Etäopetus Multimediaverkoissa (ETÄKAMU) -tavoitetutkimushanke
Edellinen Ylempi otsikkotaso Sisällys Hakemisto Seuraava TEKES

English Summaries

Distance Learning in Multimedia Networks (ETÄKAMU) Project

Heli Ruokamo, Seppo Pohjolainen

heli.ruokamo@cc.tut.fi, seppo.pohjolainen@cc.tut.fi

Tampere University of Technology, Digital Media Institute

Department of Mathematics, Hypermedia Laboratory

P.O. Box 692, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. This chapter describes the background, organization and the goals of the ETÄKAMU project as well as the project's organisation. The chapter introduces the theoretical background of the research, research questions, how the research has been carried out and also the main results of the project reached during the three-year research period. The main goals of the Distance Learning in Multimedia Networks (ETÄKAMU) project ( http://matwww.ee.tut.fi/kamu) have been to research, develop and evaluate open learning environments that are based on using computer networks and computers in learning. A&O learning environment is developed in co-operation with the ETÄKAMU project and the "Hypermedia-based Learning Environment" funded by the Academy of Finland.

The pedagogical background of the project is based on seven qualities of meaningful learning that are suitable for lifelong learning - from comprehensive school to university level and to adult learning - independently of time and place. The theoretical background of the organising of learning environments and technical functionality is based on a system model of distance learning. The technical background is based on rapid development of networks, hardware and software. These enable the production, use, and distribution of hypermedia-based learning material as well as communication and collaboration over computer networks. The ETÄKAMU project has arranged teaching experiments and user trials for various learners and in different content areas as well as in learning environments that have been varying both pedagogical and technical solutions. Feedback and data have been gathered via an investigation of how these various solutions function in practice. Chapter II in this publication deals with research and pilot areas in the ETÄKAMU Project and essential results obtained in these areas.

On the Design, Implementation and Evaluation of an A&O Open Learning Environment

Seppo Pohjolainen, Heli Ruokamo, Ossi Nykänen, Martti Ala-Rantala

seppo.pohjolainen@cc.tut.fi, heli.ruokamo@cc.tut.fi, ossi.nykänen@cc.tut.fi, martti.ala-rantala@cc.tut.fi

Tampere University of Technology, Digital Media Institute

Department of Mathematics, Hypermedia Laboratory

P.O. Box 692, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. This paper describes design principles, main actors, functions and technical implementation of an open learning environment called A&O. Finally the A&O environment is evaluated on the basis of an evaluation frame developed in the ETÄKAMU project and some conclusions are presented. The A&O is an open learning environment which can be used via computer networks, especially over the Internet. It supports both self-paced and collaborative learning. A&O is open to various learners and different contents and it offers a possibility to study independently of time and place. The main goal of the A&O environment is to be both pedagogically appropriate and technically functional. It is designed on the basis of modern learning theories that emphasise construction of new knowledge on the basis of previous knowledge, the learners' active role and collaborative learning. In addition to these, learner's intentions, meaningful contexts, transfer and reflection play an essential role.

The A&O learning environment is based on a space model that is divided as follows: 1) office , via which all administrative matters related to studies are carried out, 2) study for students, teachers and other actors, 3) media center , where all the additional and reference materials are located and 4) gallery where all the final works of the students can be set up to be available for all the Internet users. The system architecture of the A&O consists of data management facilities including data acquisition tools, tools for communication and collaboration, course-dependent cognitive tools and authoring tools for producing hypermedia courseware.

In this paper design and implementation of the A&O environment is evaluated both on the basis of a pedagogical evaluation frame and partly on the basis of the evaluation frame of organising of learning environments and technical functionality. Since A&O is now just a research and development version, the authors have not yet been able to test A&O learning environment via teaching experiments and user trials. These will be arranged during a follow-up project that will be set up after the ETÄKAMU project.

Structured Learning Material in the WWW - controlled Hypertext

Timo Ovaskainen, Anne Karjalainen, Kimmo Rinteelä, Pertti Siekkinen, Rauno Veijola

timo.ovaskainen@titu.jyu.f i, anne.karjalainen@titu.jyu.fi kimmo.rinteela@titu.jyu.f i, pertti.siekkinen@titu.jyu.fi , rauno.veijola@titu.jyu.fi

University of Jyväskylä, Information Technology Research Institute

P.O. BOX 35 (JKK), FIN-40351 JYVÄSKYLÄ, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. The pilot of the ETÄKAMU Project called Structured learning material aimed at creating a model which could be used to produce, control and distribute structured digital learning material by businesses in the field of information technology. Another goal was to examine what extra value could be added to the learning environment by using structured learning material. This is why a test set of learning material on videoconferencing was produced. Five people tested the structured learning material independently according to the instructions given. Participating observation by the researchers and a questionnaire including open questions were used for evaluating the learning environment. Their content structure was based on the pedagogical framework for evaluation suggested by ETÄKAMU work group 3.

The main goals were reached, ie. test material was produced into a learning environment where the material was offered to the learners in a structured form. Structuring material enables creating different kinds of learning packages, following individual learners' progress and defining the layout and distribution of the material. The results show that producing structured learning material does not necessarily require more work than producing hypertext material. However, structuring adds to the work load in the beginning, but as the amount of material grows there will be an increase in the benefits derived from structuredness. On the basis of experiences gained, a model for producing structured learning material was created. It outlines the production process and the implementation of structured learning material in an open learning environment.

Web Univesity - International Distance Learning over High Speed Internet

Riitta Rinta-Filppula, Janne Penttilä

Riitta.Rinta-Filppula@cern.ch

CERN/EP

CH-1211 GENEVE 23, SWITZERLAND

ABSTRACT. A collaborative project the Web University (WU) started in 1996 between CERN and Finland by transmitting real time lectures to Finnish universities. At the beginning of 1997, the WU joined the ETÄKAMU research program as an international pilot and in 1998, extended its transmissions to Italy, Slovak and the Netherlands. This article describes how the WU-pilot has used public domain software for creating interactive, real time distance learning and working environment over international broadband research networks and video-on-demand services on the FUNET (Finnish University and Research Network) server.

The WU-pilot has tested and applied new technologies to the service of distance learning and working as efficiently, user-friendly and economically as possible. The success of the WU-pilot and the interest of the other countries have clearly proved that it is feasible to open up world class experts' sessions also to distance audiences via real time videoconferencing and multimedia services over high speed research networks.

Experiences with Videoconferencing in Different Environments

Pasi Häkkinen

Pasi.Hakkinen@cc.tut.fi

Tampere University of Technology, Digital Media Institute

Department of Mathematics, Hypermedia Laboratory

P.O. Box 692, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. This article describes existing videoconferencing systems and experiences with them at Tampere University of Technology (TUT) during the ETÄKAMU project. Traditionally videoconferencing has been ISDN-based using digitized telephone networks (H.320 standard), but recently local area network (LAN) and Internet-based systems has challenged ISDN's predominance. Advances in computer technology have enabled any modern computer - PC, Mac or Unix-workstation - to be used as videoconferencing terminal at low cost, especially in LAN and Internet environments. New non-ISDN videoconferencing applications have also changed the term `videoconferencing' to `multimedia conferencing': in addition to audio and video, multipoint data and application sharing can be utilized during a conference.

ISDN-based systems still have a strong grip of the videoconferencing market, but in certain situations other technologies have beaten them. ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) network technology can guarantee very wide bandwidth usage in videoconferencing, which can be seen directly in good video quality. On the opposite side, when poor video and audio quality are sufficient, Internet phones based on H.323 standard are far cheaper to set up and use than ISDN systems. By using modern multi connection units (MCU) both H.320 and H.323 equipment and applications can participate the same conference, which opens new possibilities in distance learning and how videoconferencing can be utilized.

JavaStation Challenges PC at Schools

Pasi Häkkinen

Pasi.Hakkinen@cc.tut.fi

Tampere University of Technology, Digital Media Institute

Department of Mathematics, Hypermedia Laboratory

P.O. Box 692, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. This article describes the possibilities and usage of a network computer (NC) in school environment. The main idea of an NC is to reduce maintenance costs and enable place-independent usage of applications and documents. The main differences with the old terminal systems are an NC's fully graphical user interface and local execution of applications, not on the server. In the ETÄKAMU project, the NCs tested were Sun Microsystems's JavaStations. JavaStations were placed in two lower secondary schools in Tampere and in one higher secondary school in Ylöjärvi. The required server was situated at Tampere University of Technology (TUT), which was possible because of the schools' fast network connections to TUT.

The experiences from JavaStations were mainly positive considering that JavaStations are not meant to replace PC computers in all situations. However, effective usage of JavaStations or of any other NCs requires a change in the way of thinking concerning how computers are used in schools. JavaStation is ideal in one-application environments, such as Web kiosk, but it can be used to run office tools with the right Java-based software, too. JavaStation's main advatages found during the pilot were easy maintenance, controllability and noiseless environment. JavaStation's problems are related to performance and lack or incompleteness of some features. All in all, JavaStation will challenge PCs in situations where performance is not the main issue.

Sonera's Familiarization Program - Personel Training on the Net

Esa Kähäri, Timo Väliharju, Katri Ylinen, Lauri Jäntti

hoeska@uta.fi , kativa@uta.fi , ky44943@uta.fi , lauri.jantti@sonera.fi

Tampere University, Hypermedialaboratory

P.O. BOX 607, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. In this corporate pilot was developed a computer software and user interface that helps Sonera corporation and its new employees to get knowledge concerning Sonera corporation and daily issues. The program was also directed to former employees, to whom it works as a kind of link list from Sonera's Intranet, Sonet. Tutoring new employee is more expensive and takes time from tutor's daily responsibilities. Personal guidance is always preferable, but the goal is to get the people in the program started with minimal guidance. Even in the design stage the interactivity and possible tasks were wanted to pay attention to. The nature of the tasks defines the amount of them and the amount of revisions. This program tries to help a company to quickly adapt an employee to the working community and remove at least some obstacles from the worker's way in becoming a productive worker.

Personnel Training at a Global Enterprise

Tuomo Rintamäki, Markus Taina

tuomo.rintamaki@dipoli.hut.fi, markus.taina@nmp.nokia.com

Helsinki University of Technology, Centre for Educational Technologies

P.O. BOX 8000, FIN-02015 HUT, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. The purpose of this project is to build up a learning environment to be shared by the Helsinki University of Technology, Edutec and Nokia Mobile Phones (NMP) in a multicultural company setting, to define the form of the environment and to make it into a product. While doing it, the pilot project meant an extensive mapping of the roles and tools needed in the learning environment, an undertaking not previously attempted within NMP. The learning environment was tried out in connection with two pilot projects run during the years 1997 and 1998. There was a great variation in learning environments, in line with the targets and the participants of the courses.

The conclusion was that a company specific supplementary education program building on new kinds of learning environments has to be established and the important features thereof made known to all those party to the program. Those involved in the above include the learners, teachers, subject tutors, designers, technical tutors and, in many cases, representatives of the firm's human resources/training departments, as well as the learners' superiors and mentors. Even as recognizing the training needs of the parties, their real significance is often underestimated. In addition, the learners have to be informed on the reasons for the adoption of the particular learning environment and on the attendant learning objectives. With the preferences for learning environments depending on the firm and the learner group, some tailoring is always needed in supplementary education. Admittedly, general pedagogic and technical criteria, checklists and instruction manuals do provide support when building up and modifying the environment. However, teachers have to get help in preparing learning material because adapting such material to other environments will always take a lot of time and/or because all teachers cannot assume the role of an expert in the adaptation process. For the duration of the course, teachers as well as tutors need the assistance of the technical tutor taking care of the new learning environment. Once becoming more familiar among their users, Internet-based learning environments will need less and less support, enabling the duties of the technical tutor to be combined with those of the teacher and/or subject tutor. Nevertheless, attention has to be paid on the interplay of the different channels and methods used.

As a rule, the first course adapted for a new learning environment will cost a lot. When repeating the course, the number of support personnel (designers, facilitators, tutors, technical support) has to be pared down or some roles combined, lest the costs be raised to a prohibitive level. When preparing an Internet-based course, the information security needs of the firms have to be accounted for. As an example, Internet 'firewalls' require suitable program adaptation and innovative solutions. Also difficulties in access can degrade a learning environment, frustrating teachers and learners alike. Furthermore, factors related to the visual image of the company (as graphics conventions and the layout, structure and style of the learning material) have to be accounted for to establish an efficient Internet-based learning environment.

Studying Project Work on Computer Networks

Auli Posti

auli.posti@helsinki.fi

University of Helsinki, Lahti Research and Training Centre

Saimaankatu 11, FIN-15140 LAHTI, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. This article describes the evaluation of a learning environment on computer networks. This environment was built for studying project work over the Internet. The main goal was to evaluate how students experienced the learning environment supporting their studies. The research was carried out by using an open questionnaire and discussion sessions through email. This kind of method made continuing feedback possible for the students. It was also possible for the researcher to ask students supplementary questions and vice versa.

The interest towards studying project work is rising because further skills in project work are frequently required in companies operating in a networking environment. Studying over a computer networks is tempting, but it is also important to activate and support the students in their studies. The demands for students' self-directiveness and learning skills are emphasized when studying is taking place over the net. When organizing this kind of course it is important to concentrate on supporting the teamwork of the students and improving their learning skills. Interaction between the students and their tutors was experienced to be very important. That is why some face to face meetings should be considered when planning a course on computer networks.

Combining work and studying on the net makes learning more meaningful. Students experienced that the learning material on the Internet was a useful tool for work. It was considered suitable for studying in addition to work. For the pilot this was an important result, because the purpose of the project was to create a study program for SME's that everyone can use in addition to one's work.

Data Network Expert Training as Distance Learning - Basics of the Data Network Multimedia

Heli Korte

heli.korte@cc.tut.fi

Tampere University of Technology, Digital Media Institute, Hypermedia Laboratory

P.O. BOX 692, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. This article describes the "Data Network Expert Training as Distance Learning" pilot project which belongs to the "Distance Learning in Multimedia Networks" project. The aims of the pilot project were to develop a World Wide Web based level test form of data networks knowledge and data networks skills and to design the "Basics of the Data Network Multimedia" learning environment. The goal of the level test form was both to collect the new students' contact information and to study every new student's preliminary knowledge of the data networks. The pilot project researched World Wide Web's properties in the data transfer and restrictions of the laws for information's collecting, storing and connecting which takes place in the data networks. The pilot project researched also the users' attitude for the information collecting, which executed through the data networks. The testing of the level test form showed that the level test has succeeded as an idea. In addition to the educational designers, the students who had answered a level test were interested in the use of the level test.

Two learning environments were carried out eventually: one was the adult students' distance learning environment and the other was for independent studying and teamwork in lessons for upper secondary school. The research problems of the adult students' learning environment were the adult students' expectations for the learning environment and the real-time feedback's significance in the independent studies. The research problems, which are related to the upper secondary schools' learning environment, apply to the students' expectations of the learning environment. Also a change in the teacher's amount of work and role between a traditional and computer aided teaching method was compared in the pilot project. The testing of the learning environments produced very positive feedback. On the basis of the results obtained one can state that such alternative studying methods are needed.

Tutoring and Guidance of Learning Utilizing Internet in Distance Learning

Riikka Pajunen

riikka.pajunen@uta.fi

Tampere University, Institute for Extension Studies

P.O. BOX 607, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. The article describes the guidance process of adult learning and explores the implementation of the pilot course, The Adult as a Learner; at the Kaakonseutu Learning Centre, and the result obtained from its evaluation as regards the utilization of Internet for the development and support of adults´ learning readiness. The theoretical frame of reference for the work addresses the guidance of adult learning; tutoring in distance learning. The subject is also approached in relation to the Internet.

The learning environment at the Kaakonseutu Learning Centre was multimedia; a combination of contact teaching and Internet mediated supervision and support. The course participant actually took part in two courses for the development of entrepreunership, in addition to which they had the option of participating in the course entitled The Adult as Learner. In the contact teaching periods the following aspects were dealt with: the adult as learner, teams and learning organisation and information searching from the Internet. The programs used in the guidance and support process were the NetWorkshop (Verkko-Paja) and Net-Tutor (Verkko-Tutor)- material. A summary of findings permits the conclusion that due to inadequate connections the course participants were not able to make proper use of the Internet as channel for support and guidance. Those learners who were able to use the channel felt that it was useful, especially as a supervisory channel for their own learning. The contact teaching periods were felt to be useful as learning situations, likewise video teaching, despite technical shortcomings. The learners also mostly felt that the course, The Adult as Learner, was useful.

Studying Communication over the Internet

Pentti Vertanen, Auli Posti

pentti.vertanen@helsinki.fi, auli.posti@helsinki.fi

University of Helsinki, Lahti Research and Training Centre

Saimaankatu 11, FIN-15140 LAHTI, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. This article describes the evaluation of an Internet-based communication course in Helsinki Virtual Open University. The main goal was to evaluate students' readiness to use new learning tools in their studies. In this research students were asked about their expectations for studies and how they were fulfilled. The research was carried out by using a questionnaire, observing discussions between students over the net and interviewing the teachers.

Both students and teachers felt that the course was successful. Suggestions for further development were made concerning technical functionality and interaction between the students. It is important to evaluate students' knowledge of computer skills at the beginning of a course and bring them to the same level through education. It is also important to pay attention to the computer skills of tutors and teachers so that the possibilities which learning environments on the net offer, could be used as effectively as possible. The conversation over the net should be closely a part of the studies and learning and students should be well aware of that.

Computer technology is developing and improving fast. If we were now starting an experiment like this, there would be many kinds of tools for interaction that were not available during this pilot. But when the great significance of interaction in distance education is recognized, there are great opportunities to support students achieve better results.

Language Learning Utilizing Multimedia Program

Riikka Pajunen, Peik Niemi

riikka.pajunen@uta.fi, peik.niemi@titu.jyu.fi

Tampere University, Institute for Extension Studies,

University of Jyväskylä, Information Technology Research Institute

 

ABSTRACT. The present article describes the objectives, research objects and findings of the Language pilot, which was part of The Distance Learning in Multimedia-Networks project (ETÄKAMU) that belongs to the Finnish Multimedia Programme (KAMU). The language pilot of the University of Tampere, Institute for extension studies tested the multimedia-aided language teaching program developed by Promentor Solutions Oy in three separate pilot projects.

The theoretical frame of reference rests on seven properties of learning, which are presented in the first section of the paper (Ruokamo & Pohjalainen). The frame of reference further addresses adult learning, self-directedness and independent-study, multimedia and language learning. The testing periods comprised various types of English courses for Sonera personnel, students of Kaakonseutu Learning Centre and at the Kotka Institute (Kotkan opisto). Both pedagogical and technical tests were performed on the multimedia programs. The results are considered in the light of the seven properties of learning. It emerges from the findings that with regard to constructiveness learners feel that the material adapts fairly well to user needs and objects of interest. In activity it is essential that the tasks are sufficiently challenging. In this sense the programs support activity. Furthermore, the students were able to some extent to set their own goals although making a personal curriculum was not possible. Collaborativeness did not play a major role in these courses as they were biased in favour of independent learning. One important element in intentionality is significance of learning tasks. In this program almost every learner had found some subareas of significance and importance to him or herself. The support of the program for contextuality was supported by various themes from everyday life. Learners reported the significance of transfer effect in very different ways, due to their very different backgrounds and life situations. With regard to reflectiveness the learners were able to test their own abilities, while feedback from other learners was an omission. Technically the program was found to be clear and usable as an entity. This was due to among other things to the graphic user interface, the clarity of display, the user-friendliness of the tools and to clear guidance

The Environment Net - Environmental Education in the Open Learning Environment

Katja Piiksi, Jukka Muhonen

Katja.piiksi@cc.tut.fi, jukka.muhonen@cc.tut.fi

Tampere University of Technology, Digital Media Institute, Hypermedialaboratory

P.O. BOX 692, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. This article describes the pilot project called Environmental education, which is part of the Hypermedia Learning Materials for Comprehensive Schools (KUOMA) pilot and national Distance Learning in Multimedia Networks (ETÄKAMU) Project.The aim of the KUOMA pilot was to develop hypermedia-based learning environment and learning material for use in secondary schools. The Environment Net is an open learning environment focused on environmental questions. The Environment Net was tested in the school systems of Tampere and Ylöjärvi in Finland. The research was done based on teaching experiments. The aim of the research was to clarify the following matters: does the learning environment support the seven properties of the learner-centred learning, what expectations do the teachers and learners have of studying in the Environment Net and are these expectations satisfied, in which way do the learners experience the learner-centred learning environment compared with "traditional" class teachingand do these experiences change during the experiment, how do the teachers see their own role and the learner`s role in the learner-centred learning environment and do these views change during the experiment? The data was collected by questionnaires and observation.

The Environment Net supported partly the learner-centred learning properties. It seemed to support best constructiveness and collaborativeness. Compared with "traditional" class teaching, pupils expected new information and variableness from their studying in the Environment Net. After the experiment the pupils felt that their expectations had been fulfilled. In the pupils` opinion, working in the Environment Net gave the studying of environmental matters more variety and made it more interesting than "traditional" class teaching, but the pupils experienced working in the Environment Net to be more laborious than in a normal class. The pupils had needed less help than they thought that they would need. The teachers were looking forward to variety from the experiment and hoped that their readiness to use information technology would improve. The teachers felt that these expectations had been moderately satisfied. The teachers saw that the pupil`s role was that of an active and independent learner even if they had to stimulate pupils to work. On the basis of the research it seems that teachers need pedagogical education for integrating the new learning environment in their teaching. This cannot be done until teachers really have a basic knowledge of information technology.

Russian ont the Net

Mari Hämäläinen, Jukka Muhonen

mari.hamalainen@cc.tut.fi, jukka.muhonen@cc.tut.fi

Tampere University of Technology, Digital Media Institute, Hypermedialaboratory

P.O. BOX 692, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. This article describes the pilot project called Russian on the Net, which is part of the Hypermedia Learning Materials for Comprehensive Schools pilot and national Distance Learning in Multimedia Networks Project. The Russian on the Net pilot project produced a WWW-based learning environment for beginners in Russian called Russian on the Net. The URL of the learning environment is http://matwww.ee.tut.fi/venaja. Russian on the Net learning environment was tested in schools in the cities of Tampere and Ylöjärvi, Finland. Five teachers and 36 pupils took part in the experiments.

The goal of the pilot project was to develop and test material using teleinformatics and the Internet. As a result of the goals of the pilot project, a learning environment meant mainly for high school pupils was established. Russian on the Net learning environment includes both-ready made Russian learning material and tools for making material and supporting communication between students, teachers and experts. The learning environment was built keeping in mind the main pedagogical principles of learner-centred learning and the newest emphasis in foreign language teaching. The usability of the environment was evaluated on the basis of observation and questionnaires filled in by pupils and teachers. The object of the questionnaire was to find out whether Russian on the Net environment supports the seven properties of learning, what teaching and learning in Russian on the Net environment was like compared with 'traditional' teaching in the class, what the roles of the teachers and pupils were in the new learning environment, what kind of expectations and wishes pupils and teachers had as regards Russian on the Net environment, and how satisfied with the environment the teachers and pupils were.

As a result of the experiments it can be stated that Russian on the Net learning environment gave variety to teaching and learning and the pupils felt that the environment was useful in their process of learning. Russian on the Net -environment supported the seven properties of learning, but there were also some areas which need to be developped. Taking Russian on the Net learning environment as part of the curriculum made heavy demands on the resources of the schools, teachers and researchers. The teachers felt insecure with the new teaching tool and needed much help. Therefore it can be claimed that both the pedagogical and technical training of teachers and maintenance resources for schools are needed to fully make the Russian on the Net environment part of the curriculum.

Mathematical Statistics in the Web - Pythagoras Learning Environment

Heikki J. Mäenpää

heikki.maenpaa@cc.tut.fi

Tampere University of Technology, Digital Media Institute, Hypermedialaboratory

P.O. BOX 692, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. Natural sciences was one of the pilot areas of the Distance Learning in Multimedia-Networks project. The piloting in this area concentrated on developing learning environments for mathematics. One of the environments is Pythagoras, which can be used for studying the basics of mathematical statistics. Its construction took into account constructive learning theories and the implementation was made using the newest Java technology. The learning environment is composed of mathematical theory, exercises and a survey tool. It is also equipped with the necessary communication tools. The survey tool and the exercises were built using Java Remote Method Invocation technology. This technology made it easy to divide the system tasks between the server and the client. Pythagoras learning environment was tested in several schools and after tests the students were asked to fill in a questionnaire. According to the feedback the students felt comfortable working in the learning environment and they considered the provided tools useful. Especially they liked making their own survey. On the other hand, technical problems with the web browser and Java technology made the environment less convenient to use. The teachers were pleased with the usefulness of the environment. They thought that by using Pythagoras it was possible to study in a constructive way. During the testing the lack of time caused trouble: there wasn't enough time to fully utilise all the features of the environment. The lack of time was partly caused by the technical problems. Despite these problems, the developers found Java to be a very useful tool for implementing networked services.

On the Productization of Web Learning Environments - Environment Education and Russian

Tommi Sukuvaara

tommi.sukuvaara@cc.tut.fi

Tampere University of Technology, Digital Media Institute, Hypermedia Laboratory

P.O. BOX 692, FIN-33101 TAMPERE, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. A web learning environment (below: WLE) can be defined as an entity of material and functions that is used via a web browser and is designed to support learning. The use of a WLE requires a connection to the server(s) where the environment is located. So far there is no long-term experience of WLEs either from technical, pedagogical or business perspective. This article aims to assist the productization of WLEs. A goal of the Distance Learning in Multimedia Networks project was to identify WLE related products, their producers and utilizers. A specific goal was to study possibilities to productize the WLEs developed in the project. The WLEs were designed for environment education and the teaching of Russian and were tested in high schools. Numerous products relate to WLEs, all requiring their own productization process. The absolutely essential products for the use of WLEs are: WLE software and maintenance, and contents which must be produced and updated. Important but not absolutely essential products are: students' learning support given by teachers and other students, WLE technical support and teachers' pedagogical support in using the WLE. Other additional products include: students' learning support and teachers' subject-related teaching support given by subject specialists, possible separate software for contents production, maintenance and technical support of that software and the support on how to produce material which delivers a message effectively in web media. Each product requires a producer, but also a consumer that is willing and has the means to pay for it.

The developed Environment Net and Russian on the Net WLEs involve extensive material and many functions and apply new technical possibilities. The pedagogically optimal use of the WLEs requires fast Internet connections, powerful personal computers and sufficient knowledge and ability from teachers. If the usage of the WLEs is expanded from the trials performed in high schools, the WLEs need to be developed. The development of the contents of the Environment Net has to be organized using subject specialists. The WLEs have to be made more known among potential users and school authorities. Teachers' guides have to be made on the use of the WLEs corresponding to the teachers' guides for textbooks. Teachers have to be educated in the use of personal computers and WLEs.

Teaching Optional French in Primary Schools at a Distance Utilizing the Local Network

Mika Korpi

mika.korpi@titu.jyu.fi

University of Jyväskylä, Information Technology Research Institute

P.O. BOX 35 (JKK), FIN-40351 JYVÄSKYLÄ, FINLAND

ABSTRACT. It is difficult to gather pupils together enough to organise for example the optional language teaching at one school. Videoconference gives opportunity to teach groups from more than one school together at the same time. This report examines the use of multipoint videoconferencing for teaching second foreign language (A2 French) in primary schools. The functioning of the pilot was evaluated using participating observation and questionnaires. Furthermore, the teacher and the pupils were interviewed.

Videoconference teaching started in three primary schools in Jyväskylä in the autumn of 1997. It was organised using an efficient local network uniting all the schools of the city of Jyväskylä. The teacher changed the school every week; two schools always participated through videoconferencing. Since the teacher was physically present in each group regularly, all the groups had two hours of contact teaching every three weeks. During the project there occurred problems with the audibility of the sound which were solved by the use of hand microphones. Problems related to the teaching and organising it were, for instance, that checking exercises was time-consuming and that lessons were teacher-centred in relation to the work the pupils did independently. These problems were mainly due to the unfamiliarity of videoconference teaching. Some possible solutions will be presented, for example, differentiation of the lessons in a way that the distance pupils will be involved in more independent work while the teacher concentrates on the pronunciation of the pupils s/he is in direct contact with. The pilot project proved that especially the teacher faces a great challenge when taking on distance education. However, videoconferencing is an option to consider when organising teaching that would not be possible otherwise.

"A child of Finland" - Teaching Finnish for Expatriates' Children

Pertti Siekkinen, Peik Niemi

University of Jyväskylä, Information Technology Research Institute

P.O. BOX 35 (JKK), FIN-40351 JYVÄSKYLÄ

ABSTRACT. It is important for the Finnish expatriates' children to be taught their mother tongue. Mother tongue is a tool for our thinking and an important aid in learning a foreign language. Information technology offers new communicative ways to organise teaching. This pilot project concentrated mainly on utilisation and evaluation of videoconferencing. In the pilot, the teaching context was approached from the viewpoints of pedagogy, functionality of technology, communication and effectiveness of the whole organisation. The stages that took place before the teaching experiment are based on the researcher's notes. The functioning of the pilot was evaluated using participating observation and questionnaires. Furthermore, the teachers were interviewed.

Organising distance teaching demands different strategies from the teacher, the learners and the organising institution in comparison with traditional education. According to the results, videoconferencing added value to the teaching context, despite the limitations of the technology used. Videoconferencing needs to be supported by a virtual learning environment, for example. Organising technical support service for the teacher and the learners is also important. Further development requires deeper insight into the pedagogy of distance learning and especially into organisational, technological and financial factors in order to develop the pilot project into a permanent self-sustaining distance education service.

Multimedia and Hypermedia in Learning History and Civics

Peik Niemi, Timo Ovaskainen, Visa Törmälä, Riitta Saranen

University of Jyväskylä, Information Technology Research Institute

P.O. BOX 35 (JKK), FIN-40351 JYVÄSKYLÄ

ABSTRACT. The study on the pilot project of history and civics aimed at evaluating electric material technically and pedagogically in a school context, and developing the material to meet the learning goals as well as possible. In the project, multimedia and the Internet were used in addition to printed material for retrieving information and carrying out project works. The target group of the study consisted of pupils and teachers in primary and secondary school classes. The learners filled in questionnaires and the teachers participated in semi-structured interviews. The results showed that the technological tools used in the pilot project gave new insights into learning. The learners had a positive attitude toward the learning environment in question, and the teachers experienced the kind of project work that was realised in the pilot as challenging both from their own and from the pupils' viewpoint. As a conclusion, it can be stated that different learning environments should be developed and clarified. The learners should be offered enough support when looking for information, working on projects and communicating through the net. The teachers need technical and pedagogical support when guiding learners in new learning environments.


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