A hypermedia tool for teaching primary
school concepts to adults
I. Aedo, P. Diaz, F. Panetsos, M. Carmona, S. Ortega, E. Huete
Hypermedia appears to be the most widely accepted technique to support the learning process since non-linear information networks provide a good model for representing the human knowledge. Hypermedia learning systems are really efficient if their user interface has been developed taking into account their users' needs and the problems related to learning and hypermedia systems.
The Spanish Primary School ("Graduado Escolar") is usually taught during the first school years and covers basic subjects, such as language, mathematics, natural and social sciences, etc. Such qualification has become almost essential to apply for any kind of job, and, for this reason, the Ministry of Education organises weekly exams to allow adult people who did not finish their primmary studies to get their diploma. Women represent the majority of this group and, in order to promote their incorporation to the job market, different institutions offer courses oriented towards obtaining a Primary School diploma.
This abstract presents a hypermedia educational system which covers the most difficult subjects of this course. The system is oriented towards low-qualified women and it has been developed with the cooperation of the Foundation for Training and Job who created the contents of the course. The presentation of the contents is centred on social and natural sciences subjects which are also used to introduce linguistic and mathematical concepts.
The system is organised as a set of modules made up of lessons. Each lesson includes theoretical explanations, visual examples and interactive exercises that allow students to verify the acquisition of knowledge. Hypermedia links are defined among concepts and explanations, so that users can have a quick access to related information. The inclusion of distinct types of media (such as video, animation and images) enriches the information transmission in such a way that the learning process can be improved and, at the same time, women can enjoy themselves while studying. As demonstrated by Sciarone and Meijer the ability to freely browse the contents can be counter-productive. Students who feel free to move around the system tend to use help mechanisms to solve problems instead of trying to learn the underlying concepts. Therefore, constraints in the navigation ability are needed to make the educational tool more effective.
The system is expected to be used by women who are not used to computers and have forsaken their study discipline for years. For these reasons, the interface has to be as easy as possible in order to not introduce an unnecessary cognitive load. Therefore, a reasonable equilibrium has been maintained between the number of facilities offered and the interface complexity.
The user as a partner in the design
of an interface for a training system
Marcos Augusto F. Borges, Cecilia C. Baranauskas
A collaborative environment for problem solving presupposes a human-computer interface with major indices of accessibility, facility of use and user involvement. Therefore, the concept of interface, specially for these systems, includes not only the hardware and software aspects of communication, but also the cognitive and emotional aspects of the users experience. In this paper we address the user-centered system theory (Norman, 1986; Laurel, 1990) as an approach to the design of Jonas - an expert system for training. Jonas is part of a collaborative learning environment based on modelling and simulation, intended for use of shop-floor workers in a manufacture plant.
One of the main methods used in the Jonas project to create the interface was to examine the user interaction with prototypes of the system. In order to involve the user in the design process, since its beginning, two experiments were conducted with typical users in a real factory. The first one involved an evaluation of an interface proposal design based on the preliminary functionality of the system. Three simplified situations of the manufacture process were built, showing results of a simulation before and after a modification in the model. The task of the subjects was to explain the results and to propose how to get better results, changing the model. The feedback from this first experiment resulted in a first implemented version of the interface. The second experiment involved an evaluation of the interface, in the system environment.
The results obtained from the first experiment gave us insights about the main aspects of the structure and presentation of the interface, which could diminish the semantic and articulatory distances between the system and the user. The preliminary results of the second experiment showed that the users asked Jonas for help in order to identify points in the model where they had to focus their analysis. After getting information from the system, the users tried to identify whether that information meant a change in the model represented an improvement or a worsening in the modelled factory. Curiously, the workers seemed to be much more interested in the bad situations. This fact could be interpreted as a behaviour learned in the culture of the factory.
In short, Jonas was accepted as a counsellor agent showing aspects of the model which deserved a more accurate analysis. These and other results are discussed and illustrated with the whole design process, and with the actual interface of Jonas.
User action and social interaction
mediated by direct manipulation interfaces
Rosa Maria Bottino, Giampaolo Chiappini
Today the dominant framework for interface design is the User-Centred-Design, as first pointed out by Norman and Draper. The focus is on the user but, traditionally, the assumed user is a person with a familiar task at hand who access the computer to help facilitate the execution of that task. Principles and criteria elaborated by HCI for interface development in this framework are not well suited to manage problems that arise when the user does not have a mastering of the task domain as it is the case with educational applications. This problem renders this applicative field very different from that of the normal professional applications since it requires a shift of focus from constructing interfaces that support "doing tasks" to interfaces that support "the teaching and learning activity in given contexts". In this paper we discuss a theoretical framework aimed to specify the conditions under which the mediation offered by an educational system (based on a direct manipulation interface) is effective for the teaching and learning activity. We have worked out this framework on the basis of the experience we developed in the design, implementation and experimentation of systems for mathematics education. Our work is rooted in Vygotsky theories and in Activity Theory. The presented framework discusses the following main aspects: - The conditions under which the forms made available by the interface of a system can favour the recognition of meanings which are relevant for the knowledge object of the learning activity. - The role assumed in the teaching and learning processes by the context of real use of a system. Paying attention to the context of real use is of crucial importance for educational systems since an analysis that considers only the task-artefact cycle cannot explain alone the complexity of the phenomena that come out during the learning processes mediated by the systems. The analysis of the interaction of the user with the system is suitable to give account for the cognitive aspects aimed to a goal, i.e. for the coscient, rational aspect of human mind, but seems insufficient to explain problems related with motivational, emotional aspects and, more generally, to explain problems related to the attribution of a global sense to the activity which goes beyond the concrete task in which the subject is involved. In other words, this unit of analysis seems unable to explain all aspects which cannot appear immediately to the conscience of the individual. However these aspects are crucial in education especially when one wants to consider not only the acquisition of a limited knowledge or of a specific ability (micro didactic) but when the development of wider abilities are considered which demands for a long period of time (macro didactic). According with this approach, our focus is to analyse the role assumed in the teaching and learning processes by all the relationships which the interface of an educational system can mediate. That is to say the relationships between: the student and the involved knowledge, the student and the teacher, the student and the other students.
Collaboration in a Virtual World: Support
for Conceptual Learning?
Paul Brna and Rob Aspin
Collaborative activity is considered by many educators as being a goal worth pursuing both in itself and in terms of increasing the efficiency of problem solving and learning. Recently, with the current improvements in Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, researchers have sought to extend the utility of VR into the area of conceptual learning. The advantages (and disadvantages) of collaborative problem solving are rehearsed with particular emphasis on learning physics. Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Environments (CSCLs) are intended to provide support for collaborative learning activities but these environments do not of themselves guarantee that collaboration takes place. Part of the responsibility for encouraging effective collaboration depends on the nature of the tasks used.
The main issue addressed in this paper is how Virtual Environments (VEs) need to be designed to provide improved support for conceptual learning of physics concepts. The design and implementation of a set of VEs is outlined. This work is part of a project to develop a Virtual Physics Laboratory which itself is part of the Distributed Extensible Virtual Reality Laboratory (DEVRL) project.
A pilot study is described which features several worlds designed as part of the Virtual Physics laboratory. The results indicate, amongst others, that a crucial limitation imposed by the current VR toolkits is their tendency to provide restricted support for symbolic forms of communication. This limitation tends to make conceptual information difficult to display. For example, the total heat radiated from an object per second can be represented by the object's colour but it is not very easy to display the heat field created by such an object. Perhaps for this reason many Virtual Environments do not try to develop additional visualisations over and above the `natural' visible world though Dede et al's have produced some interesting visual, audio and tactile stimuli in the three worlds of the ScienceSpace project.
If semi-immersive and fully immersive VEs are to be designed to be effective `Virtual Classrooms' for conceptual learning then it is necessary to consider the nature of the communications that might be useful to students. Communications can, in principle, take place utilising various modalities (visual, auditory, tactile). These different modalities can be used to help students learn to understand the underlying physical concepts and how these are related to the physical systems under investigation. Thus VEs need to provide information in a variety of modalities. Students also need to be supported in their attempts to: reflect on their activities and retell them; communicate concepts using linguistic and diagrammatic modalities; and describe their own experiences. Hence there is a need to develop better communication interfaces that integrate effectively with the simulations of the physical world usually found within VEs.
WWW-Based Environments for Collaborative
Group Work: Implications from and for HCI Research
WWW-Based Tools for Collaborative Group Projects
Since 1994, we have been involved in the design and use of a series of WWW-based environments to support collaborative group work for students in a technical university in The Netherlands. These environments, and the course re-design that accompanies each new environment, began with the use in 1994 of the http protocol to support a collaborative-writing experience involving 35 senior students and 12 external specialists in computer-based collaborative work and computer-mediated communication. Following this, four additional courses have been re-engineered for a WWW environment, and for each, a new integrated environment has been designed, realised, and put into heavy use, with a series of evaluations and analyses continually occurring (see for example, Collis, 1996, 1997; Collis & Breman, 1997; Collis, Andernach, & Van Diepen, 1996, 1997). One of the current courses, called "ISM-1" (Instrumentation Technology 1 - the name of our division when translated from Dutch), is the basis of extensive analyses as well as developmental activities. The current version of this course can be seen at http://www.to.utwente.nl/ism/ism1-96/home.htm.
Important in all of this sequence of WWW-based courses is that the courses themselves are focused upon collaborative learning, where groups of students, sometimes including group members participating in group activities at a distance, are confronted with a design problem and must work in a coordinated way on a complex series of subactivities and decisions for the resolution of their overall task. The collaborative process is weighted as heavily in the courses as is the final product itself.
What are major issues emerging from this stream of experiences? What can we say that we are learning about the design and deployment of WWW-based environments to support collaborative learning in project groups in higher education? Some of the main points which will be addressed include: (a) issues relating to group goals and individual responsibility, (b) issues relating to project- and group management, and (c) issues relating to efficient and effective communication. For each cluster of issues, experiences with various WWW tools and their instructional integration will be used to suggest next steps for research and development and to reflect on how HCI research has informed our work.
Relating Experiences to HCI Research
In the concluding portion of the paper, we will relate our conclusions relating to the three issue clusters described above, and more generally to our use of WWW-based environments in our courses, to two major areas of attention for HCI research. One of these areas is one receiving much focus in HCI research: guidelines for the user interface of hyperlinked systems for collaborative group work. The second area is one which does not receive as much focus in HCI research: guidelines for design decisions at the course and situational levels based on the overall deployment of a WWW-based environment in the student's life and value systems. What aspects of WWW-based tools do support value most highly for support of collaborative learning? What factors constrain their use of, and enthusiasm for, complex integrated WWW environments? (Van de Kamp, Collis, & Moonen, 1997). How can the pragmatic orientation of the student better inform not only HCI but also educational research about tools for collaboration support?
Collis, B. (1996). Tele-learning in a digital world: The future of distance learning. London: International Thomson Publications.
Collis, B. (1997). Supporting project-based collaborative learning via a WWW environment In B. Khan (Ed.), Web-based instruction (pp. 213-221) . Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Collis, B., Andernach, T., & Van Diepen, N. (1996). The Web as process tool and product environmnet for group-based work in higher education. In H. Maurer, (Ed.), WebNet '96: World Conference of the Web Soceity Proceedings (pp. 109-115). Charlottesville, VA: AACE.
Collis, B., Andernach, T., & Van Diepen, N. (1997). Web environments for group-based project work in higher education. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 3(2/3), (in press).
Collis, B., & Breman, J. (1997, February). Information technology education in a cooperative environment. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT), Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Van de Kamp, I., Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (1997). A model to assess the value of WWW-based applications in stimulating productive engagement by students.. Paper to be presented at ED-MEDIA/ED-TELECOM '97, Calgary, Canada.
Interface Metaphors: the Case of
a WWW-Based Distance Learning Business English Course
Darina Dicheva, Ivanka Djakova
The interactive style used in the computer systems has undergone big changes, from the 'command line dialogues', in which the user types instructions to the computer to the 'direct manipulation', in which the user manipulates a graphic representation of the underlying data. One of the approaches allowing inexperienced users to make effective use of computers is the use of metaphors. Metaphors help users to understand a new system interface by invoking their prior knowledge. The central point of the 'interface metaphor' is that the objects are transformed into pictorial representations, which can be easily recognised and understood by the user. Thus s/he gets an idea as to how to use the system through interacting with the icons.
The paper discusses the interface metaphor developed for a web-based distance learning Business English course. This course is being developed as a part of the Copernicus project 1445 "Flexible and Distance Learning through Telematics Networks - A Case for teaching English and Communication and Information Technologies" that involves participants from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Ukraine. A metaphor of a 'language centre' has been adopted to present a coherent image of the whole system. By presenting the 'Virtual Language Centre' on the screen the principle 'what you see is what you get' (WYSIWYG) has been achieved.
The Business English course could be used either as a distance learning course or as an aid to class infrastructure allowing some functions to be carried out through web pages and web-based activities. The course is divided into learning units consisting of pre-reading activities, reading, post-reading activities and assignments. While the course material is organised in a fairly standard way special attention is paid to encourage the students both to use the web resources to enhance their English and to collaborate and share ideas.
The Virtual Language Centre is part of the Virtual Environment for Distance Education and Training (VEDET). The Centre consists of an administration office, virtual classrooms, virtual reading rooms, virtual workshop rooms, a student centre, and an instructor centre. It also includes branches of some of the VEDET virtual services, e.g. virtual library, virtual café, conference centre, virtual post office, etc.
The Business English virtual classroom is the place where the actual virtual teaching takes place. On the 'walls' of the classroom poster information is presented: course description and course syllabus. They are also equipped with a 'message bord' and a 'shelf' containing the most frequently used books: English Grammar book, Dictionaries, Encyclopaedias. Gateways lead to the Business English sections of the Library as well as to the Post Office, Conference Centre, Café.
English Language Self study takes place in the virtual English workshop room (which includes thematically grouped references to relevant places and resources on the Web). The English workshop room consists of a number of 'activity corners' in which the student can be involved virtually in various activities that would make learning English fun: Quize corner, Publishing corner, KeyPal corner, Electronic Greetings corner, etc.
The paper discusses all the components of the Virtual Language Centre in detail.
Mentors, Magicians, Worlds or Wooden
Legs: some images of human computer interaction in educational contexts
Given the rate and nature of developments in computing technology it is only to be expected that, over time, the images and metaphors which frame the interface or common ground between computer and user have undergone considerable change. For the majority of users the interface 'is' the computer, and from a 'marketing' point of view not only must it render the software useable, but at the same time it should also give appropriate emphasis to those features and capabilities which distinguish this particular combination of computer and software from others, while maintaining an 'image' of the activity in question which is sufficiently in tune with generally held perceptions about the nature of computing to be acceptable to users.
Changes in interface metaphors simultaneously reflect and construct both changing capacities of hardware and software and changes in perceptions of the technology. New capabilities revealed through the interface are either embraced by the market place in which case they are progessively refined or extended, or they ignored, at least for a time, as a consequence of a perceived lack of utility or appeal. Interfaces which successfully suggest new possibilities may well result in significant changes in practice, leading in turn to further developments in both hardware and software.
Among the better known metaphors upon which interaction between computer and user is founded are the heavily 'office' oriented desktop metaphor, the ubiquitous, perhaps even inevitable metaphor of 'conversation' between user and machine, the 'spatial' metaphor characterised by geographical images of navigation and, of more recent development, the proliferation of 'cyborg' imagery which suggests a very different view of computing technology as a highly personalised means of augmenting or acting as a prosthesis for human capacities which are perceived as inadequate or lacking altogether.
In educational contexts the choice and the subsequent implementation of interface metaphors are complicated by a range of special constraints related to beliefs about the nature and purposes of education - in particular to the degree of control which one level of user, the teacher, might wish to maintain over the other level of user, the student. Educational software has to be designed with two distinct levels of user in mind. While the 'interaction' takes place primarily between the computer and student, it is at least preferable, and many would suggest necessary, that the tone and style of interaction be as far as possible congruent with the teaching style and philosophies of the teacher. This might be extended further to those programs ambiguously classified as 'edutainment', in which the approval of the parent is at least theoretically desirable if the software is be widely accepted. This paper discusses the extent to which some of the metaphors upon which interfaces for software are likely to be designed in the near future either for general or for particular purposes and markets possess qualities appropriate to specifically educational contexts.
Interface Design Issues in Interactive
Xavier Dubourg, Philippe Teutsch
The aim of this text is to situate the research results in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in design methods of Interactive learning environments (ILE). The text first identifies the special needs characterizing ILE design and then points where the differences are, to explain why HCI methods do not answer these needs.
Characteristics of Interactive Learning Environments
ILE represent specific system in terms of interactive systems. Their quality does not take care of productivity but take care of learning activities. The aim of ILE design is not to make easier the task of the user but to propose a situation in which the user can build new knowledge. In this case, the role of the system is to guide the learner in his activity without giving him the full answer. Another characteristic of ILE addresses the two kinds of users: learner and teacher. In HCI point of view, the learner is the final user of the system. However the teacher is also a user, he/she chooses and adapts the system in relation of his/her pedagogical intents. The teacher manages the different representation tools (media, knowledge representation) to create specific activities for the student. The third characteristic addresses the role and the management of errors and mistakes. In HCI context, errors represent an obstacle to the productivity of the pair user/software. One of the objectives of the designer is to limit the production of errors and to limit their impact on the work. In education and learning theories, errors have a central position, but do not have negative significance. As mistakes, they give significant information about the cognitive evolution of the learner.
Functional Interaction and Ergonomics Rules
ILE designers apply many ergonomics rules: compatibility, explicit control consistency, significance of codes. However, some criteria do not correspond to the needs of learning environments' design. In learning environments, the aim of errors' management is not the limitation and correction of encountered errors, but is to use them as conceptual knowledge marks. The identification of errors must be done as quickly as possible, but their correction must be managed at a pedagogical level.
Intentional Interaction and Task Approach
The task decomposition is an important approach to design interactive software. This method must be adapted for the specific aspects of ILE. In fact, in the same mean, designers have to describe two levels of task: the problem solving, corresponding to the activity of the student, and the teaching task, corresponding to the pedagogical dialog managed by the system. Design models must take care of the three agents who act in the learning environment: student, system and teacher.
This paper presents user interface design concerns in Interactive Learning Environments. It compares Human Computer Interaction methods and recommendations with specific needs of ILE. Three points are developed: difficulty to apply all ergonomic criteria in ILE interface design, difference between HCI goal which tries to limit user's errors and ILE approach which tries to exploit them in pedagogical way, and the two task levels (problem solving and teaching interaction) which characterize activities in learning software.
Building Educational Tools based
on Formal Concept Analysis
Baltasar Fernandez-Manjon, Alfredo Fernandez-Valmayor
In many cases, educational software and help tools that provide long term remediation of user's misconceptions (or user's lack of knowledge), are built around a conceptual network that represents the key concepts or topics of the application domain. In these cases gathering expert's domain knowledge identifying what are those key concepts and what are their interrelations is an essential phase in the software design process. This approach to the design of educational software is particularly well suited when the following conditions are met. a) There is a basic agreement between experts about the main concepts in the domain; b) The number of identified concepts it is not very high; and c) There are only a few recognized pedagogical paths to teach about the subject. However, this is not the case of many real domains. Difficulties to implement this approach appear when there is no general agreement on which are the key concepts of a domain, and/or how to organize and present these concepts to the learner. In this case the implementation of the help tool, or the computer based lesson that takes into account all (or most of) the identified possibilities, can be an overwhelming task. In this paper we present an approach that can be conceived as an alternative, or better, as a complementary approach, to the educational software design for dealing with this later situation
The approach we propose is based on Formal Concept Analysis Theory (FCAT) and it has been built in a help tool for the UNIX operating system, called Aran. Aran is an assistant designed to enable users to carry on with their current task and to expand their knowledge of the operating system. In Aran we integrate as complementary both approaches, the FCAT and the more traditional approach based on a static, hand coded, conceptual network used to organize and to structure all the available domain information.
Formal Concept Analysis Theory provides the basis for this conceptual tool and it has been already used in many successful applications. FCAT has been applied not only to technical or computer science domains but also in more descriptive disciplines (e.g. biology). FCAT is specially well suited when it is necessary to deal with a big number of entities (or objects) that can be described using a rich set of properties (or attributes). Using FCAT we can automatically classify and structure all the information around the "formal concepts" of the domain, which are natural pairs of objects and attributes sets. The main benefits of this technique are the following: a) it can be applied to wider domains at a reasonable cost; and b) it provides a formal, well founded and easy-to-use approach that improves the interaction between learner and system.
About computer and formal tools for
supporting methods of emotional-imaginative teaching languages
Vladimir A. Fomichov, Olga S. Fomichova
It is planned to outline important new prospects for constructing computer tools destined either for teaching foreign languages (FLs) to young children, teenagers, adults or for teaching young children and teenagers to express thoughts and emotions using a very rich spectrum of means provided by a mother tongue. New prospects are opened due to: the creation of a new theory of teaching called the Theory of Dynamic Conceptual Mappings (the DCM-theory) [1-3], the elaboration of new methods of teaching FLs or mother tongue based on the DCM-theory and called the Methods of Emotional-Imaginative Teaching (EIT-methods) [1-3], the development of a new theory of mathematical describing semantics and pragmatics of natural language (NL) called Integral Formal Semantics, or IFS (the references may be found in INFORMATICA (Slovenia), 1996, No. 1).
The DCM-theory is a theory of effective enriching conceptual systems of the learners, developing their general reasoning abilities, abstract thinking, and imagination; it is motivated mainly by the Artificial Intelligence theory. The EIT-methods have been successfully tested during 7 years in teaching English as a FL to more than three hundred Russian children (totally in diverse years) at the age from four-and-half to seventeen years. The EIT- methods considerably outstrip the other known methods of teaching FLs to children under ten (in particular, the methods of teaching English as a FL to children under ten represented in ).
A very important distinctive feature and advantage of EIT-methods is that they are destined, first of all, for positive developing the personalities of the learners, for helping them to find appropriate words for expressing thoughts and feelings, to be interesting as a person for a partner in communication. For this, EIT-methods suggest new effective ways to teach young children and teenagers to understand the languages of painting and poetry (in particular, to understand poetical metaphors), to describe just on the spot landscapes, to compose fairy-tales, stories, poems in FL, to see complicated interrelations of situations associated with words and discourses.
The EIT-methods may be supported, in particular, by the following computer educational tools: (a) Electronic Dictionaries; (b) Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) capable to suggest such words in a FL which have the required ending and pertain to some required cognitive field (winter, joy, etc.); (c) ITSs for very effective explaining basic rules of English grammar; (d) ITSs realizing some new, highly effective language games.
1. Fomichov, V. A., and Fomichova, O. S.: The theory of dynamic conceptual mappings and its significance for education, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. Informatica ( Slovenia), 1994, No. 2.
2. Fomichov, V.A., and Fomichova, O.S.: The artificial intelligence theory and highly effective methods of teaching young children foreign languages. Cybernetica (Belgium), 1995, No. 4.
3. Fomichova, O. S., and Fomichov, V. A.: Theoretical foundations of a new method of teaching children effective information processing. Informatica (Slovenia), 1996, No. 3.
4. Scott, W. A., and Ytreberg, L. H.: Teaching English to Children. 7th impression. Longman Group UK Limited, London, New York, 1994.
An approach to the design of learner-centered
tools for continuos training in SME
Paola Forcheri, Maria Teresa Molfino
It is common knowledge that innovation in small and medium-sized businesses is crucial to economic growth and employment, a factor extensively explored in . In this respect, the capacity to approach innovation in a collaborative and constructive manner, acquisition of the new skills and knowledge needed to meet this challenge, and the flexibility to adapt to constant change in techniques and methods are all key elements for entering the job market successfully and, in a wider sense, being a fully-aware and purposeful member of the new information age. Information and communication technologies are a driving force behind innovation, both in processes and outcomes. It is therefore important to raise people's awareness of technology and to train them not only in its use but also in the transformation of the job world brough about by technology . The issue is of particular importance and urgency to those threatened with redundancy, workers whose skills, knowledge and background are outdated in a society undergoing constant evolution. Consequently, effective training methods must be designed to help them acquire technical and cultural understanding, permitting them to meet the challenges of technological development and to adapt to the changes this will bring about in the organisation of work and production . Several problems underly the design of these methods. On the one hand, employees have to learn new contents, as automation and communication tools, working methods, as collaborative and team work, and to change their working habit, as to show initiative and flexibility, to be able to take responsibility. On the other, the production needs of the enterprise greatly affect the possibility of planning traditional training activities. In this context, multimedia and networked educational tools seem to be a valuable answer to these opposite needs . According with these ideas, we are developing a project, supported by the Adapt initiative of the European Community. The project focuses on the use of educational technology for continuous training on informatics and its applications in office automation . The target are middle-aged people occupied in small-medium enterprises and running the risk of loosing their job. Due to the target, the design of effective tools is a particularly delicate problem: users have a long experience of work without computers, are usually anxious towards automation, fear the changes of their role and of the interactions with the colleagues deriving from the new job context. Thus, these tools must be provided with an interface carefully centered on the learner , which stimulates the learning, is very easy to use, offers facilities which help to understand the effect of automation on the job activity, uses metaphors taken from the working context, provides people with feedback, proposes activities carefully structured to focus users' attention on the issues for which they have to learn informatics. With these ideas in mind, we carried out a series of interviews to employees, aimed at deriving a core of common needs and difficulties. The results of the interviews are used for building a learner-centered interface based on experimental pedagogical assumptions. In this paper, we will discuss the main lines of the interviews, and the results we obtained from the cases studied. Then, we will analyse the influence of these results on the design of the interface, through examples of realisation. This analysis aims at giving an operative contribution to the discussion on how to render technology an effective tool for training.
1.AA.VV, Learner-Centered Design, Communication of ACM, vol.39, n.4, 1996
2.Blandow D., Dyrenfurth M.J., 1994, Technology Education in School and Industry, Nato ASI Series Vol. 135, Springer-Verlag, 1994
3.European Commission, White paper on growth, competitiveness and employement. The challange and ways forward into 21st century, December 1993
4.European Commission, The green paper on innovation, December 1995
5.European Commission, White paper on education and training, November. 1995
6.Forcheri P., Molfino M.T., The Project Qualification 2000, IMA-CNR Publications, 1(1997), pp.3-10
PépiTest, a software to establish the cognitive profile of the students in elementary algebra
Stéphanie Jean, Élisabeth Delozanne, Pierre Jacoboni, Brigitte Grugeon
Software PépiTest which we present here was conceived and realised as part of the Pépite project. This multidisciplinary project involves, in data processing, Martial Vivet, élisabeth Delozanne, Pierre Jacoboni and Stéphanie Jean from the LIUM (Laboratoire d'Informatique de l'Université du Maine) and, in didactics of mathematics, Michèle Artigue and Brigitte Grugeon from the DIDIREM laboratory of Paris VII. Pépite's aim is to construct a data processing system able to establish the cognitive profile of the students of French secondary schools in elementary algebra. In this project, we base our work on a validated didactic study. This study allows us to establish cognitive profiles of students by transversal analysis of the results obtained while applying a multidimensional analysis grid to the answers given by the students to a set of pencil & paper exercises. The Pépite project aims to automate the pencil & paper diagnosis tool. The architecture of Pépite contains three modules: - PépiTest which gives the students an adaptation of the pencil & paper tasks to the computer and which collects their answers. This software has been completed, it was tested for the first time in October 1996, and this is the work which will be presented and discussed in the article. - PépiDiag which interprets and codes the students' productions, from the data furnished by PépiTest according to the multidimensional analysis grid, while awarding values to criteria tested by the exercise. - PépiProfil which, from the preceding code, establishes the students' profiles and presents them to the users (teachers or researchers).
PépiTest proposes to the students a set of 23 exercises of different types (some answers are given by Multiple Choice Questions, by moving expressions, but the student must also do calculations, give justifications). The traces of the session, in the form of text files, allows us to analyse the productions of the students (currently by hand, then automatically with PépiDiag). The design of PépiTest raises a double problem: on the one hand, there are problems linked to the transfer of pencil & paper tasks to a machine and on the other hand there are problems more particularly linked to ergonomy. - Concerning the transfer of pencil & paper tasks to a machine, indeed, each task gives special difficulties linked to the nature of the concerned cognitive activities and searched data. In each case we have been careful that the conceived exercise, even different the pencil & paper one, enables us to have the same observations. - The test having for goal to give a profile of the student for a specific period (the transition between forth and fifth form class), it is destined to be used only once by each student. For this reason, PépiTest must not suppose any special learning time, eventually, a quick learning period proposed at the beginning of the session. This is the reason why we take a big care to the design of the interface, in particular by respecting ergonomic rules.
Extended Architecture of the Control
Knowledge in Intelligent Tutoring Shell
Jerinic Ljubomir, Devedzic Vladan, Lomic Marijana
Many important issues in design and implementation of ITSs (Intelligent Tutoring Systems) some functionality focuses on the way inter-object connections are represented, manipulated, and stored in the computer. However, the advancement of AI methods and techniques makes understanding of ITSs more difficult, so that the teachers are less and less prepared to accept these systems. As a result, the gap between the researchers in the field of ITSs and the educational community is constantly widening. Also the present ITSs need quite big development environments, huge computing resources and, in consequence, are expensive and hardly portable to personal computers. We have been searching for efficient ways to do these knowledge engineering tasks. This paper describes our efforts toward developing uniform data and control structures that can be used by a wide circle of authors, e.g., domain experts, teachers, curriculum developers, etc., who are involved in the building of ITSs. The paper concentrates on class hierarchies and design of classes for knowledge representation in our EduSof model of intelligent tutoring shell. Other models of intelligent tutoring systems used today, as well as the corresponding knowledge models, differ only to an extent. However, the design methodologies employed vary a lot, and sometimes even remain blurred for the sake of the system functionality alone. On the other hand, using a shell for developing intelligent tutoring systems brings more systematic design, but can also become a limiting factor if the shell doesn't support a certain knowledge representation technique or design strategy that may be needed in a particular system. The EduSof model makes possible to develop more flexible software environments for building intelligent tutoring systems, significantly increasing their modularity and reusability. It is based on a number of design patterns and class libraries developed in order to support building of intelligent systems. The processes of computer-based tutoring and learning based on the EduSof model are much closer to human-based instruction. The model can be easily extended to cover the needs of particular tutoring systems. Also in this paper we will described our extension to the ITSs model adding the new module called Explanation module. The type of knowledge - explanations generated by the system or required from the user is realized by object-oriented model of data-driven mechanisms. EduSof differs between several kinds of explanations (those presented to end-users - EndUserExplanation, those presented to ITS developers - DeveloperExplanation, those required from students when checking their knowledge - StudentExplanation, those concerned with explaining the system's functioning - SystemExplanation, those explaining various concepts or topics - ConceptExplanation and TopicExplanation, etc.). In generating explanations, EduSof can use knowledge from various kinds of knowledge elements (rules, frames, knowledge chunks, etc.). Also, in EduSof we differs various types of explanation: WhyExplanation, HowExplanation and WhatExplanation for realization of Why, How and What student's requests. The corresponding demos and lunches for the WhyExplanation, HowExplanation, TQExplanation, TopicExplanation, WhatExplanation are realized to be fired when students or pupils ask the system to explain what, why or how, for some part of knowledge, or to explain the appropriate knowledge primitives TaskQuestion, Topic, Concept, etc. The next extension to the ITSs is involving that the control knowledge of EduSof is extended by adding the psychological type of the responds to some actions or questions of the user, and appropriate screen models. The control knowledge managed the domain knowledge according the student model and the teaching strategy. This component of the EduSof is by generalized and abstracted If-Then rules which control the domain knowledge represented with the knowledge network of semantically connected frames. That knowledge network represents the content to be taught in terms of lessons, concepts, rules, tasks, questions, actions, and examples and their interrelationships. The control knowledge according to the users action and pre- tested psychologically type of the users managed that network and the user-computer interaction.
Supporting Student Discussions:
It Isn't Just Talk
Jean McKendree, Finbar Dineen and, John Lee
The Vicarious Learner project is looking broadly at issues concerning the role of dialogue in learning. As one part of this project, we are teaching courses which require students to discuss topics using an Internet forum. The Computers in Teaching and Learning (CTL) course has been taught twice (CTL1 and CTL2) using this discussion component. We gathered interview and access data during the first running of the course and analysed the discussions for focus and content. Based on the students' comments and our own analysis of the usefulness of the discussions, we made major changes to both the interface to the course materials and to the organisation and management of the discussion forum.
We found significant differences in the interactional or HCI aspects of the course which were generally favourable after the changes. However, we also found differences in the content of the discussions and the attitudes of the students toward the discussions which were generally negative.
The paper will show examples of discussion organisation and content in both the CTL courses. Developing an improved structure for discussions in CTL2, based on the comments and observation of real users in a real setting, was not successful in improving the discussions.
Analysis of interviews and contributions suggest that differences in the dialogue generated were due to two principal factors :
a) differences in student population between CTL1 and CTL2
b) differences in 'discourse rules' for managing the flow of the discussion. Changes in student population will always arise, and we merely note here that this is a topic which has not been adequately addressed by Computer Mediated Communication research.
If the differences in the discussion produced are primarily due to discourse rules, then models of discourse must be better tuned to account specifically for educational discourse as opposed to everyday conversation. We are developing a model of educational dialogue which indicates what the special properties are of educational dialogues and where difficulties may arise. For instance, 'real world' data shows that teachers rarely ask real questions, they merely elicit particular responses from students. Studies show that children become schooled in the rules of this discourse structure within the first six months of entering school. The effects of tutors and students following these discourse rules include that student-initiated discussion is rare.
How then do we encourage student discussion? Research on non-computer-based discussion and seminar groups have shown that the same problems now being discussed by the CMC community have a long and honorable history in pedagogical research. The recommendations made by these researchers should now be taken seriously and communications tools with greater sensitivity to the psychological and emotional nature of educational discourse be developed. Our model of discourse indicates that the unique character of educational dialogue is aimed at revealing the hidden structure of domain knowledge and reasoning and that discussion can be made more effective by the better use by the tutor of modeling of desired discourse, and by explicitly varying the roles of the students and tutors. Thus we hope to break down the student's prior dialogue assumptions, based on the actually quite different patterns of non-educational discourse.
We are developing a series of Task Directed Discussion games (TDDs) which encourage students to quickly engage in meaningful discussions early in the courses. These games gradually demand more and more deep thinking about the domain and 'ease students in' to discussions. These TDDs are a first step both toward developing methods which will be useful for any student population and also toward testing and refining our model of educational dialogues. We are also looking at ways to incorporate these TDDs in on-line discussions.
Improving Collaborative Learning
through Information Technology
Margaret M. McManus, Robert M. Aiken
Collaborative learning has gained attention as an effective pedagogical method, especially in the last twenty-five years. Collaborative learning is based on the premise that students working together in groups can learn the content material and achieve higher academic goals than working individually (Johnson & Johnson, 1990). In the most effective collaborative process, students work under the direction of a teacher/facilitator and also learn to use collaborative skills.
Information technology has made great strides in providing support of students in a learning environment. Early Computer-Aided Instruction programs aided the individual student learning a subject (Sleeman & Brown, 1982). Groupware extends instructional technology to people working together in groups on networked computers to produce a product. While there are many strong points in groupware products and tools, there are limitations to some existing groupware tools to support collaborative learning. Among these are GroupSystems (Nunamaker et al., 1995), LotusNotes' Learning Space (1996), Mallard (1996), "Tapped-in" (SRI, 1996) and TeamRooms (Roseman and Greenberg, 1996). These systems enable people to work together in groups, but do not provide the teaching or support of learning collaborative skills.
The Intelligent Collaborative Learning System (ICLS) and its Group Leader paradigm (McManus, McManus & Aiken) provides the information technology to support students working together on a project and to teach them collaborative skills. The Group Leader computer tutor provides the means for more effectively having students collaborate.
Studies regarding the use of the ICLS in an academic environment show that the system facilitates students working together on a project and to learn collaborative skills. In particular, system satisfaction and system acceptance were rated positively by the students. Students used the collaborative skills of openness and acknowledgment. Their academic achievement in subject matter of the experiment, introductory programming, improved. A study of their attitudes, such as self-esteem and liking for school, however, showed no change after using the system.
The ICLS provides a networked environment in which students work together, each at his or her own computer, to produce a project. The Jigsaw method (Aronson et al., 19??) inherent to the system enables students to work in expert groups electronically on both the discussion and task levels. In our experiments, the students worked in a networked, closed laboratory. The system supports asynchronous communication among the students in the group as well as with the Group Leader, in a same-time, same-place environment. Students were encouraged to answer each others questions electronically. In the case of those questions which could not be resolved by the students, the students were advised by the Group Leader to seek help from the human teacher. The Group Leader was not expected to provide advice about the content of the exercise, writing a structured Pascal program.
Normally, when a human teacher sets up a non-electronic collaborative learning classroom, she must share her time among all the groups. With each group, she can interact personally, encouraging them to use collaborative skills, but she is not able to constantly interact with each group. The ICLS provides a means for the Group Leader computer tutor to constantly encourage students to collaborate, at any time and in any place. This enables the human teacher to provide the extra support needed in helping students with more difficult content related questions.
Our future work with the ICLS includes additional experiments on use of the system and possible improvements to the system. Experiments will be structured with three groups: 1) a control group in which students work individually; 2) a cooperative learning group in which students use the Jigsaw method without the ICLS; and 3) an electronic cooperative learning group in which students use the Jigsaw method with the ICLS. Studies would then be conducted to study whether and how well the ICLS facilitates students use cooperative skills, whether their attitudes change and whether their academic achievement improves. Possible improvements to the system could be investigated with the use of current collaborative technologies, such as LotusNotes with its discussion databases, and the World Wide Web with collaboration over the Internet. For each of these technologies, the strengths and weaknesses of such a platform would need to be investigated and tested. The group model of the ICLS system could also be expanded to further study how well the group performs.
A Virtual Learning Environment for
Doing Business on the Internet
Roumen Nikolov, Krassen Stefanov
The power of the new Communication and Information Technologies influences human life and economy so deeply that makes all of us learners both as individuals and members of (real or virtual) learning communities and learning organizations in a learning society. Looking back at the communication and information technology history we could clearly observe that the main attention of researchers and technologists has been gradually moved from hardware to software, next - to human-computer interface, and now - to social issues related to global communication and collaboration. The Computer Mediated Communication leads to establishment of virtual communities formed on the basis of common topics of interest, collaborative work, business, or other joint activities. These communities cross the national and cultural barriers and demand for re-conceptualization of the social life, including education and business.
The paper presents the main design issues of a human computer interaction model of a WWW based course on Business on the Internet, as well as its interrelations with the course instructional design strategy. It relies on a learner centered instructional model allowing learners to get opportunity to construct their own knowledge while solving real business problems and transfer their knowledge to other learners. They learn autonomously taking the responsibility for their learning and following their individual cognitive styles, interests, preferences. Both students and tutors "inhabit" a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that offers different virtual places and services: virtual university, virtual enterprise, auditoriums, workshop rooms, cafes, libraries, where people from different locations can meet, interact, learn and work together, as if they were face-to-face. The VLE provides facility for all participants (students, teachers, administrators) to work interactively in a coordinated way. The learners have access to the VLE as members of a global cooperatively learning community. The learning community involves students and tutors who collectively take responsibility for the design and evaluation of the course content and the teaching methods to be applied.
The Business on the Internet course could be viewed as a case study for instructional design principles for on-line courses as well as a technological framework for distance course implementation. It is based on the following Internet features: hyper-text for structured presentation of the material; interactivity, allowing experiments; communication with the tutor and study fellows; multimedia. The main technological platform for course delivery is the WWW integrated with other Internet services such as E-mail, computer conferencing, WWW access to Data Bases, etc.
The interactive activities include: tasks for students (multiple choice tests, answering open questions, writing short essays/quizzes, doing case studies, group discussion on a given topic, free exercises/practice). teacher's reactions (answering questions - either individually or for the whole group, giving feedback for related task - either individually or for the whole group, guiding students depending on their results, guiding a group discussion). student's interactive actions (go to café - free conversation with other students, asking other students for help, asking the teacher for help, viewing other student's results). teacher's interactive actions (viewing students' portfolio/personal log, viewing all students' results for specific task, viewing not succeeded tasks).
A Design for a Hypermedia-Based
Ossi Nykänen, Martti Ala-Rantala
Our paper presents a design for a Hypermedia-Based Learning Environment, HBLE for short. It will be an environment for teaching and learning mathematical sciences with distributed interactive hypermedia systems. HBLE will offer tools and methods for course development, teaching, maintenance and different learner-centered studying strategies. The system will also have information acquisition functionality for research purposes. HBLE may be used either as learning material to supplement a regular university course or by an inde- pendent student. In either case, graded examinations will still retain their traditional form. The system will be integrated with our university's student registration and course enrollment databases. The learning material is presented as a directed acyclic graph called knowledge graph. Information is divided into cells and arcs combining them. The content of one cell teaches one simple issue whereas arcs define the prerequisite relations between cells; to fully understand a cell's content one must under- stand all prerequisite cells. Learning material may be therefore conveniently presented in a form of a generalized hypertext document with link semantics of its own. Although knowledge graph resembles the idea of a concept map, these two learning aids need necessary not to be the same. Knowledge graph and concept map usually share their cells, but may have different arc topology. Cells in HBLE comprise five types of material: theory, exercises, theoretical and practical examples as well as tests. These are divided into difficulty levels by the author. Material is composed of (basically) arbitrary combination of text, graphics, simulations, audio, video, interfaces to mathematical software and other media types. In addition, cells store measurement data about the student's progress in cell's subject. The system uses this data in conjunction with the difficulty levels to adapt to an individual student's learning success. Another form of adaptation is learning strategy planning. This is achieved with special measures of student's contextual learning. Student is offered a selection of strategies, e.g., basic skills improvement and target-oriented studying. The underlying technology is WWW. On the client side, any Java-enabled Web browser with necessary audio and video plug-ins can be used. The system is intended for use via Web, but it can also be used, with limited functionality, from a CD-ROM. Java applets will be used extensively, for example, for user interaction and illustrative simulations. Learning material database will reside on the server side. HTML pages are created on the fly on the server side and partially by Java applets on the client side. In addition to the learning material, the server stores various usage statistics plus the students' learning progress data. The server side functionality will be implemented using Java and C++. The high-level architectural design of HBLE is a distributed and modular framework facilitating future extensions like additional media types, enhancements to the graph theory and teaching deductive sciences other than mathematics.
Concept Maps as design tools and as
Pouts-Lajus Serge, Occam Bessiere Christian
The proposed contribution will present and discuss the results of POLLEN, an on-going European project (Telematics Application programme DGXIII, Education and Training sector). POLLEN partnership associates research teams (ICTT and LDES), several publishers of educational material and telematics providers bringing into the project their technical teams and experimental high bandwidth network (France and Germany). The project aims at designing and producing multimedia products in the field of pure sciences and technology for "home learners" (young adults and adults). Thanks to regional advanced networks a sample of home learners will have large band connection in order to access to educational products and to communicate with distant tutors and with other learners. This set up will provide a real life situation for the experiments.
We propose to focus the contribution (paper, web site, demonstration) on Interactive Concept Maps seen from two points of view : Concept maps as collaborative design tools for authors and as visual interface for final home learners users.
Concept mapping is an experimental representation system proposed by J.D. Nowak and used by didacticians of science to represent a domain of scientific knowledge as it is perceived by the persons, experts, teachers or students, who participate in the creation of the map. Concept mapping can be used for analysing students conceptions or for curriculum development. A set of formal explicit and implicit construction rules to be applied in concept mapping and their semiotic implication are proposed, based on observed maps and practices (§1). The pedagogical characteristics of concept mapping are analysed through two main functions: a function of representation (§2) which allows a group of people to elaborate collectively a representation of a structured domain of knowledge and a function of negotiation (§3) which supports the interpersonal communication among the co-creators of the map. The possible contribution of information and telecommunication technology in concept mapping is multiple. A first way is to use dedicated software tools to design concept maps and telecommunication facilities to support distance co-operative design. The second way is to exploit information and telecommunication technology to extend the audience of a concept map by introducing hypermedia features, interactivity and electronic mailing in the design of a new generation of interactive concept maps (§4) which could be used as learning materials. In this second perspective, concept map plays two main roles: first, it is an interface to access rich multimedia documentation and second, it is a platform for discussion among users and authors of the map.
Supporting Development: Applied Cognitive
Clark N. Quinn
The cognitive engineering approach has led to a consideration of the capabilities and limitations of users in the product of system design. There has not, however, been a similar recognition of human limitations in the process of design. One way to improve the product of design is by improvements in the process of design, specifically addressing the limitations of designers. In particular, educational and multimedia design face specific hurdles. The goal is to identify where design for cognitive capabilities can propose support for the process of design for cognitive capabilities. Indications of the needs to be addressed come from both empirical results and theoretical viewpoints, as well as particular application requirements. Specific suggestions include heuristics for design and scaffolding the design process through support tools. The mutually reinforcing viewpoints from human-computer interaction and learning environment design are used to reflect on how environments for both task and learning can be augmented.
Pedagogical issues for the design
of a Hypermedia-Based Learning Environment (HBLE)
Heli Ruokamo-Saari, Seppo Pohjolainen
This paper discusses the design of a hypermedia based learning environment for the mathematical sciences. Such an open learning environment cannot merely be a hypermedia representation of a text book. Although a university student has access to subject literature she or he still needs guidance or tutoring in order to master the material. Especially at the undergraduate level mathematics is taught in classes of hundreds of people. Personal tutoring is out of the question because of the lack of resources. An hypermedia based learning environment can mitigate this lack of tutoring by offering an adaptive, personalized environment that can keep track of student's progress, suggest an traversal order through the material and assess the level of the student's comprehension of the material. Such an environment enhances textbook-style fixed examples and exercises with user controlled simulations that can make abstract mathematical ideas more comprehensible.
The design of an effective learning environment for mathematics should be based on the latest development of the learning theories that emphasize the importance of constructivism and learner's activity in building mental models of the mathematical knowledge. The environment should support conversational and collaborative learning. From the point of view of the learner it should be intentional and provide real life situations and contexts to motivate the study of abstract mathematical contents. Also it should give sufficient feedback and be able to adapt to the needs of various learners.
The purpose of the paper is to present pedagogical principles to serve as starting points and guidelines in the design of a hypermedia based learning environment (HBLE). The technical design will be presented by Nykänen and Ala-Rantala in the paper entitled: A Design for a Hypermedia-Based Learning Environment.
HCI issues for Web-Based Training course
Use of Internet in education and training has been growing rapidly during last two years, training companies has recognized it's usefulness much faster than every other new kind of training before that. The short experience shows that WWW can be used in education and training in different ways and levels: from additional resource bank in face-to-face learning activities to carefully designed virtual classroom. In this paper we address design of Web-based Training (WBT), which we define as a form of distance education delivered via WWW.
WorldWideWeb has all characteristics of an exellent distance learning environment: it's available everywhere, it has fast access to huge amounts of information and good communication tools. Designing and updating Web-based courseware is easy and not too expensive. It has caused "gold rush" within education and training community - many training providers are in hurry to set up on-line versions of their courses, without reasoning specific issues of Web-based course design. It's not enough to have just well-prepared content of the course or nice graphical design with streaming multimedia to make a good Web-based course.
HCI design of Web-based courses is dependent on instructional design principles and decisions in one hand and on current technological capabilities of WWW environment in the other hand. In this paper we are going to open discussion on HCI issues of Web-based course design, based on the catalogue of WBT instructional tools. This catalogue has been prepared to support Web-based course design by presenting sets of available alternative solutions for every instructional event or functionality. At the end the paper is discussing the results of some Web-based courseware evaluation with respect of the catalogue implementation.
Issues in the Design of a HyperClass
HyperReality technology allows the seamless interaction of virtual people, virtual objects and virtual settings with physically real people, objects and settings. The technology is in prototype stage. The paper will report on the implications of this technology for education taking into account issues that are arising from the design of an experimental application of HyperReality to form a HyperClass between students in New Zealand and Japan in September 1997
Development of the hypermedia course:
Introduction to university level mathematics
Pasi Hakkinen, Kari Suomela
Every year in Tampere University of Technology some students start their studies but have not enough knowledge in mathematics. Therefore they must study some basics in mathematics in order to be able to solve different mathematical tasks that occur on other courses. This course is called Introduction to university level mathematics and it is offered in Finnish as lecture notes and in web using hypermedia. The URL is http://matwww.ee.tut.fi/jkkm/. The course material has also been used at high school to improve student's skills. Therefore material includes final examination of high school mathematics and entrance examinations of technical universities from previous years.
Course material was originally written in Microsoft Word 6.0 and mathematical equations are produced with MathType. Major problems in mathematical texts are equations because HTML language that is used to describe Web pages does not support symbols and notation of mathematics. Word documents are converted to HTML with DOS program RtfToHtml because it can recognise special characters and can divide even large texts to different HTML files.
RtfToHtml is used to create separate HTML file of index entries and name tags to precise positions from Word indexes. This information is also used while making hyperlinks with our own solutions. These links help readers while they want to check unknown definitions or terms and in that way more easily use material while studying on his/her own. Links are not adaptive but constant: all readers see same links and their basic knowledge is not checked.
Animations are embedded to text in order to make some difficult expressions and definitions more easy to learn, for example dividing polynomials and solving angles and sides of the triangle. There are video clips, pictures, equations and voice in the animation. These are produced using Claris Works, Adobe Photo Shop and Adobe Premier. Animations are QuickTime Movies that can be seen with Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer or separate programs in UNIX environment. Because of the size of the animations they must be stored locally.
Communication between students and teacher is supported in various ways. Using email students can send comments and questions to their teacher and author of the hyper course ware. Everyone can leave messages anonymously at bulletin boards. Real time chat is also possible.
Interactions based on information
in a distance learning action
This paper discusses how the use of the large information basis, now available through internet, may provide new educational approaches by stimulating activities such as experimentation, inquiry, information seek, co-operative work.... The development of a distance learning course of multimedia for graduate students will be the concrete example for a more general situation. The various steps of development which will now be described are not specific to the chosen domain. A starting project for training company's managers follow the same approach which may extend to various other fields.
The starting point for the design of the distance learning material
are standard books about technical basis for multimedia and about multimedia
design. These books provide the frame for the course : learning objectives
will correspond to chapters and sections and the index will enable learners
and teachers to agree on a terminology. The second step consists in building
an hypermedia version of these books. The previously mentioned table of
contents and index provides a convenient way for building " structural
links ". Together with animations, illustrations or even simulations
they may make browsing more appealing than reading. However at this point
almost anything is classical : it is not clear that the use of electronic
documents and network brings any fundamental advantage. This is no more
the case for the last stage of hypermedia development which consists in
the definition of semantics anchors and links. Two methods have been used
for this purpose. The first one, based on a thesaurus derived from the
index, enables to create semantic networks which will give to the learner
meaningful reading paths. The second method consists in creating transverse
links by adding "meta knowledge" to the contribution of the authors
: it will show complementary, analogy, oppositions,... between concepts
which are carried at different parts of the course. These illustrations
of " associative thought " can hardly be performed without computer
but do not require network interaction. The next step was to add examples.
During the last five years our students have produced over thirty significant
maquets which may illustrate various points of the course but they seem
old fashioned after one or two years compared to new products available
freely through the net. Three other tracks, which likely to the previous
example, make an optimised use of information available on the net have
Inquiries : in the example of developing a multimedia application preliminary opportunity studies, need studies, or product studies are fundamental. The same kind of search may be applied for jobs.
Support of co-operative projects : groups of (distant ) students will together design information basis related to some topics assigned by the teacher.
Extended bibliography : a large number of papers are selected. Questions are asked to the students, they may use this base (with some sophisticated " natural language " query system) in order to write their dissertation.
Designing instructional multimedia:
Creating a new rationale based on performance rather than learning
There lacks coherent and persuasive rationales for the development of multimedia in teaching and learning, particularly in tertiary settings. Indeed, educational multimedia, to date, has been marked by lacklustre products with an emphasis in development and evaluation placed largely on technological issues (such as the use of video, sound and animations). As such, the rapid increase in commercially available (usually CD based) products has generally met a cool reception from academics and educationalists, with both these groups often bemoaning the paucity or non-existence of effective instructional design models in educational multimedia. It is imperative that we provide a range of rationales for the use of multimedia in teaching and learning, based in clearly delineated constructs that derive their substance from theoretical models and research findings.
The paper will report on the author's research that originates in the notion of using software technologies as cognitive tools. More specifically, this notion involves a conceptualisation of multimedia in hypermedia constructs as possessing a set of unique characteristics and functions that relate closely to certain cognitive processes present in the handling and representation of information and knowledge. Furthermore, the notion also embraces the potential of electronic performance support systems (EPSS) as support systems for novices undertaking complex cognitive tasks -- a role that is, in part, suggested by their use in commercial settings but one that is yet to be fully developed in educational ones.
In particular, this paper will describe the development and investigation of a hypermedia product designed to operate as an EPSS to support novices in completing a complex cognitive task.
Theoretical perspectives on the
design of instructional multimedia
Martyn Wild, Clark N. Quinn
As technological advances offer new learning opportunities, there must be recourse to educational theory to guide design. Indeed, a number of themes emerge in any discussion about educational theory, learning and instruction, any one of which may be of use in informing our application of these technologies for pedagogical ends. It is growing important, however, to look for a synergy in our educational deliberations, to use a range of coherent theoretical perspectives to optimise the use of new technologies in teaching and learning. Interactive multimedia, in particular, provides a powerful tool for both teachers and learners and, consequently, an opportunity to reconsider the place of educational theory, and particularly theories centred on student learning, in the design of learning environments.
In this paper, we consider a variety of theoretical perspectives and use our considerations to advise on ways in which one might optimise both the role and design of interactive multimedia in bringing about effective learning. We then use our thesis to support an argument for a particular approach to the use of technologies in learning -- the use of dynamic modelling tools as representations of learners' thinking and doing. We do this through a consideration of the learner, the learning context, and desirable learner interactions and outcomes.
Knowledge graphs in mathematics education
The aim of this research is to develop, test and improve a cognitive tool by which students can be supported in structuring their mathematical knowledge. In mathematics education, in school or in (university) courses to support other disciplines, too little attention is paid to the theory. So students do not have optimal advantage of it, for instance in solving mathematical problems.
The basic assumption for this research is that it is in favour for both learning mathematics as well as problem solving to give the mathematical theory an explicite place. There should be not only attention for the mathematical theory, but also emphasis on the reflection by the students on it: what are the elements of the theory, which relations connect them?
In learning not the knowledge itself is the main issue, but the insight in the structure of that knowledge: learning is seen as a metacognitive strategy. By acquiring insight in the structure the learner gets also insight in his own learning process what can improve the quality of his learning process. By constructing a knowledge graph a student is forced to reflect on and structure what he is supposed to learn.
In a knowledge graph a student can visualize the concepts of some substantial parts of a math course and the relations between these concepts. The construction of a knowledge graph is done with a specially designed computer programme.
At the start of the research there was a bit vague vision on what a knowledge graph should be. It has to represent the meaning of the subject matter (expressivity) and it has to be clear in one glance (convenient arrangement). This was tested in an experiment. Seven colleagues, all having reasonable expertise in mathematics, teachers, engineers, were asked to construct a knowledge graph to one learning unit of the course on linear algebra designed for students in computing or natural sciences. The expectation was that the resulting graphs would be more or less alike. But this was not so.
The main conclusion of the first part of the investigation was that there was the need for a model in which a student can perform his structuring activity. So, there was made a redesign which gives more hold. The outcome of this redesign should be a knowledge graph that not only meets the criteria mentioned, but also significance: a clear distinction between important and less important concepts. This criterium reflects that structuring knowledge has its own procedure: from important to less important. This top down approach is parallel to the approach in problem solving, where a problem solver first decides what part of mathematics he thinks is most appropriate and then goes in more detail.
To date there is experimented with five students who were asked to construct a knowledge graph following the framework. About the background of the model, the computer programme and the results will be reported.