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The integration of external tools in Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) aims at enriching the learning activities that educational practitioners may design and enact. This paper presents GLUE!, an architecture that enables the lightweight integration of multiple existing external tools in multiple existing VLEs. GLUE! fosters this integration by imposing few restrictions on VLE and tool providers, as well as by requiring an attainable effort from developers, unlike other integration works. Besides, GLUE! facilitates the instantiation and enactment of collaborative activities within VLEs, leveraging the VLEs distinctive features for the management of users and groups. GLUE! has been evaluated using three authentic collaborative learning situations, instantiated and enacted by real practitioners at university level. The results of this evaluation show that GLUE! reduces the burden of educators when instantiating collaborative activities that require the integration of external tools, while facilitates students the realization of these activities in collaboration. Interestingly, the development effort required by the integration software is similar to that in other lightweight generic approaches that offer a lower degree of functionality.
cooperative/collaborative learning; architectures for educational technology system; distributed learning environments