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FIE2010: Orchestrating Groupware in Engineering Education

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Presentation for the Frontiers in Education conference 2010

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FIE2010: Orchestrating Groupware in Engineering Education

  1. 1. Roberto Perez-Rodriguez Manuel Caeiro-Rodriguez Luis Anido-Rifon University of Vigo
  2. 2. Introduction  ICT support to Engineering Education increased in recent years:  Big spectrum of online tools and materials  From basic web sites to online labs  The implementation of online courses that involve groups of users is a challenging task due to  The scattering of third-party tools running on different servers  These tools need to be configured manually for each use case
  3. 3. Introduction (ii)  Our approach to solve this issue is composed by two main points  A central engine that runs course scripts written with an Educational Modelling Language (EML)  A middleware to enable the integration of third-party tools in courses  This solution is usually referred to as orchestration  A central engine acts as the orchestra director  And controls the behaviour of multiple musicians (groupware tools)  In accordance with a previously composed partiture (the course script)
  4. 4. Introduction (iii)
  5. 5. PoEML  The life-cycle of a collaborative practice in Engineering Education is typically composed of the following stages  The design-time stage, in which the teacher creates the roadmap of the practice, including the number of participants per scenario  The instantiation-time stage, in which the teacher communicates the assignment of people to groups and the collaborative practice starts  The run-time stage, in which participants collaborate following the instructions in the roadmap, at the same time that the teacher monitors the progression of groups
  6. 6. PoEML (ii)  We use PoEML for designing educational scenarios.  In design-time, the creator of the collaborative practice uses a graphical authoring tool that produces a XML file with a computer-understandable description of the practice
  7. 7. PoEML (iii)  We propose an example of a collaborative practice. The participants are asked to make groups of two, then they have to code a Java program using a development environment and to compose a text file with a summary of the work, finally the program and the summary are evaluated by a teacher.  The elements of the practice are:  Scenarios: a root scenario that represents the entire class, and a scenario for each group  Goals: the objective and roadmap of the practice  Environments: the programming environment, the feedback environment, the delivering environment, the evaluation environment  Tools: the programming IDE, a chat for communication between peers, a text editor, a forum for feedback  Participants: grouped in groups of two  This practice entails to create instances of the tools that will be used by participants:  The number of IDE instances to be created depends on the number of groups of participants, so as the number of text editor instances to compose the summary  Tool instances must be configured prior to be used by participants
  8. 8. Execution engine
  9. 9. Execution engine (ii)  The execution engine is the core component of the system.  The models manager deals with the designs of educational scenarios.  Maintains the versions of the models  Updates models when required by an authorized user  Communication from the exterior is made by making use of the authoring interface  The instances is in charge of managing running instances of collaborative practices.  Communication is made by making use of both the information retrieval interface as well as the events interface
  10. 10. Integration middleware  The Generic Tool Adapter (GTA) is a comprehensible mechanism to extend the functionalities of a e- learning system by integrating tools in a “tight” way. The following aspects are covered:  Authorization granting  Instances management  Data transfer  Permissions assignment  Event subscription  Specific methods management
  11. 11. Prototype  We developed a fully functional prototype to test the architectural approach presented in this paper.  The database was implemented in Oracle.  The execution engine is a Java-based web app running on Tomcat  The presentation component was developed as a Moodle extension (new course type)  The authoring subcomponent provides the view for creating new process definitions, which are incorporated to the models schema in the database  The monitoring subcomponent provides the view for following the progression of participants through the collaboration structures  The delivering subcomponent provides the working view for participants, including a to-do list that provides links to the pending assignments
  12. 12. Prototype (ii)
  13. 13. Related work  SocialWok adds a social layer over Google Docs  Simplifies the process of sharing a document with other people because it is a social network that wraps around documents  Provides the capability to define users’ groups  Limits access to documents to a group of users  Zoho is a web-based productivity suite that has integrated its products with Google.  Google Apps Premier and Education Edition allows to create and manage groups, and to share documents  Moodlerooms is a SaaS provider of Moodle, and it integrates Moodle and Google Apps together with a single-sign-on
  14. 14. Related work (ii)  Our work differs from those in two main points:  We use an EML to support the social layer over third- party tools, enabling framed collaboration  Since laboratory simulators and other kind of tools in Engineering Education have been developed without integration concerns in mind, we provide a method to integrate these kind of third-party tools, which are wrapped and treated as legacy software
  15. 15. Conclusions  We have presented an architectural approach to support an EML layer over groupware tools that are used in Engineering Education.  The EML engine automatically configures and instantiates third-party groupware tools following a previously designed course script  Our approach is, basically, to formalize macro collaboration scripts as a process definition, whilst micro collaboration scripts are reified in the code of groupware tools.
  16. 16. Thanks for your attention!

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