ERCIM News No.33 - April 1998

ARIADNE - Alliance of Remote Instructional Authoring and Distribution Networks for Europe

by Eddy N. Forte

In recent years, the increasing demand for higher or continuing education has placed a significant strain on both public and private institutions. As a result, increasing pressure is being felt to economize resources and augment 'teaching' productivity. One solution often advocated is the use of new information technology and computerized distance learning. However, any technology requires sound underlying methodologies in order to be effective. The goal of the ARIADNE project is to define implement and test suitable methodologies and tools for enabling telematics-based solutions in academic education, open and distance learning and certain types of corporate training.

ARIADNE explicitly addresses four aspects of the teaching process: producing computer based teaching material , managing this material to permit sharing and reuse, assembling courses, and delivering courses to students. For the production of course material, ARIADNE has developed tools for creating simulations, multiple choice questionnaires, and self-assessment exercises, and tools for segmenting text and video. Hypertext generation is also supported by the text conceptual segmenter.

ARIADNE Sharing and Reuse

A central concept of ARIADNE is the sharing and reuse of teaching material. To this end, the project has specified a system for managing electronic documents known as the Knowledge Pool System (KPS). The central feature of the KPS is its pedagogical indexation scheme, which is essential if documents are to be reused within a single institution, let alone shared between different organizations.

ARIADNE has implemented a KPS encompassing universities in Belgium, France, England, Scotland, Italy, and Switzerland. New nodes are being added, in particular in Spain and the Netherlands, while many Universities have expressed interest for participating in the near future.

ARIADNE Curriculum Editor

In addition to the creation and management of electronic learning material, ARIADNE addresses the problem of assembling such material into structured curricula where learners can enrol and receive substantial guidance from the resource. Fully-formed curricula call for both structure and contents which need to be appropriately defined for any given learner population. To support this process, the project is developing a curriculum editor which supports most of the tasks implied: ARIADNE's curriculum editor exploits pre-existing contents stored in the Knowledge Pools along with ad hoc structural data which is captured through a pedagogical scenario template. Currently a simplified 'session editor' is already available.

To allow for easy management of students and curricula, and in addition to the mentioned session editor, the ARIADNE Management Interface (AMI) provides various functions for course supervisors and managers.The WWW-based interface allows for easy use of these functions by "lay" teachers and managers. Finally, in order to permit students to access these technology-supported curricula, the ARIADNE Learner Interface (ALI) has been implemented as a server-client system, also based on WWW protocols. The ALI provides a calendar based view of the curricula and access to the resources referenced within.

The client portion of the interface is platform independent but requires the use of a Java-enabled WWW browser.

A current result of the project's first phase (1.1996-2.1998) is the mentioned international system of pedagogically indexed Knowledge Pools, a complete set of document-specific authoring tools and a number of verification experiments implemented in various academic and corporate institutions.

Project Participants

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Coordinator), Université de Lausanne (Switzerland); Université Joseph-Fourier Grenoble, LAG-Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble, Université Paul-Sabatier Toulouse, CORYS TESS Grenoble (France); Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, (Belgium), Università di Genova, (Italy); EVITech Espoos-Helsinki (Finland); University College London, University of Paisley-MEDC, (United Kingdom).

ARIADNE public information Web site:

Please contact:

Eddy N. Forte - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Tel: +41 21 693 4755

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