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Some Design Challenges for e-Universities Professor Tim OShea Master of Birkbeck & Provost of Gresham.

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Presentation on theme: "Some Design Challenges for e-Universities Professor Tim OShea Master of Birkbeck & Provost of Gresham."— Presentation transcript:

1 Some Design Challenges for e-Universities Professor Tim OShea Master of Birkbeck & Provost of Gresham

2 Talk Structure UK e-University New Technologies LMN ltd and HERO ltd Birkbeck examples Challenges & Dilemmas Why Bother?

3 UK e-University Open University inspiration Other OU-2s have bombed Right technological time Some great UK niche courses Whose degrees? Broad or narrow? Which commercial partners? High stake and high risk

4 IT & Ed - Briefest History 1960s - Skinner, Suppes & Programmed Learning 1970s - Piaget, Papert & Learning Programming 1980s - Intelligent Computer Tutors 1990s - Computer Supported Collaborative Learning 2000s - Virtual Schools and Universities


6 Technological Trends Convergence of technologies Wireless mobility (active badges) Moores law X 3 The Internet is a pond The World Wide Web is an Open Library Object-Oriented Programs (windows and Java) Machine Learning

7 The World Wide Web Your computer Birkbeck Network JANET Internet




11 Convergence of Modes Synchronous and Asynchronous Shared Alternate Reality Kit Video and Audio Links Side by Side and Face to Face Time Travel Joining past conversations Hybrid Virtual Realities



14 Higher Education Research & Opportunities ltd Owned by Universities & Research Councils Also Course Application Providers Information on places, subjects and funds News features and daily news feed Very useful for overseas and 6th formers A portal - a nice set of web sites






20 London Metropolitan Network ltd Owned by 39 unis & colleges in M25 Linked to 57 further education colleges Linking with libraries & museums Supports research and teaching Almost invisible at 155M, soon 2.5G Same capacity as main UK network 240 video-links, 12K audio links & 100M

21 LHEC 20 April 1999

22 The Birkbeck Experience (1) Some courses (e.g Biology) use educational software such as WebCT Some courses (e.g. Geography) use commercial software Some courses (e.g. Organisational Psych) use computer conferencing

23 The Birkbeck Experience (2) Some courses (e.g. Screenwriting) use electronic mail Some courses (e.g. Earth Sciences) use CD- ROMs Crystallography has an international reputation for computer based research


25 Who are Crystallography students? Most of our students are graduates –many work in industry –some are taking the courses for credits towards a PhD a few are advanced undergraduates –most of these are European students on four- or five-year Masters courses

26 Course Prerequisites Students need access to a suitable computer –We support the PC, Macintosh and Unix/Linux platforms –All software needed for the course is in the public domain –Slow Internet links can cause problems A B.Sc. or equivalent and some computing experience is also required

27 Multimedia Course Material Images Image maps Databases Links to external Web sites Movies Molecules can be manipulated in 3-D

28 Movies illustrate protein motion

29 Software for Molecular Visualisation Roger Sayles Rasmol is the main program we use for visualising molecular structures –it is readily available on the Internet –it runs on a wide variety of platforms –it is easy to install and use, and free It can be launched automatically when a molecular structure file is selected

30 Other Software The program Mage is used to display interactive diagrams, known as kinemages –Each kinemage consists of a number of images which the student can manipulate e.g. to alter side chain torsion angles and watch the protein conformation change Students on the crystallography course run programs on the Birkbeck server All software is freely available for academic use

31 Tutorials in Virtual Reality Students and tutors meet and talk in real time using a MUD –MUD = M ulti User Dimension –an Internet environment in which participants move around and interact with each other –we use one based at Birkbeck –mostly text-based; Web interface popular We occasionally use BioMOO –The Biologists Virtual Meeting Place –about 1000 users

32 Reality Check If a car was like a computer How many computer scientists? Routes through 10 pages? The 1:200 rule £2000 x 200 x 50 = BA? Savings from I.T. Transparency via I.T. Platform stability

33 Key Issues Improving navigation support Reducing cognitive cost - especially for new learners Ensuring approaches scale to 1000s of learners and the WWW Maximising added value and incidental learning Widening Access while Enhancing Constructive functionality Management issue - staff technology expertise

34 Cognitive cost Different metaphors - physical object, spatial, locational, computer-computer, etc. Broken metaphors - infinite desktops, etc. Mixed metaphors - disks into waste bins, etc. Different short cut conventions Response time variation

35 Cognitive Cost (2) Cute but opaque icons & acronyms Syntax/metaphor variation between systems Navigation tool variation (COGNITIVE COST RISING)

36 Navigation Support Where am I in this information space? Is it really a 2D space, tree, network lattice? Who is also active in the space How can I plan next weeks route? How can I travel between spaces? How can I travel in parallel? (NAVIGATION IS GETTING HARDER)

37 e-University position Capitalised around £100m Holding & Operating Companies Committee for Academic Quality 84 Pilot course bids London, Oxbridge/Open, WUN Great Technology Partners Developing very quickly

38 e-University Challenges Generic self-assessment navigation support appropriate assessment creating the e-library interactive tutorial support choosing the grain-size the digital divide

39 Design Challenges (2) Reusable learning objects Genuine peer learning Time flexibility Authentic software Real student programming Sense of community Sense of location

40 Digital Dilemmas Mind the Gap! Delivery costs dropping! Design costs rising! 200 cats on the Internet? What manufacturers want? Join Open Source party? Who owns copyright?

41 Digital Solutions Cross subsidise the Gap Exploit low delivery costs Reuse learning objects Authenticate your pets Plan for obsolesence Say Yes to Open Source But who owns copyright?

42 Why bother? Dewey democratic principle Bruner technological principle Knowledge economy real Access, access, access Exciting experiment Birkbeck Blessings

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