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Issue No.02 - April-June (2010 vol.3)
pp: 82
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Dear Readers,
Welcome to our second issue this year, which includes nine papers exploring advanced technologies for technology-enhanced learning. This is the first issue featuring a special section with several papers focusing on an advanced topic along with several regular papers. We consider special sections a useful compromise between regular issues and special issues. While allowing an in-depth overview of a specific topic of interest, a special section does not break the flow of regular papers, allowing a broader diversity of topics in a single issue. We hope to feature more special sections in the coming issues.
The topic of the special section of this issue is “open educational resources.” Open educational resources are learning content or tools that are offered free of charge under a copyright license granting permission for users to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute them. We are grateful to our guest editors, Erik Duval and David Wiley, who in their guest editorial give an overview of the challenges regarding open educational resources and about the papers accepted for our special section.
The regular papers in this issue cover such topics as Web-based laboratories, animations for programming education, a project-based learning environment for schools, and recommendations in online discussion forums for e-learning.
First, Muhammad Wannous and Hiroshi Nakano present NVLab, a networking virtual Web-based laboratory that implements virtualization (based on Xen) and virtual network computing technologies (based on VNC). The system offers learners tools to draw, configure, test, and troubleshoot network designs, using virtual machines on a host machine, and has been evaluated as part of a computer networks course.
Second, Andrés Moreno, Mike Joy, Niko Myller, and Erkki Sutinen discuss the use of conflictive animations in programming education. They describe their framework, which allows the automatic generation of conflictive animations of statements, expressions, and other programming constructs. Evaluation is done on a set of 27 examples taken from Java textbooks.
Third, Anuradha Phalke and Susan Lysecky discuss their eBlock platform, which supports project-based learning in middle school projects. This platform provides fixed-function building blocks targeted to enable nonexpert users to easily build a variety of interactive electronic systems. The authors describe their extension of this platform and suitable interface variants for their middle school projects, as well as initial usability experiments with local middle schools working with eBlock.
Finally, Fabian Abel, Ig Ibert Bittencourt, Evandro Costa, Nicola Henze, Daniel Krause, and Julita Vassileva focus on online discussion forums, which are an important part of e-learning systems. Specifically, they tackle the problem of information overload in such a forum, and provide innovative means to recommend relevant postings to new users based on their background and goals. Their generic Personal Reader Framework takes different sources of user feedback as input and selects the most appropriate recommendation strategy based on that input. Evaluation was performed on an ethics and computer course at the University of Saskatchewan.
We hope that you enjoy these papers as well as our special section papers on open educational resources. As always, we look forward to receiving your submissions, both to regular issues as well as to our special-topic-focused calls for papers, available on the TLT Web site.
Wolfgang Nejdl, Editor-in-Chief
Peter Brusilovsky, Associate Editor-in-Chief

For information on obtaining reprints of this article, please send e-mail to: lt@computer.org.

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