process. This means that there is a sequence that is to be observed in teaching and learning. One of the possibilities for improving teaching and learning processes, and consequently, the knowledge flow, is to explore successful past experiences, resulting from the modeling and execution of previous processes. This work presents Thoth, a web-environment which aims at knowledge reuse, during the planning, design and execution of teaching and learning activities. This approach is integrated with a Case Based Reasoning approach, also described in this paper, with workflow systems and the use of ontologies.
In the educational context, we face with continuous modeling and execution of processes. We can exemplify the educational context with learning, teaching and scientific scenario.
Human learning does not take place on a single level, but it is a stratified process. This characteristic is worldwide accepted as a didactic principle. The way in which the educational system throughout the whole world is organized is an acknowledge- ment of this. One cannot send a child to university first. He must start in the first class and then progress year after year to the higher levels of education.
Research and scientific organizations have the aim of creating and to disseminating knowledge. For the construction of scientific knowledge, research work is carried out which can be described as a discovery process, an investigation of a fact or confirmation of hypotheses. Scientists plan their research by designing sequential steps that utilize models, data, tools and other artifacts. It can be concluded that the use of the past experiences offers a learning opportunity and expedites activity planning and execution. Knowledge about previous research can increase work efficiency and quality so as to allow for successful practices being reused, the notion about how the data had been acquired and previously handled.
A workflow management system, in this environment, aids activity planning and allows for control and coordination of these activities. Besides, the information generated during the planning and execution of the work can be considered as
documentation of the activities. However, the workflow system does not have as its objective supporting the collaboration among the professionals, faster knowledge identification and creation, nor facilitating reuse of the best practices. That is the Thoth objective.
The paper is organized as follows. The second section describes how we can reuse educational processes and its advantages. The third section explains the workflow management system and the way it is used in the educational environment. Section four presents the Thoth and how the CBR was implemented, while section 5 presents conclusions and future work.
We find several approaches related to reuse educational content, as the learning objects, which are defined as any entity, digital or non-digital, which can be used, reused or referenced during technology supported learning. In spite of the success of proposals in reuse educational content, little attention was given to reusing educational processes. In this section we will talk about two kind of educational processes: the scientific and the teaching process.
To accomplish their scientific work, a researcher collects and analyses a great amount of data and information from many sources, such as text and spreadsheet documents, database tables, besides executing simulations, and constructing or adapting models. An important phase to completing these activities satisfactorily is planning. During planning, researchers define the strategies to obtain the answers and solutions to the problems which motivated the research.
Planning, in a scientific context, means establishing which and how simulations need to be done; locating, constructing or adapting models and data, defining documents that should be consulted and finally defining adequate sequence for activities which need to be executed. This task is normally complex because of many factors. Sometimes research demands knowledge from different domain areas or a high degree of specialization. The multidisciplinary character makes it necessary to consult information sources from other domains or collaborate with specialists from these domains.
Besides, it is common to find a great amount of data and information without use; in these cases, location of more adequate items becomes harder, extra effort being necessary to filter it. On the other hand, little-explored domains have little information, which renders work execution harder, it being necessary to adapt models for the amount and quality of existing data and information.
Also, it is important to observe that activities are normally experimental; thus it is possible perform modifications in those activities even when they are already in execution. When unexpected results come from simulations, for example, new activities can be necessary or subsequent activities can be discarded.
In scientific procedures, the reuse of processes, and sometimes only the observation of information about these processes, prevents mistakes to be repeated and allows doubts to be eliminated, providing economy of time and resources.
Related to the teaching context, new teachers receive little guidance about what to teach or how to teach it. Learning to teach well is slow, is a difficult work. Managing a classroom, choosing or creating curriculum, developing sound instructional strategies, accurately assessing student understanding, and adjusting to student needs are complex tasks, and new teachers need time and support to develop the necessary knowledge and skills. However, a way of help novices is the possibility of they watch the experts and develop their craft under guidance. That is, analyze and reuse successful teaching process of experienced colleagues.
Educational workflow has the function of aiding the control, execution and documentation of scientific work. The differentiation of these systems in relation to the traditional workflows lies in the way that educational activity is accomplished, which demands functionalities not supported by a traditional system. As described in , the following aspects should be supported so as to support the scientific activity, but can be interpreted to support educational activity too:
Incompleteness: educational workflows can be executed even when their definition is incomplete, being built progressively during their execution, they do not need to be entirely defined before they are executed.
Partial Reuse: educational workflows differ from traditional ones because they are considered as construction blocks, and processes can be grouped to create another process.
Dynamic modification: educational workflows can be redefined during their execution. For example, when an activity fails, it may be necessary to execute other activities to compensate for the problematic activity or to fall back to a previous activity.
Our approach, called Thoth, was conceived on the premise that this information is, in fact, an important resource of organizational learning and an important aid for the design and the execution of the educational processes. However, this resource is sub- used due to lack of appropriate interfaces and strategies for search, filtering and visualization .
The Thoth has as its purpose allowing for the reuse of the existing knowledge in the educational activities stored in the Workflow Management System. A researcher can use the system to consult and reuse the definition of the model of the past processes performed when he/she plans his/her own activities, to consult information of similar activities during the execution of his own activities, to interact with other users that have participated in the design or execution phases in similar processes and activities.
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