Context-Aware Multimedia Services for Mobile Lecture Streaming

Context-Aware Multimedia Services for Mobile Lecture Streaming

Ulrike Lucke (University of Potsdam, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-144-3.ch010
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Applications and infrastructures of the future will have to be intelligent to some extent, which means that they should automatically adapt to the current situation and intention of the user. This regards basic interoperability issues in heterogeneous environments as well as advanced behavior of software. Two technological trends contribute to solve this problem: service-orientation and context-awareness. We present a system architecture and realization that makes use of these trends. Its scope is education in general, or the interconnection of face-to-face and online learning in particular. The focus of this article is to explain the technical architecture behind these applications. Its validity is demonstrated with the help of selected use cases.
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Education is a yielding field for research, not only since most researchers at Universities are also educators and may organize or even design their educational arrangements, themselves. This is true for several disciplines, including Computer science. Current research in this area covers, for instance, aspects of mobility, adaptivity, or integration of educational infrastructures. Today, educational applications are characterized by a large number of multimedia in various types and formats. Besides descriptive text, there may be schema drawings, explanatory sound files, photographs, or videos – combined in a web page, slide show, or printable script. Plenty of research tried to tease out flexible, adaptive, and easily reusable teaching and learning content from existing document formats. This was leading to the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) technology as the preferred mechanism, and to enormous efforts for creation of such material (Wallace & Levinson, 2006). This brought up several form of so-called rapid e-learning content production, among this the capture, archiving, and playback of traditional face-to-face lectures, also referred to as e-lectures (Chandra, 2007). While production of e-lectures is easy, current research in this field is mainly focused on issues of semantic analysis, cross-system integration, and mobile use.

Along with the increasing number of mobile devices owned by students and staff, there is a strong demand for mobile services at today’s universities. This includes not only education, but also access to research facilities and administrative systems (like campus management). Delivery of light-weight Web sites and other simple client interfaces can be sufficiently handled on mobile devices. However, complex platforms and rich media content require special attention due to limitations in network connection and interaction features. For instance, accessing an e-lecture stored in a traditional learning management system implies navigation to the respective course, opening its file area, searching for the desired recording, downloading the file, and opening it in the associated player. Accordingly, it takes some effort for the teacher to upload his e-lectures. Thus, depending on the designs of the website and the client device, publication and retrieval of an e-lecture can be a hard job.

Technological progress can improve this situation, twofold: Considering small, repeatable units of the system functionality as services helps to mash-up distinct parts of the related platforms in order to automate some of the users’ activities (Ogrinz, 2009). Furthermore, analysis of context conditions helps to estimate what the users might want or need in the given situation (Loke, 2006). This article presents some results of our developments in this field. We implemented an infrastructure for mobile and context-aware access to several multimedia services, including streaming of e-lectures. We found that both teachers and students are a quite critical audience, and their continuous stimuli for releasing improved versions of educational systems create a productive field for experiments and developments.

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