In ELECTRA, four universities in a single region will show how telematics can deliver educational services to a broad range of users. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), medical services, people at home and the universities themselves will be able to access learning provision based on advanced information technology and master its potential. Courses in automated manufacturing to open up new markets for SMEs, multimedia courses for doctors, and computerized self-testing of knowledge by students will be typical initial applications.
ELECTRA is an acronym for "Electronic Learning Environment for Continual Training and Research in the ALMA universities" (the universities of Aachen, Liege, Maastricht and Diepenbeek-Hasselt).
It is a concerted effort by the four ALMA universities in three countries (Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium), working closely with local trade and industry representatives to realise a sophisticated electronic learning environment, a "microcosm", on which a spectrum of (multi-lingual) telematic applications and services will become accessible. The word microcosm refers to the variety of educational opportunities offered in the ELECTRA project within the Euregion Meuse Rhine, where the ALMA universities are located. The scope of the project however is much larger and aimed at delivering proof of the possibilities of advanced services and applications on a large scale.
Affordable network access to the universities is essential in providing SME's with user-friendly information tools and services that could open up new markets and provide fresh opportunities. ELECTRA is aimed at the realisation of a set of services and applications that will use a mix of the most advanced possibilities of the available information and communication technology, such as the combined use of ISDN, CATV, research nets (Internet), both from within the universities as from the homes and factories.
The educational goals are: integration and anchoring of telematic services in teaching and learning, focusing specifically on the impact and contribution of telematics for self-directed and collaborative learning.
The project will enable participating students, tutors and researchers, home-learners and SME's, medical practitioners and hospitals in the Euregion Meuse-Rhine, to access education and training and provide them with the necessary skills and experience, in order to work confidently and comfortably with information technology (IT).
In the contract period of the ELECTRA project 260 users will be involved. The consortium plans to exploit the results in the period following the contract period, during which a much larger user group of ca. 1600 persons will be involved in demonstration activities.
User and industry involvement is provided from the start through the formation of an "Expertise Board". In this Expertise Board, representatives from Infrastructure Providers, Chambers of Commerce, Regional Technology Centres, local SME's, together with the committee of user representatives will monitor, evaluate and exploit the results of the project alongside the partners.
In total eight educational applications and two support services, all incorporating multimedia, will run on a hybrid infrastructure (CATV/Telecom/research networks). ISDN and ATM technology will be applied.
The support services are:
- protocols for multimedia data transport
- a Multi-media database structure for general use
The educational applications comprise:
Applications aimed at university students:
- an electronic learning environment to be used in a project based learning model (interactive read/write access to multi- media databases, conferencing and reporting facilities)
- computerised problem based system for the testing of skills and knowledge (interactive computer program with immediate scoring and feed-back)
- learning material facility existing of an interactive multimedia database for the curriculum of the students in culture and science
- an electronic theatre for medical students (using video conferencing)
Applications aimed at medical practitioners/hospitals:
- multilingual courses for general practitioners (video courses to be distributed using CATV)
- long distance bedside teaching (interactive access to a multimedia database)
Applications aimed at SME's:
- a course in the field of automated manufacturing (CNC+), (Computer aided instruction)
- a course in the field of mobile communications (Computer aided instruction)
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts