An Approach toward a Software Factory for the Development of Educational Materials under the Paradigm of WBE

By Valderrama, Ruben Peredo; Cruz, Alejandro Canales et al. | Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning, Annual 2011 | Go to article overview

An Approach toward a Software Factory for the Development of Educational Materials under the Paradigm of WBE


Valderrama, Ruben Peredo, Cruz, Alejandro Canales, Valderrama, Ivan Peredo, Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning


Introduction

The Industrial Revolution created a high expectation in all aspects of society; many industries experienced a dramatic transformation in their methods and tools. Possibly, the automotive industry is the most notable example; the cars are end products, assembled from components supplied by a large number of suppliers, with highly specialized methods and tools. But curiously, software engineering seems not to have made use of the latest technological advances in software production. The programmers have tools, such as computers, Integrated Development Environment (IDE), libraries, and frameworks, for doing crafted work. But an industry based on craftsmanship is restricted by its methods and tools, and the means of production are overrun. The software is a generic meta product that can be used to create entire families of instances of similar software (Szyperski, 1998). The software industry confronts a demand on a global scale for meta products of high level, needing an innovation technology platform to face a growing demand. Critical innovation is searching how to resolve two chronic problems: complexity and change. There are four areas to resolve the two previous problematic ones: systematic reuse, development assembly, model-driven development, and process frameworks (Greenfield, Short, Cook, Kent, & Crupi, 2004). The term Software Factory has been used to describe large commercial efforts to automate software development along similar lines. There are different definitions of the term software factory, and the following has been chosen as a working definition: "A software factory is a software product line that configures extensible tools, processes, and content using a software factory template based on a software factory schema to automate the development and maintenance of variants of an archetypical product by adapting, assembling, and configuring framework-based components" (Greenfield et al., 2004, p. 163). The Software Factory is a class of software production lines to build production lines of concrete products. The main objective is to produce custom applications from a set of reusable components, starting from scratch.

Background

In traditional education students can interact reciprocally in conjunction with the teacher. Unfortunately, the costs of traditional education have been increasing and management of learning resources is not very flexible; another disadvantage of this type of paradigm is that students cannot advance at their own pace of learning. Virtual Education is seen as a good option to the population growth and information, conducting an intensive search for technological/pedagogical solutions in the teaching/learning process. The urgent global requirement of learning resources, reusable, practical and with high quality, involves learning technologies in the process of delivery and innovation, these topics being of high priority in the development of Web Based Education (WBE) systems. The research in WBE systems is centered on accessibility, durability, interoperability and reusability of didactic materials and environments of virtual education. The main initiatives are: Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) of the MIT (http://www.okiproject.org/), Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative (http://www.adlnet.gov/Pages/Default.aspx) and the Global IMS Learning Consortium (http://www.imsproject.org). The main initiative is the ADL by standards and tools.

The Semantic Web (SW) comprises techniques that promise to improve radically the current Web. The Web is primarily designed for human beings and not for computers. The SW technologies propose a new vision for managing information and processing using the computer: the basic principle is the creation and use of semantic meta data. The core of SW is the use of ontologies, defined as, "Ontology is an explicit and formal specification of a conceptualisation of a domain of interest" (Gruber, 1993. p. …

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