INTRODUCING “E-ME”, THE HELLENIC DIGITAL EDUCATIONAL PLATFORM FOR PUPILS AND TEACHERS
CTI DIOPHANTUS (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:“e-me” is the Hellenic Digital Educational Platform to be provided by the Ministry of Education to the K-12 community that includes more than 1,100,000 pupils and 120,000 teachers in Greece. It is currently under development by CTI Diophantus. e-me implements a social learning environment with a modern and intuitive user interface, where certified members of the primary and secondary education community can safely share content, connect and collaborate with peers, publish their work, use a large number of embedded applications, and interact with a wealth of digital learning resources. The article introduces the core concepts of e-me, the main goal and objectives for its implementation, and highlights the key elements of its software design and development.
The basic design principles of e-me are:
(a) putting pupils first, attracting them to adopt e-me in their everyday activities,
(b) competing with the market is not a sustainable model when developing infrastructure with public funds; keep sensitive data and applications reside in regulated and controlled infrastructures and open the platform to third party applications, thus allowing pupils and teachers use tools that are familiar with,
(c) using real-world metaphors, without adding new technological or artificial restrictions.
e-me has adopted the look and feel of smart devices: it implements a personal learning environment, making use of the concept of a canvas that can be personalised by each user and be used as an extensible “container” for content and apps. Extending the e-me platform with “e-me apps” is a key design approach of e-me, expressed by the moto “e-me: it grows with me”. A basic set of e-me apps is pre-configured for every user, including personal profile, contacts, cloud storage and file sharing, communication tools, and blog service. Through the use of open specifications and programming interfaces, third parties, including educational institutions, teachers, or software and publication houses, can easily create e-me apps that can operate inside the e-me platform. The e-me app-store forms a trusted place for educational applications provided to all e-me users for free.
A main structural concept of the e-me world is that of “hives” that accommodate smaller, self-contained social learn-places with a specific set of members, applications and content. Hives can be created by educators, as regulated spaces for pupils of a classroom, or directly by pupils as closed collaboration spaces and workgroups around a certain topic. Moreover, hives can take the form of “open communities”, where members can opt to join in a public space of common interest.
In terms of implementation, e-me has been built with an agile approach. Software development of e-me is based on modern Web 2.0 approaches that safeguard an intuitive, and mobile-friendly user experience. It makes extensive use of HTML5 and open source technologies including the node.js runtime environment for server-side scalable network applications, the MongoDB NO-SQL database, and the Redis data structure server. Moreover, e-me implements an open REST-based API and provides a standards-based authentication and authorisation mechanism, which allows for efficient interconnection to publicly available services, such as Microsoft Office365, Google Drive, etc. The challenges for the development of e-me are thoroughly discussed in the article, as well as indicative usage scenarios at various educational levels.
Keywords: Digital Educational Platform, learning environment, PLE, VLE, social platform, K-12 platform, cloud-based platform, Hellenic school platform.