Architectures for Distributed and Complex M-Learning Systems: Applying Intelligent Technologies

Architectures for Distributed and Complex M-Learning Systems: Applying Intelligent Technologies

Santi Caballé (Open University of Catalonia, Spain), Fatos Xhafa (Open University of Catalonia, Spain), Thanasis Daradoumis (Open University of Catalonia, Spain) and Angel A. Juan (Open University of Catalonia, Spain)
Release Date: October, 2009|Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 436
ISBN13: 9781605668826|ISBN10: 1605668826|EISBN13: 9781605668833|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-882-6


Over the last decade, the needs of educational organizations have been changing in accordance with increasingly complex pedagogical models and with the technological evolution of e-learning environments with very dynamic teaching and learning requirements.

Architectures for Distributed and Complex M-Learning Systems: Applying Intelligent Technologies explores state-of-the-art software architectures and platforms used to support distributed and mobile e-learning systems. Containing research from leading international experts, this advanced publication provides useful references to support learning practices for academicians, researchers, and practitioners.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Adaptivity for mobile learning
  • Content Management
  • E-learning service platform
  • Events in mobile learning
  • Game based learning
  • Independent mobile learning
  • Intelligent m-learning frameworks
  • Mobile Web 2.0
  • Mobilized learning environment
  • Ubiquity in mobile learning

Reviews and Testimonials

This book presents solid architectural solutions for the development and adoption of the next generation of mobile learning systems in terms of non-functional requirements, such as scalability, flexibility, availability, security, interoperability, and the integration of different, heterogeneous, and legacy learning systems.

– Santi Caballé, Open University of Catalonia, Spain

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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Over the last decade, the needs of educational organizations have been changing in accordance with increasingly complex pedagogical models and with the technological evolution of on-line learning environments, with very dynamic teaching and learning requirements. In particular, these needs involve extending and moving to highly customized learning and teaching forms in a timely fashion. Each educational organization would need to incorporate its own pedagogical approach, target a specific learning goal, and utilize its specific resources. Educational organizations’ demands also include a cost-effective integration of legacy and separated learning systems from different institutions, departments and courses, which, in turn, should be implemented in different languages, supported by heterogeneous platforms, and distributed worldwide.

In addition, modern on-line learning environments must provide advanced enablement for the distribution of learning activities and the necessary functionalities and learning resources to all participants, regardless of where these participants and resources are located, and whether this location is static or dynamic. The aim of newest learning environments is to enable the learning experience in open, dynamic, large-scale and heterogeneous environments. As a result, ubiquity and pervasiveness have become essential requirements to support formal and informal learning and to allow all learning community members, from a variety of locations, to cooperate with each other by means of a large variety of technology-enhanced equipment. To this end, mobile learning have come to play a major role in this context by taking advantage of the extensively used mobile and wearable technology to provide anywhere, anytime learning.

Unfortunately, in literature regarding this topic, there is an important gap of appropriate software infrastructure to build the emergent and complex e-learning systems that meet the current mobile learning needs and pedagogical models. In order to fill this gap, the latest findings in this field are presented in this book.


This book presents solid architectural solutions for the development and adoption of the next generation of mobile learning systems in terms of non-functional requirements, such as scalability, flexibility, availability, security, interoperability, and the integration of different, heterogeneous, and legacy learning systems. To address these complex issues, several chapters propose powerful and pervasive technologies, such as Grid, distributed and wireless infrastructure. Ubiquity and pervasiveness are especially relevant in this context in order to provide not only anywhere anytime learning but also unconscious learning. The book provides an extensive background and novel solutions to meet these demanding requirements as key aspects to support the current and next mobile communities of learning practice and pedagogical models.

Some authors also point out the importance of adaptivity, personalization and usability as well as knowledge management in mobile learning so as to greatly stimulate and improve the m-learning experience. There are key evidences of the benefits from leveraging these features by adapting the formal and informal learning process to both current pedagogical models and mobile participants’ needs and preferences. To this end, a complete management of contextual information and application of advanced context-awareness techniques are suggested. The so-called “social software” referring the use of Web 2.0 and related technologies, such as Web-semantic and ontologies, are also considered in this context for the provision of customized and dynamic learning (e.g., adapting the learning content in different formats and with different technologies).

The last section of the book provides a set of relevant case studies for implementation and evaluation purposes of the previous mobile learning architectures proposed. The aim is both to show the architecture’s impact on the m-learning process and to provide useful guidelines to targeted designers of mobile learning systems. Furthermore, last two chapters present interesting study cases that explore aspects of the quality learning by using mobile technologies and the potential of m-learning to engagement in learning and develop strong learner identities.

Overall, the book contributes with the following:

  • State of the art and latest research findings in software architectures, computer science, and mobile technology used to support complex, distributed, mobile on-line learning systems.
  • Worldwide best practices and case studies as for the development and use of architectural solutions for emergent m-learning systems.
  • Theoretical frameworks, platforms and architectures adopting ubiquity and pervasiveness to support the latest pedagogical models found in formal and informal mobile communities of learning practice.
  • Experimental results from real m-learning practices by using complex systems and applications built upon solid software architectures.
  • Provision to business, academic, and research communities with a base text that could serve as a reference for software architects and developers as well as computer sciences undergraduate/graduate courses.


The 17 chapters of this book are organized as follows:

Section I: Architectures, Frameworks, and Platforms for Mobile Learning Systems provides a detailed overview of research projects emerged involving solid software and hardware infrastructure for developing mobile learning systems.

Section II: Technological Advances in Support for Mobile Learning shows the latest technologies to support and enhance mobile learning, such as grid computing, Web 2.0, and ontology-based and context-aware systems.

Section III: Architecture Applications and Case Studies on Mobile Learning Practices describes a set of specific experiences in mobile learning settings mostly by using software systems built upon the aforementioned architectures, platforms and frameworks.

Section I. Architectures, Frameworks, and Platforms for Mobile Learning Systems

Chapter 1 (Developing Tools that Support Effective Mobile and Game Based Learning: The COLLAGE Platform, by Chryssafidou et al.) presents a EU-supported e-Learning project aiming at investigating the impact of mobile and game-based learning on formal and informal learning. In this context, two main aspects of the project are addressed: adaptation to the user and content authoring.

Chapter 2 (Designing an Architecture to Provide Ubiquity in Mobile Learning, by Carmona-Murillo et al.) describes a flexible context-aware architecture based on mobile technologies that seamlessly integrates various wireless technologies into a platform to develop mobility services for learning environments as well for other environments.

Chapter 3 (MobiGlam: A Framework of Interoperability and Adaptivity for Mobile Learning, by Fatma Meawad and Geneen Stubbs) discusses the principles of the design and development of a framework that provides interoperability and adaptivity techniques by supporting ubiquitous and customized access to learning activities while keeping the institution’s pedagogical goals and regulations.

Chapter 4 (SW-Architecture for Device Independent Mobile Learning, by Christ and Feißt) also proposes to increase the flexibility of mobile learning in terms of adaptation of the learning material to the specific device. An XML-based solution is proposed, which can offer the learning content in different formats as well as with different technologies.

Chapter 5 (A Ubiquitous and Pervasive Learning Framework: Linking The Learner, The Workplace And The Education Institute, by Carroll) reports on a mobile learning architecture adopting ubiquity and pervasiveness to support communities of learning practice. This approach provides customization and an engaging, learner created platform for the mobile generation.

Chapter 6 (A Mobile Service Platform for Trustworthy e-Learning Service Provisioning, by Luo) proposes a Service Grid-based platform to provide on-demand m-learning with trustworthy service provisioning and location information for tracking participants and managing on-line learning assets.

Section II. Technological Advances in Support for Mobile Learning

Chapter 7 (Mobile Web 2.0: Bridging Learning Contexts, by Cochrane) discusses the potential of wireless mobile devices and Web 2.0 to create social learning environments that bridge multiple learning contexts. To this end, several experiences of mobile Web 2.0 are presented and interpreted.

Chapter 8 (Mobile Grids: an Enabling Technology for Next Generation M-Learning Applications by Andronikou) explores Mobile Grid as an enabling technology for next generation m-learning applications aiming at making affordable to meet demanding non-functional requirements appearing in this context, such accessibility, availability, security, and performance.

Chapter 9 (Intelligent m-learning frameworks: Information and communication technology applied in a laptop environment, by Owen) discusses on the effectiveness of the use of ICT and mobility for learning and teaching blended m-learning. This study is supported by reporting on a specific m-learning course and by using laptop computers.

Chapter 10 (Integrating Ontology based Content Management into a Mobilized Learning Environment, by Kismihók et al.) presents an educational ontology-based solution for curricula, content, and a knowledge evaluation development, whose research is piloted into a mobilized Learning Management System.

Chapter 11 (Context - Awareness and Distributed Events in Mobile Learning, by Boticki et al.) incorporates contextual information and the use of distributed events to better adapt and disseminate mobile learning services to teachers and learners. An information system based on these technological advances and its application are presented.

Chapter 12 (‘Intelligent Context’ for Personalised Mobile Learning, by Moore et al.) also uses contextual information to personalize mobile learning systems. To this end, an extensive research study is presented focusing on related contextual technologies, such as ontologies and semantic Web. As a result, a complete context reasoning ontology is presented and evaluated in a m-learning scenario.

Section III. Architecture Applications and Case Studies on Mobile Learning Practices

Chapter 13 (Schools in Action: Pedagogical Evaluation of COLLAGE, a Case Study on Mobile and Location Game Game-based Learning, by Barajas et al.) implements and evaluates the COLLAGE project presented in Chapter 1. To this end, several practical m-learning scenarios are examined. This provides useful guidelines to designers in developing COLLAGE sound m-learning systems.

Chapter 14 (Technical Evaluation of Wireless Communications in a Mobile Learning Architecture, by Carmona-Murillo) shows a technical evaluation of the behavior of wireless communication in the mobile learning architecture of Campus Ubicuo described in Chapter 2. The results from a testbed involving several scenarios that offer mobile services through different networks are presented.

Chapter 15 (Supporting Mobile Access to VLE Resources through MobiGlam, by Meawad and Stubbs) reports on the deployment and evaluation of a case study conducted in a Virtual Learning Environment by using the MobiGlam framework introduced in detail in Chapter 3. The results are analyzed in terms of impact on the mobile access to the VLE and the framework’s usability.

Chapter 16 (Using Technology to Support Quality Learning for School Activities Involving Field Studies, by Stewart et al.) presents detailed samples of case studies of a funded project’s educational approach focused on supporting a range of school teachers in their use of mobile technologies to enhance learning. The evaluation results are shown in terms of quality student learning and considering the affordances of mobile technologies.

Chapter 17 (Exploring Learning Identities through M-Learning: Learning Across Regional and Knowledge Boundaries, by Wallace) analyzes a range of learning programs that have utilized m-learning to understand how people learn and develop strong identities. Also, it discusses on the potential to engagement in learning and learner identities in regional areas.


We expect the experimented and solid architectures and frameworks proposed in this book can fully support advanced learning practices and pedagogical goals from the era of distributed and mobile learning. Thus, the book’s targeted audience include industry and software development companies involved in the generation of the latest on-line learning systems and applications as well as educational institutions, which incorporate mobile learning into the very rationale of their pedagogical models.

Furthermore, we would suggest the theoretical models of these architectures to form part of the curricula of undergrad/graduate courses in the Computer Science degree, in particular those courses related to software architectures and software development techniques as well as e-learning from a pedagogical perspective. Indeed, we truly believe the comprehensive view and illustrative examples and practices provided will make the book interesting for university teaching purposes.

We hope the readers find this book fruitful and help accomplish their goals. Enjoy the reading!

    Editors of the Book

    Santi Caballé, Open University of Catalonia
    Fatos Xhafa, Technical University of Catalonia
    Thanasis Daradoumis, Open University of Catalonia
    Angel Alejandro Juan, Open University of Catalonia

    Barcelona, Spain
    April, 2009

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Santi Caballé ( has a PhD, master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Open University of Catalonia (Spain). He is an associate professor and a researcher in the Department of Computer Sciences, Multimedia and Telecommunication of the Open University of Catalonia, where he coordinates several online courses in the areas of software engineering, computer supported collaborative learning and information systems. His research focuses on e-learning and computer-supported collaborative learning, software engineering, and distributed and grid technologies.
Fatos Xhafa ( received his PhD in computer science from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain), where he currently is an associate professor in the Department of Languages and Informatics Systems. His research interests include parallel algorithms, combinatorial optimization, approximation and meta-heuristics, distributed programming, and grid and P2P computing. He has published in leading international journals and has served on the organizing committees of many conferences and workshops. He is also a member of the editorial board of several international journals including the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Grid and Utility Computing and Autonomic Computing.
Thanasis Daradoumis ( holds a PhD in computer science from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain), a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois (USA), and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Thessaloniki (Greece). He is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Sciences, Multimedia & Telecommunication at the Open University of Catalonia. His research focuses on e-learning and network technologies, Web-based instruction and evaluation, distributed and adaptive learning, CSCL, CSCW, interaction analysis, and grid technologies. He is co-director of the DPCS Research Laboratory.
Angel A. Juan ( is an associate professor of simulation and data analysis in the computer sciences department at the Open University of Catalonia (Spain). He is also a lecturer at the Technical University of Catalonia. He holds a PhD in industrial engineering (UNED), an MS in information technology (Open University of Catalonia), and an MS in applied computational mathematics (University of Valencia). His research interests include computer simulation, applied data analysis, and mathematical e-learning. He has published several papers in international journals, books, and proceedings regarding these fields. As a researcher, he has been involved in several international research projects.