Computer Networks, 37 (2002) 773-781
2001 Elsevier Science B.V.

The need for academic middleware to support advanced learning services.

M. Konstantopoulos, T. Spyrou, and J. Darzentas



 The increased significance of digital and human networks in academic institutions and the development of vocational and distance learning methods and systems and their associated delivery services have modified the organizational and information structures of academic institutions. In this new scenario, management information systems, many learning resources in printed or digital format and network-related user services compete for acceptance in a rapidly changing system. There is a growing need to provide new services in order to function in a changing international market, to prepare for the expected student mobility and to the increasing diversity of educational needs. There are two main research areas that are looking at the problem, each from their own perspective: the learning technology area and the network technology area. The former is working mainly on standards and best practices for the delivery of on-line and distance education. Efforts include the description of learning objects with metadata, the description of learners with profiles and the generic depiction of learning technology systems in terms of information systems architecture. In the latter research area, recent deployment issues have been of increasing concern. Inevitably, research is moving towards an area where major work is already underway. This is the part of the networking community that is working on the definition and deployment of middleware services. This paper argues for the introduction of academic middleware to speed up the delivery process of the new services and reduce the complexity of the managed systems

Keywords:  Middleware, Learning Technology, User profiles, Learning Objects, Directory services.


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