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I ntelligent. W eb. T eacher. Microsoft Academic Days Segrate 22-14 November 2004. Speaker: Pierluigi Ritrovato Research and Technology Director. Agenda. The motivation Analysis of current learning practices and e-learning solutions Our vision of the Learning The innovation in IWT

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T eacher




Microsoft Academic Days

Segrate 22-14 November 2004

Speaker: Pierluigi RitrovatoResearch and Technology Director


  • The motivation

    • Analysis of current learning practices and e-learning solutions

    • Our vision of the Learning

  • The innovation in IWT

    • The Architecture

    • The personalisation of the learning experience

    • The adaptability of the platform for learning in a specific domain

  • IWT Grid aware

Analysis of current learning practices
Analysis of Current Learning practices

  • Based on the information transfer paradigm with focus on the content and the “teacher”

    • Find the best way for presenting contents in order to transmit information to learners

    • Contents are passive: books, pictures, audio, etc.

  • Passive role of the learner

  • No individual support of the students’ learning process

  • Everything is predetermined

  • No possibility to change the process for accommodating specific needs







Analysis of current e learning practices
Analysis of Current e-Learning practices

  • Technology driven approach

    • e-Learning becomes an activity in which teachers produce, and students consume, multimedia books on the Web

    • Missing specific didactical models

    • Not any support of pedagogical aspects

    • Suppose that the cognitive transfer occurs without evaluating the effectiveness

Analysis of current e learning practices1
Analysis of Current e-Learning practices

  • Inappropriate use of technology

    • Available solutions supports actively the contents management only

    • Finds its perfect technical mirror in the Web “page oriented approach”

    • Personalisation and individualisation of the learning path is a myth

    • Solutions are closed and difficult to integrate

T eacher

Inquiry-based education


Mediated learning

Discovery learning

Learning as problematization

Learning as conversation

Problem-based learning

Reflective practice


Experiential learning

Learner-oriented approach

Social constructivism

Situated learning

How we conceive the Learning

There is a common thread in the development

of our understanding of learning

  • The learner as active agentin the learning process

  • Knowledge construction through conversations, collaborations and direct experience in a social context

  • Learners need to be

  • engaged in goal-oriented tasks

  • practising skills

  • exploring and experimenting

  • using feedback to adapt what they do

  • discussing what they do

  • reflecting on what happens

  • articulating what happens

How we conceive the learning
How we conceive the Learning

  • We are moving our attention from a strictly concept oriented “teaching” to user centred “learning”

    • the past: the focus was on finding better ways for presenting concepts to learners

    • The present: recognised the learner role and they active participation in the process

    • The future: more emphasis on learning as a potential side effect of interactions and conversations, experiences and social reflections on them, also in Virtual Communities

How we conceive the learning1
How we conceive the Learning

  • the focus will be on a constructivist learning theory, with a socio-cultural and situational approach

    • Confucius’s dictum: Tell me and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand!

  • It is important to define a model that considers in a unified way the characteristics of the learning (i.e. active, situated, collaborative)

    • "Situations Theory” of Brousseau – 1986 for Virtual Scientific Experiments for e-learning

Iwt overview
IWT overview

  • Intelligent Web Teacher is an extensible application framework for building learning solutions

    • software and technologies building blocks

      • It doesn’t exist a product that fit all need!

  • It has been designed for supporting the emerging learning scenarios for knowledge constructions

    • personalised learning path

    • knowledge representation models

    • any time, any place and any pace access to learning services

    • Learning Objects reuse

What s really new in iwt
What’s Really New in IWT?

The Architecture: Extensibility and Customisability

  • At a Portal Level

  • At a Content Level

  • At a Services level

  • At a Device level

Building Blocks for personalising the Learning Experience

  • Indexing Content Management through Explicit Knowledge Modeling and Metadata

  • Student model management

  • Automatic Student Evaluation

  • Automatic customisability of the Didactic Experience on real Students Needs and Learning Preferences

Iwt the open architecture
IWT: The Open Architecture

  • Extensible with new learning object and content types

  • Extensible with new functionalities

  • Interoperable with domain specific external solutions

  • New technologies based

Iwt architecture details
IWT Architecture details

  • Document Drivers manage IWT resources as Passive Learning Object, Multiple Choice Test, Didactical Courses, etc…

  • Plug-In Drivers manage IWT services as CBR, ITS, Collaboration Services, etc…

  • We add resource types to IWT coding and integrating document drivers

  • We add services to IWT coding and integrating plug-in and plug-in drivers

Iwt architecture and technologies



C# Components

C# Components


SQL Stored Procedure


IWT Architecture and technologies

Document driver life cycle

Requests the delivery of Resource X

Document Driver life cycle

Requests a Driver for Resource X

Retrieves information about type of Resource X

Instantiates a suitable driver for Resource X

Builds Web GUI for delivery of Resource X

Plug in driver life cycle

Knowledge base

Plug-in Driver #1

Plug-in Driver #3

Driver #3

Driver #1

Driver #2

Plug-in Driver #2


Requests for service Y

Plug-in Driver life cycle

Retrieves information about engine X

Requests for service Y provided by engine X

Rendering …

Instantiates plug-in driver for engine X

Student modeling
Student Modeling

  • Cognitive State

    • Maintains students knowledge in relation to domain Concepts

    • It is updated after each test activity

  • Preferences

    • Maintains students preferences in relation to significant pedagogical parameters like: media, didactic approach, interactivity level, semantic density, difficulty etc.

    • It is updated after each sequence of testing activities

Knowledge modelling a sample ontology














Knowledge Modelling: A Sample Ontology

Third Level







Second Level







First Level

T eacher


























---- x

---- o

---- x

Personalised Learning path creation

  • The teacher fixes target concepts

  • IWT creates learning path (the sequence of concepts) removing what the student knows

  • IWT creates the course (the sequence of resources) respecting their learning preferences

What s really new in iwt1
What’s Really New in IWT?

IWT Domain Platforms

  • They offer resources and services to facilitate e-learning in a specific domain

    Available Domain Platforms:

  • Domain Platform for Simulation and Virtual Scientific Experiments: integrates simulation environments and 2D and 3D rendering engines

  • Domain Platform for Mathematics and Science: integrates numeric and symbolic computation engines

Iwt domain platforms
IWT Domain Platforms

Mathematical Analysis Exercise

Examples of usage of IWT Domain Platforms

Simulation Viewer

Simulation models

Iwt resources and services ms conferencexp integration





IWT Resources and Services: MS ConferenceXP integration

  • “Live” material is stored and assembled in a learning object REUSABLE in synchronous events

Conferencexp integration in iwt the idea





ConferenceXP integration in IWT the idea

  • To integrate into a Learning Object(CXPLesson) resources created by ConferenceXP during a live lesson

  • This Learning Object could be included together with other resources within a course delivered by the platform

Iwt device independence

Extensibiliy and Customisability

IWT Device Independence

Examples of access through different devices

Smart Phones


Iwt grid aware
IWT Grid-Aware

  • What it is?

    • It is an extensible, open, distributed and service oriented framework for building learning solutions

    • It is compliant with the Open Grid Service Architecture (OGSA) and based upon the Web Services Resource Framework (WSRF) infrastructure

  • Why IWT Grid-Aware?

    • It could be a fundamental component for the implementation of a learning paradigm shift where

      • learning is a social activity consumed in communications and collaborations based dynamic Virtual Communities

      • learners, through direct experiences, create and share their knowledge in a contextualised and personalised way

    • Services and resources can be selected and provided on the basis of their characteristics and taking into account quality aspects

    • Openness and standards of the OGSA model allow an easy integration of services and contents (no need for plug-in mechanism)

    • Improvement of scalability, computational power, storage capabilities, …

Iwt grid aware key aspects of refactoring of each layer 1 3
IWT Grid-Aware – Key aspects of refactoring of each layer 1/3

  • Data layer

    • two OGSA Data Services (DS) to virtualize the two storage mechanisms of IWT:

      • DataBase DS to virtualize the IWT DB

      • Repository DS to virtualize the Object Repository

    • Based on recommendations of the OGSA-DAIS WG

  • Infrastructure layer

    • composed by two sets of services:

      • IWT Base services providing the functionalities of IWT

        • Content management, accounting and group, resource and permission, user profile, …

      • Core OGSA Services providing functionalities to manage a VO

        • Service and resource location, dynamic instantiation, service compositions, …

    • Both the sets rely upon WS-Standards (WSDL, SOAP, WS-Addressing) and interfaces and behaviors specified by WSRF

Iwt grid aware key aspects of refactoring of each layer 2 3
IWT Grid-Aware – Key aspects of refactoring of each layer 2/3

  • Learning Services layer

    • provides some services specific for the learning domain (e.g. LIA and CBR) that rely upon the functionalities of Infrastructure and Data layers

    • provides services to completely manage a particular type of resources more or less complex such as learning object (LO), courses, etc.. These services are named Drivers

    • main features of a Driver:

      • transient and stateful  implementing the interfaces and behaviors of WSRF

      • able to generate events  implementing the interfaces and behaviors of WS-Notification

      • able to produce GUI  implementing the behaviors of Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP)

    • two kinds of Driver:

      • Simple Driver to manage simple resources (e.g. passive LO)

      • Composed Drivers to manage aggregated resources (e.g. a course, that is aggregation of passive LOs)

        • obtained by orchestration of Simple Drivers acting on the atomic resources

Iwt grid aware key aspects of refactoring of each layer 3 3
IWT Grid-Aware – Key aspects of refactoring of each layer 3/3

  • Application layer

    • No substantial changes

      • redesign of the IWT Portal to allow aggregation of the GUIs produced by the Drivers  implementing the behaviors of WSRP Consumer

  • Security

    • managed in all the architecture’s layers

      • Single Sign On (SSO)

      • secure communication among the services based on VO policies

      • adoption of WS-Security

Contacts and further info
Contacts and Further Info

Info About this Talk


Info about IWTwww.momanet.it/iwt


How we conceive the learning2
How we conceive the Learning

  • We don’t reject the traditional “information transfer” approach

    • Passive activities

  • It Needs to be complemented with active activities facilitating knowledge construction

    • Decide on actions needed to achieve a given goal

    • Reflect on the feedback on their actions

    • Adapt their actions on the basis of reflection

    • Experiment to achieve a goal

    • Discuss what they are doing

    • Articulate their understanding of what is happening

Resources and services in iwt
Resources and services in IWT

  • IWT Resource

    • Abstraction for content (atomic) or experience (workflow)

    • Managed by document drivers

    • Examples: doc, audio file, course, etc.

  • IWT Service

    • Abstraction for Infrastructure/Additional/Application services

    • Managed by base services, plug-in and plug-in drivers

    • Examples: messaging, math-engine, chat, forum, videoconference etc.