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PERvasive Learning System (PERLS)

PERLS mobile photo

PERLS is an open mobile platform which supports learning by recommending content-on-demand. This platform can be accessed on a mobile device and on a laptop using a web browser. Content management software for PERLS is being developed for learning content creators to easily produce, edit and update content for the platform.


The PERLS platform is designed to optimize the benefits of mobile learning and micro-learning. Mobile learning refers to education and training conducted using portable computing devices such as smartphones or tablet computers. This type of learning focuses on the mobility of the learner interacting with portable technologies. Micro-learning is a holistic approach for skill-based education and training which is characterized by relatively small learning units. This type of learning focuses on short-term strategies especially designed for skill-based understanding. Mobile-based micro-learning can help realize ubiquitous—anytime and anywhere — learning delivered easily at the point of need.

PERLS can be used to guide and mentor the learner with recommended micro-content according to a self-regulated micro-learning model. These recommendations are based on several factors including the learner’s goals and expressed interests, expertise, schedule, media preferences, and behaviors (like daily routines). The advanced algorithms used by PERLS to recommend micro-content have been shown, through studies and experience, to increase learning retention and outcomes.

PERLS also serves as a portal for aggregating and managing micro-learning resources, is xAPI-enabled, and fully integrates with the ADL Initiative’s Total Learning Architecture. xAPI is a specification that enables the collection of a wide range of experience data gathered during an individual’s continuum of learning. PERLS leverages different sources of micro-learning content, and both presents and visualizes performance and analysis data generated through xAPI. The learning content can be created natively within PERLS, auto-generated by PERLS through an external RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed or developed through integration with other local or web applications that provide recommendations to PERLS.

The ADL Initiative is partnering with USALearning to support the transition of PERLS to the ADL Learning Warehouse, a secure, cloud-based repository portal where Defense and Federal training and education managers can access and evaluate different platforms, systems, and tools. The ADL Learning Warehouse will provide access to PERLS software for usage on user devices and content management. This will enable the Defense Department to leverage aspects of PERLS for learning platform implementation within their branch’s own communities of interest. The PERLS package will contain the complete set of software and the required documentation for easy installation, as well as to configure and build the content. In addition, the documentation will include a PERLS installation guide, user guide, and other technical documentation.

Major Deliverables

  • 11/13/2019: PERLS 2.0 software initial development release (ALPHA version)
  • 12/13/2019: Strategic Learning Analysis Report for PERLS
  • 01/10/2020: PERLS 2.0 software main development release (BETA version)
  • 02/13/2020: PERLS 2.0 software complete release
  • 02/14/2020: Transition to the ADL Learning Warehouse with documentation

Project Details

The PERLS Research & Development project launched in 2012 and the current transition project PERLS 2.0 Period of Performance is 2019-2022.

Current External Performers: Float, LLC (Development and Documentation), Arizona State University (Verification, Validation and Test Experimentation) and PowerTrain (Transition to ADL Learning Warehouse)

Collaborators and Partners

  • Joint Staff J7/Joint Knowledge Online (JKO)
  • Defense Acquisition University (DAU)
  • US Army Future Command


More Than the Sum of Their Parts: Case Study and General Approach for Integrating Learning Applications

2017; MODSIM; Freed, M.; Folsom-Kovarik, J.T.; Schatz, S.
Learning system interoperability standards let applications share or connect infrastructure, reducing development costs, administrative burden, and user friction. We propose a more comprehensive form of interoperability that supports shared userdata, user interfaces, and session management services. This will let applications...

A Mobile Strategy for Self-Directed Learning in the Workplace

2017; IITSEC; Freed, M.; Yarnall, L.; Spaulding, A.; Gervasio, M.
Traditional approaches to workplace training often treat learners as equally prepared, drive them through too much content in too short a time, and conclude before ensuring retention. These departures from ideal instructional practice have a common cause –the need to...

PERLS: An Approach to Pervasive Personal Assistance in Adult Learning

2013; IITSEC; Freed, M.; Yarnall, L.; Dinger, J.; Gervasio, M.; Overholtzer, A.; Pérez-Sanagustin M.; Roschelle, J.; Spaulding, A.
Adult learners in both military and civilian settings increasingly use mobile devices for "Pervasive Learning" (Banavar et al., 2000 Thomas, 2007), which occurs without classrooms, instructors, and training facilities. By expanding options for what, when, and how we learn, Pervasive...