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Pedagogical Distributed Group Care


The Pedagogical Pursuit and Evaluation Manager (PPEM) provide detailed information about learners' activity allowing a continuous monitoring of their activity, their interests and their evolution. PPEM's web interface namely Learning Information Package Management Tool (LIMT) constitutes a web tool in position to support accumulation, enrichment, update, retrieval, view and exploitation of learners' records, compliant to the LIP IMS standard. LIMT can cooperate with various Virtual Campuses and Learning Management Systems and collect data coming from them. LIMT may act as an add on or complementary tool to existing Learning Management Systems and other tools and provide to educational institutes enhanced data management of learners information and standards compliancy. Additionally it may integrate data coming from different sources (educational institutes, governmental bodies, enterprises) and used as a central learners repository serving a variety of purposes in institutions like recruitment offices, governmental institutions dealing with employment etc. Currently PPEM is a working prototype fully functional serving the purposes of the project. For providing the product in a commercial form a post-project development plan is constructed.
The Pedagogical Content Manager (PCM) tool facilitates the Internet access to learning contents both to teachers and learners. Based on an open and standardised architecture, this component particularly meets any organisation requirements in providing: - A simple database of learning objects references accessible through the Internet with any Web browser. - Multi-language editors for populating and editing this database. - Innovative advanced searching services with personalisation of results taking into account learners characteristics, profiles and behaviours. - Open and highly parameterisable for agile integration and deployment. Silogic will, in particular, further exploit this component by identifying at first hand potential internal usability. It will then be possible to package the component as a commercial offer on which various integration scenarios and support services will be built. In particular, co-operation with academic partners like the Ariadne Foundation will be further investigated for providing innovative tools, which can be integrated with tier systems. Our main customers in the aerospace industry already implements at least partially LRM techniques for their training needs; in particular Airbus has its own Training division for their own customers, targeting pilots, maintenance technicians, engineers, etc. Large sets of "learning objects" are used and fidelity of the trainees is guaranteed by the life-cycle of the aircraft (several regular trainings are needed for any type aof aircraft during several years). A component like PCM, which can be easily integrated in tier systems, will be demonstrated to key persons and awareness about other PedCare components will be raised.
Ped-Care project aimed at smoothing the on-line relationship between learners and teachers in the framework of distance learning education through a new communication methodology and supporting tools. The system of evaluation of the courses is a method of monitoring and evaluating the courses. In particular inside the Ped Care, it has been possible to build a way to check if the new tools were able to improve the achievement of pedagogical objectives. The system includes a way for describing: - The e-learning process, - The placement of specific indicators, - The way of collecting data, - The evaluation of the results. This system will potentially be used inside all the e-learning courses in order to control and monitoring the achievement of the foreseen objectives. e-Learning is becoming a more and more common way of learning all over Europe. It brings with it the need to monitor and control this different way of education. This need is important because learners and teacher are distant from one another and it is important to check the way in which the student is learning in order to prevent a possible lack of motivation. A possible solution for this problem is a system of evaluation of the courses that make possible the control and the monitoring of the pedagogical objectives. This is the reason why this result can be used in all contexts of e-learning both in training organizations and inside large organisations.
Ped-Care project aimed at smoothing the on-line relationship between learners and teachers in the framework of distance learning education through a new communication methodology and supporting tools. A semantic analysis is one of the research fields with more potential applications in the next generation of Internet solutions. Ped-Care research activities have provided Ped-Care partners with a deep expertise in those kinds of techniques as Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA, LSI, etc.), steeming algorithms and neural networks. All of them are suitable for being applied in application that need to improve the user interfaces providing natural language support. Semantic analysis techniques present several applications in all sectors related to e-Business (CRM, Knowledge management, Intranets, B2C, B2E, etc.), voice applications, natural language processing. The developed algorithms allow improving end-users interfaces for helpdesk application, online user manual, and specification of database queries etc. They have also applications in Internet and knowledge searchers.
The Ped-Care project offers five main applications together with other complementary tools in order to solve detected lacks in the current Learning Management Systems (LMS), authoring or commercial ones. Tools design is based on the transfer of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) techniques to education. Ped-Care supplies these tools into an open and modular architecture that allows adaptation to any existing LMS. The five main components are the following: - Integrated Management of Communication Channels -- Intelligent Messages Manager (IeMM): The main objective is to help teachers in the management of the established communication channels with learners improving their relationships. IeMM captures the questions sent to the teacher (by eMail, SMS, Web or WAP), analyses it’s content through semantic analysis techniques and selects the best answer for it considering the available information in the course knowledge base. The selected answer can be automatically sent to the learner (by eMail, Web, WAP, SMS or Fax) without human intervention or can be forwarded to the teacher for confirmation. In this case, the question and the suggested answer will be completed with the learner profile information (see PPEM application). Another choice is to forward the question to other departments when the teacher is not able to answer it. It also permits the automatic updating of the FAQ page incorporating the answer that the teacher sends to the learner. Another important feature refers to its capacity of personalising the answer taking into account the segment that the learner belongs to (see Intelligent Pedagogical Segmentation Manager - IPSM). In this way, different answers can be associated to the same question according to the segment in which the student is classified. Finally, the answers can be completed with additional information as Internet Links or course contents provided by the Pedagogical Content Manager (PCM) component (see below). -- Intelligent Pedagogical Frequent Asked Question List (FAQ): It complements the IeMM application offering a list with the most frequent asked question and the associated answers. These answers will be customised regarding the learner profile and segment. The teacher can dynamically update this list through the IeMM when they receive questions that the system is not able to automatically answer them. In this way, the teacher continuously improve the FAQ considering the questions they receive from learners. -- Market Campaigns Manager: It allows teachers to send personalised information to the learners taking into account their particular profiles and specific segment. Of course, any communication channel can be used for this sending. The results of the campaings can be analysed detecting in this way their success. - Contents Management Tools Personalised Content Manager (PCM): It is used to search for information about the course using metadata search technologies. A simple and friendly interface is used. Results are personalised for each learner in order to provide smart filtering, ordering and focus on the various query results. Together with the previous application, teachers can also use this tool for selecting and sending learning contents that complement the course official learning material - Monitoring tools and Help-Desk: -- Pedagogical Pursuit and Evaluation Manager (PPEM): The distributed Ped-Care architecture facilitates the integration of the previous applications in one system in order to capture all the interactions of the different agents within the system. In this way each user profile will be completed with this activity information that will be used to calculate the different pedagogical indicators that define the user behaviour in the learning process. -- Pedagogical Segmentation Manager (IPSM): Once the learner activity information has been captured together with the pedagogical criteria specified by each teacher, these tools will dynamically classify each learner in the defined segments. This classification will be done based on a massive analysis of the captured information. -- Information Analysis Tools: All the developed tools will provide users with reports and statistics about the system activity and the system responses. Also, the pedagogical indicators will allow testing the actual situation of the learning process. Finally, the segmentation will offer information about the evolution of each learner on it (considering the history of the segments in which he had classified) and the general success (considering the number of learners in each segment). - M-learning Finally, the three-Tier technical architecture defined for each tool will allow users accessing them by any media (browsers, e-mail, WAP, SMS, etc.) offering the results through any communication channel thanks to a clear separation of the presentation logical layer in the software components involved. PedCare toolkit is designed and developed to complete Learners Relationship Manager (LRM) methodology solving main lacks detected in actual eLearning platforms (commercial or authoring). Therefore, organisations using the LRM methodology (large organisations, private or public universities, etc), eLearning platform providers (for incorporating added value services to their LMS) or education providers (for improving their offer or for improving their monitoring or evaluating processes) are target groups for the commercial exploitation of the Ped-Care toolkit. On other hand, PedCare toolkit could also be part of total solution offers for the deployment of eLearning solutions (specially for large organisations). Finally, it is also suitable for being distributed through ASP providers together with other eLearning services. Considering existing eLearning platforms an integration process is required for the PedCare toolkit. This requires: - The development of an OAI Data Provider able to export the information stored in the end-user eLearning platform to the PedCare knowledge database. This procedure is developed using the OAI protocol and requires low but additional investments. The existence of this Data Provider will allow Ped-Care to import information stored in the native LMS (teacher and learning profiles, course information, logs, evaluation notes, etc.) - The purchase of one or more application servers in which Ped-Care tools and knowledge base will be installed. Each Ped-Care module can be installed in an isolated way being connected with the other components through Web Services (SOAP protocol). In this way, any distributed architecture is acceptable. Of course, it is also acceptable to install all Ped-Care toolkit in only one server. Additional software required for the installation of Ped-Care tools is available under open source licences (Linux, Apache and Tomcat application server, James mail server, Java SDK, etc.) so no additional investments on software licences are required. - The configuration of Ped-Care tools to fit end-users requirements. This processes includes: the configuration of the language, the configuration of the thresold for the different artificial intelligence algorithms applied in IeMM, PCM and IPSM components, the feed of the knowledge base including an initial FAQ list and additional learning contents that complete the official contents of each course, the connection of Ped-Care agents with the organisation mail servers and the connection (optional) of PCM to external repositories of learning contents (OAI providers or LOM providers as Ariadne). - The training of the intelligent modules (IeMM and IPSM). This phase is not mandatory but a preparation stage will ensure better results in the courses from the beginning. Installation procedure can be accomplished by potential users without technical support, it is recommended for fine tunning tools functionality. Finally, in order to facilitate marketing activities material (video, brochure, flyers, Web sites) and demonstrator of main Ped-Care functionalities are available.
The aim is to integrate the SMS-to-email converter, as an additional module, to a multitude of existing programmes. This could increase its functionality (multi-channel access as a result of including the SMS service). The SMS-to-email converter is able to transform an e-mail to an SMS and the opposite. Any program, which can interact, with an e-mail interface, with their users can easily include the converter to improve user access. It must, however, be taken into account that an SMS only allows sending/receiving of a limited amount of text, up to 160 characters. Any extra information, in the form of images, files, etc. must be filtered out before sending the SMS.
The Ped-Care LRM (Learner Relationship Management) methodology aims to contribute to the improvement of the relationships/communication between the teacher and student groups in order to improve and facilitate the continuous learning processes (Life-Long Learning). LRM attempts to be employed by teachers in order to improve the management of the communication channels with the students and the tracking and evaluation of their progress in the teaching process. The new work method goes with some main applications together with other complementary tools in order to solve the detected lacks in the current LMS (authoring or commercial ones) regarding with the application of CRM techniques in the education. Technology, pedagogy and business are now inseparable in e-Learning scenarios. The new LRM pedagogical methodology incorporates elements from these three vertices to distance education. It proposes transference of CRM strategies and technologies to the education environment. The benefits of a sound CRM strategy (coupled with a good implementation) for an education centre range from an increased customer (student) satisfaction to reduced costs. It proposes ten steps for the distance education courses planning and development to ensure learners’ satisfaction. Two experimentation phases has been done to validate this methodology with a heterogeneous student population in three European Countries (Greece, Spain and Sweden) and with six different kinds of e-learning courses. This heterogeneous target group ensures that LRM take into account the cultural and socio-economic differences in Europe. During Ped-Care life-cycle the main research conclusions have been published in different scientific congresses and the final methodology has been officially presented in the UNESCO 2003 Conference on Intercultural Education ( . During last years the return from e-Learning investments has not been as good as expected. In our opinion main reason refers to the pedagogical methodology applied to distance education courses specially when no explicit motivation is present. LRM methodology helps potential users to clearly define the objectives of their training processes, to evaluate the progress of the students in the learning process and to plan learning activities towards student’s satisfaction. In this sense, LRM methodology can be implemented in collaboration with Human Resources Departments of large organisations or in public or private education centres (together or not with other tools developed in Ped-Care). In general, any organisation that offers education services through Virtual Campus or LMS can be benefited for the application of LRM in their training processes. The main expected benefits of the implementation of LRM methodology in an education centre lies in the improvement of the student satisfaction in the learning process ensured but optimised monitoring and evaluation process of their progress in the courses. It can be offered as consultancy services (strategy level) for helping organisation staff in the planning and evaluation of the training processes or as formation sessions to the trainers and managers of this department. The required investment for the development of the LRM in an organisation depends on the actual state of the training processes and the education offer it provides. A personalised offer will be designed for each potential customer in base of the following considerations: - Reengineering activities will be defined by senior consultant. - Formation and monitoring activities will be carried out by consultants. - Evaluation activities and recommendation reposts will be managed by senior consultants.
Ped-Care project aimed at smoothing the on-line relationship between learners and teachers in the framework of distance learning education through a new communication methodology and supporting tools. The Intelligent e-Mail Manager (IeMM) aims to help teachers to improve relationships with students offering facilities for a efficient management of the established communication channels (eMail, SMS, Web or WAP) in the distance learning environment. This Intelligent Agent captures the messages (questions) that students send to the teachers and analyses their content applying semantic analysis techniques (LSI and neural networks completing with steeming algorithms) in order to select the best answer in real time. The message can be automatically answered without human intervention, can be forwarded to the teacher with some suggestions about possible answers or can be redirected to other departments. Several parameters allow users to control the system behaviour (employed algorithms, certainty level, number of suggestions, etc.). The semantic analysis techniques allow the system to provide an automatic answer for most common questions or to send them to the teacher offering suggestions about recommended answer. Of course the system captures the teacher answer (one of the list of the suggested ones or a new one) in order to allow the training of the semantic analysis algorithms. For this purpose, the IeMM is connected to knowledge base containing the most frequent asked questions (FAQ) and their associated answers. In this way, when the teacher rejects the suggestions’ list and enters a complete new answer, it is automatically stored in the FAQ allowing the system to provide the right answer next time the same or similar question is received. One of the advantages that the intelligent e-mail provides for the distance learning environment is that there is no need of being complaint with e-learning platforms or Learning Management Systems (LMS). Moreover, we are conscious that there are a lot of e-mails systems able to filter, collect and sort e-mails but our definition of intelligent agent together with the application of artificial intelligence techniques (semantic analysis for natural language processing, support of any language, segmentation tools based on pedagogical indicators for providing personalised responses) is unique in the market. Even if the main IeMM potential applications lie on the distance education environment, it is important to highlight its possible applications to other sector from those that it was initially conceived. Within this areas we can mention: - CRM providers taking advantage of IeMM functionality for their helpdesk services and for market segmentation purposes. - Knowledge Management System providers. - e-Business solutions. - Intranet and Internet corporative Web portals. - Call Center and Data Centers interested of offering CRM solutions through Internet or Mobile devices. This tool is also of interest in general, to any organisation interested in offering helpdesk services through Internet (Intranet) to their customers (B2C, B2b) or employees (B2C). It has been developed with the last generation technologies (intelligent agents, AI techniques) offering access by any media at any time (sms, e-mail, wap and web). The main intelligent e-Mail Manager characteristics are: - Reception of users' questions by any media (Web, Wap, eMail or SMS) - Application of Semantic Analysis Techniques (LSI, Neural Networks, Pattern Matching) for analysing received questions in order to select the best set of answer from the Knowledge Base. It also incorporates steaming algorithms for removing "noise" from the received messages - Configurable system behaviour when questions are received allowing: --Automatic answering to users selecting the best choice from the selected ones. -- Redirection of the question to the assigned agent including recommendations of possible answers. Regardiog education, the agent could be the official teacher of the course or any other department of the education centre. -- Incorporation of the user profile (if available) to the question redirected to the agents providing extended information about his behaviour in the organisation. Regarding education, the learner profile will be attached to the question sent to the teacher including information about his activities in the learning process. -- Personalised answers to the same question depending on the segment to which the user is assigned. Regarding education, the answer sent to learners could be different for those belonging to advanced segments (for example, those that have had a better progress in the course) than for those that are in the low qualified segments. - Group Communication facilities, allowing agents to send messages (eMail, SMS or Fax) to the whole group, to specific segments or to selected users. It also possible to establish Personalised Marketing Campaigns (different offers to each population segment) having also Analysis Tools for evaluating the campaign success. Regarding education, the teacher can launch different education offers (for example, seminars) to each student’s segment having the possibility of analysing how many students have shown interest in the activity. - FAQ list including common questions and answers. The answers support the incorporation of multimedia contents as well as connections to contents searchers. In this way, video in MPEG4 format can be complete the answer sent to the user and also "More Info..." buttons can be added that offer the users other contents from external repositories (see PCM and it facilities of connection with OAI repositories or Ariande's LOM repositories). - Dynamic FAQ construction. The knowledge base can be directly updated when the agent rejects the system recommendations offering new answers to user. In this way, if the teacher decides that the suggestions offered by the system to one learner question are not adequate, he can write a different answer that is automatically registered in the knowledge base and in the associated FAQ list. - Multilingual Capabilities. The applied IA algorithms for the natural language processing are based on statistical methods that are independent of the language of the received questions. - Automatic system training incorporating the agent actions to received questions. - Reports, statistics and graphics regarding use of the different communication channels. The requirements for incorporating IeMM within an existing solution are: - Connection to the corporate Mail Server. IeMM incorporates a Mail Server that receives all the messages. Then, they are sent to the corporate Mail Server to be redirected to the assigned agent. - Knowledge Base feed with the actual organisation FAQ. - Initial training process for ensuring an acceptable response from the beginning. Of course, the IA algorithms that IeMM incorporates will improve its performance with the time. - For offering personalised answer the installation of the IPSM (Intelligent Pedagogical Segmentation Manager) is required. - If SMS support is required, the Ped-Care SMS Centre is also required. Regarding the costs for implementing an IeMM solution, it is based on Open Source software so only one server is required with Linux, a Virtual Java Machine and a James Server. Therefore is not necessary to purchase additional software licences. In case that the support to SMS is required and additional server is required to install the SMS Centre (again based on Open Source solutions). Potential users of IeMM are: Private and Public Universities; Education Centres; e-Learning providers; Human Resources Departments of large companies; Companies that offer e-Business solutions on Internet specially those applying CRM strategies; Call Centers and Data Centers; CRM solution providers; Knowledge Management providers; Public Administration Organisms.