WWW-based Ubiquitous Environment for e-Learning and High-Performance Computing


Academic Background of the Research

Science and Education today are increasingly collaborative and multidisciplinary, and it is not unusual for teams to span institutions, states, countries and continents. The Internet is just a special case of the ability for communities to share resources as they tackle common goals that allow such groups to work together making possible to create modern ubiquitous distributed environment in different areas. Let us focus on the following directions. The distributed e-Learning environment creates new possibilities to support and enhance communication within the teacher-student community as the one of the essential aspects of a learning process. Also, it is believed that the strength of computer-supported learning, combined with those of instructor-guided learning, could help enable students to become more self-reliant in their studies. The modern e-Learning trends are related to design mobile games-based learning applications using devices that are similar to cell-phones, PDAs, etc. It is also an appropriate solution in the typical ecologies of developing regions [Brewer2005, Kam2008]. The challenge is to design e-learning games that are both educational and pleasurable for our target learners including persons who have limited familiarity with high technology.

Usually, modern e-learning educational resources consist of three components. The first component is a set of lectures including multimedia materials like text, static and/or moving figures, expressions or formulas etc. The integration of text, audio, video and communications in the one environment makes the web exceptionally convenient to the learner. Digital sound and video can be accessed almost as easily as text enabling a powerful mixture of learning stimuli to be made available to learners. The second component is a set of exercises and tests to provide practical solutions of given problems. The last component is a set of tools to control and verify educational process providing results analysis and statistics for learners and teachers. The analysis of modern Distance Learning Systems (DLS) shows that they need to be enhanced by effective task management subsystem providing not only comfortable specification of tasks but also automatic/semi-automatic verification/scoring of student solutions.

The wide distribution of the personal computers allows also participating directly in the high-performance computing process by granting a free computer time for public calculations. The project Folding@home (also known as FAH or F@H) is a distributed computing project designed to perform computationally intensive simulations of protein folding and other molecular dynamics simulations [Folding]. It is currently managed by the Pande Group, within Stanford University's Chemistry department. Each user can participate in these computations by calculating a small part of a problem. It is important to note that this application and server features do not allow the private usage of results obtained by a community of users.

References

[Brewer2005] E. Brewer, M. Demmer, B. Du, etc., The Case for Technology in Developing Regions, Computer, June 2005, 25-37.

[Kam2008] M. Kam, A. Agarwal, A. Kumar, etc., Designing E-Learning Games for Rural Children in India: A Format for Balancing Learning with Fun. Proceedings of ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS '08), Cape Town, South Africa, February 25-27, 2008.

[Folding] Folding@home Distributed Computing, http://folding.stanford.edu/.

                       Designed by Dmitry Vazhenin              
                      
Active Knowledge Engineering Laboratory
                       2009-2011