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SYSTEM OF DISTANCE LEARNING BASED ON INTERNET TECHNOLOGY

 BY USED  EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE

by Ph.D.Dragica Radosav

University of Novi Sad

Technical Faculty “Mihajlo Pupin”

Zrenjanin, Serbia and Montenegro

radosav@tf.zr.ac.yu

1. EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN SERBIA

2. ABOUT PROJECT IT.1.25.3215.A

                2.1. Research subject

                2.2. Research content

                2.3. Planned research and key results

3. STEPS OF EDUCATIONAL CONTENT AUTOMATIZATION PROCESS

4. SURVEY OF THE SCORM STANDARD ARCHITECTURE

5. PROBLEMS IN REALIZATION OF DISTANCE LEARNING MODEL

6. USAGE OF WWW FOR DISTANCE LEARNING

7. DESCRIPTION E-LEARNING SYSTEM FOR DBMS

8. CONCLUSION

9. REFERENCES 

Abstract

This paper shows the structure of Project IT.1.25.3215.A. which name is: “System of distance learning (DL) based on Internet technology by used multimedia educational software”. Also, this paper presents some aspect of educational software development in time space constraint conditions. The steps of rapid application development (RAD) in the educational domain are suggested. At end, it is present e-learning of the subjects Data Base Management Systems /DBMS/.

 Keywords

education, distance learning, Internet, WEB, DBMS, software

 1. EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN SERBIA

The full centralization and also the general social conditions in which the Serbia was during the past decade of  XX century, brought the authoritative management in education system. The education system in the Republic of Serbia, which at the moment comprises more than 1.4 million students and about 120, 000 employees (teachers, pedagogues, psychologists, and administrators), although faced with many problems in all its segments during the last decade, however, continued to operate, but at a lower level. 

Furthermore, education is not systematically monitored, and the teaching methods are stagnated. Perhaps this is the most dangerous problem and the hardest one to eradicate. The current system of education is structured and organized through the following levels: preschool education, obligatory education, secondary education, high education and postgraduate education. Preschool education comprises children of the age one to seven and is not obligatory. Obligatory education lasts eight years (class tuition and subject tuition: 4+4 years). Secondary education is not obligatory and lasts 2, 3 or 4 years. It is realized in gymnasiums, secondary specialized schools and secondary art schools. High education is not obligatory and lasts 3 to 5 years.

 The current state is characterized by:

inadequate quality of textbooks and other educational materials;

inadequate evaluation of students, reproduction of knowledge is mostly and widely evaluated that implies campaign learning;

inadequate didactical and methodical education and professional development of teachers.

 Changes in educational system are going to be a long process because a lot of analysing needs to precede any kind of implementation.

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 2. ABOUT PROJECT IT.1.25.3215.A

At Technical Faculty “Mihajlo Pupin” in Zrenjanin one of the most important Project is IT.1.25.3215.A. “System of distance learning (DL) based on Internet technology by used multimedia educational software”. Project duration is 36 months. Project type is research-development. The Project is confirmed and financed by Government of Republic Serbia, Ministry of science, technology and development and participant is Municipal Assembly of Zrenjanin.

 2.1. Research subject

Research subjects are:

Creating model of Distance education system based on the Internet technology in secondary and primary schools and high education in the Republic of Serbia.

Possibilities of effective learning supported by the Internet technology and educational software.

Manners of using the Internet technology and educational software in adults’ education, permanent learning curriculum definition, education of personnel to use information technology.

Experimental check of the distance education concept application, implementation strategy concept definition.

Distance education system implementation and its management.

Institutionalization of Distance Education Centre for permanent education using the Internet technology in the region.

 2.2. Research content

The research would be planned in two directions:

 1. Theoretical, the existing distance education models would be researched, the most appropriate one would be chosen, and necessary modification would be carried out in order to adopt the features of the model to our conditions, and the detailed distance education model would be created.

Regarding the exceptionally speed of development in the world, during the project permanent coordination with new accomplishments and relevant changes in our environment would be carried out. Actualization of the model would be done.

Special knowledge necessary to create Distant Education System would be defined and algorithm would be developed, necessary activities to shape the content methodically for Distance Education System would be identified.

After creating the concept and resource analysis Distance Education System implementation strategy would be defined, and finally detailed specification of the system would be done.

 2. Experimental that would encompass content preparation for the given Distance Education model. A Distance Education System model would be made and tested. On the base of the advanced defined strategy Distance Education System implementation and management would be approached.

 2.3. Planned research and key results

 Phase I Trends in Distance Education System development

Conditions analysis and appraisal

Solution selection and specification of global solutions

Phase II Architecture specification of the Internet based Distance Education System

Specification of the Distance Education System

Specification of the Distance Education System content

Coordination with new achievements in the field

Planned research on the project after the 1st year of realization

Phase III Detailed implementation of the Distance Education System

Definition and production of a part of content for the Distance Education System

Coordination with new achievements the Distance Education System field

Phase IV Pilot installation of the Distance Education System

System operation analysis

Distance Education System reengineering

Coordination with new achievements in the field

Phase V Detailed production of content for the Distance Education System

Coordination with new achievements in the field

Phase VI Schools and Companies connection to the system

Testing, system efficiency analysis and problem solving

Coordination with new achievements in the field 

Key results of the project: 

Phase I -Survey study, technical solution

Phase II -Technical solution-specification of architecture and system itself

Phase III -Software realization of the system

Phase IV -System prototype installation at user’s site

Phase V -Detailed software realization of content

Phase VI -Project finish, region infrastructure connection to it 

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 3. STEPS OF EDUCATIONAL CONTENT AUTOMATIZATION PROCESS

The chosen factors of the instruction process that are separated under the conditions of quick application development in the domain of education are as follows:

students,

instructor,

educational material (content),

technical conditions (factors),

environment.

 The total or partial automatization of such a computer assisted system under time-space limitations can be carried out in steps. In addition it is necessary to minimize the whole time of application production with maximum efficiency of produced program use. In order to decrease total time of application development from the domain of education it is recommended to:

sue known and little demanding tools,

use of ready-made multimedia resources (readymade animation, images, sounds...),

use of instruction material from the existing course books,

etc.

 The quick development of applications in the domain of education can be carried out in steps [2]:

Step 1

Definition of educational aims list according to the existing (not automatized) course.

Input: Existing course analysis.

Output: Aims of the automatized instruction process.

Step 2

Identification of implementation methods.

Input: Aims list from Step 1

Output: Parallel list for each aim of method of automated and classical instruction.

Step 3

Priority tasks listing.

Input: Output of the previous step.

Output: Priority tasks list.

Step 4

Medial definition of instruction content.

Input: List of priority tasks from the previous step.

Output: Definition of content medial for input list items.

Step 5

Functional, structural and visual definition of application.

Input: List of content medial from the previous step.

Output: Structurally, functionally and visually defined screen display of the future application.

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 4. SURVEY OF THE SCORM STANDARD ARCHITECTURE

 The model of distance learning (DL) system is based on SCORM Version 1.2.

The SCORM Standard offers specification of educational content that has features such as: easy access, interoperable, lasting, and easily changeable.

The SCORM standard prescribes the claims that the distance education system elements must fulfill in order to be SCORM  compatible. The elements of such a system are:

  Learning Management System (LMS)

learning management subsystem, provides API interface (Application Program Interface) as DOM object (Document Object Model). It must provide execution of SCO elements (Conformance Label: LMS-RTE1, SCROM Standard).

Sharable Content Object (SCO) – shared content objects, are executed via LMS (Conformance Label: LMS-SCO1, SCORM Standard).

Meta-data – meta data, are formed via XML document (Conformance Label: ADLCP-PIFI. Scorm Standard).

 LMS subsystem executes the SCO elements automatically or via user’s interface. The user can manage the application operation via application menu, content table or software tasters. SCORM LMS API represents a manner in which SCO communicates with LMS. SCORM Standard ([1], 2-5 p.) strictly defines the titles of API functions, data types, error codes and error messages.  Starting SCO elements from LMS, the SCO element seeks API interface and executes at least two API functions: LMS Initialize (‘’) and LMS Finish (‘’), Meta-data are divided into mandatory and optional.

 At Technical Faculty the model of distance learning (DL) system based on SCORM Version 1.2 standard includes:

User Management Module,

Administrative Module,

Student or Pupil Data Module,

Self Assessment Module,

Exams Registration Module,

Mailing Module,

Reporting Module,

Curriculum Module.

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 5. PROBLEMS IN REALIZATION OF DISTANCE LEARNING MODEL

Fast development of technologies has caused many changes in process of education itself. Many organizations put great efforts into researching the possibilities of new technologies in process of education.

 Here are some of the questions that may appear during the creating of distance learning:

·         Are the aims of distance learning program in accordance with the aims of institutions on which are they carried out?

  • Do all the Universities have willingness to adopt distance learning system?
  • How to motivate the authors to submit their educational materials?
  • Which methods should be used in creating distance learning systems?
  • How to present the contents on the Internet?
  • How to direct a user to contents which are important for his education?
  • How to protect copyrights?
  • How to qualify student` successes?
  • Have the users got necessary background for distance learning?
  • Which hardware platforms are necessary to users?
  • How to realize administrative support?

 In brief, the main problems in creating Distance Learning system are:

  1. The quality of instructions and educational contents which can be found on Internet,
  2. Hidden costs,
  3. The possibilities of a creator, user and administrator.

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 6. USAGE OF WWW FOR DISTANCE LEARNING

Teachers can create first pages for their subjects in whom they can include contents, exercises, reference literature and also links to information on WWW that could be useful for students. Links to catalogues and libraries could also be added. Pages representing the subject of Distance Learning could include discussion lists, question forms and e-mailing forms.

 Web pages representing Distance Learning should help students to find necessary information about course, to learn the material and to get to know with the course’s object. Well-designed Web pages should urge and help thinking discussions and active participation of students in Distance Learning process.

 The elements that must be included in Web pages representing the course are:

  • Basic information about the course and the educator,
  • The communication of the group,
  • Tasks and tests,
  • Material for education,
  • Demonstrations, animations, video, audio,
  • Reference material.

 Internet, on the contrary to “traditional” documents (mostly of linear and sequential structure), supports many ways of “moving”-“navigation” through the documents.

By using hypertext, the user can approach to document in a traditional-linear way of reading or, he can, using links inside the document to browse other sites, pictures, audio files etc. He also always can turn back to the original document at any time.

One of the difficulties with hypertext structure, although it offers high level of individuality in learning, is users’ disorientation and overloading with information. The creators of distance Learning system, ones who deal with the content (it should be teachers), must be aware of the influence of hypertext structure on learning:

·          Students’ responsibility in directing of learning is much bigger,

·          Smaller extent of controlling of material usage,

·          All possible navigational parts should be predicted in order to create the material that would direct users on different accesses to document.

·          Greater necessity for composition of fragment information in order to reduce information overload,

·          Greater necessity for multi-medial elements in order to attract students’ attention i.e. to make the content appropriate to the students with different learning styles,

·          Possibility that students won’t come back on prior address any more, after they have been directed on the other site by links.

 Internet materials could have different characteristics from the ones of traditional sources of information:

  • Sources can be presented in different ways,
  • Information is easy to manipulate with,
  • Content is actual and dynamic,
  • Content can originate from a primary source,
  • Content is available for reading,
  • Students can participate on-line.

 While Internet helps individual studying, different surveys have shown that, thanks to the teachers, this interaction in real time improves efficiency and completes distance courses. Students need direction, and that is return information made by the instructors, or the possibility for communication with colleagues. Without interactivity and connection with the rest of the world, Distance Learning becomes shapeless, artificial and unnatural form of studying. Continuous return information is very important if the educators want to recognize all needs and communicative styles of their students. New technologies and methods of studying have improved the traditional role of teachers in learning process, but they still have to stimulate students’ interests related to the topics of studying and to motivate them in order to fully participate in “Internet classrooms” (Updegrove 1995).

Educators should be aware of some basic factors of learning content while they design models for studying (O’Connor 1995):

  • Designing should be collaborative process which includes graphic designers, lectors etc.
  • System should be declined in order to enable students to read material and to improve their understanding of it,
  • It is necessary to develop course materials that enable return information and group studying,
  • It is necessary to use browser limitations, hardware and software support wisely in order to reduce studying methods,
  • The advantages of outer recourses of information (for example, hypertext links),
  • Always be ready to improve studying models in accordance with students’ return information.

 In realization of Distance Learning model, which is included in “Distance Learning system based on Internet technologies with usage of multimedia educational software” project, provided by Ministry of science, technology and development of Serbia, following subjects are taken into consideration:

  1. Information technologies,
  2. Educational Software Design,
  3. Robotic and flexible systems,
  4. Operational researches,
  5. Data Base Management Systems.

These subjects are included in basic studying at Technical Faculty “Mihajlo Pupin” in Zrenjanin.

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 7. DESCRIPTION E-LEARNING SYSTEM FOR DBMS

Concerning the tutorials for SQL available:

http://www.cosc.canterbury.ac.nz/~tanja/sql-tut.html

http://www.sqltutor.com

http://www.sqlcourse.com

authors have decided to help students in complete of the tasks with e-Learning.

E-Learning system for SQL can be used after the installation of MS Internet Information Services-a, created virtual directory of web site and copying of e-learning files to virtual directory. The system starts when Web Browse starter (I.E. MS Internet Explorer-a) and typing the following into Address field:

http://nazivserverracunara/elearningsql

(I.E.:  http://protos/elearningsql or

 http://protos/elearningsql/index.htm)

Startup page is then loaded.

All the pages in the system are divided on two sides: menu on the left side, and portal on the right. (Picture 1). All the items on the page, such as pictures, hyperlinks etc have additional explanation: in a status line or as a tool tip when they are focused with the pointer. Below the menu there is a link to homepage of the faculty, and menu itself contains buttons, which lead to following:

  • About SQL (This item contains short theoretical description of history, use, standard and syntax of SQL, Picture1)
  • Database (This section allows download of databases with tests and examples of SQL queries.)
  • Examples (The section «Examples» contains around 200 examples of SQL queries taken from the site of the Faculty. Some of the examples were modified, in order to adjust to test data, and up to a point queries were modified too, because of typing mistakes and because of adjustment to Microsoft Access system for operating databases.)
  • Query editor (Query editor is the place where everyone can practice writing queries after they have dealt with theory, get to know more about databases by executing examples using test examples, Picture 2.)
  • Index
  • Links
  • Info

 Picture 1. Section “O SQL-u” - “About SQL” of E-learning SQL system 

 Picture 2. QUERY EDITOR  of e-learning SQL system

Below the field for entering queries, there are two buttons: “IZVRŠI UPIT” – execute query and “PONIŠTI” - cancel. The first one is used for executing query and its functioning has already been described in the section “EXAMPLES” - “PRIMERI”, and the other is used to cancel content of a field, if a query is incorrect or if a new one needs to be written.

Described SQL E-learning system is available at www.tf.zr.ac.yu.

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 8. CONCLUSION

 The main prerequisite for successful application of a new kind of education conducting is certainly developing students’ Web culture and also qualifying teaching stuff for using new informative technologies in more sophisticated way. Using Internet for material distribution, communication with students and improving recourses for studying certain teaching subject must become an usual way for teaching conducting. 

Beside new way of distribution traditional materials and information, it is also necessary to prepare yourself intensively for a new concept of education conducting that includes intensive interaction with students through organized talk rooms, forums mailing lists and which means distance learning and conducting of distance projects including all kinds of multimedia.

The idea of “Serb Virtual University” is more and more present in our region and it could be heard on many scientific conferences. Nobody has been engaged in a longterm project with clearly defined aims and concrete implementation of the methodical aspect of distance education model. It is especially related to high school education system although there is material base for distance education application in some schools.

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 9. REFERENCES

[1] Advanced Distributed Learning – Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), Version 1.2, Conformance Requirements, www.adlnet.org

[2] Colin McCormack, David Jones: Building a Web-Based Education System.

[3] D.Radosav, System of DL based on Internet technology by used multimedia educational software, IEEE conference «EE Education in South-eastern Europe», /CD, pages 35-37/, Sarajevo, 2003         

[4] Dragica Radosav, Marjana Barbaric: Distance learning – curriculum module, YU INFO 2003, Kopaonik, Serbia (2003)

[5] D.Radosav, D.Naumov: Multimedia Encyclopedias and Education Software XVIII Symposium «Information and communication Technologies», BH, Sarajevo, (2001)

[6] D.Radosav, D.Naumov: Multimedia DB and Software for Education Symposium INFO-2002., Kopaonik, Serbia and Montenegro, (2002)

[7] http://www.suedosteuropa-gesellschaft.com /framescon tent/aktuell_reporta_serbien.htm Project: Interethnic Coexistence and Dialogue in the Western Balkan Region", The Role of Education, Science and Vocational Training

[8] http://www.unimondo.org/balcani/news/news-2001101202.html - “Educational system in Serbia: lack of funding and resistance to reform”

[9] http://www.dist-ed.alaska.edu/

[10] “Strategy of curriculum development in elementary and secondary education”, Ministry of education and sport, Belgrade 2002

[11] “Strategy of curriculum development in elementary and secondary education”, Ministry of education and sport, Belgrade, (2002)

[12] V.Sotirović, D.Radosav, Distance Learning projects for the Education of the XXI Century, IEEE conference «EE Education in South-eastern Europe», /CD, pages 56-60/, Sarajevo, 2003

 Dragica Radosav is a doctor of technical science in IT area. She was born in 1960, and in 1983 she graduated, she got her M.A. degree in 1991 and received  the doctorate in 1994 in IT area.

She works as an associate professor at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro, at the Technical Faculty “Mihajlo Pupin” where she teaches “Projecting of Educational Software” and “Software Engineering”. At the University “Dzemal Bijedić” in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, she was chosen for an associate professor for subjects “Databases” and “Data Base Management Systems”. She has published more than 90 papers, 14 textbooks, participated in 21 science projects, and was a mentor for about 150 graduating papers, 4 M.A. papers and 3 doctorate papers. Her interests include educational software, E-tutorials, author systems and software engineering   for geographical information systems.

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