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Volume 2 / Issue 8

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-002-08-0580


LATE: A Unified Concept for a Learning And Teaching Environment

Hermann Maurer (IICM, Graz University of Technology, Austria)

Abstract: LATE is the acronym for Learning And Teaching Environment, a concept that pulls together a number of developments in a uniquely integrated way to provide - for the first time in the history of computing - an approach to computer assisted learning and teaching that offers a realistic alternative to more traditional methods. Above claim may sound exaggerated. However, the reader is asked to reserve judgement until having looked at the details of this paper. LATE is not just one other concept in the area of computer assisted instructional technologies - an area rich in projects with high-expectations but few real success stories. LATE is more: it is based on much experience with earlier undertakings, both negative and positive, and is positioned to be a definitive answer to educational needs as they can be provided by networked multimedia systems now and in the forseeable future. LATE is positioned as concept that can be turned into a fully functional and applicable system, open-ended to incorporate further modules, improvements and future computer and network technology. In this sense LATE can be aptly described by the longer acronym: IS THE LATEST, standing for Integrating Systematically Technologies Helping to Establish Learning And Teaching Environment Strategies.

It has been over 30 years that computer-based solutions for educational purposes have been investigated and experimented with. Results have been consistently exasperating modest. Indeed some frustrated researchers and developers have started to seriously consider the possibility that the educational process - being highly oriented towards individual needs - may not be computerizeable at all to a large extent.

The LATE concept as put forward in this paper - will show that above mentioned pessimism is - fortunately - not justified. Rather: it has taken a long time to effectively introduce computers into the educational process, but the LATE concept, once implemented, provides the ultimate answer. Hence our pun: LATE is better than never! And hence our request to all European funding agencies, and the European Commission in particular, to provide the financial assistance to turn LATE from a concept into a reality.

LATE is not a new attempt at developing a computer assisted instruction (CAI) or computer based learning (CBL) system; it is not a system providing modern lecturing techniques; it is not another attempt to implement digital libraries; it should not be seen as a novel authoring environment, a distance teaching system, a networked help system, discussion forum, computer supported collaborative environment or a networked model of modern computer based decision rooms. LATE must not be understood as any of the above: LATE is the rich symbiosis of all of the above resulting in an environment of breadth and dimensions sofar unheard of.

If this sounds too good to be true: do continue reading; above is not intended to give a project description, but to "whet the appetite" for reading what follows. There we will show that and how the symbiosis of the diversity of areas is indeed feasable when a modern WWW system with much extended functionality is used as a basis.

Keywords: CAI, CBT, CSCW, HM-Card, Hyper-G, HyperWave, WWW, Web, authoring, distance teaching, educational software

Categories: C.2.4, H.2.8, K.3