A recent trend in web development is to build platforms which are carefully designed to host a plurality of software components (sometimes called widgets or plugins) which can be organized or combined (mashed-up) at user's convenience to create personalized environments. The same holds true for the web development of educational applications. The degree of personalization can depend on the role of users such as in traditional virtual learning environment, where the components are chosen by a teacher in the context of a course. Or, it can be more opened as in a so-called personalized learning environment (PLE). It now exists a wide array of available web platforms exhibiting different functionalities but all built on the same concept of aggregating components together to support different tasks and scenarios. There is now an overlap between the development of PLE and the more generic developments in web 2.0 applications such as social network sites. This article shows that 6 more or less independent dimensions allow to map the functionalities of these platforms: the screen dimensionmaps the visual integration, the data dimension maps the portability of data, the temporal dimension maps the coupling between participants, the social dimension maps the grouping of users, the activity dimension maps the structuring of end users–interactions with the environment, and the runtime dimensionmaps the flexibility in accessing the system from different end points. Finally these dimensions are used to compare 6 familiar Web platforms which could potentially be used in the construction of a PLE
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