Tools for collaborative e-activities

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23 Φεβ 2014 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 3 μήνες)

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D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


G. Adorni, F. Bergenti, D. Bianchi,
A. Poggi, M. Somacher


G. Adorni
Università di Genova e
-
mail:
adorni@dist.unige.it

F.Bergenti, D. Bianchi, A. Poggi, M.Somacher,
Università

di
Parma, e
-
mail:
{bergenti,bianchi,poggi,somacher}@ce.unipr.it


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities

This

paper

discusses

a

system

to

facilitate

activities

through

the

network

(e
-
activities)

offering

tools

for

collaborative

work,

video

conferencing

and

video

on

demand
.

The

architecture

of

the

system

is

composed

by

two

levels
.

The

first

level,

called

collaborative

level
,

allows

remote

users

to

take

part

to

a

meeting

where

they

can

interact

with

each

other

via

a

chatting

line

and

by

sharing

the

use

of

different

applications
.

A

second

level,

called

multimedia

level
,

allows

a

multimedia

interaction

between

the

members

of

the

meeting
.

Each

user

must

own

a

microphone,

a

CCD

camera

and

an

internet

connection

with

a

sufficient

bandwidth

to

support

the

exchange

of

audio

and

video

data
.

We

present

some

results

obtained

during

research

activities

(project

meetings,

software

design

and

debugging,

document

writing)

involving

people

connected

from

different

towns

of

Italy
.

The

system

was

also

used

in

e
-
learning

activities

distributed

through

a

campus

local

network
.


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

The Web in collaborative e
-
activities.



The

Web

is

assuming

a

central

role

in

the

way

people

share

information
.



Web

browsers

are

available

everywhere

and

they

provide

an

environment

to

integrate

different

services

into

a

common,

easily

accessible,

platform
-
independent

user

interface
.



The

Web

has

already

been

adopted

as

one

of

the

principal

media

capable

of

supporting

the

collaboration

between

people
.


Nevertheless,

the

basic

communication

facilities

that

the

Web

offers

are

not

sufficient

to

support

an

interactive

approach

to

collaboration
.



The

communication

needs

for

which

the

Web

was

designed

was

about

consulting

structured

documents

and

was

not

about

supporting

an

interactive

discussion

in

a

virtual

group
.



The

available

Web

technologies

are

not

yet

sufficient

to

implement

the

virtual
-
workgroup

or

the

virtual
-
classroom

metaphor
.



D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

The System Architecture


Our system relies on a multi
-
level architecture.


We define three levels that differ for
(i)

interactivity and
(ii)

requirements on the user’s multimedia equipment and on the
available bandwidth.


The higher is the level, the higher is the interactivity that the
system offers and the higher are the requirements on the user’s
equipment.


The multi
-
level approach allows the system adapting to the
capabilities of the user.


We propose a solution that is completely based on off
-
the
-
shelf
technology that also domestic users can access with small
investments.

D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Hypermedia material
& E-mail services
Chatting line &
Cooperative Tools
Audio & Video
Data Exchange
Coarse
-
grained
architecture

of the system


Users

accessing

the

system

through

a

domestic

narrowband

connection

can

still

use

the

services

of

the

collaborative

level
.


Users

with

a

wide

band

connection

(eg
.

a

campus

local

network)

can

also

access

the

highest

level

and

take

part

to

an

interactive

multimedial

virtual

meeting
.


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Supporting collaborative activity



In

general

terms,

a

collaborative

activity

is

supported

by

group

communication,

i
.
e
.
,

by

an

exchange

of

information

among

a

group

of

participants,

the

collaborators,

in

a

session
.



Collaborators

may

play

different

roles

in

a

session

and

the

roles

can

change

dynamically
.



Collaborators

may

also

join

and

leave

a

running

session
.



A

collaborative

platform

is

required

to

provide

all

the

facilities

needed

to

support

the

dynamic

nature

of

the

collaboration
.



A

collaborative

platform

should

guarantee

the

availability

of

suitable

media

for

information

exchange
.


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Synchronous vs. asynchronous

collaboration



A

collaborative

activity

can

be

roughly

classified

into

two

categories,

depending

on

the

information

exchange

dynamism
:

synchronous

or

asynchronous



Synchronous

collaboration

is

characterized

by

a

high

level

of

interaction

within

the

group
:

all

the

collaborators

share

a

single

view

of

the

discussion

and

the

information

is

exchanged

when

it

becomes

available
.



Conversely,

in

an

asynchronous

collaboration
,

the

information

is

transferred

only

on

demand,

thus

lowering

the

degree

of

interaction

in

the

group
.



The

classic

Web

communication

facility

support

only

an

asynchronous

collaboration,

mainly

because

HTTP

protocol

rely

on

a

communication

model

in

which

the

browser

needs

to

request

the

information,

as

HTML

pages,

from

the

server
.


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

The Basic Level I



Our

system

supports

synchronous

collaboration

in

the

middle

and

the

high

level
.

Nevertheless

an

asynchronous

collaboration

was

added,

as

a

basic

level,

to

give

access

to

HTML

pages

and

to

e
-
mail

or

news

services
.



This

basic

level

was

introduced

mainly

to

support

e
-
learning

activities
.


The

system

presents

to

the

student

a

course

module

and

its

related

tutorials

through

a

Web

browser
.



The

theoretical

part

of

the

subject

matter

is

presented

through

HTML

pages
.



Linked

to

the

main

topics

of

the

key

chapters

there

is

a

series

of

tutorials

(guided

training

exercises),

presenting

questions

and

problems

that

students

are

invited

to

solve

offering

software

tools

and

simulating

instruments

for

laboratory

activities
.



D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

The Basic Level II


At

the

end

of

each

tutorial

there

is

a

self
-
assessment

test

composed

of

(i)

multiple
-
choice,

(ii)

true/false,

(iii)

fill
-
the
-
blank

and

(iv)

essay

questions
.



While

multiple
-
choice,

true/false

and

fill
-
the
-
blank

questions

are

corrected

automatically,

the

essay

questions

need

to

be

graded

by

the

teacher
;

therefore,

if

the

student

can

access

to

an

internet

connection,

the

system

automatically

sends

an

e
-
mail

to

the

teacher

with

all

the

information

needed

to

evaluate

the

results

of

the

test
.



At

the

same

time,

the

student

can

take

advantage

of

the

e
-
mail

connection

to

write

her/his

comments

and

to

send

questions

to

the

teacher
.


A

news

group

is

used

for

general

discussion
.


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w



Collaborative Level I


Any collaboration support needs to provide
consistency
-
guarantee
mechanisms

to correctly manage the shared information.


In synchronous collaborative environment, where the collaborators
share a single view of the shared information, consistency is
typically managed by a
floor
-
control policy
.


The explicit floor control policy enables only one group member
at a time to modify the shared document. This modifying privilege
is commonly described in terms of possessing the
modification
token.


The distribution of the token to group members is performed by
means of an intelligent policy supported by the voting mechanism.


The modification
-
token holder can decide to submit a document
change to members’ voting before committing it to a document
-
session revision.


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w



Collaborative Level II


The

collaborative

level

is

based

on

a

collaborative

implementation

of

Java

AWT

package

that

we

called

CollAWT
.



As

the

collaborative

components

do

not

extend

the

AWT

component

services,

except

for

the

collaboration

support,

the

application

is

not

aware

of

the

presence

of

the

discussion

group

thus

providing

collaboration

transparency
.


This package is implemented by means of the event
-
broadcasting
mechanism: whenever a collaborative AWT component generates an
event in reaction to an user interaction, this event is broadcasted to all
group application instances in order to deal with it as if it was
generated by the local user interface.


Only the token
-
holder’s components are active, meaning that they can
interact with the user, while all others’ components are passive.

D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Collaborative Level III


Events broadcasting is implemented
by the events channel service which
acts as an events broker.


After an event is fired by the user
interface, the generated object of
class
AWTEvent

is serialized and
pushed into the events channel.


The events channel then broadcast
the received data to all group
applications.


Once received by an instance of the
collaborative application, the AWT
event is treated as if it was generated
locally meaning that it is passed to
the application.

Listener
Event
Service
A text
,
AWTEvent
Application
State
D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Collaborative Level IV


A user can join or leave a group at any time.


At login the new member receives an instance of the shared application
while all group members are informed of this event.


The system supports
unanticipated sharing

of the application and
latecomers can decide to enter into the discussion in a
synchronous

or
deferred
-
synchronous
way.


In the synchronous way, the latecomer is immediately accommodated in
the group with a view of the shared document.


Conversely, in the asynchronous login procedure, the latecomer is
shown all the changes occurred to the document since its last leaving.


The shared
-
application instances are synchronised starting from a
common state and evolving by means of user
-
interface generated events.


The deferred synchronous policy is performed by the latecomer’s
application asking the
transaction
-
logging service

to play back all events
occurred since its last group leaving.

D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Multimedia Level



The multimedia level integrates
audiovisual components in our
system to improve its
effectiveness from the point of
view of the communication
among the meeting participants
or in the learning process.

Two different tools:


A videoconferencing tool.


A tool for consulting
audiovisual documents stored
in digital format.

Are realized using Java Media
Framework and implements the
floor control mechanism.




D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Virtual Teams I



We

have

used

the

described

e
-
activities

collaboration

and

communication

facilities

to

manage

a

virtual

team
.

We

are

experimenting

this

tool

in

research

activities
.

Examples

are
:

project

meetings
,

software

design

and

debugging
,

document

writing
.


To

support

these

activities

we

have

tailored

a

collaborative

platform,

named

JWebTop,

that

supports

sharing

of

documents

and

of

Java

applications

for

collaborative

work
.



The

platform

gives

to

the

participant

to

the

virtual

meeting

the

use

of

a

shared

textual

and

graphical

editor,

and

a

web

browser
.



The

editor

allows

participants

to

work

to

a

shared

document

while

the

meeting

is

in

progress,

the

web

browser

allows

to

display

HTML

text,

or

to

present

slides

during

a

talk
.



We

are

using

this

platform

for

scientific

meetings

with

people

distributed

at

home/office

of

many

towns

in

Italy
.



D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Virtual Teams II


The

collaborative

level

provides

as

a

communication

tool

a

chatting

line
.

But

the

exchange

of

written

messages

is

very

slow

and

annoying
.

To

facilitate

people

communication

an

audio
-
conferencing

or

video
-
conferencing

tool

is

also

provided
.


While

a

video

conference

requires

a

wide
-
band

communication

channel,

the

audioconference

requires

a

narrow
-
band,

but

it

is

usually

sufficient

to

guarantee

an

adequate

level

of

communication

amongst

the

people

involved

in

a

meeting
.



In

the

user

interface

of

the

client

application

a

person

can

require

or

release

the

floor
.

The

floor

request

are

managed

by

a

FIFO

policy
.

Only

the

user

holding

the

floor

can

use

the

editor

or

the

web

browser
.


On

the

contrary

in

the

audio

conference

each

user

broadcast

an

audio

stream

to

all

the

participants
.

Voices

from

different

users

can

be

mixed
.

It

depends

on

the

politeness

of

participants

to

regulate

the

dialog

turns
.



D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

E
-
Learning: Basic Teaching/Learning Scenarios I


the

transmission

scenario
:

related

to

the

empty

vessel

metaphor

(old
-
fashioned
;

prevailing

classroom

teaching

and

lecturing)
.

This

scenario

is

characterized

by

a

closed

domain,

well
-
defined

learning

goal,

fixed

learning

route,

instruction

and

practice,

diagnosis

of

errors

and

remediation
.

The

expected

outcomes

are

domain

knowledge

and

skills
;


the

studio

scenario
:

related

to

the

constructive

agent

metaphor

(current
;

study
-
house)
.

It

is

characterized

by

open

or

closed

domain,

well
-
defined

learning

goal,

flexible

learning

route,

project
-
based

learning,

interaction

with

different

agents

(human

or

otherwise)

The

expected

outcomes

are

domain

knowledge

as

well

as

social

and

practical

skills
;


the

negotiation

scenario
:

related

to

the

situated/distributed

cognition

metaphor

(post
-
modern)
.

Characterized

by

open

domain,

ill
-
defined

learning

goal,

open

learning

route,

argumentation,

negotiation

and

reflection
.

The

expected

outcome

regards

conceptual

changes
.


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

E
-
Learning: Basic Teaching/Learning Scenarios II


A

prevailing

transmission

scenario

is

mainly

reflected

in

classroom

teaching,

lecturing,

drill

and

practice

while

there

is

little

room

for

discussion/reflection

and

for

complex

problem

solving
.

It

is

mainly

used

to

teach

and

learn

domain

facts

and

rules
:

transmission
.

Most

of

the

classical

intelligent

tutoring

systems,

mainly

interested

in

domain

and

student

modeling,

fit

in

this

class
.



The

studio

scenario

has

more

emphasis

on

complex

problem

solving,

on

student

initiative

and

responsibility

on

problem

analysis

and

solving

method

selection,

more

emphasis

on

open

tasks

(writing

an

essay,

conducting

a

debate,

giving

a

talk)
.

Main

aim

is

to

teach

and

learn

procedures

and

problem

solving

strategies
.

The

modeling

issue

moves

away

from

representing

the

cognitive

states

of

the

individual

students

to

support

interactions

between

users

in

a

situation

in

which

students

have

to

confront

with

multiple

tasks

and

multiple

source

of

information
.

Our

work

may

be

considered

as

an

example

of

this

scenario
.



The

negotiation

scenario
,

is

based

on

student

directed

learning,

student

defined

problems

and

solutions,

student

sharing

of

knowledge

and

evolving

ideas
.

It

is

devoted

to

teach

and

learn

meta
-
cognitive

skills,

to

create

new

knowledge

and

to

reflect

on

one’s

understanding
.

May

be

promoted

by

the

use

of

e
-
activities

tools
.

D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w


E
-
learning: an example of courseware


A

campus

network

was

used

to

give

access

to

a

courseware

case

study
.

The

system

that

we

realized

integrates

the

Web

with

the

classic

e
-
learning

process

to

offer

students

and

teachers

services

with

different

degrees

of

interactivity

ranging

from

off
-
line

document

consultation,

to

web

based

document

browsing

and

e
-
mail

communication,

to

virtual

classrooms
.


The

collaborative

level

offers

an

application
-
sharing

service

to

allow

integrating

the

lesson

with

experiences

on,

e
.
g
.
,

simulated

instruments

and

tools

for

laboratory

activities
.


The

multimedia

level

allows

the

integration

of

course

materials

with

audiovisual

documents

to

be

used

individually

or

in

the

virtual

classroom
.



D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

The campus network

We have two different networks. The
first is the TCP/IP intranet of the
Campus. This network is normally used
for all the activities of the basic and
collaborative levels, i.e., access to the
Web server, to the mail and news
services, to the chatting line and tools
for collaborative work. The Campus
network can support those services that
do not require a fixed bandwidth
allocation. On the contrary, multimedia
service needs a guaranteed wide band
connection to transmit video or audio
data. So, a second network based on
ATM technology connects the video
server with the classrooms and labs.



D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w


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BUILDING "A"
BUILDING "B"
BUILDING "C"
The campus network


The ATM network connects
the video server with
classrooms and laboratories.
It is supported by a PON
(Passive Optical Network)
with a bandwidth of 622
Mbit/sec download and 155
Mbit/sec upload. The fiber
optical network is connected
with the user equipment
using an ADSL switch which
is also connected to Campus
Intranet (Fast Ethernet).

D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

An Example of Courseware: Hyperprolog I


The

campus

network

was

used

to

give

access

to

a

courseware

case

study

in

which

the

different

levels

can

be

implemented

and

tested
.

The

subject

matter

of

the

module

is

“Mathematical

Logic,

Logic

Programming

and

Prolog”
.


The

theoretical

part

of

the

subject

matter

is

presented

through

hypermedia

(which

are

made

of

hypertext

and

other

kind

of

materials

as

audiovisual

documents,

animations)
.


The

course

contains

also

a

number

of

topics

related

to

artificial

intelligence
:

natural

language

processing,

knowledge

representation,

fuzzy

logic,

learning,

temporal

logic
.



Linked

to

the

main

topics

of

the

key

chapters

there

is

a

series

of

tutorials

(guided

training

exercises)

with

questions

and

problems

that

the

students

are

invited

to

solve
.




D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

An Example of Courseware: Hyperprolog II


Students

can

actually

try

out

their

answers

and

solutions

by

using,

within

the

browser,

an

available

Prolog

interpreter

on

the

server

together

with

a

number

of

files

related

to

the

examples

presented

in

the

tutorials
.

These

sample

files

can

be

directly

loaded

and

tried

out

in

this

environment

which

we

called

PrologLab
.



Also

for

the

AI

topics

there

are

a

number

of

working

examples

that

the

students

can

try

in

the

PrologLab

environment
.



Students

can

easily

switch

from

the

hypertext

to

the

PrologLab

or

use

both

concurrently
.



At

the

end

of

each

tutorial

there

is

a

self
-
assessment

test

which

the

students

can

take
.


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Collaborative PrologLab


In

order

to

allow

a

direct

distance

interaction

between

teachers

and

students,

a

collaborative

environment

has

been

developed
.



The

aim

is

to

realize

a

virtual

classroom

in

which

the

teacher

can

demonstrate

the

use

of

the

PrologLab,

develop

programs

interacting

with

the

students,

test

the

program

with

the

Prolog

Interpreter
.



All

participants

in

the

classroom

have

to

see

the

same

information

on

their

screens
.

Moreover

each

participant

can,

in

an

ordered

fashion,

gain

control

of

the

collaborative

resources

end

use

them
.

For

example

can

edit

a

file,

consult

a

program

in

the

Prolog

database,

execute

a

Prolog

query

and

so

on
.



The

collaborative

PrologLab

may

also

be

used

by

group

of

students

working

to

a

common

project

over

the

network
.

D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w


The Collaborative PrologLab Interface

Participants can edit and test programs, use a chat line, enter or exit
session, request or release the floor.

D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

Collaborative

PrologLab

Floor

Management



Different

floor

management

policies

can

be

adopted
.



Because

our

aim,

with

the

collaborative

tools,

is

to

reproduce

a

lesson,

we

can

assume

that

the

teacher

may

decide,

on

the

basis

of

a

request

list,

which

student

has

the

floor

and

so

have

an

exclusive

control

of

the

application

resources
.



At

any

time,

the

teacher

can

also

gain

the

control

of

the

floor

previously

given

to

a

student
.



On

the

other

hand,

if

the

collaborative

tools

are

used

by

a

group

of

students

working

to

a

common

project

a

more

democratic

policy

of

floor

management

should

be

adopted
.


A

voter

list

is

maintained

to

allow

collective

decisions

and

the

members

of

the

group

can

vote

to

accept

or

reject

a

proposed

change

to

the

current

program
.


D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

System evaluation I



Analysis

of

the

students’

patterns

of

activity

by

means

of

system

logs
.

This

analysis

will

give

information

about

students’

use

of

the

system,

which

pages

of

the

text

they

looked

at

most,

which

facilities

they

used

the

most

(tutorials,

self

test,

PrologLab,

e
-
mail,

conference

area)

or

which

ones

they

overlooked
.



Effectiveness

of

the

system

in

terms

of

the

students’

learning

outcomes
.

This

evaluation

is

based

on

the

results

of

the

final

test
.


Students’

attitudes

toward

the

resource
.

A

questionnaire

was

administered

to

the

students

to

assess

how

much

they

liked

this

resource

in

comparison

with

more

traditional

courses
.

They

were

asked

which

part

of

the

system

they

used

most

and

which

ones

least,

which

ones

they

felt

as

difficult

to

use

and

why
.



The

result

of

the

questionnaires

were

integrated

with

the

information

gathered

during

focused

group

discussions

on

the

topic
.



D. Bianchi
-

Tools for collaborative e
-
activities


SSGRR 2002w

System evaluation II



Analysis

of

chat

recording

in

the

collaborative

PrologLab

can

be

used

to

study

the

interaction

between

students

in

working

groups
.


Questionnaires

can

be

used

to

test

the

satisfaction

of

the

participants

to

a

virtual

meeting
.


We

can

obtain

information

about

the

easiness

of

use

of

the

tools,

the

effectiveness

of

the

communication

with

the

chat

line

or

the

audio

conference

or

the

video

conference,

the

usability

at

work/home

with

different

communication

bandwidth

available
.