In tomorrow's learning and working environments, people will be increasingly involved in tasks within multidisciplinary, multicultural and physically distributed teams. The participation to such tasks puts heavy demands on the individual for which he/she is not usually prepared. Informal reasoning (cognitive) skills and social skills of collaboration are not duly exploited, as practices, from school to university, very poorly address their acquisition. The DUNES project will result in a methodology and software tools to enable collaborative learning and the acquisition of "soft skills" through Internet-mediated discussion, argumentation and social interaction. The project will involve broad implementation, testing and validation in a "large-scale experiment" to be carried out by many players in formal and informal learning environments and in workplaces throughout Europe.
DUNES goal is to design, implement and test - in a large-scale experiment - an environment for collaborative learning (CL) through electronic discussion. More specifically, DUNES will develop
1) innovative "argumentative maps" for modelling and supporting discussion among participants;
2) didactical scenarios for CL, including CL of specific topics, competitive negotiation and debates, collaborative decision-making, etc;
3) methods of intervention by the instructor/moderator or by intelligent agents;
4) methodologies for evaluating activities with DUNES and their contribution, like
a) Quantitative measures of informal reasoning;
b) Quant. methods for evaluating products of collective work;
c) Methods for describing interactions between participants and the mediating role of the tools;
d) Ethnographic approaches for describing global aspects of argumentative activities with DUNES;
e) Assessing the required characteristics and new role of the teacher in DUNES environments.
The DUNES consortium will engage, during 30 months, in the design of the methodology and tools, in their broad implementation and evaluation, in the underlying pedagogical/cognitive research and in the preparation and execution of dissemination and exploitation plans. The DUNES project involves 9 partners (5 universities, one large R&D institute and 3 industrial partners) from 8 countries. In addition, several external, non-partner "end-users" (mainly schools, universities, training schools and workplaces) join this project for the purpose of trying, testing and providing feedback from real learning and working scenarios. The multiple application domain of DUNES (learning, training, negotiating, decision-making) calls for a technical solution that should be highly adaptable and versatile - which will be the case. The work will be structured in 8 WPs, the core of which covers the design of the DUNES learning environment, the design & specification and implementation & testing of the technical tool, and the realization of the large scale validation of the system (to be carried out in 7 of the partners' countries). The "experiment" is arranged in two WPs: the "Intensive" study (in which DUNES methods and tools will be implemented and the field work will be documented and analysed), and the "Extensive" study (mainly devoted to a thorough evaluation). All technical and pedagogical/cognitive tasks will be linked by a continuous and closely monitored feed-back process, intended to minimize risks and to assure an effective and timely accomplishment of the project goals. The project will join or establish strong links with existing national initiatives in learning and training and, for this purpose, ministries of education and other relevant organizations in some of the partners' countries have already been contacted and expressed their interest in DUNES.
Mth5 - Requirements analysis of the DUNES system;
Mth12 - Report for prototype Alpha, containing the results of the evaluation for drawing the correct conclusions from its practical implementation;
Mth30 - Report for prototype Beta, including all the assessment work that will follow the implementation, setting the basis for the future;
Mth30 - Full assessment of the DUNES system and final report on the large-scale experiment.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
405 30 Goeteborg
WC1H 0AL London
3584 CS Utrecht