Collaborative Learning and ICT: A Prototypal Learning Environment

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Maria Cristina Matteucci, Elena Nardini, Andrea Omicini
Judie Roselli, Evan Gulick (eds.)
Information and Communications Technology: New Research, chapter 9, pages 175-188
Media and Communications - Technologies, Policies and Challenges. Electronics and Telecommunications Research
Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Hauppauge, NY, USA
April 2013

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education have become a field of interest for both scholars and practitioners involved in learning activities. Today, there is a general agreement on the role of ICT as a necessary tool for adapting education and training systems to the knowledge society. ICT for learning has the potential to transform the learning and teaching processes, and to offer innovative and alternative ways of education and training next and together with more conventional teaching methods. However, even though ICT has the potential to enhance teaching and learning, interdisciplinary endeavours are required in order to fully exploit the potential of ICT in education and training. Specifically innovative pedagogical and didactical approaches are needed, as well as technological environments capable of supporting learning processes.
On the basis of empirical evidences that collaborative learning is the “royal road” to knowledge acquisition, a European project entitled “Social networks and knowledge construction promotion in e-learning contexts” investigated educational practices and technological artefacts in collaborative e-learning contexts.
As technological environments for collaborative distance learning, Multi-Agent System (MAS) — a set of autonomous, pro-active, and interacting computational entities called agents, situated in an environment where they interact typically producing a coherent global system behaviour — seemingly provide a suitable computational paradigm for the engineering of distance learning systems. Based on the conceptual framework of the Agents & Artefacts meta-model (A&A), a prototypical MAS-based collaboration environment with ad hoc designed collaboration tools is proposed as a result of the project activity.