Advanced Learning Environment/Learning Network

The old concept of a university limited to a campus is expanded into learning networks consisting of a consortium of universities with the campus facilities augmented by virtual classrooms equipped with the most advanced instructional, computing, communication, course evaluation and management facilities.

The learning network being developed integrates three learning environments: expert-led, self-paced, and collaborative. In the expert-led environment, the instructor presents an overview of the subject using advanced multimedia and visual simulation facilities, and the focus of the presentation is on developing the critical thinking and creativity skills of the learners.

In the self-paced environment, the learner goes through the details of the topic, including derivation of equations, using an intelligent tutoring system with a virtual instructor. Also, facilities are provided for enhancing the understanding of the physical principles and for visual simulation of physical experiments. An expert system is used to test the level of comprehension of the learner and repeat the material as needed.

The collaborative learning environment uses the collaboration facilities, such as those for telepresence, to connect geographically dispersed learners and instructors from different disciplines working on a joint project. It is also used for coupling numerical simulations with physical experiments at different sites.

The development of effective learning network requires the synergistic coupling of advanced instructional technology (including multimedia, visual simulation and intelligent software agents), with advanced human-computer interface/communication technologies (including perceptual user interfaces and natural language communication).