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Sunday, 17 December 2017

TANGLE

Goals of the Project

TANGLE (Techniques and Applications for Network Global Learning) ultimate goal is to produce know-how. That means to grow up a working team provided with the skill and the tools necessary to handcraft and deliver academic courses according to the e-learning paradigm.

Following the "learning by doing" approach, specific goals have been set that must be achieved by the end of March 2004. More specifically, the goal are three:

  1. The deployment of a suite of low cost tools supporting synchronous learning over Internet.
  2. The development of a learning platform, SCORM and AICC compliant, supporting asynchronous e-learning.
  3. The design and implementation of five experimental e-learning courses. In order to test how e-learning approach depends upon the discipline, the teachers and the students, the courses have been chosen in different curricula and involve different subjects

Approach

A beginner looking inside the e-learning market is immediately astonished by the tremendous costs: course development, platforms, servers, providers looks simply unaffordable for a university. However, this is the world of "e-learning for rich peoples", i.e. for big enterprises.

At a second glance, another world appears, where many universities are investing developing by themselves open source platforms and handcrafting homely made courses. This is the e-learning world for "poor peoples" where what it really matters is not a "sophisticated technology" but the quality of the "content" delivered by of the courses.

TANGLE approach belongs to this second type. More specifically TANGLE aim to provide an essential but effective e-learning support to small universities, high schools and small companies, which cannot invest in sophisticated technologies while they could really benefit from e-learning.

Then, the focus of the project is on open source technology and on teaching methodologies, more than on teaching technologies.

Asynchronous component.
Recently, a number of e-learning platforms appeared in the open source world. In general, they do not cover all e-learning requirements. Nevertheless, most essential features are presents and represent a good start point for further developments.

Then, the strategy chosen for TANGLE is to work inside the open source community, exploiting and extending e-learning tools already available, or designing and implementing new ones.

Synchronous component.
Several commercial tools providing video-conferencing on IP are today quite inexpensive for the educational institutions. Therefore, TANGLE project will provide a solution based on a commercial tools able to support low band network connections (typically 56.6 Kbit/sec).

Selected e-learning courses.

The five academic courses committed to TANGLE project are:

  1. "Emergenze Medico Chirurgiche" curriculum in Medicine.
  2. "Programmazione Concorrente", curriculum in Information Science.
  3. "Programmazione in XML", curriculum in Information Science.
  4. "Matematica Finanziaria", curriculum in Economy.
  5. "Storia Contemporanea", curriculum in Communication Science.

Today multi-media technology may offer excellent e-learning solutions providing sophisticated audio-video interfaces. Unfortunately costs rapidly increase along with the technological level, so that this technology may become unaffordable in an academic environment.

On the other hand, successful e-learning stories exist where quite rough technology has been used (basically textual tools). Thist means that e-learning success much more depends on the investment on the course architecture and on the teacher-student interaction support, than on the investment in multi-media technology.

Therefore, TANGLE project will primarily invest on teaching methodology in order to learn the best way to reframe into an e-learning paradigm what, up to now has been taught according to a classical paradigm. The technology will be chosen according to the real needs.

Working group organization

The working group is subdivided into two subgroups: The "software" group and the "multi-media" group. The software group is concerned with providing tools and apparata, and operates in Alessandria, hosted by the Dipartimento di Informatica. The multi-media group is concerned with course development and operates in Novara. Currently it is hosted by the FAUSER institute. The two subgroups strictly cooperate via a video-conferencing equipment.

Workplan

The workplan entails specific goal achievements by specific deadlines:

  1. 31/3/2003, full suite of tools supporting the synchronous e-learning component must be operational.
  2. 30/11/2003, a platform prototype, SCORM compliant, supporting asynchronous e-learning, must be operational
  3. 30/6/2003, the course in "Emergenze Medico-Chirurgiche" must be fully operational.
  4. 30/9/2003, the course in "Programmazione XML" must be fully operational.
  5. 30/11/2003, the course in "Programmazione Concorrente" must be fully operational.
  6. 31/1/2004, the course in"Storia Contemporanea" must be fully operational.
  7. 31/3/2004, the course in "Matematica Finanziaria" must be fully operational.

Current project status.

Up to now, the goal number 1 has been successfully achieved. More specifically, two low band video-conferencing tools have been deployed and field-tested with students delivering tutoring support, and running group-collaboration sessions in Internet. The two tools are:

  1. CentraOne Symposium.
  2. SameTime.

Moreover, a dial-up service (WIND-ACCESS), country level available, has been activated. This service guarantees a communication bandwidth larger than 50Kbit/sec sufficient to support a low cost video-conference, via CentraOne and SameTime.

Furthermore, several open source e-learning platforms have been tested, and two of them (MOODLE and CLAROLINE) have been selected and made available to the academic environment for field-testing. MOODLE has been chosen as a base line in order to develop a SCORM compliant platform fully satisfying TANGLE project purposes.