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ELGG “is an open source rapid development framework for socially aware web applications. It is a great fit for building any app where users log in and share information.” (Elgg Documentation, retrieved April 2010).

ELGG is a social software system that gained attention in the educational community. Elgg is an open source social networking platform developed for LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) which encompasses blogging, file storage, RSS aggregation, personal profiles, FOAF functionality and more. According to the ELGG documentation (retrieved May 2019), ELGG was to implement open networks (similar to Facebook), topical (like the Elgg Community), private/corporate intranets, dating, educational sties and company blogs.

In education, it could be used to implement e-learning 2.0 learning scenarios, personal learning environments and learning e-portfolios.


ELGG 3.x (as of April 2019) comes with a set of plugins that provide the basic functionality for your social network. The main documented plugins are the following.

  • Blog: gallows for text-based notes to be published in reverse-chronological order, allows commenting
  • Dashboard. This is a users portal to activity that is important to them both from within the site and from external sources. Using Elgg’s powerful widget API, it is possible to build widgets that pull out relevant content from within an Elgg powered site as well as grab information from third party sources. This is for private use and different from the Profile.
  • Diagnostics, an administration tool
  • File repository. Allows users to upload any kind of authorized file. Also includes a photo gallery.
  • Groups: Flexible grouping tool. Includes a profile, forum, pages, message board and RSS feeds
  • Messageboard: Similar to ‘The Wall’ in Facebook or a comment wall in other networks is a plugin that lets users put a messageboard widget on their profile. Other users can then post messages that will appear on the messageboard.
  • Messages: Private "mail"
  • Pages: create hierarchically-organized pages of text, and define reading and writing privileges.
  • Profile: provides information about a user, which is configurable from the plugin’s start.php. One can change the available fields from the admin panel. Each profile field has its own access restriction, so users can choose exactly who can see each individual element.
  • The Wire, witter-style microblogging plugin that allows users to post notes to the wire.
  • User validation by e-mail

In addition, the default distribution includes the following ones that are not documented (as of April 2019): activity, bookmarks, ckeditor, custom_index, developers, discussions, embed, externalpages, friends, friends_collections, garbagecollector, invitefriends, likes, members, notifications, reportedcontent, search, site_notifications, system_log, tagcloud, web_services.

In addition, it is possible to install and configure about large number of additional plugins

ELGG in education

ELGG has been used in education to implement platforms that require social interactions in various forms. For example, Thoms & Eryilmaz (2018) “explore the design and implementation of online social networking (OSN) software as a mechanism to support participants in service-learning courses. More specifically, we implement customized OSN software as a tool for supporting the unique needs of service-learning courses in interdisciplinary teams. These needs range from the ability for project management and milestone tracking, which is supported through wiki technology, self-reflection, which is supported through blogging technologies and information exchange and knowledge sharing, which is supported through online discussion boards.[..] The strengths in OSN software come from its focus on social interaction through collaborative writing, connection-making, discussion boards and blogs.”


(before 2007)

ELGG Environement

ELGG Environement

ELGG Environement

ELGG Components

ELGG Roadmap 2007

ELGG Roadmap

(There is also a bigger picture, but it seems to be corrupted)

ELGG features include:

  • Blogging
  • Social networking
  • File repositories for individuals and communities
  • Podcast support
  • Full access controls
  • Supports tagging
  • User profiles
  • Full RSS support
  • RSS aggregator
  • Create communities
  • Collaborative community blogs
  • Create 'friends' networks
  • Import content
  • Publish to blog
  • Multilingual
  • Branding/customisation

The elgg-developer-community is growing. A lot of additional plugins (modules) are available in the elgg-plugin-repository: some examples:

  • MediaWiki-Integration
  • Presentations
  • Blog-Categoriesxplore the design and implementation of online social networking (OSN) software as a mechanism to support participants in service-learning courses.
  • Messages
  • Activity-overview
  • Ajax-Drag-and-Drop for widgets


ELGG as e-Portfolio

By using the combination of all these features users are able to build up dynamic, plat-form-crossing learning e-portfolios, i.e. as an alternative to the better known Mahara system.

ELGG is probably easier to learn since it does not require users to become familiar with separate archiving / presentation logic.


As of May 2019 several interesting links were dead and removed. Hopefully we shall be able to find new examples


  • Richle, U., Schneider, D., Betrancourt, M. & Gavota, M. (2008). Social Software in the Context of Vocational Training. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2008 (pp. 1329-1340). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Abstract/PDF Daniel K. Schneider and colleague's own little experience with ELGG.
  • O'Hear, Steve (2006). Elgg - social network software for education, Read/Write web, HTML
  • Wageneder, Günter / Jadin, Tanja. eLearning2.0 - Neue Lehr/Lernkultur mit Social Software? HTML
  • Caro-Alvaro, S., Garcia-Lopez, E., Garcia-Cabot, A., de-Marcos, L., & Martinez-Herraiz, J. (2017). Development of a Social Gamified Platform for e-Learning. In Paspallis, N., Raspopoulos, M. Barry, M. Lang, H. Linger, & C. Schneider (Eds.), Information Systems Development: Advances in Methods, Tools and Management (ISD2017 Proceedings). Larnaca, Cyprus: University of Central Lancashire Cyprus. ISBN: 978-9963-2288-3-6. http://aisel.aisnet.org/isd2014/proceedings2017/Education/2.

See also

  • Explode is a social search tool that lets you find others online irrespective of which network they are on - managed over OpenID as it's planned for Elgg