Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Knowledge Management, Teleworking, Distributed learning
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Computer supported collaborative work (CSCW) | Web-based collaboration platforms | GMD toolkit for WWW group working | Other related work in web collaboration software | Building communities on the Net | Tcl/Tk groupware toolkit | Business process management ("Knowledge Management") | Teleworking | Distributed learning
The full proceedings of the Workshop "CSCW and the Web" held in February 1996 at GMD (St. Augustin, Germany) and organised by ERCIM/W4G are available on the workshop web site.
The systems covered in the papers:
- Alliance (INRIA, CNRS),
- Dress (TU Eindhoven),
- Futplex (TU Eindhoven),
- Mushroom (Univ. of London),
- Web4Groups (Telematics Applications Prog.),
- ZENO/Geomed (Telematics Applications Prog.),
- Chatting on the Web (University of Amsterdam),
- Groco (Univ. of Queensland/TU Munich),
- @Work (Swedish Royal Institute of Technology)
- BSCW/COOPWWW (Telematics Applications Prog.)
were described in a presentation by Dr. Wolfgang Appelt at the WWW Concertation meeting in July 1996. His conclusions were that HTTP/HTML is insufficient to cover the needs for efficient collaboration, that additional protocols or extensions are required to allow CSCW over the web.
The following list comes partly from an article, "User interface and agent prototyping for flexible working", by K.Takeda, M.Inaba and K.Sugihara of the University of Hawaii in IEEE Multimedia, Summer 1996.
- CSCW directory
- CSCW Yellow pages and bibliography
- Groupware Yellow pages
- Newsgroup on groupware - comp.groupware
- Tutorial on workflow
- Workflow on the Web
- WWW collaboration projects
The COOPWWW project of GMD in Germany, was part of the Telematics Engineering sector of the Telematics Application Programme, (4th Framework programme) and its goal was the provision of a toolkit for efficient group cooperation using the WWW.
The toolkit supports cooperation using the metaphor of a so-called "shared workspace": an electronic information space where members of a group store objects which they need for cooperation, for example, documents, tables, graphics, spreadsheets, pieces of software or discussion forums.
The users access the workspaces with a normal web browser such as Netscape. The first version of the toolkit is now publicly available. Research projects may establish workspaces at GMD's shared workspace server and use it for cooperation within their projects. The software for the toolkit is publicly available and may be used to set-up other servers.
URL: COOPWWW project site http://orgwis.gmd.de/COOPWWW/
BSCW (Basic Support for Cooperative Work) is the GMD software which enables collaboration over the Web. BSCW is a 'shared workspace' system which supports document upload, event notification, group management and much more. You can download and use the software free of charge.
The NT version of BSCW 3.1 has been available since December 23, 1997 from the GMD NT Download Page. In addition there are a number of bug fixes available for Unix Version 3.1.
GMD are running a project called CONCERT, focusing on cooperative work, cooperative learning, and the integration of cooperative work and learning. They have published a whitepaper, which identifies, (through previous research), a number of problems associated with supporting cooperative work environments.
The goals of the current research are to develop:
- generic cooperation environment platform;
- a cooperative learning model;
- and to develop methods and tools to support this learning model. 03/03/00
There are a number of projects developing software and tool kits for supporting web-based collaborative applications. Also, a number of commercial companies, including Netscape and Microsoft, offer collaboration systems although these do tend to have limitations in terms of scalability. 24/05/00
- Tango - provides a mechanism to integrate applications into a multi-user collaborative environment based on the web. the shared workspace is accessed using a web browser.
- EMSL Collaboratory Project - also provides a multi-user collaborative environment based on the web, with a web browser interface.
Community Connector is a web site providing resources for community-builders on the web. Styled as the "Community Networking Initiative" the site's rationale is: "to enhance, support, and increase awareness of digital community information resources and the emerging field of community networking".
The March 2000 issue of First Monday (volume 5, number 3) includes a paper entitled: "Using the World Wide Web to Enhance Classroom Instruction" which examines the use, benefits and draw-backs of using the web as an instructional tool in both the classroom and in distance education. 24/05/00
GroupKit is a free, Tcl/Tk groupware toolkit from the University of Calgary. It is used for building real-time applications such as drawing tools, editors and meeting tools that are shared simultaneously among several users. GroupKit has been used for prototyping groupware, investigating multi-user architectures and interfaces, and as a CSCW teaching tool. GroupKit is primarily of interest to software developers, and the many included examples are intended to help in learning to program GroupKit applications.
The final release of GroupKit 5.1 is now available. It provides a number of bug fixes and performance improvements over 5.0. Version 5.0 was rewritten from the ground up to include support for Windows and Macintosh platforms, and also the new flexible meta-architecture. The entire API has been reworked to take advantage of the Tcl namespace mechanism.
The ATRIUM laboratory based in the US is designed as an Advanced Technology Resource for Investigating and Understanding Management and managed processes. The laboratory is located within the USC Marshall School of Business, providing testbed facilities for the practical investigation into the production, operation, and evolution of large-scale business processes and services, and how advanced information systems and technologies can contribute.
There are a number of research papers (in Postscript, HTML, or PDF format) published on the ATRIUM site, subjects include:
- The emergence of electronic commerce on the Internet
- Valuing IT through virtual process measurement
- Modeling, integrating, and enacting complex organizational processes
- Understanding software productivity
- Meta-environments for software production
- On the power of domain-specific hypertext environments
- Integrating diverse information repositories: a distributed hypertext approach
- A hypertext system for integrating heterogeneous autonomous software repositories
- A meta-model for formulating knowledge-based models of software development
- A knowledge-based environment for modeling and simulating software engineering processes
- Reengineering the IS research process for the 21st century
- Process life cycle engineering: a knowledge-based approach and environment
- Redesigning organizations for process-driven Intranets
URL: ATRIUM laboratory http://www.usc.edu/dept/ATRIUM/
URL: USC Marshall School of Business http://www.usc.edu/dept/sba/index.html
A number of sites providing resources and links in the area of knowledge management which provide good starting points for research in this area, and have been listed below. There is also an EC project called "Knownet" which is related to Knowledge networking. The project runs a site "Knowlink" which provides a wealth of regularly updated news, surveys, resources, research, lists of conferences, journals and articles, software and their vendors. The ESPRIT sponsored Technologies for Business Processes domain publishes a collection of resources, in its "Technologies for Business Processes" directory.
URL: Knownet http://www.know-net.org/
URL: "Knowlink" http://knownet.power.ece.ntua.gr/knowlink/
URL: Technologies for Business Processes" directory http://www.miscrit.be/proj/tbp/home.htm
Within the area of CSCW knowledge bases is an emerging concept encompassing knowledge representations such as the predicate calculus and semantic nets. Specific efforts include the Knowledge Interchange Format and CYC (used in DARPA's High Performance Knowledge Base (HPKB) project).
Two web-based products which aim to provide access to task-oriented information and knowledge are: WebProject from Webflow and OnTrack by Action Technologies.
URL: Knowledge Interchange Format http://logic.stanford.edu/kif/kif.html
URL: CYC http://www.cyc.com/index.html
URL: High Performance Knowledge Base (HPKB) project http://www.teknowledge.com/HPKB/
URL: WebProject http://www.webflow.com
There is an immense amount of material concerning current research on the subject of "knowledge management" and related technologies on the Knowledge Acquisition Workshops and Archives pages. The site includes a full archive of on-line proceedings from the more recent workshops. The Knowledge Acquisition community world-wide exchanges information through a list server. To subscribe to the server send an email with: subscribe KAW your name in the body. The archives of the KAW list server are available online.
URL: Knowledge Acquisition Workshops and Archives http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/KAW
URL: Knowledge Acquisition list server subscriptions firstname.lastname@example.org
URL: archives of the KAW list server http://www.swi.psy.uva.nl/mailing-lists/kaw/home.html
The Knowledge Management Server at the University of Texas concentrates on knowledge management as it relates to the business world. Two particularly strong sections of the site include:
- Resource review section which provides an alphabetical index of knowledge management products, specialist information providers, and other resources on knowledge management.
- Publications section which contains links to books, papers and journals along with references on knowledge management and related topics.
URL: Knowledge Management Server http://www.bus.utexas.edu/kman/
URL: Resource review section http://www.bus.utexas.edu/kman/prodrev.htm
URL: Publications section http://www.bus.utexas.edu/kman/pubs.htm
A number of research papers concerned with organisational change and the "knowledge economy" are published by Group Decision Support Systems, a US-based management consultancy.
URL: Research papers http://www.gdss.com/WP.htm
URL: Group Decision Support Systems http://www.gdss.com/
A very valuable web site on Knowledge Management is BRINT. All the main topics connected to knowledge management are covered and the site includes extensive resources including papers, additional links to related web sites and news items.
Classic is a knowledge representation (KR) system designed for applications where only limited expressive power is necessary, but rapid responses to questions are essential. Classic is based on a description logic (DL), which gives it an object-centered flavor, and has a framework that allows users to represent descriptions, concepts, roles, individuals and rules.
- "Information Technology for Knowledge Management" is the title of a paper which questions whether information technology can help in the growth and sustainment of organizational knowledge. "The Journal of Universal Computer Science" in which the paper is published, is published monthly, papers can be searched by category and are available on the web.
URL: paper http://www.iicm.edu/jucs_3_8/information_technology_for_knowledge
URL: Journal of Universal Computer Science http://www.iicm.edu/jucs/
- The David Skyrme Associates site publishes a series of articles on knowledge managment, along with an e-zine.
The Knowledge Acquisition Workshops are a series which started in Canada in 1986 which focused on "Knowledge Acquisition for Knowledge-Based Systems". The KAW series, as it has become known, has continued on an annual basis and the 11th KAW was held in April, 1998 (see details below). European-based events are also run and EKAW '99 - 11th European Workshop on Knowledge Acquisition, Modeling, and Management, is due to be held at Dagstuhl Castle, Germany on May 26 - 29, 1999. As a spin-off from some of the tracks at KAW96 an AAAI Spring Symposium on Artificial Intelligence in Knowledge Management took place at Stanford University, March 24-26, 1997.
URL: KAW '98 proceedings http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/KAW/KAW98/KAW98Proc.html
URL: KAW '96 proceedings http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/KAW/KAW96/KAW96Proc.html
URL: AIKM '97 proceedings http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/AIKM97/AIKM97Proc.html
URL: EKAW '99 http://www.aifb.uni-karlsruhe.de/ekaw99/
For further information on groupware and workflow products see the Products page on this site.
A number of leading IT companies including Oracle, Unisys, IBM, Hyperion and NCR have submitted the common warehouse metadata interchange (CWMI) specification to the Object Management Group (OMG) as a potential standard. The specification aims to provide "a common format for enterprise systems to exchange data". Focusing on the interchange of metadata, CMWI will be aimed at applications that are broadly classified under the heading of data warehousing and knowledge management. Microsoft is noticeably absent as a sponsor of the initiative.
URL: Hyperion http://www.hyperion.com/
URL: NCR http://www.ncr.com/
URL: Unisys http://www.unisys.com/
URL: Oracle http://www.oracle.com/
The Microsoft Home in New York is a demonstration networked home environment that shows how families can use technology at home. The home is being used to demonstrate Microsoft's view of the future of communication, entertainment, and work, and attempts to show how service providers may fit into this picture. 06/12/00
The proceedings of the 1999 European Assembly on Telework and New Ways of Working, held at Aarhus, Denmark, are now online in .pdf (Acrobat) format. There is a link from the European Telework Online (ETO) home page.
Although the main file is 3MB in size, ETO is hoping to make a more manageable file available shortly. 08/09/00
El.pub Weekly reader Chris Kimble of the Department of Computer Science, University of York, UK writes: "I came across your web page on 'Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Knowledge Management, Teleworking and Distributed Learning [see URL below]. I thought you might be interested in the papers at [the URLs below] which cover some of these topics. CCSR also have a good page on Telework." 23/06/00
URL: CCSR http://www.ccsr.cse.dmu.ac.uk/resources/remote/telework.html
URL: Chris Kimble http://www.cs.york.ac.uk/~kimble
According to research in the US, the convergence of new technologies and business trends, not simply employee preference to work at home, is driving a rapid growth in telework. A special report by the Center for Digital Culture shows that the number of US teleworkers grew from four million in 1990 to nearly 20 million in 1999, and the rate of growth is rapidly accelerating.
The report, "Telework Enters the Mainstream: New Technologies, Social and Business Dynamics Transforming the Workplace" also cites a number of other positives to companies employing teleworkers including: a reduction in the manager to staff ratio, reduction in overheads, and reduced employee turnover. 16/06/00
"Implementing Telework" is a practical guide for organisations wishing to introduce teleworking. Developed by the MIRTI project (Model of Industrial Relations in Telework Innovation), with funding under the EU's Telematics Applications Programme, the electronic guide, provides: recommendations for procedures for introducing telework practices and guidelines for creating telework contracts.
The advice and procedures are based on the analysis of a database of telework case studies and collective agreements. The project believes that the guide will be useful for projects funded within the IST programme. It is available in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish.
The European Telework Online (ETO) site provides a resource and information exchange on telework, teletrade and telecooperation. It is the home web site for the European Telework Development (ETD) initiative, supported by the European Commission (DGXIII).
European Telework Online has announced that, by invitation of the European Commission, DGXIII/C1, existing EU projects that are concerned with "New Methods of Work" have started a "clustering" activity to explore common interests. According to the announcement, "they will be joined by new projects that are successful in the first call for proposals, which closes in mid-June". A report of the first workshop of this new cluster, together with details of the participating projects, has been published online. An online forum for the cluster has also been launched.
URL: workshop http://www.eto.org.uk/ist-nmw
URL: European Telework Online http://www.eto.org.uk
"A New Market for Work: Market developments and policy responses to the skills, employment and enterprise dilemma, March 2000", is a new report that has been posted online at the European Telework Online (ETO) web site. The report suggests that the time is now ripe for new market mechanisms supporting teleworking and in particular contract work between freelance teleworkers and smaller companies.
In the course of investigating "web sites for finding work" the authors evaluated smarterwork.com, a new commercial venture that had a "soft launch" recently in the UK and is expected to roll out to other UK countries later this year. There have been many such initiatives in the past, but the main barriers to their success have been:
- Not enough "employer" companies connecting to the web and ready to look for skills online.
- Initiatives lacking the marketing know how and financial backing to reach and convince such companies.
High and rapidly increasing attention to the Internet and e-business is now addressing the first barrier in many countries. Financial market interest in "dot com" companies, plus the attraction of the Internet to entrepreneurs, means it is now for the first time possible to address the second barrier.
ETO is planning to publish a more detailed evaluation of smarterwork.com and its particular market shortly. 28/03/00
URL: (follow the links) http://www.eto.org.uk/
A publication entitled: "Implementing Telework", has been published on CD-ROM, in 5 languages (English, German, Italian, French and Spanish). The CD-ROM brings together in one place a bank of telework case studies and collective agreements from several different regions of Europe. For the first time it will be possible to consult the full text of almost 30 actual collective agreements which have been negotiated between employers and workers' representatives. Users will also be able to access summaries of these agreements, identifying common themes (and differences of approach) on particular key issues of importance.
This publication has been produced by the MIRTI (Models of Industrial Relations in Telework Implementation) Consortium. "Implementing Telework" is available priced at 10 ECU or equivalent from national distribution centres, contacts are as follows:
Austria: Wolf Werdigier, email: mailto:email@example.com
Germany: Hans-J. Weissbach, email: IUKinst@aol.com
France: Alain Fernex, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spain: Jaime Rodrigues, email: email@example.com
UK: Gary Herman, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Italy, and other European countries, email: email@example.com
DIPLOMAT is a consensus-building project (supported by DGXIII) with the main objective of producing guidelines for the implementation and deployment of Telework across Europe. The purpose of the Guidelines are to support Europeans in adopting, implementing and benefiting from increases in IT-enhanced distributed working. Key objectives include:
- to win consensus on socially attractive and economically efficient new patterns of work
- to win the support of key European organisations for comprehensive European Guidelines for Telework
- to raise the awareness of the benefits of advanced communications technology and new working methods
- to accelerate the adoption of Telework as a strategy for increased business, competitiveness and employment
- to promote, assist and monitor telework practices and implementation amongst signatories.
A collaboratory is a computer-supported system that allows scientists to work with each other, facilities, and data bases without regard to geographical location. Some examples are:
The following list comes partly from an article, "User interface and agent prototyping for flexible working", by K.Takeda, M.Inaba and K.Sugihara of the University of Hawaii in IEEE Multimedia Summer 1996.
- Index on mobile computing research
- Index on telecommuting
- Searchable bibliographies
- Telecommuting and teleworking
- Telecommuting advisory council (US)
- Telework centre in Hawaii
- Virtual library on mobile and wireless computing
- Web resources on mobile computing
- US telework service
The PROACTe News Service, provides a useful email-based news update service with emphasis on the Education and Training Technologies community. A couple of items from the most recent issue, with a potentially broader appeal to interactive electronic publishing community:
- details of a European Commission memorandum on lifelong learning, with the aim of developing a coherent overall strategy for education and lifelong learning in Europe.
- a report on the US Department of Education's new national educational technology plan , proposing a national strategy for the effective use of technology in elementary and secondary education.
URL: http://www.ed.gov/Technology 12/01/01
URL: PROACTe http://www.proacte.com/news/
Thomson Learning, styled as a provider of "lifelong learning information", has announced plans to develop and deliver online learning for the global e-education market with Universitas 21, an international network of 18 "bricks and mortar" universities in 10 countries. In the UK, the courses will be run through University of Edinburgh, University of Birmingham, University of Glasgow and University of Nottingham.
As part of the agreement, Universitas 21 and Thomson Learning will develop international higher education and advanced training courses, delivery platforms and an international assurance structure. The agreement is subject to due diligence review by both parties. Universitas 21 will award degrees, diplomas, or certificates to students who successfully complete established course requirements.
As the cost of higher education becomes greater, distance learning will become an increasingly viable option. Currently, the distance learning market outside of North America is estimated to be US $15 billion. According to a recent Merrill Lynch study, in 1990 there were 48 million people enrolled in higher education courses globally. Industry experts predict this number will grow to 97 million by 2010, and to 160 million by 2025. 28/11/00
Based on the brand awareness and content of it's Encarta encyclopaedia, Microsoft have launched an expanded Encarta.com web site, featuring a revised search engine. The site is being promoted to those using the web for educational purposes, both students and teachers. 17/10/00
Internet access in schools varies widely around the world, and most schools have yet to offer web-related courses, according to interviews conducted by the US-based Angus Reid Group with full- and part-time students in 16 countries. Among the countries surveyed, Sweden and Canada lead the list in offering students access to the Internet from their schools.
The US, meanwhile, is near the top of the list of countries whose schools offer students Internet courses. These findings emerge from "The Face of the Web: Youth", the latest multi-country survey of more than 10,000 youth aged 12 to 24 from the Angus Reid Group, the global polling and market research firm. Further information is available online. 13/10/00
URL: press release http://www.angusreid.com/media/content/displaypr.cfm?id_to_view=1073
Center for the Study of Technology and Society (tecsoc) newsletter announces a new report which argues strongly against computers in the classroom, on the grounds that "machine-centered" education harms children and is "unhealthy for their developing senses and growing bodies".
The periodic newsletter which include news on the latest reports on the site, can be subscribed to from the tecsoc site. 26/09/00
URL: tecsoc http://www.tecsoc.org/
A forum designed to help Europe's education systems to address initiatives aiming to resolve the job skills gap and to promote digital literacy is being launched by the European Education Partnership.
The forum plans to work with major companies in Europe to help educators develop new educational techniques and tools, providing the necessary knowledge to create an economically successful Information Society.(The site is currently undergoing a major re-development). 08/08/00
Digital Focus, is developing a business unit called "Digital University" which plans to develop "a dynamic classroom environment designed to educate not only company employees, partners and clients, but also the high-tech community at-large".
Among the University's planned early offerings will be: technical certification programs; project management training; smart practices for digital businesses; Java programming for enterprise applications; guest lecturers from business leaders, analysts and IT professionals.
Digital University will also seek partnerships with other corporate universities, high-tech entities and area educational institutions. 21/07/00
UfI, a UK Government initiative to stimulate demand for lifelong learning, runs a Learning Technology Standards Forum which aims to disseminate information, and assist with implementation of, standards in educational technologies.
Ufi has also entered into a major new phase in its development towards full national operation in the Autumn with the launch of the learndirect web site and the creation of a further 178 on-line learning centres. There are over 100 ICT courses and 100 business and management courses on topics ranging from business writing skills to financial management and creating business intranets. Suppliers of the learning materials include the BBC, Institute of IT Training and Xebec Mcgraw Hill.
The IT infrastructure is being developed by a consortium led by Logica. 21/07/00
URL: UfI http://www.ufiltd.co.uk/
URL: learndirect http://www.learndirect.co.uk/
The RDN Virtual Training Suite is a UK JISC initiative designed to offer free online training in Internet information skills to the higher and further education communities in the UK. It comprises a set of "teach yourself" tutorials, delivered over the web, each of which offers Internet skills training in a particular academic subject.
The tutorials offer "any time, any place" training, take less than an hour each to complete and include quizzes and interactive exercises to lighten the learning experience. All the tutorials are completely free for members of the UK education communities.
The content of tutorials within the Virtual Training Suite has been authored by a distributed team of academics and librarians based in universities and research institutes across the UK. 21/07/00
URL: RDN virtual training suite http://www.vts.rdn.ac.uk/
URL: press release http://www.rdn.ac.uk/news/press/rdnvts/july2000.html
The European Distance Education Network (EDEN), one of the most successful European networks in this field, has recently opened an electronic discussion forum on the general topic of distance education.
This forum will provide an opportunity for communication and exchange of views mainly within the EDEN membership but contributions from the wide professional community of open and distance learning are also welcome. 14/07/00
The PROACTE project - funded under the IST programme - for Promoting Awareness and Communicating Technologies in Education. PROACTE provides news, events, discussion fora about past and present projects.
For more information on PROACTE, or to join the mailing list, visit the web site below. 28/03/00
The IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (IMS) is developing and promoting specifications for facilitating online distributed learning activities such as locating and using educational content, tracking learner progress, reporting learner performance, and exchanging student records between administrative systems.
IMS has two key goals:
- defining the technical standards for interoperability of applications and services in distributed learning;
- and supporting the incorporation of the IMS specifications into products and services worldwide.
IMS is a global consortium with members from educational, commercial, and government organisations. Funding comes from membership fees, with organisations choosing to join as either Investment or Developers Network members. 18/02/00
The IMS Global Learning Consortium has released two XML-based standards for building online training and education applications. The specifications, the IMS Content Packaging Specification, and the IMS Question and Test Interoperability Specification enable "advanced online training and education technologies, as well as learning system interoperability," according to Ed Walker, CEO of the IMS Global Learning Consortium.
IMS released the IMS Learning Resources Metadata Specification and the IMS Enterprise Specification in 1999. 14/03/00
IBM and Granada Media Group (a major UK TV programme production company) are co-developing Result, Granada's interactive education digital television service. Using a customised version of Lotus LearningSpace, Result will apparently deliver video images, interactive exercises, and collaborative activities in an integrated package to TVs in schools and homes. 04/02/00
Eurotext is an on-line learning and teaching resource produced and developed in collaboration with academics and their students to provide structured access to relevant EU documentation for Higher Education. Eurotext is currently in transition from being a project funded under the eLib programme to becoming a sustainable subscription service. It is presently supporting users across Europe and the UK.
The site contains selected full-text EU documentation in a structured environment, searchable by keyword and accompanied by academic introductions. The resource offers a meaningful solution to the problems of learner access and resource provision facing contemporary educators. As a user-centred resource, documentation can be added at the request of subscribing institutions. Annual subscriptions cost 350 UK pounds (discounts are available), and a free 30 day trial is offered.
Post event information, including presentations, minutes, pictures and a list of participants is available on the web, for the 8th Telematics Education and Training Concertation Meeting, held on the 18-19 October 1999, in Brussels.
URL: Education and Training http://www.concord.cscdc.be/meetings/post_event_index.php3?MeetingID=1152260359
The December 1999 issue of First Monday (volume 4, number 12) includes a paper which focusses on a qualitative case study of a web-based distance education course at a major US university which revealed students' persistent frustrations in web-based distance education. The paper: analyses why these negative phenomena are not found in the literature and discuss whether students' frustrations inhibit their educational opportunities. It concludes by highlighting some fundamental issues that could make distance education a more satisfying learning experience.
Signalling how far the concept of online education has come, Unexus University is calling itself: "the world's first private Internet-based, degree-granting university". The "institution" is targeting the burgeoning Hong Kong high technology market with its first course, offering an Executive Master of Business Administration (eMBA).
Quite how, "degree courses" such as this one from Unexus, run by a company called Learnsoft Corporation, are to be regulated, is unclear at present.
Microsoft has announced Lesson Connection, a new set of free tools designed to help US teachers nationwide "search for lesson plans matching their local and state curriculum standards". Microsoft Lesson Connection has been created in collaboration with Tudor Publishing Company and Classroom Connect.
Using the Microsoft Lesson Connection Wizard, educators can embed search criteria based on Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM) standard subjects and topic keywords in their own web-based curriculum standard documents. When a teacher clicks on a hyperlink inserted in the document, Microsoft Site Server-based technology searches through lesson plans indexed from multiple sites on the Internet.
If a school district has not yet published its local curriculum standards documents on the web, teachers can search for lesson plans from state standards on a new web site, StateStandards.com, created by Microsoft and Tudor Publishing. The site contains search-enabled curriculum standards documents for 39 US states.
URL: Microsoft Lesson Connection / MSN Curriculum Standards Online community http://www.k12.msn.com/
URL: StateStandards.com http://www.statestandards.com/
URL: Tudor Publishing http://www.tudorpub.com/
URL: Classroom Connect http://www.classroom.com/
Again in the US, The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and Microsoft have announced the developers release of the first working specification for the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF). SIF is a new technical blueprint for ensuring that software applications in secondary schools can share information seamlessly. The availability of the developers release, marks the beginning of a public review period for the specification, the release of SIF deployment guidelines and the successful completion of pilot programmes in two US school districts.
URL: SIF http://www.schoolsinterop.org/
URL: SIIA http://www.siia.net/
The May 2000 issue of First Monday (volume 5, number 5) includes the following articles:
- "It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know: Work in the Information Age", which contends that the personal social network is fast becoming the only sensible alternative to the traditional "org chart" for many everyday transactions in today's economy.
- "Reflective Collaborative Learning on the Web: Drawing on the Master Class", which considers the development of online learning communities, exploring the skills of user interface design.
- "Helpmate: A Multimedia Web Teaching Framework", which explains the use of this web-based collaborative teaching system which is being used in further education.
- "Creating Virtual Learning Communities in Africa: Challenges and Prospects", which discusses the growing application of information communications technologies in Africa and other parts of the world.
- "The Binary Proletariat", which considers the creation of a new working class created by the "digital revolution".
- "The COMsumer Manifesto: Empowering Communities of Consumers through the Internet", considers the benefits of a networked society which empowers consumers and creates communities. 03/05/00
Techknowlogia, is a US-based education technology magazine. All articles are published online in .pdf format and viewable using the Adobe Acrobat reader.
The December 1999 issue of D-Lib Magazine includes an article entitled: "The Standards Fora for Online Education"
Educational Technology & Society is a peer-reviewed online journal available in both HTML and PDF versions. The most recent edition includes a number of papers which consider the impact of technology on distance learning and education.
The Virtual University Journal is published annually in printed form and subscribers are offered online access to four electronic issues during the year. Coverage focuses on distance learning and related topics. Contributors to the journal are required, particularly from practitioners in the field, details on the site.
The Journal of the Association for History and Computing, August number, has articles on the use of the web as a source of primary and secondary material for history assignments in education. The articles contain the results of experiments in using the web as a history resource; much of the criticism applies to the web as a general information source and will be of interest to most web publishers.
A UK site designed to highlight good practice from a number of Information and Learning Technologies (ILT) projects which have taken place throughout UK higher education establishments. The "Guide to Good Practice - Planning and Implementation" web site includes regular updates, information on major sources of funding, a project management checklist, and a searchable database of UK ILT projects.
An article in the e-mail newsletter, ONLINE-ED entitled: "The Implications of Internet learning" (see the bulletins page archive), presents the possible skills that students will acquire through using the Internet and how these fit with experiences of distance education from the 1970s to the present day.
URL: ONLINE-ED http://www.edfac.unimelb.edu.au/online-ed/
The Commonwealth of Learning, with funding from the British Department for International Development, commissioned an international group of experts to look at the concept of "virtual education". The report entitled: "The Development of Virtual Education: A global perspective", compares and contrasts developments worldwide and concludes with suggested development of models for virtual learning. The complete study is available on the web.
The Learning Technology Dissemination Initiative has published a booklet of ideas of how IT can be used to enhance learning and teaching.
The IEEE is planning to publish a free, bi-annual, newsletter reporting on the progress of the IEEE learning technology task force (LTTF). LTTF has been founded on the premise that emerging technology has the potential to dramatically improve learning. The purpose of this task force is to contribute to the field of learning technology and to serve the needs of professionals working in this field. Its organisational goal is to become an IEEE Computer Society "Technical Committee" by the end of 2000.
The European Schoolnet (EUN) is the framework for the "cooperation on information and communication technology in education", between the European Ministries of Education . Currently 18 Ministries of Education participate (EU-countries, plus Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland) with the stated goal being the promotion of the use of ICT in education at European schools, especially by: encouraging and supporting cooperation between schools in Europe; supporting the professional development of teachers. Further details from the EUN web site.
The European SAVIE (Support Action to facilitate the use of Video conferencing In Education) initiative was a TAP project in the Education and Training sector. Alongside it's research, the project also runs the website: "The Video Conferencing Atlas", to provide online support to higher education institutions interested in setting up video conferencing networks. The website includes numerous links to useful resources.
The "Blueprint for Interactive Classrooms" project was concerned with designing and building interactive distance learning classrooms using various audio-visual technologies. During its first phase the project produced a handbook that provides step-by-step guidelines for designing, building and using interactive classrooms - tailored to specific needs - which promote telepresence.
URL: SAVIE http://www.savie.com
URL: BIC http://www.linov.kuleuven.ac.be/BIC
There has been some discussion recently on the European Union Information Society Project Office (ISPO) list about standards for educational content. There is already a US group working on such standards in an "attempt to develop an interdisciplinary architecture to enable":
- industry-wide standards for learning technology systems architectures
- common, interoperable tools used for developing learning systems
- a rich, searchable library of interoperable, plug-compatible learning content
- common methods for locating, accessing, and retrieving learning content
- standardized, portable learner histories that can be transferred with the learner over time
The IEEE 1484 (also known as Learning Technology Standards Committee - LTSC) has about a dozen working groups and although they have been meeting quarterly in the US, they have now scheduled regular European meetings to get better international input. The working group has already approved the Learning Technology Systems Architecture (LTSA) specification as a base document.
URL: LTSC http://www.manta.ieee.org/p1484
URL: LTSA http://www.edutool.com/ltsa
A special issue of Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME) focuses on "Educational Authoring Tools & The Educational Object Economy". It reports on the work of a research consortium of US publishers, universities and educational software companies. The issue addresses concerns ranging from multimedia authoring tools for educational applications, to communities sharing interoperable components and tutorial resources, to new challenges and business opportunities for publishers. The articles have been debated on the web by the authors and reviewers, and the discussion threads that resulted are linked into the final articles.
Opencode.org, is the web site of a US group wishing "to create a space for open software, open research, and open content". The group is seeking to:
- develop interoperable, open pedagogical software, "H2O", that can be used for teaching and learning over the Internet, and for which its code can be viewed and extended by anyone in the public interest;
- be a platform for the use of that software for the production of rich, open educational content;
- develop new means of open academic research.
A founding sponsor is the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, a research program founded to "explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development". The Berkman Center web site features papers and research carried out, and also publishes an online newsletter, The Filter, providing an aggregation of news on Internet developments.
Educational Object Economy (EOE), has released a free template for the production of a standardised e-community. These communities are made up of people working together to improve the quality and availability of web-based learning materials. Apple, NSF, universities, publishers, and many others have created a first example EOE, and are providing a template (based on Filemaker 4.0's ability to provide a database-driven website) to help others start their own.
Global Educational Multimedia (GEM), an initiative of the European Commission's Educational Multimedia Taskforce, is a dynamic database of educational resources, contacts, events and courses accessible through the web. The site enables students and teachers to search for material and contact information, at the same time the project is encouraging users to update the content with additional resources.
The potential benefits of using technologies such as the web, e-mail, video conferencing and groupware in course and classroom situations are hampered by a number of problems. The 4-E Model Research Project is attempting to anticipate and reduce the implementation problems. They have developed a simple model (the 4-E Model) to help explain and predict the likelihood of individuals making use of a form of computer communications in his or her learning-related activities, and also show this prediction visually in terms of a set of interrelated vectors.
The organisers are requesting help in validating the model, through completion of an on-line questionnaire. Information about the 4-E Model, the 4-E Model Research Project, and the research team is also available at this site. When the questionnaire is submitted, you will be shown an immediate visual prediction of your own likelihood of using a form of computer communications in your particular learning-related situation, expressed visually in terms of the model. Participants will also be given access to password protected project research reports and results.
The Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture has set up a web site to help children access the Internet. The Programa de Nuevas Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación (PNTIC) web site provides a variety of services and complements the introduction of Internet capable computers into Spanish schools. The site includes comprehensive information on using the Internet that will be of use to any novice user. "Aquí tienes una completa ayuda sobre Internet, con tutoriales, software y consejos."
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