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"Interoperability among Knowledge-Building Environments"
Knowledge-Building Environments (KBEs) are currently being developed as Web-based applications for conducting threaded discussions and other interchanges or interactions of ideas. They are considered important learning technologies, yet their widespread adoption remains problematic. This project starts to build a technological infrastructure to begin to bring together a community of people deeply involved in the KBE sub-field to share data, designs and experiences. Data interoperability will facilitate the development of shared tools for analyzing, visualizing and comparing student learning within various KBEs. When data is stored in an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file, it can be interchanged between different KBE systems or different versions of the same system, archived for flexible future use, and displayed on the Web with metadata search capabilities. The definition of an XML DTD (Document Type Definitions) for threaded discussion and related information in KBEs is explicitly viewed as just a first step.
This project was funded by CILT (Center for Innovative Learning Technologies), an NSF center administered by SRI. A seed grant was awarded to Gerry Stahl and collaborators for the period September 1999 - August 2000. The Grant Proposal and Final Report are available.
Proposed XML DTD standard for threaded discussion:
This project produced two XML DTDs for threaded discussion and KBEs: a recursive version and a linked version. These DTDs for KBEs are defined in the XML format. Brief design rationales are given, and sample data is included for trying out each version. Screen images show how the sample data is displayed in a Web browser.
Two approaches to export procedures have been explored in this project for exporting data from a KBE or threaded discussion forum to an XML file. One approach is to export the data by writing custom procedures within the particular application. The other approach is to save an HTML display created by the application and then parse the HTML file to create an XML file. These approaches have been tried on several KBE systems. The procedures and sample data are available.
Translation between recursive and non-recursive data:
Because there are two DTD formats and because they are each of value under certain conditions, a translation procedure has been developed to translate XML data files in one format into the other format.
Printing Java data using XML:
This printing application illustrates the use of the XML DTD to export user-selected data from a Java applet to an HTML browser window for viewing and printing. It is implemented within the WebGuide KBE.
Client-Server component technology using XML:
This is a further application of the XML DTD to the architecture of WebGuide. XML is used to transfer communication protocols and data between the client and server components of WebGuide. This is a first step to a generalized component architecture that will allow multiple servers (with different functionality) to interact with multiple clients (with different interfaces). This project has not yet been completed.
This page last modified on August 11, 2003