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5. Issue
Fifth Issue - July 2009
Articles / Beiträge
  1. Is There a Net Gener in the House? Dispelling a Mystification

    The subject of this essay is the so-called ‘net generation’, the ‘generation @’, or the ‘millennials’ and the speculations about the importance of this generation for teaching. This essay represents both a critical analysis of such allegations and assumptions and a discourse, from the perspective of socialization, on the use of media in teaching.

  2. Adaptive Rückmeldungen im intelligenten Tutorensystem LARGO

    Das intelligente Tutorensystem LARGO für die Rechtswissenschaften soll Jurastudenten helfen, Argumentationsstrategien zu lernen. Im verwendeten Ansatz werden Gerichtsprotokolle als Lernmaterialien verwendet: Studenten annotieren diese und erstellen graphische Repräsentationen des Argumentationsverlaufs. Das System kann dabei zur Reflexion über die von Anwälten vorgebrachten Argumente anregen und Lernende auf mögliche Schwächen in ihrer Analyse des Disputs hinweisen. Zur Erkennung von Schwächen verwendet das System Graphgrammatiken und kollaborative Filtermechanismen. Dieser Artikel stellt dar, wie in LARGO auf Basis der Bestimmung eines „Benutzungskontextes“ die Rückmeldungen im System benutzungsadaptiv gestaltet werden. Weiterhin diskutieren wir auf Basis der Ergebnisse einer kontrollierten Studie mit dem System, welche mit Jurastudierenden an der University of Pittsburgh stattfand, in wie weit der automatisch bestimmte Benutzungskontext zur Vorhersage von Lernerfolgen bei Studenten verwendbar ist.

  3. Onlinestudie: Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten im Web 2.0

    Das Web 2.0 eröffnet Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern neue Möglichkeiten mit Wissen und Informationen umzugehen: Das Recherchieren von Informationen und Quellen, der Austausch von Wissen mit anderen, das Verwalten von Ressourcen und das Erstellen von eigenen Inhalten im Web ist einfach und kostengünstig möglich. Dieser Artikel thematisiert die Bedeutung des Web 2.0 für den Umgang mit Wissen und Informationen und zeigt auf, wie durch die Kooperation vieler Einzelner das Schaffen von neuem Wissen und von Innovationen möglich wird. Diskutiert werden der Einfluss des Web 2.0 auf die Wissenschaft und mögliche Vor- und Nachteile der Nutzung. Außerdem wird ein kurzer Überblick über Studien gegeben, die die Nutzung des Web 2.0 in der Gesamtbevölkerung untersuchen. Im empirischen Teil des Artikels werden Methode und Ergebnisse der Befragungsstudie „Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten im Web 2.0“ vorgestellt. Befragt wurden Nachwuchswissenschaftlerinnen und Nachwuchswissenschaftler in Deutschland zur Nutzung des Web 2.0 für die eigene wissenschaftliche Arbeit. Dabei zeigt sich, dass insbesondere die Wikipedia von einem Großteil der Befragten intensiv bis sehr intensiv für den Einstieg in die Recherche verwendet wird. Die aktive Nutzung des Web 2.0, z.B. durch das Schreiben eines eigenen Blogs oder dem Mitarbeiten bei der Online-Enzyklopädie Wikipedia ist bis jetzt noch gering. Viele Dienste sind unbekannt oder werden eher skeptisch beurteilt, der lokale Desktopcomputer wurde noch nicht vom Web als zentraler Speicherort abgelöst.

  4. A Socioeconomic Approach to the Development of E-Learning

    A multitude of products, systems, approaches, views and notions characterize the field of e-learning. This article attempts to disentangle the field by using economic and sociological theories, theories of marketing management and strategy as well as practical experience gained by the author while working with leading edge suppliers of e-learning. On this basis, a distinction between knowledge creation e-learning and knowledge transfer e-learning is made. The various views are divided into four different ideal-typical paradigms, each with its own characteristics and limitations. Selecting the right paradigm to use in the development of an e-learning strategy may prove crucial to success. Implications for the development of an e-learning strategy in businesses and educational institutions are outlined.

  5. Effectiveness of an Online Social Constructivist Mathematical Problem Solving Course for Malaysian Pre-Service Teachers

    This study assessed the effectiveness of an online mathematical problem solving course designed using a social constructivist approach for pre-service teachers. Thirty-seven pre-service teachers at the Batu Lintang Teacher Institute, Sarawak, Malaysia were randomly selected to participate in the study. The participants were required to complete the course online without the typical face-to-face classes and they were also required to solve authentic mathematical problems in small groups of 4-5 participants based on the Polya’s Problem Solving Model via asynchronous online discussions. Quantitative and qualitative methods such as questionnaires and interviews were used to evaluate the effects of the online learning course. Findings showed that a majority of the participants were satisfied with their learning experiences in the course. There were no significant changes in the participants’ attitudes toward mathematics, while the participants’ skills in problem solving for “understand the problem” and “devise a plan” steps based on the Polya’s Model were significantly enhanced, though no improvement was apparent for “carry out the plan” and “review”. The results also showed that there were significant improvements in the participants’ critical thinking skills. Furthermore, participants with higher initial computer skills were also found to show higher performance in mathematical problem solving as compared to those with lower computer skills. However, there were no significant differences in the participants’ achievements in the course based on gender. Generally, the online social constructivist mathematical problem solving course is beneficial to the participants and ought to be given the attention it deserves as an alternative to traditional classes. Nonetheless, careful considerations need to be made in the designing and implementing of online courses to minimize problems that participants might encounter while participating in such courses.

Project reports / Projektberichte
  1. Product Presentation ""

    For the first time a research platform provides a combination of private content and literature management with social tools like Wikis, project management and a social network. "" has applied the successful principles of Web 2.0 to research and thus has made them fruitful for science.

  2. Project Report: VITA

    In traditional recitation arrangements (e.g. manually graded homework and recitation sessions that are aligned with the lecture), students receive their results with some time delay while the lecture venue progresses. An inherent danger is that potential deficits are neither detected nor corrected. For traditional recitations to be effective (foremost to have small sessions) they require personnel, which, particularly for German universities of applied sciences, do not exist. A second problem, which in part occurs due to lack of practice, is, that many students do not review the lectures. Instead, many students attempt to cram the lecture material close to the exams, which, if successful at all, does not lead to long-term mastery of the content. Therefore, base knowledge is missing for subsequent curricular venues, which should have been established in earlier venues.

  3. International cooperation in ambient computing education

    Funded by the US-EU Atlantis Program, the International Cooperation in Ambient Computing Education Project is establishing an international knowledge-building community for developing a broader computer science curriculum aimed at preparing students for real-world problems in a multidisciplinary, global world. The project is collaboration among Troy University (USA), University of Sunderland (UK), FernUniversität in Hagen (Germany), Universidade do Algarve (Portugal), University of Arkansas at Little Rock (USA) and San Diego State University (USA). The curriculum will include aspects of social science, cognitive science, human-computer interaction, organizational studies, global studies, and particular application areas as well as core computer science subjects. Programs offered at partner institutions will form trajectories through the curriculum. A degree will be defined in terms of combinations of trajectories which will satisfy degree requirements set by accreditation organizations. This is expected to lead to joint- or dual-degree programs among the partner institutions in the future. This paper describes the goals and activities of the project and discusses implementation issues.

  4. Leveraging Informality Within eLearning

    The next generation of learners expect more informality in learning. Formal learning systems such as traditional LMS systems no longer meet the needs of a generation of learners used to Twitter and Facebook, social networking and user-generated content. Regardless of this, however, formal content and learning models are still important and play a major role in educating learners, particularly in enterprise. The eLite project at DERI addressed this emerging dichotomy of learning styles, reconciling the traditional with the avant garde by using innovative technology to add informal learning capabilities to formal learning architectures.


Some thought about the evolution of e-learning

More and more of us live in two worlds: the physical and digital world. In the physical world we are embedded in traditional social communities (Gemeinschaften) that rely on local proximity, strong reciprocal bonds of kinship, reliance, obligation and mutual benefit (Tönnies 1887). Internet-based social networks, platforms and communities are complementing this concept and they are partly changing its meaning. In the digital world the significance of physical location takes a second place to symbolic interaction processes in which competences and the reciprocal negotiation of trust relationships takes a leading role. Thus, “the traditional character of communities linking people in places and establishing real, organic and sustainable connections between them is widened to linking people wherever they are” (Welman 2001). This offers new options to the members of a social network. For example, Mark Granovetter (1973) emphasizes “the strength of weak ties”. What he means by this is the observation that members of a social community with close interpersonal relationships (strong ties) are often less helpful in the solution of one’s specific problem than those to which only weak ties exist but who are more competent in the solution space. He provided empirical evidence for this hypothesis for the problem of job search. Followers have tested this hypothesis on other problems as well.

In the physical world we acquire value, skills and knowledge from people in our environment, in classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories or hospitals, and from physical resources like books, journals, from equipment and tangible instruments. In the digital world we are confronted with a drastically increasing amount of information sources, with virtual environments, virtual realities, even virtual worlds like second life. Also in science the digital world becomes indispensible with its potential to make research information of all kinds accessible over the Internet. Open access movements around the globe try to overcome the print-on-paper age with expensive – for many institutions and countries unaffordable – subscription models. They benefit individual researchers with increased visibility, use and impact of their work but also the society at large with enhanced access to research findings and educational materials.

Web 2.0 with its participatory and interactive media and the Semantic Web are providing further dimensions to the digital world that need to be explored. All this has a tremendous impact on learning and education that is far from understood, both advantages and risks. The growing amount of online resources, for instance, offers ample opportunities for smoothly combining informal and formal learning experiences. If the online resources are, in addition, decorated with machine-readable semantic data, options exist to generate individualized learning paths automatically (see, e.g., The contributions of this issue shed some light in different corners of this largely unexplored research space.

The articles of this issue

In his article entitled “Is There a Net Gener in the House?“ Rolf Schulmeister, a pioneer in e-learning, critically investigates the question whether a net generation really exists, in the sense that its members learn differently than earlier generations and exhibit further common attributes that distinguish them from other generations. Schulmeister presents his conclusions of a decent analysis of a range of empirical studies published in books and scientific articles of professional authors like Prensky, Tapscott, Oblinger & Oblinger and others. He critically investigates the authors’ claims and analysis methods and argues for subtle differentiation of observations made and classifications derived from them.

Pinkwart, Aleven, Ashley, and Lynch introduce an adaptive tutoring system aimed to help law students in acquiring argumentation skills and practice strategies in structuring the proper flow of arguments and counter-arguments in legal texts like opinions and protocols. Their tool imposes a diagrammatic representation of such structures upon legal texts. In the construction of feedback to student actions the tool designers had to find special solutions as – other than in natural and engineering sciences - the subject domain is not well structured and the solution space does not offer a unique or best solution.

The article “Onlinestudie: Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten im Web 2.0“ (in German) presents and discusses the findings of an online survey on the use of Web 2.0 tools in science. The authors evaluate the potential of such tools and address possible negative impacts of their use on scientific practices. The survey was conducted in a research project investigating the character of scientific work in Web 2.0 from different angles. In section “Project Presentations”, the first author of this article sketches another outcome of this project: a Web 2.0 type of software supporting academic writing,

A “Socioeconomic Approach to the Development of E-Learning” is adopted by Henrik Johannsen Duus. Starting with a summary of previous attempts to classify different types of e-learning, the author criticizes pedagogical, technological, or organizational categories used in earlier studies and reveals methodological weaknesses of these analyses. Using economic, sociological, and marketing theories as the basis for distinguishing characteristics, he initially suggest the separation of e-learning industries in two categories, knowledge transfer and knowledge creation. Duus then refines the classification by adding two new dimensions: “Business orientation vs. academic orientation” and “learning orientation vs. teaching orientation”. This leads to a separation into four e-learning paradigms: the technological, content-based, pedagogical, and the market-based paradigm.

The last article in this issue presents the analysis of an online mathematical problem solving course for teachers in the second semester of a Graduate Diploma Program at the Batu Linfang Teachers’ Institute in Sarawak, Malaysia. The authors partly replicate previous findings but add a novel perspective by training mathematical problem solving based on Polya's method. They use quantitative and qualitative methods (questionnaires and interviews, respectively) to measure the students' satisfaction, the improvement of their skills and the impact on demographic characteristics.

Project Presentations

Besides the report on, this section introduces a virtual teaching assistant that was developed in the VITA project and has been implemented as an extension to the course authoring and learning management system LON-CAPA. The assistant supports instant correctness checking and grading of homework assignments and it offers a peer-teaching feature for students to help each other solving the assignments.

The “ambient computing education” project aims to advance student mobility across the Atlantic with pilot student exchanges, the provision of a contemporary curriculum addressing society’s growing need for transdisciplinary knowledge and skills, and a technical infrastructure including Web 2.0 services, social networking features and access to online knowledge resources.

The third report “Leveraging Informality within eLearning” particularly addresses the skills and competences of “Schulmeister’s net generation” in mastering computers, in general, and Web 2.0 tools, in particular. It sketches a project that aims to integrate informal and formal learning opportunities by extending contemporary learning content players with facilities to include and share informal learning content, ratings and recommendations.


Frequent readers of our journal may have noticed that we have introduced a new category in the community section: Dissertations. Here we present abstracts of PhD dissertations that address e-learning problems. Dissertations that have been published online, are directly linked on the abstract page. We welcome submissions of dissertation abstracts and references to the published work in whatever language. Abstracts in English are, however, preferred.


Granovetter, Mark S.: The Strength of Weak Ties. In: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 78, 1973, issue 6 , pp. 1360-1380

Tönnies, Ferdinand: Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 1887. (in German, first print 1887, reprint 1935:)

Wellman, Barry: Physical Place and CyberPlace. In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Vol. 25, 2001

Bernd Krämer