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Workflow and End-User Quality of Service Issues in Web-Based Education
July/August 1999 (vol. 11 no. 4)
pp. 673-687

Abstract—The option of obtaining education over networks is quickly becoming a reality for all those who have access to the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW). However, at present, network-based education (NBE) over the WWW and the Internet in general faces a number of pitfalls. The problems range from inadequate end-user quality of service (QoS), to inadequate materials, to shortcomings in learning paradigms, and to missing or inappropriate student assessment and feedback mechanisms. In this paper, we discuss some major issues that, although mostly solved for NBE, still face Web-based education (WBE). These include the required workflow-oriented technological and quality of service support. In discussing the issues, we use examples from a wide-area NBE/WBE system called NovaNET and a WBE system called Web Lecture System (WLS). We recommend that WBE system developers construct operational user (workflow) profiles before building their content and interfaces. Our experience is that, especially for synchronous WBE systems, user-level round-trip keystroke delays should not exceed about 250 ms and the overall availability of the system (including network-related service failures) should be at least 0.95. We also suggest that a successful WBE system will have a sound auto-adaptive knowledge assessment component, a “virtual” laboratory capability, and a set of strong collaborative functions. Until WBE systems match teacher/instructor and student workflows both technologically (as an appliance) and pedagogically, WBE, except in its most primitive form, will not be an effective educational tool.

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Index Terms:
Network-based education, end-user quality of service, Web lecture system, NovaNET, education workflows, distance education, computer-based training, system reliability, keystroke response time, Web-based instruction.
Citation:
Mladen A. Vouk, Donald L. Bitzer, Richard L. Klevans, "Workflow and End-User Quality of Service Issues in Web-Based Education," IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 673-687, July-Aug. 1999, doi:10.1109/69.790839
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