Methods and Applications for Advancing Distance Education Technologies: International Issues and Solutions

Methods and Applications for Advancing Distance Education Technologies: International Issues and Solutions

Mahbubur Rahman Syed (Minnesota State University Mankato, USA)
Indexed In: SCOPUS View 1 More Indices
Release Date: April, 2009|Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 434
ISBN13: 9781605663425|ISBN10: 1605663425|EISBN13: 9781605663432|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-342-5


The emerging field of advanced distance education delivers academic courses across time and distance, allowing educators and students to participate in a convenient learning method.

Methods and Applications for Advancing Distance Education Technologies: International Issues and Solutions demonstrates communication technologies, intelligent technologies, and quality educational pedagogy as the most essential requirements for advancing distance education for both teaching and learning. A significant research collection for the advancement of distance learning initiatives, this Premier Reference Source assists academicians, practitioners, and researchers in finding answers to important issues needing addressed for a successful distance education.

Topics Covered

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

  • Adaptive e-learning processes
  • Adaptive synchronization
  • Automatic e-textbook construction
  • Character retrieval and learning
  • Collaborative distance learning
  • Distance education systems
  • Ontology-based e-learning
  • Pedagogy-oriented design
  • Pervasive learning
  • Semantics-based critiquing

Reviews and Testimonials

The readers of this book will find answers to important issues necessary to be addressed for a successful distance education and will be reminded that the success of distance education requires effective use of instructional media, planning for instructional media use, visual communication, audio and motion media, computers as tools for learning, and evaluating the effectiveness of instructional media.

– Mahbubur Rahman Syed, Minnesota State University - Mankato, USA

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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Various definitions of distance education exist. A summarized definition of distance education may be seen as linking of teachers and students for all different types and levels of education including K-12, higher education, continuing education, trainings in corporate, military and/or government institutions, telemedicine and those devoted to the pursuit of lifelong learning. Advanced Distance Learning refers to a certain kind of education in which academic courses are delivered to places outside the campus via voice, video (live broadcast or rebroadcast), as well as real-time and non-real-time computer technologies. The educator and the learner may be separated by time, distance, or both. Open and distance learning (ODL) is increasingly occupying a prominent place in higher education. Chapter sixteen in this book reports that in India starting with barely 1112 students studying through distance mode in 1962, the number had crossed 2.8 million in 2006. This chapter presents the findings of an empirical research study conducted to investigate the study habits of successful distance learners of the India Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Every year, nearly 70,000-80,000 pass out of IGNOU. The strategies adopted by these diverse groups of students, the media utilized by them, and the modes of support preferred by them are some of the major issues addressed in this study. Chapter twenty four discusses on major e-learning research programs, delivery consortia and professional development programs based in Canada.

E-learning is a critical support mechanism for organizations and individuals to enhance their skills. Chapter five in this book presents major features of e-learning scenario, the ontology on which it is based and discusses on how Semantic Web technologies can be applied to e-learning system to help learner in selecting appropriate learning course or retrieving relevant information. It also illustrates the scenario ontology with the training domain and the application domain. Semantic Querying and Semantic Mapping approaches are also presented.

Aassessing learner’s knowledge in e-learning is an important issue. Due to the necessity of evaluating a large number of learners in short times, objective tests are gaining more popularity in the assessment of learners’ performance. Chapter twelve presents an On-Line Testing system for evaluating learner’s knowledge, named e-Workbook, which is suitable within the academic environment in a blended learning approach and can record and visualize, in a suitable graphical format the learner’s interactions with the system interface during the test session to provide better understanding of the learner’s behaviour. While some such systems implement fully automated marking for multiple choice questions and fill-in-the-blanks, but most systems are insufficient when human critiquing is required. Current systems developed in isolation have little regard to scalability and interoperability between courses, computer platforms, and learning management systems. Chapter fourteen presents an enhanced set of the IMS Global Learning Consortium’s open specifications for interoperable learning technology lack functionality to make it useful for computer assisted marking standards to address the issue.

Scores or grades obtained by a student in these evaluation processes reflects the learning status of that student, but is not capable of identifying students learning problems on areas of the subject, which might help him/her to further improve. In chapter twenty two the authors propose an intelligent English tense learning and diagnostic system that is capable of identifying student learning problems on English verb tenses and be able to provide personalized learning suggestions in accordance with each student’s learning portfolio. The proposal has shown superior results from experiments conducted on hundreds of college students.

The use of online delivery management systems is gaining popularity in most campuses. The Athabasca University, - Canada’s Open University - developed evaluation criteria (as detailed in chapter thirteen) for three learning management systems (LMS), namely WebCt, LotusNotes, and Moodle. Moodle was ranked first with 11 first places and only one third place rating, while Lotus Notes was second with five first place ratings.

Though some definitions of distance education emphasize on technology and others do not, it is obvious that technology is the most important vehicle for effective and quality distance education. In recent years, technologies have advanced at an amazingly fast pace. With the incredible development and pervasiveness of wireless, mobile and networking communication, and sensor technologies in our daily life we tend to focus on the task at hand without even noticing their use - making the technology effectively invisible to the user resulting in a paradigm shift known as ubiquitous learning (u-learning). Chapter seventeen discusses various investigations those have been undertaken for applying the new technologies to distance education to make it more active and adaptive to the real world.

Several researchers claim that the paradigm of networked learning, with its passive nature, usually discourages learning engagement and creates strong student isolation. This environment is unable to engage student in active learning. Chapter twenty three outlines a new paradigm and its underlying rationales for implementing networked learning environments that is emerging from new technologies such as multi-user platform, virtual worlds, virtual learning community, and intelligent agents. The proposed paradigm of the networked learning environments, known as inhabited virtual learning worlds (IVLW), is a shared learning space in 3-D format and populated with avatars that are the representations of learners who are geographically dispersed around the world. The virtual learning worlds are also composed of objects such as intelligent agents and learning materials. A pilot system is created based on the discussed rationales of inhabited virtual learning worlds. Also a preliminary empirical study focusing on the selected learning behaviors in young learners has been conducted with this pilot system. The results of the empirical study and suggestions for enhancing the pilot system are discussed in this chapter.

One important area of research is to apply computer vision (CV) technologies to various automated e-learning multimedia systems. Chapter twenty discusses the importance of a synchronous, peer-to-peer-based application of computer vision technologies to e-learning and introduces the schematic of a progressive work in Intelligent Video Detection Agent (IVDA) that supports an instructor’s interaction with non-computer teaching equipments. Some most recent advancements in the interactive PTZ camera control from both the instructor and remote student is discussed and results that successfully address different challenges are illustrated.

Use of human motion animation in e-learning applications has the potential to create significant interest from the users. Chapter eleven in this book discusses on the development of efficient techniques for delivering human motion information over the Internet to the collaborating e-learning users and revealing the motion information in the client machines with different rendering capabilities that include mechanism to extract human motion data at various levels of detail taking into consideration the available network bandwidth.

Distance education created new challenges regarding the delivery of large size isochronous continuous streaming media (SM) objects. Chapter fifteen considers the design of a framework for customized SM presentations, where each presentation consists of a number of SM objects that should be retrieved and displayed to the user in a coherent fashion. A retrieval optimizer (Prime) that captures the flexibilities and requirements imposed by the user query, user profile, and session profile is described. A cost model for evaluation of each proposed plan to impose user query script against the continuous media (CM) server to reduce contention has been developed. Preliminary experimental results show the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed model and techniques in generating near optimal retrieval.

The dynamically changing social and economical environment where we live claims for new Agile/Virtual University approaches with individualized continuing and post-graduate education. Chapter nineteen discusses a framework and a specific supporting environment, a Market of Teaching Resources necessary to the implementation of the Agile/Virtual University concept.

Motivation and independent learning are very important factors in students learning processes. Independent learning involves students meta-learning in a framework of goal driven learning. Knowledge of learners related to interconnection and interrelationship between different components of the curriculum plays a vital role in both motivation and independent learning. In web-based learning curriculum, especially for distance learners, it is often a challenge to conceptualize how different modules are related to one another and how the curriculum corresponds with their personal wills and objectives. Chapter twenty one presents approaches and tools that can help learners to address such challenges of a Web-based learning curriculum and encourage them to become active participants in their learning. The proposed generic architecture is designed to be used in the context of an already existing Web-based learning system. The approach is based on a detailed modeling of the curriculum and intends to equip the learners with different computer-based tools facilitating a multiple point of view perception of the curriculum, while promoting self evaluation and self regulation of the learners’ curriculum performance.

An effective tool in distance learning is possibility of forming ‘study groups’ among students who can view the lecture videos together and pause, rewind, or fast forward the video to simulate the pedagogically valuable discussions that occur during on-campus lectures. However, conventional Internet video technology does not yet support collaborative video viewing by multiple geographically dispersed users. It is particularly challenging to support What I See Is What You See (WISIWYS) when some users are relatively disadvantaged with respect to bandwidth (e.g., dial-up modems) and local resources (e.g., old graphics cards, small disks). Chapter 6 presents an e-Learning architecture and adaptation model called AI2TV (Adaptive Interactive Internet Team Video), which allows groups of students to collaboratively view instructional videos in synchrony.

Use of Learning Objects (LOs) by teachers would help increasing teaching performance, spread innovation and reduce cost through saving time by allowing reuse of potentially good teaching materials. A major obstructing factor in this is the amount of extra work that may be required by a teacher to integrate didactical resources prepared by other teachers in one’s own lessons. To overcome this obstacle it is necessary to make them closer to actual teacher’s work by emphasizing pedagogical aspects. To this end, Chapter ten proposes a topology of LOs that allows teachers to share both content and educational competence.

Different other chapters in this book focus on different research, design and implementation aspects of methods and application for advancing distance education and technologies. Chapters one to four, seven to nine and chapter eighteen reports their design and development activities, as detailed below, those are very important to the advancement of distance learning initiatives.

  • Development of a new automatic digital content generation system at Hosei University for students taking distance interactive classes over the Internet from overseas. The system enables the complete archiving of lectures including video/audio content, synchronized presentation materials, and handwritten traces on virtual whiteboards. The content is generated in real time and is immediately available at the end of the class. In addition, this system incorporates a unique video search algorithm which adopts a phonetic-based search technology. This enables quick review of the video content by typed-in keywords. The system can automatically create a vast amount of digital content and provide students with an efficient learning tool for distance students and review materials for in- class students.

  • Development of an e-learning platform, supporting the ‘anytime and anywhere’ learning paradigm, that is able to manage and trace adaptive learning processes. The platform designed and created by means of a visual language based tool have a software architecture based on the use of Web Services and a suitable Middleware component compliant with the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) standard. Experiments have been carried out to assess the usability of the proposed e-learning platform is reported.

  • Implementation of a system for developing e-training courses based on a concept relationship-oriented approach. It addresses the challenging issues in developing traditional learning materials for high technical e-training courses meeting both the quality of the learning materials and also the efficiency of developing the courses. Experimental results show that this approach significantly shortened the time needed for developing e-training courses for engineers to receive up-to-date technologies in time.

  • Building a pervasive learning environment to allow users to read SCORM-compliant textbooks with multimodal learning devices.

  • Development of an approach to automatically generate an e-textbook by mining the ranked lists of the search engine by applying a clustering approach before the mining process.

  • Development of a novel approach for learning Chinese calligraphy.

  • Investigation of the use of latent semantic analysis (LSA), critiquing systems, and knowledge building to support computer-based teaching of English composition. The English composition critiquing system makes use of LSA to analyze student essays and compute feedback by comparing their essays with teacher’s model essays.

  • Development of a virtual interactive learning environment to teach GIS and spatial sciences to distance education graduate students facilitating student, instructor and computer interactivity using a mix of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools and students having access to a suite of passive and active multi-media tools and to a mixed web-facilitated / hybrid architecture that stimulates their cognitive geographic skills and provides hands-on experience. The benefits and constraints of the innovative hybrid architecture of the virtual GIS computer laboratory is discussed.

The chapters in this book have demonstrated that the most essential requirements for advancing distance education for both teaching and learning are communication technologies, intelligent technologies and quality educational pedagogy.

Communication Technologies with high performance broadband and wireless network infrastructures, with quality service support, and with advanced communication tools and real time protocols are capable of supporting distributed synchronous multimedia streaming technology. The communication technologies must be supported by Intelligent Technologies to support high level secure personalized authentication mechanisms or in cases some degree of automation, effective and efficient authoring systems, online discussions, automated assessment, content individualization, automated response, intelligent tutoring and intellectual property and copyright protections using intelligent computation techniques such as neural network and statistical approaches with emphasis to behavior analysis.

In addition to the information technology components are also required development of quality educational pedagogy techniques that include practical and new learning models to adapt to the advancing information technologies and distance education demands & practices

The readers of this book will find answers to important issues necessary to be addressed for a successful distance education and will be reminded that the success of distance education requires effective use of instructional media, planning for instructional media use, visual communication, audio and motion media, computers as tools for learning, and evaluating the effectiveness of instructional media.

Acknowledgements: Many people deserve credit for successful publication of this book. I express my sincere gratitude to each of the chapter authors in this book, who contributed and expanded all the ideas mentioned above and made their expertise available in bringing this book to fruition. Support from colleagues and staff in the Department of Information Systems and Technology and the administration at Minnesota State University Mankato helped sustain my continued interest. A special note of thanks goes to all staff at IGI Global, whose contribution throughout the whole process from inception of the initial idea to final publication has been invaluable. I am grateful to my wife Sharifun and my son Tahin who by their unconditional love have steered me to this point and given me constant support.

Mahbubur Rahman Syed


    Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

    Mahbubur Rahman Syed is currently a professor of information systems and technology at Minnesota State University (Mankato, USA). He has about 25 years of experience in teaching, in industry, in research and in academic leadership in the field of computer science, engineering, information technology and systems. Earlier he worked in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the North Dakota State University (USA) in the School of Computing and Information Technology, Monash University (Australia), in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Bangladesh) and Ganz Electric Works (Hungary). He was a founding member of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at BUET and served as Head of the Department during 1986-1992. He served as the General Secretary of Bangladesh Computer Society and also as the General Secretary of BUET Teacher's Association. He received the UNESCO/ROSTSCA' 85 award for South and Central Asia region in the field of informatics and computer applications in scientific research. He won several other awards. He has co-edited several books in the area of e-commerce, software agents, multimedia systems and networking. He guest edited the 2001 fall issue of IEEE multimedia. He has more than 100 papers published in journals and conference proceedings. He has been serving in different roles such as co-editor-in chief, associate editor, editorial review committee, member of several international journals. Dr. Syed has been involved in international professional activities including organizing conferences and serving as conference and program committee chair.


    Editorial Board

    Associate Editors
  • Shi-Kuo Chang, University of Pittsburgh, USA
  • Giuliana Dettori, National Research Council, Italy
  • Baltasar Fernandez-Manjon, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
  • Fernando Gamboa-Rodriguez, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
  • Vivekanand Gopalkrishnan, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Denis Gracanin, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA
  • Kamalanath Priyantha Hewagamage, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Jason C. Hung, The Overseas Chinese Institute of Technology, Taiwan
  • Dulal C. Kar, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, USA
  • Javed I. Khan, Kent State University, USA
  • Taku Komura, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Yiu-Wing Leung, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
  • Frederick Li, University of Durham, United Kingdom
  • Paolo Maresca, Universita' di Napoli Federico II, Italy Dennis McLeod, University of Southern California, USA
  • Max Muehlhaeuser, Darmstadt University of Tech., Germany
  • Maria E. Orlowska, Polish-Japanese Institute of Information Technology
  • Maytham Safar, Kuwait Unviersity, Kuwait
  • Nicoletta Sala, University of Italian Switzerland, Switzerland
  • Ladislav Samuelis, Technical University of Kosice, Slovakia Kosice,Slovakia
  • Ramesh Chander Sharma, Indira Gandhi National Open University, India
  • Timothy K. Shih, Tamkang University, Taiwan
  • Marc Spaniol, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  • Changjie Tang, Sichuan University, China
  • Thrasyvoulos Tsiatsos, University of Patras, Greece
  • Lorna Uden, Staffordshire University, UK
  • Son T. Vuong, University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Kazuo Yana, Hosei University, Japan
  • David Yang, Southern Taiwan University of Technology, Taiwan
  • Xun Yi, Victoria University, Australia
  • Cha Zhang, Microsoft Research, USA
  • Jianmin Zhao, Zhejiang Normal University, China

    International Editorial Review Board

  • Hussein Abdel-Wahab, Old Dominion University, USA
  • Gianni Degli Antoni, Inst. for Educational Tech., Italy
  • Timothy Arndt, Cleveland State University, USA
  • David Asirvatham, Multimedia University, Malaysia
  • Jinli Cao, University of Southern Queensland, Australia
  • Debasish Chakraborty, Tohoku University, Japan
  • Han-Chieh Chao, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan
  • Herng-Yow Chen, National Chi-Nan Univ., Taiwan
  • Ming-Syan Chen, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
  • Shu-Ching Chen, Florida International Univ., USA
  • Zixue Cheng, The University of Aizu, Japan
  • William C. Chu, TungHai University, Taiwan
  • Pau-Choo Chung, National Cheng Kung Univ., Taiwan
  • Chyi-Ren Dow, Feng Chia Univ., Taiwan
  • Khalil El-Khatib, National Research Council, Canada
  • Larbi Esmahi, Athabasca University, Canada
  • Denis Gracanin, Virginia Tech (VPI&SU), USA
  • Pete Holt, Athabasca University, Canada
  • Hui-huang Hsu, Chinese Culture University, Taiwan
  • Steven Huang, University of Houston, USA
  • Ren-Hung Hwang, Nat. Chung-Cheng Univ., Taiwan
  • Gwo-Jen Hwang, National University of Tainan, Taiwan
  • Qun Jin, The University of Aizu, Japan
  • Matjaz B. Juric, University of Maribor, Slovenia
  • Odej Kao, Technical University of Clausthal, Germany
  • Norihisa Komoda, University of Osaka, Japan
  • Larry Korb, National Research Council, Canada
  • Rynson Lau, City University of Hong Kong, HK
  • Tak-ming Law, Institute of Vocational Education, HK
  • Byung-Gook Lee, Dongseo University, Korea
  • Jong-Hyeok Lee, Pohang Univ. of Sci. and Tech., Korea
  • Meng-Huang Lee, Shih-Chien University, Taiwan
  • Hong Va Leong, Hong Kong Polytechnic Univ., HK
  • Qing Li, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Sheng-Tun Li , Nat’l Kaohsiung 1st U. of Sci. and Tech., Taiwan
  • Jonathan Liu, University of Florida, USA
  • Fuhua Oscar Lin, Athabasca Univ., Canada
  • Simon Sheu, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
  • Yoshitaka Shibata, Iwate Prefectural Univ., Japan
  • Mahla Strogmaier, University of Alaska, USA
  • Francis Suraweera, Griffith University, Australia
  • Joseph E. Urban, Arizona State University, USA
  • Chun-Chia Wang, Kuang Wu Inst. of Tech. and Comm., Taiwan
  • Te-Hua Wang, Chihlee Institute of Technology, Taiwan
  • Ying-Hong Wang, Tamkang University, Taiwan
  • Yuefei Xu, National Research Council, Canada
  • Kazuo Yana, Hosei University Research Institute, USA
  • Yun Yang, Swinburne Univ. of Technology, Australia
  • Jin Tan Yang, National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan
  • George Yee, National Research Council, Canada
  • Siu-Ming Yiu, The University of Hong Kong, HK
  • Yanchun Zhang, University of Tasmania, Australia