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Issue No. 06 - June (2009 vol. 21)
ISSN: 1041-4347
pp: 894-909
Stefano Ceri , Politecnico di Milano, Milano
Florian Daniel , Politecnico di Milano, Milano
Maristella Matera , Politecnico di Milano, Milano
Alessandro Raffio , Politecnico di Milano, Milano
While business process definition is becoming more and more popular as an instrument for describing human activities, there is a growing need for software tools supporting business process abstractions to help users organize and monitor their desktop work. Tools are most effective when they embed some knowledge about the process, e.g., in terms of the typical activities required by the process, so that users can execute the activities without having to define them. Tools must be lightweight and flexible, so as to enable users to create or change the process as soon as there is a new need. In this article, we first describe an application-independent approach to flexible process support by discussing the abstractions required for modeling, creating, enacting, and modifying flexible processes. Then, we show our approach at work in the context of project-centered learning. In this application, learners are challenged to perform concrete tasks in order to master specific subjects; in doing so, they have to conduct significant projects and cope with realistic (or even real-life) working conditions and scenarios. Often, students are geographically dispersed or under severe timing constraints, because these activities intertwine with their normal university activity. As a result, they need communication technology in order to interact and workflow technology in order to organize their work. The developed platform provides a comprehensible, e-learning-specific set of activities and process templates, which can be combined through a simple Web interface into project-centered collaboration processes. We discuss how the general paradigm of flexible processes was adapted to the learning concept, implemented, and experienced by students.
Web-based teamwork processes, process design, flexible processes, e-learning, Web application design.

A. Raffio, M. Matera, F. Daniel and S. Ceri, "Providing Flexible Process Support to Project-Centered Learning," in IEEE Transactions on Knowledge & Data Engineering, vol. 21, no. , pp. 894-909, 2008.
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