In the last few years, we have observed an explosive growth of multimedia computing, communications, and applications. This revolution is transforming the way people live, work, and interact with each other, and is impacting the way businesses, education, entertainment, and health care are operating. Due to the opportunities provided by the Internet, more and more people are taking advantage of distance learning courses. During the last few years, enormous research efforts have been dedicated to the development of distance learning systems (Katayama & Kambayashi, 1999; Nakabayashi et al., 1997). Consequently, many large projects such as the CALAT Project (www.calat.com), CALsurf (http://webbase.ntts.co.jp),, WebCAI (http:// iclap.ce.nihon-u.ac.jp/~webcai_), The University of The Air (http://www.u-air.ac.jp/, and WIDE University (http://www.sfc.wide.ad.jp/soi/contents.html) have been established (Ogawa, Ijiun, & Murai, 1999).
Proposed System Design
The proposed system is built on World Wide Web (WWW). In order to have a wide range of applications, we use only standard functions. Therefore, the system can be easily used without depending on the computer environment.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Multimedia: The use of computers to present text, graphics, video, animation, and sound in an integrated way.
Computer Interface: The term refers to the way in which a person experiences the computer, its application programs, hardware components, output devices, and functionality.
World Wide Web (WWW): Computer network consisting of a collection of Internet sites that offer text, graphics, sound and animation resources through the hypertext transfer protocol.
Distance Learning: Teaching and learning situations in which the instructor and learner (or learners) are geographically separated, and, therefore, rely on electronic devices and print material for instructional delivery.
Cooperative Agents: Usually each agent participating in an agent system does not solve the whole problem by itself but only a small subproblem for which it has the required competence. By means of cooperation with other agents, the whole problem is finished. While cooperating, an agent has to bid for solving some aspect of the problem or negotiates with other agents for the distribution of tasks.
Learning Volition: There are two types of learning volition: internal and external. The former has to do with the learner’s spontaneity and interest, the latter one arises from external factors such as competition with the others, rewards, and penalties.
Agent: The term agent generally is defined as a physical or logical entity that has the following properties: social ability, autonomy, reactivity, adaptability and granularity degrees.