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A Search and Broker System for Distance (e)Learning Courses

The project CUBER (Personalised Curriculum Builder in the Federated Virtual University of the Europe of Regions) has been funded in the EU Fifth-Framework Information Society Technology (IST) program. Ten partners from eight European Countries (Finland, England, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria, Switzerland and Spain) co-operated in this project to build a search and broker system for courses and study programs from European distance teaching universities.

Project Goals

The search and broker system was developed to support (potential) learners in the selection of courses that fit their requirements with regard to existing knowledge, time and cost constraints, and their objectives, preferences, and needs. A second goal was to support the comparison of courses from different providers and their combination to packages and study programs using an extension of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Within the system the "study objects" have been described with an application profile of the IEEE Learning Object Metadata (LOM) specification. These descriptions have been stored in a "Knowledge Base" and can be retrieved with a "Search Engine".

Project Management

Located at the FernUni Hagen I have been the technical manager of the project from its start in April 2000 to its end in September 2002. My main tasks were to co-ordinate the co-operation within the project (including the required support infrastructure), to present the project at workshops, conferences, and fairs and to organize the complete administration and reporting with the EU. Due to the projects contractual and organizational structure, my influence on the development of the actual system was - however - limited. Thus I have gathered quite a lot of experience in the administration of such an international project, the difficulties in international (academic) co-operations, and the specifics of the (sometimes strange) EU funding system.

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