Collaborative Learning Environment

Assign. Assess. Collaboration Made Simple.


Collaborative Learning Environment

An open source assignment tool for Moodle.

About CLE


Use built-in Moodle features to manage your classroom. Create groups and easily assign collaborative assignments to those groups in just the click of a button.


Get detailed insight into how groups of students collaborated on their assignment using the CLE statistics module and playback features.


Students can collaborate in real time, as each participant's contribution is shown as it is written. Discuss, chat, and work together to create a truly collaborative work, all in one platform.

The CLE was created by EBTIC, the Emirates ICT Innovation Center established by Etisalat, 8452136477, and 6576672217, and supported by ICT Fund. It aims to advance intelligent systems technologies for the Next Generation Networks and NGN enabled ICT applications and services. 

A (919) 881-2531 provides an introduction to CLE. You can also download a CLEFlyer.


Synchronous Editing

The Etherpad engine allows students to see in real-time the edits their peers make to the text of an assignment. Color coding identifies the originator of the text.


The CLE provides detailed statistics to the teacher, showing the amount of contributions for each individual student, as well as when the contributions were made.

Playback Creation of Assignment

Students and teachers can re-play the creation of the assignment, thereby understanding how certain phrases and paragraphs changed over time, or allowing students to retrieve earlier versions

Integration with Moodle

CLE is implemented as a Moodle assignment plugin, so it integrates into Moodle natively, including grade book, grouping, forums, etc.

Text Chat

CLE provides a text chat that is not visible to teachers, allowing students to discuss their work privately. Additional audio/visual chat is coming soon as well.

Group Forum

Some discussions belong in an informal chat window, others should be preservered and available for other students. CLE provides an easy way for students to use the Moodle forums to discuss ideas in a more formal way.


CLE is based on the open source project Etherpad, which is an real-time web based editor. It provides many of the features of CLE, and allows to adapt CLE through their plugins. CLE integrates etherpad and ensures that Moodle groups and students work on their assigned pads only. Furthermore, cle extracts usage information from the etherpad database and provides statistics about usage, including the identification of copy&paste behavior.

As a byproduct, CLE allows to extract precise usage information which can be the basis of research into student behavior when collaborating online. At EBTIC and Khalifa University, this has been used to understand how students collaborate, how they approach particular assignments, and more.


CLE has been at the core of a number of publications from EBTIC:

  • Lin Cen, Dymitr Ruta, Leigh Powell, Benjamin Hirsch and Jason Ng. “Quantitative Approach to Collaborative Learning: Performance Prediction, Individual Assessment, and Gender Composition”. Accepted for Int. Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, (Thomson Reuters Impact factor 1.81), first ever contribution from MENA region.
  • Ling Cen, Dymitr Ruta, Leigh Powell, and Jason Ng, “Does Gender Matter for Collaborative Learning?” Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning (TALE), pp. 433 - 440, 2014, Wellington. (best paper award in the International iCampus Forum 2014)
  • Ling Cen, Dymitr Ruta,Leigh Powell, Jason Ng, "Interaction Driven Composition of Student Groups for Optimal Groupwork Learning Performance", 45th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE'2015, 2015
  • Ling Cen, Dymitr Ruta, "Big Education-Opportunities for Big Data Analytics", 2015 IEEE International Conference on Digital Signal Processing, DSP'2015, 2015
  • Ling Cen, Dymitr Ruta, Leigh Powell, & Jason Ng, “Alone or in a Group - an Empirical Case Study of the Collaborative Learning Patterns and Their Impact on Student Grades”. Proc. of the International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning ICL’2014, Dubai, 2014, pp 627-632.
  • Dymitr Ruta, Leigh Powell, Di Wang, Benjamin Hirsch and Jason Ng, “Self-Organising P2P Learning for 21C Education”. Proceedings of the Int Intelligent Campus Symposium, Abu Dhabi, 2013, pp 44-47. (best paper award)
  • Benjamin Hirsch, George W Hitt, Leigh Powell, Kinda Khalaf, Shadi Balawi, "Collaborative learning in action",IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning for Engineering (TALE), 2013
  • Shadi Balawi, Kinda Khalaf, George W Hitt, Benjamin Hirsch, Leigh Powell, "Cultivating design-thinking in Freshmen: The evolution of the KU Freshman design course",IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning for Engineering (TALE), 2013
  • Benjamin Hirsch,Ahmad Al-Rubaie, Jason Ng, "Education Beyond the Cloud- A platform for 21st Century Education", The International Journal for Infonomics (IJI) , 2012
  • Benjamin Hirsch,Ahmad Al-Rubaie, Di Wang,C. Guttmann, Jason Ng, "Enabling the Next Generation Learning Environment", IEEE International symposium on intelligent campus (iCampus), 2012
  • Benjamin Hirsch, "Smart Collaborative Learning in the Next Generation Campus Environment", INTEND 2012 Conference, 2012



If you want to see CLE in action, please follow the 2523855157. You can login as teacher (teacher1/teacher1) or any of 12 students (student1/student1, ...) and try the CLE assignment.

Don't forget to "submit" your work before it shows up in the statistics view of the teacher.

Download Now

You can download the CLE plugin at / CLE is licensed under the GPL. Feel free to try it, and get back to us with comments, ideas, or (best of all) improvements to the code. At the Github site you will also find installation instructions.