers within this field of study.
  • Personal learning environments (PLE): My impression is that a personal learning environment consists of a collection of services of the learner’s choosing for use in formal or informal learning. Those services may include a dedicated learning management system (LMS), but the PLE additionally consists of many other services, including the learner’s preferred social media and online collaboration tools. There is a European collaborate project called ROLE whose “(…) main objective is to support teachers in developing the open personal learning environments for their students (…).”

Since I have an interest in both game enhanced learning and personal learning environments, I have been thinking about combining the two. At my current and very early stage of thinking, this produces the following picture (click to enlarge):

game enhanced PLE 15.12.2013(2)


The large rectangular box represents the PLE of a learner. The PLE has interfaces with a learning institution as well as with peers. The learning institution offers standardised services which could include game enhancement, for example, of curriculum/assessment. In addition, from all the tools and services available in the PLE space, the learner could optionally apply individual game enhancement tools of his or her choosing in order to support self-regulated learning. Finally, the student has peers, each of which maintains their own PLE with their own unique set of tools services. Each peer is subject to the learning institution’s services, and all the peers are connected to oneanother via social interfaces. The social interaction between peers could concievably be game enhanced. For instance, there could be social achievements or badges awarded for helping out peers.

This was my first post on game enhanced personal learning environments (PLE). These are early thoughts. Hopefully, in time I will be able to align my terminology with pre-existing bodies of knowledge so that I can make myself more useful.