LEVERAGE intends to demonstrate how the use of multimedia broadband technology can support and greatly improve communication between learners in cross-linguistic situations by offering collaborative work facilities to groups of students in different member states.
The main goals of the project are:
- to develop, implement, and field trial a complete multimedia broadband network infrastructure to support joint work between and on the partners' sites: University of Cambridge (UK), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SP) and INT (Institut National des Télécommunications) of Evry (F);
- to take full advantage of results and feedback from the extended trials and evaluation by non-specialist users throughout the project;
- to determine and exploit the potential for commercialisation of networked multimedia systems for wider applications in education, industry, public services and commerce. As the LEVERAGE task-based collaborative activities are extremely demanding in terms of communication technology, the objectives of the project are applicable to a wide range of networked multimedia needs, beyond Language Learning.
The benefits of LEVERAGE are :
- the essential mid-term advantages for the Language Learning community through the use of broadband technologies;
- the multi-sector awareness gained from the dissemination and concertation of results at European level, noticeably through the LEVERAGE international conferences;
- the contribution to European industry to overcome technology gaps such as broadband multipoint communication and to gain experience regarding new powerful facilities offered, such as native ATM interfaces;
- the enhancement of LEVERAGE partners' portfolios with regard to their marketing and technical assets, for the optimum benefit of their core business.
Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Establishment of a broadband network-based learning system. Development of the Ascom ATMLightRing product. And development of a research tool for multipoint communications.
Contribution to the programme
Demonstration of distributed multimedia networks for education and training.
All of the project's activities are under the control of the Marketing workpackage whose brief is the establishment of opportunities in each partner's specific target market in the light of the LEVERAGE trials.
The prototype cross-connect network at the University of Cambridge site will be expanded into a full campus network including a high-speed optical backbone, true ATM switching, network management and advanced signalling capabilities.
This is the first step in the progression, from developing the system fabric for each metropolitan site, to linking through the Public Network Operators ATM Pilot scheme (now managed by the JAMES ACTS Project) after initial connection through the relevant ACTS National Hosts.
In each site:
- ATM networks are installed and progressively improved to conform to the requirements of the task-based language learning applications specified by the project;
- the switched local ATM systems service both workstations and servers;
- users are provided with multimedia terminals giving access to data resources, high quality audio and video, multimedia courseware and dictionaries, multipoint communication (such as videoconferencing) and recording capabilities; a thorough formative and summative evaluation methodology is carried out.
Summary of Trial
LEVERAGE trial sites (University of Cambridge, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Institut National des Télécommunications) are representative of academic end-users for the broadband multimedia systems developed and promoted by the project. They are all involved in the training of engineering students. These students will become Euroengineers in a few years time and will be required to participate in projects where they will be expected to use several languages and to communicate effectively with European partners.
The basic LEVERAGE paradigm is that a learner in one country makes contact with a learner in another, and that they agree to assist each other in the performance of a mutual task, alternately playing the role of tutor (own native language) and learner (second language). The LEVERAGE trials therefore consist of evaluating to what extent the broadband communications facilities offered to the end-user (the student) effectively support the pedagogical framework proposed.
Building on the availability of the first LEVERAGE prototype, (the multimedia architecture designed for the first trial held in February 1997), the LEVERAGE trials will develop through the use of formative evaluation: redesign will occur during the trial cycle, which will expand progressively as increasingly sophisticated transnational scenarios are introduced.
The key issues for LEVERAGE are:
- optimum exploitation of broadband networking to support rapidly expanding Language Learning needs;
- scalability of the solution in technologies and services;
- identification of some marketing trends and possible approaches;
- usability of a few tens of Mbit/s of wide area inter-networking capacity;
- efficient management and signalling capabilities;
- establishment of multipoint remote communications;
- optimisation of interfaces, access, and storage capacities;
- optimum standards compliance (ATM forum etc.).