(Content archives, student portfolios & 3D environments)
from a proposal from Swedish Learning Lab
to the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, 31 October 1999
following is an extract, pp. 20-29,
from The Swedish Learning Lab: Proposal to
the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Uppsala university, Karolinska
institutet, Royal Institute of Technology, October 31, 1999.
extract presents the plans for three experiment tracks:
Track A. Content and context of Mathematics in Engineering Education (CCM)
Track B. Digital resources in the humanities (DRH)
Track C.3D communication and visualization environments for learning (CVEL)
The three tracks focus archives, portfolios and environments, thus the acronym APE. In short, the guiding idea is the following. Teachers and other content providers create archives which contain portable and modularized educational material. The content of these archives is used by students who create their own personalized portfolios. The archives and the portfolios as well as the participants (teachers and students) are represented in avatar-inhabited shared 3-D environments. The content will as far as possible be encoded according to relevant international standards and de facto standards (SGML, XML, IMS, etc) in order to make it well-structured, metadata-enriched, portable, and reusable in new contexts.
Coordinator of these three tracks is Donald Broady <firstname.lastname@example.org>, URL http://www.skeptron.uu.se/broady/
The purpose of the study is to develop and test tools, principles and practices in the management of electronic portfolios, content archives and 3D communication and visualization environments for learning.
Electronic portfolios are personalized collections acquired by students during the course of their years at the university. An electronic portfolio might include the student’s own or peer students’ annotations, papers and project presentations, courseware and reference literature, material created by their teachers, test and examination results, copies of or links to various resources. It might serve several purposes: depository of material for personal use or to be shared with other students or with teachers, documentation of the progress of the studies, reference points in the career planning. When the student leaves the university it might be useful in future professional activities. When applying for a job it might contain items to be presented to an employer. A web site managed by an individual student might function as his or her electronic portfolio. Some web pages might be strictly personal, others commonly available, or available to teachers or groups of peer students.
A fruitful use of electronic portfolios must be related to the educational goals and content. It is crucial that students are offered course content, teachers’ commentaries and guidelines, test results and other relevant material in portable modularized formats, suitable to be incorporated into their electronic portfolios and to be reused for various purposes that may not be foreseen by the teacher. Therefore the development of electronic portfolio practices presupposes the creation of archives of content modules that are easy to share, to navigate, and to combine and reuse in new contexts. In order to enhance portability and flexibility these modules should be equipped with metadata and when possible apply to relevant international standards. An important design principle is that the structure of the module archives should be separated from the structure of the actual course given. Thus, by separating what is taught from how it is taught, one and the same archive might be used in different courses by means of different filtering and presentation. For a specific course the teacher proposes the students certain paths through the archive and certain subsets of content modules to be used by the students and in some cases added to their electronic portfolios. We foresee that the presentation and orientation tool Conzilla, developed in cooperation between KTH and UU, will be useful since it allows for the creation of both conceptual maps of content archives and maps of the individual teacher’s design of a certain course.
Three dimensional virtual reality environments will be used as meeting places where teachers, students and invited guests will be represented by avatars. In those landscapes there will be visual representations of the students’ portfolios and of the archives created by the teachers, as well as of other resources for learning. Thus, students and teachers will be able not only to encounter and discuss with each other, but also to collaborate on shared course material.
The experiments will be undertaken in several subject domains: mathematics, the humanities, language education, information science and pharmacology. See separate presentations below. Thereby opportunities will be given for cross-fertilization, as well as for the assessment of the subject-specific problems and for comparative studies.
This experiment aims at the further operationalization of the electronic portfolio methodology by choosing one particular subject, mathematics, modeling the structure of domain knowledge in a conceptual modeling framework and the explanations of particular mathematical concepts by multimedia productions stored in a shared database. These two enhancements have the purpose to augment the electronic portfolio activities from being mainly on the meta-knowledge level to being better integrated in the domain knowledge level learning processes. The experiment is carried out in parallel on two of KTH´s new programs: The Information Technology program and the Media Technology program. Our intention is that this experiment should develop into a long-term project in the same sense as its Stanford counterpart, at least covering the first generation of the Media and IT program students, from the time they enter the program in 1999/2000 and then leave for their first jobs in 2004/2005.
The motivation for this experiment is that the students and teachers of KTH masters programs have an insufficient understanding of the overall goals of the programs, the dependencies among subject matter and courses and the long-term consequences of individual choices within the education. The ambition is to promote this understanding by a variety of means and to study how students acquire, maintain and employ the knowledge and skills they accumulate over the course of their study career at KTH.
In particular this experiment focus on the Mathematics education within the masters programs at KTH. Major problems within the mathematics education are to achieve an understanding of the relationships among mathematical concepts, understanding of the relationships between naive exploratory models and formalizations and the need for mathematical knowledge in applied courses.
Objectives & guiding questions
The first challenge is to create mechanisms in a 4-5 years masters program that implements the basic electronic portfolio methodology. This includes:
· Articulation of common goals for the whole program. These goals should concern both acquisition of specific subject matter and general skills.
· Course descriptions in terms of how they contribute to the common goals
· Personal student electronic portfolios that the students build incrementally during the education
· Analysis of different collaborative techniques and tools that can support student and teachers in the self-evaluation and coaching process
· Analysis of the relations between the formal curricula and the informal learning processes taking place during the education
· Definition of formal demands within the program to push for students self evaluation of progress with respect to different goals
· Definition of formal demands within the program to push for teachers self evaluation of their own course with respect to how much these contribute to different goals
· The porting, trying out and possibly adaptation of electronic portfolio tools developed at Stanford and other sites.
The main guiding question is if knowledge capture, organization, re-use, self-coaching and collaboration will enhance the learning experience.
The second challenge is to let the different actors (students and teachers) within the learning process, model one particular subject in terms of a suitable conceptual modeling language. The guiding question is if such modeling enterprises will enhance the students learning processes and also enhance the teachers’ competence with respect to how they can modularize the subject matter. Another guiding question is if this formalization will make the electronic portfolio methodology more efficient as the portfolios can be expressed in a much more operational way referring to the elements of the conceptual model.
The third challenge is to introduce modules of explanations for particular concepts within the conceptual structure and to store, share and revise these explanations in a globally accessible database. The guiding question here is if the communication and reuse of electronically stored explanation modules for concepts will enhance the learning processes for a particular subject matter.
This experiment will be carried out in two contexts: the Media Technology and the Information Technology programs at KTH.
In each program, the different aspects of basic electronic portfolio methodology have to be implemented
· A particular subject is chosen for both programs: Mathematics.
· A particular conceptual modeling language suitable for modeling mathematical concepts is chosen.
· Different scenarios for structuring and modeling mathematical concepts and reference to these structures within the electronic portfolios will be tried out in the two masters programs. The number of courses that contribute to this process will be scaled up incrementally.
· The communication, modification and reuse of electronically stored explanations to mathematical concepts will be introduced in both programs. The number of courses actively involved in this process will be scaled up incrementally.
· Different kinds of tools will be tested with respect to how they support all the above processes.
· Besides in mathematics courses the portfolio principles will be utilized also in other parts of the KTH programs
A longitudinal study of how the first two classes of Media and Information Technology students develop a systematic understanding of mathematical knowledge during their learning careers.
The study should include the understanding of how students understand the structure of the education with focus on the introduction and use of mathematical knowledge, how the exchange of explanation modules enhance the learning of mathematical concepts, how the students make their choices of optional courses and how different aspects of the education, formal and informal, contributes to the learning process.
Principal Investigator and
PI Swe-LL Carl Gustav Jansson, KTH (Information technology), Leif Handberg, KTH (Media technology) & Ambjörn Naeve, KTH (CID)
PI SLL Larry Leifer, SLL
Stanford partners: SLL (The Learning Career project)
Swe-LL partners: KTH (Information technology)
KTH (Media technology)
UU (Teacher education)
1999 - 2000 Preliminary studies
2000 - 2001 Preliminary deployment within the two programs
2001 Final assessment
Since digital material is only sparingly used in most humanities courses, these experiments will be exploratory in character. Thus, they will not cover a whole course but rather the uses of electronic portfolio techniques in parts of the courses. The focus is on the integration of digital representations of literary sources, historical witnesses, and linguistic resources for language learning such as on-line dictionaries and text corpora into distributed learning environments in order to improve co-operation and learning.
The experiments will engage staff at U-LL and KTH-LL, humanities departments and teacher education at Uppsala University, and engineering specialists at KTH. They will benefit from previous work at KTH on digital editing principles for historical and literary sources, for example medieval and 16th and 1700th century manuscripts and August Strindberg’s collected works, as well as from work on text corpora at UU Dept. of Linguistics and English Dept. The experiments will also benefit from networks such as the Socrates-Erasmus Thematic-Network ACO*HUM (Advanced Computing In The Humanities).
During the last decades information technology has changed the research practices of many scholars in the humanities. One important aspect is the increased opportunities for co-operation and exchange within the research community. Ten years ago, individual researchers, research groups and archivists typically used proprietary non-portable formats for their depositories of digitalized sources such as electronic versions of printed texts, transcribed manuscripts or language corpora. Today there are de facto encoding standards, most important the TEI DTD (the Text Encoding Initiative Document Type Definition), which permits scholars to create, use and share collections of well-structured high-quality digital resources. However, most students do not take part in this development. Course content is, thus, not sufficiently integrated into the virtual meeting places. The experiments will contribute to improve upon this integration.
An expected benefit from using digital resources in language courses is the ‘liberation’ of classroom- and teacher-time so that it can be devoted mainly to the training of communicative skills, while it is hoped that the honing of certain other types of language skills as well as some tests and exams could take place outside the classroom, using digital resources. This is the stated objective of Stanford University's Digital Language Learning Project.
Objectives & guiding questions
The TEI type of encoding principles allows for a separation between on the one hand the structuring of the content and on the other hand the forms of presentation. Therefore one and the same content collection might be filtered and presented in many ways for different target groups with different previous knowledge and needs, from freshmen to specialists. Most important, though, is that modularized and portable content encourages the teachers and students to combine material from different sources into their own learning environment, to exchange points of view, and to add their own contributions.
The experiments will mainly be WWW based. Guiding questions are:
· What kind of support will ameliorate teachers’ and students’ opportunities to share and collaborate on digital resources in history, literature and language education?
do different navigational and filtering tools contribute to the students’
capacity to work with digital resources and to relate them to material in their
personal electronic portfolios?
· What kind of metadata is needed for different kinds of content?
· Which design principles are eligible in the organization of source archives in the humanities in order to make them accessible from different perspectives according to various needs and various previous knowledge?
can computerized tests and exams in language education be combined with existing
digital resources to provide support for individualized learning, by adapting
the level, character, amount and order of the presented material to the
student’s proficiency level (as seen in her test results and/or teacher’s
comments and recommendations) and learning style? Further, how can (a) test
grading and (b) recommendations, based on test results, for self-study course,
exercise, reading, etc. materials, be at least partly automated?
· What advantages and disadvantages does a more elaborate scholarly encoding give compared to traditional HTML presentation?
Plan for deployment
Staff and students in history, literature, teacher education, language and linguistics departments will be engaged in exploring the uses of historical, literary and linguistic sources. Since computers are used relatively little in humanities courses, and since some teachers may well experience some anxiety at the prospect of using the computer as a teaching aid, it is important that the faculty be actively involved in the introduction of this new technology from the very start.
Tools developed at KTH such as Conzilla and AntiLoop will be used to provide support for navigation and filtering of source archives and for incorporating content modules into the students’ electronic portfolios.
Collaboration with experts at Riksarkivet (the Swedish National Archives), Riksantikvarieämbetet (the Central Board of National Antiquities) and the editors of August Strindberg’s and C.J.L Almqvist’s collected works.
The aim of the assessment is to answer the guiding questions posed above. Thus, students’ use of different kinds of sources will be monitored and their papers, conference postings and other products will be analyzed. The uses of different representation forms will be compared, for example printed material, traditional web sites, web sites for critical editions including scholarly commentaries, advanced encoding schemes, various kind of metadata. One important focus point in the assessment is the opportunities and difficulties encountered by the students when they try to extract material from scholarly editions for shared use and collaboration and in order to include it into their personal portfolios.
Principal Investigator and
Borin, UU (Linguistics) & Jonas Gustafsson,
UU (Teacher education)
PI SLL Larry Friedlander, SLL
Swe-LL partners: Uppsala University, Linguistics, Language departments, Literature, History, Teacher education
KTH, CID, Nada
Stanford partners: Digital Language Learning Project
Jan - Aug 2000 Design of content and environments, training of teachers
Sept 2000-Dec 2001 Experiments with students
Dec 2000 Preliminary first evaluation
Dec 2001 Secondary evaluation
In a variety of disciplines, educational settings are still based much on lectures and other learning forms that allow only for limited interactivity and communication between students and lecturers. Graphically appealing virtual meeting places can be considered as a new teaching medium to deliver course content to the students. In these virtual meeting places, students and teachers are represented by their corresponding avatars. The meeting place may consist of a scenario, which presents contents of either an entire course or just some specific lecture topics. This virtual communication environment can for example be based on a typical game element in order to increase personal involvement and participation.
Pedagogical success of this type of learning environment will depend on the careful preparation of the contents and implementation of the avatar based learning environment. We are convinced that this type of learning space will address quite a number of pedagogical issues in a positive manner and can be applied as a generic tool across many disciplines.
In addition, in many disciplines, the nature of lectures content lends to a three-dimensional visualization. Typical examples here are courses in graphical design & programming where spatial relationships and 3D shape and form today still is taught using conventional 2D media. For a proper understanding of how objects behave if they are moved and deformed in 3D space it is essential to visualize these processes.
Objectives & guiding questions
In contrast to traditional learning situations, e.g. oral lectures, the avatar based learning environment will require that the student actively seeks and collects knowledge components. Knowledge could also be shared amongst students in virtual colloquia or even be traded to earn virtual credits, or be used strategically within this learning environment. In that regard, there is a continuous drive in the learning individual to acquire new knowledge all the time.
In conventional teaching situations, there is little or no communication at all amongst students under a lecture. Even in the case of group work in a classroom, practical limitations lead to rigid structures. Most commonly, group work is performed in two-person groups (neighbor) or larger groups, which in general are organized once at the beginning of a class. Any-to-any communication is possible in discussion rounds. However, in those rounds extroverted students tend to dominate while introverted students retire. In addition, critical comments or embarrassing situations are often avoided due to face-to-face confrontation. In the avatar based communication space, any form of group work and communication is possible, since the real identity of avatars is only known to teachers.
Due to the networked character of the virtual communication place, students in locally remote areas will share the same learning space and share the same course content. In an international perspective knowledge convergence is created. Of course, a common engagement of the teachers involved in a course is an essential requirement for the definition of the content of a virtual learning space.
A virtual communication environment based on an Internet infrastructure is not anymore bound to any location in space. Depending on the definition and implementation of time rules in the system, it might not be necessary that all students enter the communication space at the same time, thus increasing flexibility in time as well.
Finally, teaching of course content which in its very nature is related to three-dimensional physical objects will be greatly enhance by visualization in three-dimensional display environments.
Plan of deployment
The challenges met in these experiments naturally map onto the pedagogical and technical experiences of the participating partners at Uppsala University and KTH. At Department of Information Science (DIS) at UU, previous research has been conducted in advanced three-dimensional visualization techniques and course material for a D-level course in Interactive Visualization has recently been prepared in digital form. Within the experiments DIS intents to link this course material into the avatar based learning environment and to develop additional interactive 3D content, which can be executed by students within a learning environment. DIS will run the system in a class with 25 students and assess usability of this learning environment. In addition to this, experiments will be undertaken in mathematics courses at KTH, where educational modules, for example in projective geometry, are already available. Representations of a course in geometric algebra are to be developed and tested in the avatar based shared environment ActiveWorlds.
A third domain for experiments is courses in literature and teacher education. Here the aim is exploratory. One focus of interest is for example the learning outcomes for students given access to 3D-perspectives on the structure of web sites containing course content or digitalized literary sources, to be compared with traditionally designed web sites.
At CID (Center for user oriented IT-Design, research area Digital Worlds), NADA/KTH, previous work has been conducted in the field of avatar based virtual meeting and presentation environments. CID will contribute with its development experience in this field and with usability studies of the final virtual learning environment. The technical platform for the experiments will be based on those previously developed shared 3D VR avatar populated environments.
The study will be performed in four phases.
1. To select and prepare appropriate course topics and to create or refine the digital content. Mostly involved in this step are the end user sites (content providers) where the virtual learning environment will be used and tested (DIS, mathematics, literature).
2. To further develop and adapt virtual meeting places based on previous development results at KTH/UU. NADA/KTH will contribute expertise, which will further develop and adapt a virtual meeting place based on ActiveWorlds, and DIS/UU, which will develop executable 3D content for the course mentioned above.
3. Usability tests of the virtual meeting environment in VR based interaction environments at DIS/UU and NADA.
4. Delivery to end users, assessment and evaluation in practical studies (NADA, DIS, literature, teacher education).
Assessment and indicators of success
The assessment process will be on two levels. General usability studies will be performed to assess the generic functionality of a virtual learning environment according to assessment criteria developed earlier at NADA/KTH and DIS/UU.
The end users in their respective settings will perform the usability test, with regard to the individual teaching context. End users will be supported by the NADA/DIS in establishing appropriate test protocols and performance indicators. On this level interaction between users at the different locations (KTH, UU) using the virtual learning environment will be monitored and assessed for their impact on the learning process.
Principal Investigator and
PI Swe-LL Stefan Seipel, UU (DIS) & Sören Lenman, KTH (CID)
PI SLL Larry Friedlander
Swe-LL partners UU, Department of Information Science
UU, literature, teacher education
Student groups at UU
Jan - June 2000 Phase 1
April 2000 – June 2001 Phase 2
April – Sept 2001 Phase 3
Oct – Dec 2001 Phase 4
URL of this page is http://www.skeptron.uu.se/broady/dl/ape-proposal-991031.htm
Created by Donald Broady. Last updated 1999-11-15
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