Thesis Proposal: The Internet Education System
By Aileen Tang
Thesis Consultant: Professor Hal Abelson
Supervised by: Philip Greenspun
The Internet Education Product is a database-backed Web service for that purpose of learning and teaching. It makes social networks of individuals and offers the right tools to allow them to perform their roles, whether or not they are professors, students, teaching assistants, course managers, or class secretaries. The Durch Sloan School of Management intends to adopt the training system like a substitute for his or her current system, The Virtual Campus. Consequently, the training system’s first release is a customized adaptation for that Sloan School which includes a personalized portal page, a searchable file archive, along with a system for managing and administrating classes. The machine creates social networks of college, students, staff, and alumni at Sloan and offers mechanisms for interaction and collaboration among people of those communities.
In the last decade, we’ve observed a continuing information revolution introduced about through the Internet. We began to harness the web for additional efficient communication and ubiquitous information. These benefits have enabled us to create many facets of our way of life online. On television and broadcasting we’ve sites like cnn.com in finance and buying and selling we’ve world wide web.etrade.com running a business and commerce we’ve world wide web.amazon . com.com. But we’ve not seen a significant impact from the Internet in the area of education. Granted, individuals have developed services that host classes online or supplement the standard classroom experience, and lots of courses their very own homepages to distribute class material and bulletins.
But we’re missing a centralized, integrated system for online education that’s extensible and customizable enough to become adopted by classes trained both at institutions by individuals.
The aim of the internet Education Product is to supply a group of new abilities that improves the traditional classroom experience. By making use of the advantages of the web to learning and teaching, the machine helps the teaching staff perform their responsibilities more proficiently and improves the students’ learning encounters by looking into making a broader selection of sources readily accessible. The training system models the classroom like a database-backed Web service, where people of every class fit in with well-defined categories of users. Consequently, these user communities can remotely communicate with other users, have asynchronous use of information, and manage their individual roles/contributions like a community member. Exactly what does this mean the system’s application to education? Students can acquire the aid of the teaching staff remotely during online work hours. They are able to share understanding which help answer each other peoples questions once the teaching assistant isn’t available. The teaching staff can collaboratively develop course materials and distribute them using a centralized mechanism. Rather of collecting student grades from many TAs, each maintaining his/her records differently, professors have access immediately to any or all student data in one format, managed by one database.
Finally, all users get access to a dependable archive of news, bulletins, and activities which are highly relevant to them.
III. Related Work
Command is really a Web-based course management and delivery system developed at Durch along with industry partners like Apple, IBM, and Lotus. It models following the traditional course homepage, which supplies a repository for course documents and knowledge. Consequently, Command is heavy on target information management and delivery but doesn’t provide enough functionality for collaboration. The machine has poor usability by not very user-centered. For instance, the calendar, a higher-demand and helpful feature, is hidden three levels deep. Command doesn’t provide support for grades and student evaluation the consumer interface has low customizability. There’s deficiencies in file versioning, that is essential for collaborative course development. Defining course material to simply lectures, assignments, and readings, combined with the insufficient support for grades assessment, limits the machine to traditional classroom courses on academic topics. Additionally, the machine doesn’t provide enough ability for professors to build up course material, manage course staff, and keep an eye on user stats.
In conclusion, Command is an accumulation of what we should presently have as course homepages in a single central place but without integration/communication included in this. The machine isn’t user-centered, i.e. make the most of understanding the user’s identity and displaying the data that’s focused on his/her roles.
The Academic Fusion project. headed by Professor Seth Teller, happens within the Durch Computer Graphics Group. The study concentrates on interactive and collaborative formula visualization. We’ve got the technology targets helping students interactively develop algorithms on the internet and to visualise their algorithm’s output. Even though the project includes a specific target at learning and applications inside a technical area like computer graphics, we could possibly integrate their technology to boost the internet teaching/collaborative experience. However the project is usually not the same as ours, which supplies collaborative education Web service, whereas Educational Fusion concentrates on developing technology in the area in which of interactive visualization.
Bloackboard.com has got the system that’s nearest as to the our project is attempting to attain. Additionally to the opportunity to administer classes and develop course materials online, it possesses a number of tools for synchronous and asynchronous collaboration and communication. The asynchronous collaboration tools include advertising boards, bulletins postings, email, and audio/visual media files. The synchronous collaboration tools include forums and virtual white-colored boards. Blackboard.com offers other functionalities just like a calendar for personal time management and electronic blackboard for taking notes.
The benefit about Blackboard.com is it possesses a pretty complete group of services for hosting and develop course material on the internet and tools to assist students collaborate both using the teaching staff using one of themselves. However, people that use the system don’t seem to make the most of these collaboration tools since they’re not readily available. When you sign in to the category Web site, it requires 3 more levels to gain access to the virtual chat, for instance. To ensure that students to collaborate online instead of through more conventional methods like telephone, face-to-face, or perhaps email, collaboration tools should be readily accessible inside the class site. They must be carefully along with additional features from the system where students probably would want collaboration, which may include assignments, team projects, and exams.
Another improvement that people aspire to achieve over Blackboard.com is integration. Blackboard.com hosts many disjoint classes that don’t share information among one another. However, students (especially one in a college) is extremely prone to take greater than 1 class, along with a effective education system will be able to host all his/her classes via one Web service. This Web service should manage to integrating information coming from all his/her classes and display it inside a helpful way. For instance, the machine should display assignment payment dates, approaching exams, and team conferences for those classes that the student takes in a single calendar. A student ought to be in a position to view news and bulletins its his/her classes via one page instead of getting to logging in to the homepage of every class.
Finally, our bodies is really a module that may be adopted and customised like a single Web service by institution or individual. Basically, somebody that desires to host a website that provides training on creating MIDI can install the training module and run their own Web service. This can be different in the Blackboard.com model because each class has become running under its very own service instead of from the standard service of Blackboard.com. Specifically for universities and academic departments, getting the machine install like a single service is a vital advantage due to the capability to personalize and fully integrate in to the university’s existing system. Rather of being able to access class sites on blackboard.com, students can visit sloan.durch.edu, for instance. The machine thus remains more effective because we are able to fully integrate existing department data like student registration and school contact details with class-specific data generated by our bodies.
IV. The Architecture
The Training Module is going to be built-in the TCL language on the top from the Arsdigita Community System (ACS), which operates on AOLServer supported by an Oracle database. ACS began as some tools Philip Greenspun authored to construct his Site, photo.internet. Later, the ACS was extended right into a package of free modules for building database-backed Web services that offer collaboration and user tracking tools rapidly and simply.
Presently ACS modules vary from organizing traditional Web communities and fostering online collaboration to hosting E-commerce services and tracking customer behavior. It’s also lately expanded to incorporate online polls and file system management and keeps growing with new modules in every release. The training system represents a brand new venture for that ACS from the general community/collaboration tool or even the too specific E-commerce application right into a system with new educational focus. The Internet Education System will harness existing tools within the ACS to produce applying the system’s current abilities in education and extend it with increased specific functionalities which are unique to education, such as the administration of internet classes, new tools for academic collaboration and mechanism for effective Web-based teaching.
V. Design Details
The Internet Education System’s purpose would be to provide functionalities to handle and administer classes online. It ought to possess the following components and abilities:
People that use the system have the ability to specific roles (e.g. professor, student, and teaching assistant) and may perform appropriate actions based upon their roles. The machine manages information highly relevant to each role, therefore it knows the teaching assistants’ work hours and also the students’ username and passwords. Each user could be a person in groups for example classes, departments, and teams. Regarding that membership, the consumer has appropriate permissions to gain access to advertising boards, new bulletins, grades, and handouts of his/her classes. Because the product is user-centric, it uses its understanding from the user’s identity and offers the consumer with efficient and comprehensive use of information that’s highly relevant to him/her.
The machine also manages user information to allow them to be utilized easily. For instance, the professor will discover which students do well or badly within the class, that has been most positively helping other students on advertising boards as well as in forums, and schedules of other educate staff so he/she will schedule conferences at any given time the running out of energy attend. However, students can certainly lookup details about other students, their interests, and availability as potential teammates. In the department level, a Sloan School adminisrator can observe reports that demonstrate, for instance, the length of time a teaching assistant has spent online helping students and just how student enrollment varies inside a particular class with time. A student’s academic consultant may also get access to more information concerning the student’s performance inside a particular class.
The machine has a file storage system that organizes and serves all course material and student assignment submissions. These may include multimedia lecture demos, problem set handouts, research papers, and student projects. The interface for uploading and disbursing these files ought to be simple to use and are available using the appropriate permissions control to aid the next scenerio:
Per week prior to the quiz, the professor uploads a draft means to fix the quiz and notifies the teaching staff to read through and discuss it. A teaching assistant downloads the answer, corrects some typos, and uploads the modified version. Later, a recitation instructor downloads what’s the new version and adds a different to among the problems. Following the quiz is run, the professor dates back, changes the permissions around the solutions file to really make it viewable by students within the class.
The machine also works as a central spot for the expansion, distribution, and submission of assignments. The professor will be able to upload a project and hang its deadline. A student will be able to upload his/her methods to a job prior to the deadline, and also the teaching assistant can download the student’s submission, grade it, and enter an assessment from the student’s assignment in to the database.
The standard classroom experience encompasses two key components: collaboration among classmates and training through the instructor. Our bodies hopes not only to imitate but additionally boost the educational experience past the classroom.
Through the online education system, students will be able to communicate with other students through both asynchronous and synchronous collaboration. Asynchronous collaboration is a classical concept in Web-based communities, where users communicate with one another through non-real-time types of communication. Asynchronous collaboration is prevalent today via online question and answer forums (e.g. advertising boards) and email forms. Synchronous collaboration, however, is gaining more presence just as real-time interaction gets to be more crucial in the manner artists are using the web today. For the system, synchronous collaboration means students can communicate with other students or even the class instructor in tangible-time using a Internet browser. A chat forum enables students to go over a project along with other students or ask a teaching assistant working to describe an idea. A Java-based white-colored board program further enhances synchronous collaboration by permitting exchange of ideas utilizing a real-time drawing program. Offering students the opportunity to communicate without having to be restricted to the conventional character focused on a keyboard is particularly helpful for sophistication material which involve not only prose, for example complex equations, sketches, or algorithms.
An indelible part of the classroom experience is coaching. A teacher should consume a student’s progress carefully, help remind a student if he/she’s falling behind, and provide detailed feedback about his/her current performance. The internet education system wishes to make coaching more effective for that instructor and much more ubiquitous and efficient for that student. The machine can send periodic reminders towards the student regarding their progress on the term project. It will be able to coach students about where they must be within the class readings so they don’t get behind. It ought to instantly issue warning signs (cc’d to his/her academic consultant) towards the student who’s at risk of failing the category. Generally, we are attempting to develop a system that’s the most responsible instructor who infallibly tracks each student’s individual progress and knows to devote more focus on students who’re falling behind.
The portal, being an access point somewhere, is really a page our users may wish to visit several occasions each day. Our users ought to be prepared to make use of this page like a centralized management place for their academic (extensively) and (to some lesser degree but whenever possible) non-academic existence. The portal imitates the benefits and features of My Yahoo:
- simplicity of use – bits of the portal could be added/deleted/moved around effortlessly along with a large users list has become accustomed to this interface
- diversity of content – many features which are helpful towards the user: cheapest airfares, movies and showtimes, email alerts, stock analysis, etc. additionally towards the conventional portal features like weather, stock quotes, and news headlines.
- integration – the portal is extremely well integrated with all of those other yahoo.com site. For instance, you can observe for those who have new mail without logging into yahoo mail and sign up for modules from yahoo chat and clubs.
- good design – things are accessible within 2 clicks in the top level portal page. this will be relevant as people wish to access information rapidly and simply.
Some fundamental pre-packaged content for that portal includes stock quotes, current weather, news headlines, along with other system integrated information for example class calendar, advertising boards, recent news, bulletins, assignments, and projects. The portal is going to be as carefully integrated using the system as you possibly can, meaning students will discover a calendar that’s instantly populated significant dates from his/her classes and then any relevant new bulletins made since he/she last logged in.
Mire. Division at work
This thesis is really a collaborative effort between myself and Randall Graebner. Generally, we’ve labored and can interact to accomplish the duties. Our collaborative efforts include data modeling, designing and coding the executive and user pages within the primary class system, contacting Sloan about project needs, and bug fixes. We mainly focused individual efforts on integrating ACS modules into our project and updating them as essential to satisfy our project needs. To date, we’ve labored around the file system module (Randy) and also the portal module (Aileen). We still need integrate the updated bboard, chat, user group, and news modules to the system, and also the division of these responsibilities is going to be further documented within the final thesis write-up.
Beginning Spring term 2000, we’ll release the machine with fundamental functionalities of sophistication hosting/management and collaboration to some class at Durch, 6.916 Software Engineering of Innovative Web Services. Our bodies will be utilised by roughly 60 students within the class along with a collaborative staff of two lecturers and many teaching assistants. According to feedback from people of 6.916, we’ll continue making usability enhancements and have enhancements. Additionally, the module’s personalization for Sloan School is going to be tested for his or her own needs. Al Essa, our project contact at Sloan, will submit a testing intend to us which includes a minumum of one short-term class and tremendous amount of sample data for usability and scalability testing.
- December 15, 1999 – Site administration
- Defining and adding departments, classes, and subjects
- Control over user information
- Establishing the portal
- The month of january 6, 2000 – Class administration
- Adding/installing/submitting assignments/class handouts
- Grades and student/team evaluations
- Managing/updating class and user qualities
- Dividing students into teams
- The month of january 31, 2000 – User pages more class administration
- Students to see details about class, other students, and instructors
- Integrating this news module
- Methods to junk e-mail individuals the category
- Students to see feedback on their own assignments
- Students to see details about their teams
- Allow professors to produce advertising boards and forums for any class
- Feb 1, 2000 – Launch beta version for Spring term classes
- perhaps a Sloan class or two
- March 1, 2000 – Grades and security
- Security and permissions
- More functionality with grades
- viewing students by their grades
- for college students to see their grades
- instantly flag students who’re in danger
- generate grade statistics for sophistication
- April 15, 2000 – Refining the consumer experience
- Get user feedback and refine the consumer interface
- Make system simpler to make use of
- Increase the functionality for synchronous collaboration (Java white-colored board)
- Make additional enhancements as necessary
- Blackboard.com. Blackboard, Corporation. blackboard.com
- Course Management and Delivery. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. command.durch.edu/
- Educational Fusion. Professor Seth Teller, Durch Computer Graphics Group. vector.lcs.durch.edu/efaaron/
- Ellis, B. Virtual Classroom Technologies for Learning Online: The situation for On-line Synchronous Delivery. In Proceedings of United States Web-developers Conference, Alberta, Canada. October 1997. world wide web.detac.com/solution/naWeb97.htm
- Greenspun, P. Philip and Alex’s Help guide to Web Publishing. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. April, 1999
- Wilson, J. Distance Education for Continuous Education, 1997. world wide web.ilinc.com