Tele Education

.. e system was to provide direct access to a real commercial RDBMS via the same interface as the educational course. The relational DBMS is seamlessly integrated into the student educational desktop. Thus the tool bar offered by the VSD contains an icon which allows students to issue SQL queries on a live database. The idea of this is to deliberately blur the distinction between the educational environment and the target systems.

This encourages students to try out various parts of the course before attempting a larger project. Another feature was the ability of the student to store references to distinct locations in the course material (bookmarks). Traditionally these are stored locally on the students machine. However this has disadvantages as students rarely use the same machine all the time. The VSD allows such bookmarks to be stored within the educational service and are thus (privately) accessible to an individual student at any time. Also if the student has logged off the course and logs back on, the VSD allows him/her the ability to resume at his/her most recent position or restart at the beginning.

Various forms of on-line tutorials are embedded into the course. True or False and Multiple Choice Questions are supported, with automatic correction and notification of marks to the student. Form based (short unstructured text style) answers are also facilitated in some tutorials. In these cases the student answers are automatically delivered to course tutors for subsequent correction. Also integrated into the course are evaluation forms which, when completed, are automatically submitted and stored for later analysis by course tutors. The VSD provides buttons to contact other class members or to seek tutor assistance.

Again, this is offered via WWW forms and integrated transparently with an email delivery system. 4.2 Tele-education Content There are several modes of educational interaction, which could be supported by a virtual theatre/study room. These would include lecture presentation, course material presentation and browsing, self-study, group work (shared application/work, class discussions, group presentations), consultation (tutor/participant, participant/participant), tutorial sessions, virtual coffee room/virtual lounge, and continuous assessment. There are also some other form of learning that have been identified. These forms of learning are: ? Self learning ? delivery of formatted courses material for students own study ? Lecture presentation ? a one-to-many presentation by the tutor of course or organizational material.

? Exercises ? the facility to perform exercises either in groups or individually ? Project work ? the development of sizeable projects using software outside the teaching environment. ? Discovery/Reference research ? ability to locate and access background or supplemental learning material ? Seminar/Class discussion groups ? many-to-many communication between participants. ? Consultation ? private one-to-one communication between participants. There is some overtap between these learning forms. For example, exercises, project work, discovery/reference search can be part of the self-learning form, but all of learning forms are listed here for completeness. It has been pointed out that not only should the different modes of teaching be supported in the Tele-educational environment but also the different styles of learning adopted by the students need to be supported.

So for instance students who like to annotate their work or their course material should be facilitated in doing so. This is very much in the spirit of hypertext origins of the WWW. Another point raised is that multimedia activity in the virtual classroom should be captured and associated with relevant course material. For instance, the teachers comments on a particular slide could be captured with the slide in question. Also the conversation of students working on group could also be recorded and stored with the exercise. Course material could be presented as a hyper-document with the participant capable of navigating through the document or choosing the prescribed ordering of the presentation.

In addition, the participant could also be given access to the more traditional learning material, for example, notes, books, etc. Course assignments could also be electronically submitted to promote fast feedback on performance. An important element of assignments and project work is the need to allow participants to co-operate in groups. 4.3 Network Architecture of Tele-education System From the application’s point of view, network operates as IP (Internet Protocol) network routing both multicast and unicast IP packets. Connection from network level to the Q-adapters managing the switches communicate via ISO stack over X.25 links, but apart from this instances all network infrastructure is in support of IP traffic. This network structure connects seven sites. The aim of the logical network infrastructure is to provide stable network interconnections as well as to be managed to some extent by the network management, and to provide a working, broadband network infrastructure while also supporting an enterprise model suitable for multi-domain environment.

For the separate customer networks, each sites posses of LANs of Ethernet, or mixed ATM/Ethernet LAN technologies. For maximum efficiency of scarce international, broadband resources, only one site in each countries (that taking part in Tele-education system) are connected. The connection, internationally connected customer sites access the public network ATM service via an ATM cross-connect (ATM XC) providing ATM public network provider’s Point-of-Presence (POP) in each of relevant countries. Each customer sites posses ATM Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) which is used to interconnect ATM public network with local routers. For the connection within the same country, it is performed via leased lines between routers at internationally connected customer sites and sites not connected to ATM public network provider.

The ATM CPEs at internationally connected sites and routers at all customer sites managed by VPN (Virtual Private Network) provider. It is performed in concert with management of ATM public service by VPN provider to provide Intranet style connectivity between hosts on customer site LANs. This network is quite complicated because it connects seven sites in four countries and consisting of the following core components: ? Four ATM LANs ? Seven Ethernet based LANs ? Four ATM Cross Connects ? Eight static IP routes ? Seven multicast routers ? Two 2 Mbps leased lines ? Ten International ATM links (virtual path) ? One basic rate ISDN link The following is the figure of logical network infrastructure: Figure 4 : Logical Network Infrastructure. The ATM infrastructure that represents ATM public network provider consists of a single ATM XC at each internationally connected sites. These XCs are interconnected by permanent VPs (Virtual Paths). The ATM CPE at each site based on one or more Fore System ASX-200 switches. It is employed as logically separate ATM LANs besides as providing ATM access between public network and routers at each site.

The following is the figure of ATM configuration. Figure 5 : ATM Configuration. The IP configuration consists of routers at each connected sites being connected by Permanent Virtual Channel (PVC) running over VPs. The routing function at each site performed either by dedicated hardware router or by workstations running routing daemon software. Routing of multicast IP packets (used for multimedia conferencing applications) is not fully supported by most current IP routers, therefore, routing performed by multicast routing daemon (mrouteds) running on workstations. The mrouteds are interconnected by unicast IP tunnels, which can be used to be routed via routers together with all other unicast traffic.

The IP tunnels between mrouted at internationally connected sites used the second sets of VPs. This supports partition of multicast traffic from other unicast traffic and thus enables provision of more deterministic Quality of Service (QoS) for multimedia conferencing application. For external infrastructure, the aim is to provide international ATM links between IP routers at the customer sites. Parallel VPs are used between each pair of sites; one for multicast routing and another one for unicast routing. Figure 6 : The network configuration Reflecting the contemporary trends in multimedia and information services, all software communication is over IP, including management system traffic.

For the network infrastructures that are conducted at a single site, the requirement its network is fairly simple, requiring simply Ethernet connection to support IP communication between PCs and workstations. If the system includes the management of connections over IP switches, then the network infrastructure would include both a representative public network ATM cross connect and customer premises network ATM work-group switch (a FORE systems ASX200). These are connected and configured with multiple VPs to emulate a network with a larger number of nodes. IP routing functions in this network are provided by the SPARC workstations with ATM interface cards performing IP forwarding. The following is the network configuration of this kind of network: Figure 7 : Network configuration For this network configuration, the TES Customer is able to request the set-up of a new connection to the TES provider. The TES provider then requested the VPN provider to do likewise.

The VPN provider made a request to the Public Network Provider and Customer Premises Network Provider to ensure that the end-to-end IP/ATM connection was in place for the TES Customer. This is the goal for the configuration scenario. One of the most important on an ATM network level management system is to provide end-to-end connectivity across constituent ATM network element, and so support the connectivity provisioning with fault management and quality of service features. Challenged by these requirements, a system that is able to set up ATM Virtual Paths and to correlate faulty conditions, determining how these fault effect the connectivity for each end user has been built. The following is the Network infrastructure of this system: Figure 8 : Network infrastructure The figure shows that all the network equipment is connected to one Ethernet hub, that is, the hub that acts as a backbone for one Public Network domain and two Customer Premises Networks.

In reality, this hub could be partitioned into a number of internets that are inter-connected by routers, also known as the Internet. For the network that is required to operate over six sites in four different countries, would require a much more comprehensive network infrastructure. This infrastructure consisted of an ATM VP service, leased lines, and the internal ATM and IP network infrastructure. The following is the example of this network infrastructure : Figure 9 : Network infrastructure 4.4 Performance of Tele-educational Service 4.4.1 Courses There were two courses, both aimed at students with above average prior knowledge of computing and/or computer networks. The first, an introduction to SQL, was a self-study course, consisting mainly of modules of written text with assessments based on these. The second course, an introduction to ATM, was led by a tutor and involved varied methods of delivery, including lecture/seminar, individual study and group work.

Students were therefore expected to interact both with one another and with the tutor. This course, too, included assessment modules. Both of the courses were offered over a three-day period and students were expected to participate for three half days. Within this time, those taking the SQL course was able to pace their own study. On the ATM course, the students use of the different resources was timetabled and directed by the tutor. Time was divided between events, such as lectures, at which all students were expected to be present, and study time, during which they would work through a series of modules, with assessment associated with each one. 4.4.2 Students There were 16 students on the more interactive of the two courses, the Introduction to ATM, and a similar number on the self-paced study course, An Introduction to SQL.

All the students appeared to be experienced computer users. This has to be accepted as necessary in a trial such as this , which takes place in the context of a research project which uses leading edge technology, some of it is still being tested. The prototypical nature of parts of the system may make unusual demands on the students, such as imposing unexpected delays. Having students who appreciate the difficulties may well be important. Having said this, it appeared that although they were knowledgeable about computers, these students were not experts in networked multimedia technology, and did need some initial training in the use of the software. This was given prior to the start of the course. The courses were clearly directed at this target group, as their titles suggest.

The students also stated that they had a genuine wish to learn the subjects being offered and that this was a major motivating factor. They were also paid for their participation, which may have helped improve their persistence when there were technical hitches. 4.4.3 System The system used for the ATM course is described here. Those taking the SQL course used only those parts suited to self study. There are three main elements: audio, and video communications channels support a Tele-education system built on a web-browser base, but with considerable functionality added.

The audio tool, rat, allows participants to receive and transmit audio, to identify who is speaking, control the volume of incoming and outgoing audio streams. Since this tool was developed as a research platform, there are many extra features which the average end-user is not likely to use in an application such as this one, for example, the facility to change the audio encoding scheme. The tools basic functionality is easy to learn and use. The video tool, vic, also offers functionality suitable for its use as a platform for research into networked video. For the non-expert, however, the most important features are that multiple users can send and receive video simultaneously and that they can control some features of both display and capture/transmission (image size and frame rate are two examples). Video images can be displayed at various sizes from thumbnail image to CIF.

Enlarging images does, however, involve creating a new window for each one. Students access the Tele-education system via a web browser and navigate within it using hypertext links, buttons and active areas of images. Initial access is password protected and the system supports the notion of groups and hence, presumably of multiple classes and tutorial groups. The interface is based on the metaphor of an educational institution, a building divided into rooms whose function most students will be able to predict from their real-life experience of education: classroom, tea room, hall, office, library and seminar room. Users are presented with an aerial view of the layout, in which the rooms are labeled.

They gain access to a room by clicking on the appropriate part of this image. The resulting window sometimes maintains the metaphor but is more often mainly textual – a list of hypertext links, for example. Once “in” a room, students have access to the resources they need for the part of the course they are taking. As might be assumed from the description, the system is intended to support a mixed mode of course delivery, including lectures, group discussions and assignments, individual study, assessment with feedback. The existence of the office implies that students can also access relevant course administrative information. The Hall and tea rooms suggest that the intention is also to support less formal, social interactions.

4.4.4 Positive Findings The courses both seemed to be appropriate for the target group. Students reported that they believed they had learned a considerable amount and felt they would retain the important points. The pacing of the study also seemed successful. The tutor clearly had a sense that this was a real class in a real institution and made considerable efforts to generate a relaxed and positive atmosphere. Use of students names, and greeting them as soon as they logged in, contributed to this. This is no mean achievement, given the constraints. The tutor tended to refer to the environment as if it were a real place, arranging with students, for example, to “meet in the tea room” or telling them to “go to the library”. Whether the students shared this perception is less clear.

This may be due to the short time available to become familiar with it. It would be interesting to see whether the environment would become more “real” to the students over a longer course. The room-based structure therefore seems to have been successful. The metaphor seems to have been well chosen, since students seemed to have appropriate expectations of each “room”. None of them appeared to have difficulty navigating between different rooms.

Observation did show that some students had to scroll up and down repeatedly, however, when they were working on individual study texts. This seemed particularly to be the case where they found the material more difficult. Again, there was no sign that they were unsure of where to go or had difficulty in navigation. In terms of course delivery, the trial showed that students experienced considerable variety in the ATM course (inevitably less so in the SQL course). Not only this, but the tutor seemed able to exploit the flexibility of the system and to direct the student to alternative areas of study from what had been planned originally, if necessary.

One of the problems with distance education is that such flexibility can be harder to achieve than in a face-to-face situation, so this is promising and an interesting result of having different applications integrated in this way. It also has a pragmatic use: given technical problems in one area, it was possible to shift students to another activity quite easily. Interactivity, both structured and casual was potentially considerable. The shared whiteboard used for group work was perceived by students as a good feature. It seemed, however, that they did not all realize at first that they could write and draw on it. Perhaps this should be pointed out in the introductory sessions, or the whiteboard should be accompanied by a short explanatory note. It would also be fair to say that this was not a long enough trial to assess usability of this part of the system.

In the limited time it was also not easy for students to establish relationships. The system and the way the tutor used it did encourage students to get to know one another since, for example, one of the first activities for students was to upload their CVs and pictures and to browse through those of other students. The level of concentration appeared to be high. Naturally, as in a classroom, there were moments when students attention moved away from the subject of study but these were not frequent. Interestingly, they usually stayed at the workstation but moved to another activity such as reading e-mail.

The students observed “live” appeared to maintain concentration despite considerable background noise and other potential distractions. This is not a surprise, since other computer-based teaching and learning trials have drawn similar conclusions – but it is another promising feature. At best, the material with which the students were engaged appeared well designed for delivery on a computer screen. The information was “packaged” into manageable chunks and was visually stimulating. Diagrams, colour and animation were used effectively, and the layout was clear and appealing. As the next section suggests, however, not all of the written material was so suitable for this method of presentation.

Feedback was given to students both by the tutor, during discussions (for the ATM course), and as a result of assessments done at the end of each module. Students appeared to take these assessments seriously and were observed to return to the relevant part of the notes when unsure or when they had given an incorrect answer. The scope of this evaluation did not extend to assessing the course design or the assessment methods, but it is worth mentioning that the regular assessment seems to have been a successful feature of the course. Awareness of other students is something that is hard to achieve in distance education. Interestingly, with the audio channel left open during private study periods, it appeared that students experienced something similar to working in a library with other students around them. They were able to hear conversations and could have asked questions if they needed to. The potential disadvantage is that the additional background noise might interfere with concentration. It would probably be worth investigating whether the availability or otherwise of the audio channel makes a difference to students.

4.5 Operation and Management of Tele-education Service A vital element of any service is the reliability, configurability and administration of that service. In order to ensure success of an educational service from both the participants and tutors perspectives, the delivered service must be well managed and monitored. It is crucially important to realize the software and procedures necessary to manage and deliver Tele-educational services over broadband networks. Four basic principles for successful teaching in a virtual classroom environment have been identified as ? media richness, ? interaction, ? timely responsiveness and ? organization of materials. Media richness and interaction mechanisms can be satisfied by the educational services described earlier.

The organization of course materials and the insurance of timely response by systems, participants and tutors are goals of the management service. During the delivery of a course, there is a significant mass of material presented to participants as well as a high degree of interactive responses amongst participants. Unless this mass of materials is organized and interaction controlled, participants can become confused and disillusioned. Proper maintenance and management of the dissemination of material must be put in place to provide an effective learning environment. Segregation of material, both between and within course modules should also be supported.

The strategy of participant-paced learning is important so as to ensure that the class moves through the modules of a course together in order for the interactions to be meaningful. Timely responsiveness has also been identified as a key requirement for Tele-education. Thus access to course material, as well as other participants and tutors, should be reliable and timely. To achieve successful operation of the tele-educational service, participant (on-site) software should be configurable for a wide range of computing environments. Also participation of the class members should be manageable e.g.

course registration, controlling access to class discussions, automatic collection/distribution of assignments and projects etc. The on-line management system should provide the range of services as required by each course leader. 5.0 CONCLUSION Tele-education system is a very new emerging technology. It has been applied in Europe and Canada, and is still under study in order to improve it from time to time. From this project, it is known that Tele-education is a revolution of distance learning in which distance learning basically only provides asynchronous learning environment.

But Tele-education has improved it by providing both asynchronous and synchronous learning environment. After studying all the materials found for this material, it was found that Tele- education is not easy to implement. This is because there are a lot of things need to be considered before implementing such as what kind of network structures available, what kind of service can be provided by network service provider, what is the most suitable network for interconnection among the involved sites, etc. Another reason is that, after implementing it, there need to have several trials on the service to look at its efficiency which would take a long time. In general, it can be concluded that Tele-education is becoming popular as the emerging of multimedia technology. Its advantages that could overcome the problem in current learning environment also has made it a preferable way of learning process. 6.0 REQUIRED EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS The following are the equipment or materials needed for the completion of this project in third semester : a) Opnet software (Sun workstation) – used to perform simulation b) TV Conferencing System with; i.

ISDN Interface ii. H324 TV Conferencing Interface iii. Small TV camera iv. Speaker (stereo) ? this is required for some experiment purposes on Tele-education system c) Satellite System with; i. Antenna (2.6 m) ii. RF receiver (C-band) iii. 2 Mbps TV conferencing Interface iv.

ISDN (2B+D) Interface – Still under study/discussion 7.0 SCHEDULE OF PLANNING (Timetable) Bibliography [1] Krebs, A.M, “D21A – The Initial Requirement Analysis”, ACTS Project AC052, http://www.fokus.gmd.de/research/cc/platun/coop/pr ospect/new/delivara.htm#D21A [2] Jain, R, ” A Revolution In Education”, IEEE, 1997, pp. 1 [3] Bison, T, “Distance Learning Is an Opportunity” , Circuit and Devices, March 1997, pp. 41. [4] GammelGaard, A, “D21B – Final Requirement Analysis”, ACTS Project AC052, http://www.fokus.gmd.de/research/cc/platun/coop/pr ospect/new/delivara.htm#D21B [5] Nielsen, A.B, “D53A – Evaluation of the First Trial Phase”, ACTS Project AC052, http://www.fokus.gmd.de/research/cc/platun/coop/pr ospect/new/delivara.htm#D53A [6] Krebs, A.M, ” D53B – Evaluation of The Second Trial”, ACTS Project AC052, http://www.fokus.gmd.de/research/cc/platun/coop/pr ospect/new/delivara.htm#D53B [7]] Nielsen, A.B, “D51A -Operational Plan for First Trial”, ACTS Project AC052, http://www.fokus.gmd.de/research/cc/platun/coop/pr ospect/new/delivara.htm#D51A [8] Johansen, A, “D51B – Operational Plan for Trial 2”, ACTS Project AC052, http://www.fokus.gmd.de/research/cc/platun/coop/pr ospect/new/delivara.htm#D51B.