University of L├╝beck (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 3972-3981
ISBN: 978-84-09-34549-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2021.0942
Conference name: 14th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 8-9 November, 2021
Location: Online Conference
With the Ambient Learning Spaces (ALS) environment we developed a didactic infrastructure as an integrated environment for self-directed and distributed learning inside and outside school. The environment combines and interlinks mobile and stationary learning applications on a variety of interaction devices. The artificial division between the classroom and the world outside vanishes through the pervasive cloud-based backend repository NEMO (Network Environment for Multimedia Objects) connecting a growing number of interactive learning applications with a central semantic media storage. This paper emphasizes on the ALS learning application TimeLine used for teaching historical development and correlation. It has been used in schools during COVID-19 for distributed distance learning.

TimeLine is specialized in constructing and interacting with chronological correlations of historical events. It allows setting up multidimensional timelines to display knowledge entities represented by semantically annotated media like text, image, 3D, audio, and video. Several dimensions representing semantic categories can be displayed simultaneously as parallel zoomable timelines visualizing the chronological correlations of events. TimeLine has been used for natural sciences (e.g. paleontological excavations) and history (e.g. political, economic, and technological development in certain contexts and historical periods). Teachers can define up to five simultaneously visible timelines for a topic. Students fill these timelines by researching and defining entities of events and by attaching media like text, image, audio or video content to these events. TimeLine entities can also be used as seeds for the SemCor semantic internet discovery system based on DBpedia and Wikipedia or custom knowledge spaces leading to further semantical explorations of the knowledge structures and media already found and represented.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ALS with the TimeLine application has been used for distributed collaborative distance learning. Teachers and students used the ALS web-based platform over the course of several weeks to create different timelines. Groups of three to five students worked on disjunctive time intervals assigned by the teacher while the ALS system managed and displayed the complete timeline. We studied how two timelines have been constructed by different school classes, one for the history of the European Union and one for the historical development of China. Both timelines are available in the school and can be used for further teaching or extension. Similar timelines have been constructed in other schools and museums for other topics. The process has been accompanied by scientists observing the teaching process and using questionnaires about the teaching and ALS TimeLine system usage. The findings have been used for further improvements of the TimeLine learning application and the embedding ALS environment.

The results show that teachers and learners have been enabled even under difficult social and spatial situations like the COVID-19 pandemic to use the modular teaching applications of the ALS environment for distributed collaborative learning. ALS installations are currently in experimental use in secondary schools and museums.
Ambient Learning Spaces, Timelines, Collaborative and Problem-based Learning, COVID-19 Distance Learning.