a journal of a researcher

Sunday, November 07, 2004

e-learning in Europe

In Hanover, I took part in two Prolearn workshops: technology enhanced learning and online experiments. Both were very interesting and I had very interesting discussions with many people.

EducaNext impresses me. It is a University Brokerage Platform to manage the learning resources and foster collaboration. You can register your course material on this platform. I plan to register my course on it. It will provide more functions on community building and collaborative learning. The Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration spends half of a million euro each year on this platform for the content and management.

The learning management system (LMS) is a commonly used concept. WebCT is a typical LMS which has the abilities to manage users, manage content, collaborative tools like discussion forums. I’ve done some survey on the existing open source LMS, such as Moodle, ATutor. Most of them use php and MySQL. In this conference I knew another one, Stud.IP , which seems superior to the existing LMS. The interesting functions that the Stud.IP provide: literature management, survey and test, search, wiki web, export functions, scheduler for institute, timetable for students, online community support (personal web pages, who-is-online, chat room, discussion forum).

How to foster the collaborative learning and tools to support collaborative learning both for tutors and students are important topics. I think we need profound research and solid theories on this direction. I saw the work of 5D project – learning beyond 3 D and time, i.e. learning anytime, anywhere. In 5D, a maze and learning task cards are designed to guide the students on a learning project. But I want to see more intelligent tutor, or customized learning project built on solid theories.

Online experiment system is a mixture of virtual laboratories (simulation) and tele-laboratories (remote laboratories). One interesting project shows how a real laboratory can connect to the simulated virtual devices (DERVIE project). People also pay attention to enable team work in a distributed environment. We presented to use grid technology and web services to compose online experiment services, which will integrate learning resources in different locations. We think it is the trend, because that provides more opportunities to learn remotely, using distributed resources. Cyberlab is doing a portal of existing online lab. We present an opposite business model to Cyberlab’s. More detail is in another post.