Chiu, D. K. W., Choi, S. P. M., Wang, M., & Kafeza, E. (2008). Towards Ubiquitous Communication Support for Distance Education with Alert Management. Educational Technology & Society, 11 (2), 92-106.


Towards Ubiquitous Communication Support for Distance Education with Alert Management

Dickson K.W. Chiu

Dickson Computer Systems, 7 Victory Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong // dicksonchiu@ieee.org

 

Samuel P.M. Choi

School of Business and Administration, The Open University of Hong Kong // schoi@ouhk.edu.hk

 

Minhong Wang

Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong // magwang@hkucc.hku.hk

 

Eleanna Kafeza

Department of Marketing & Communications, Athens University of Economics & Business, Greece // kafeza@aueb.gr

 

ABSTRACT: In distance education, communications among students, educators, and administrators have been one of the most important problems. The distance education programs in The Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK) span not only Hong Kong but also many cities over a large area in China. To improve and monitor the quality of communications among students, tutors, and staff, we propose a communications management infrastructure based on an alert mechanism. Requests and messages in these systems (referred to as alerts) have to be delivered and handled timely to provide ubiquitous distance education communication support and management. We also propose using this platform for the integration of partners in China with the OUHK offices. Presently, most systems cannot address urgency and alerts are often handled in an ad-hoc manner. In this paper, we propose a sophisticated alert management system (AMS) for ubiquitous communications management in distance education under various requirements. We develop a model for managing alerts, in which alerts are associated with communication tasks and a set of parameters are captured for message routing and urgency management. The AMS matches the specialties of the educators and staff who receive an alert, based on the alert specification. We then propose a routing mechanism that is initiated when the alert message is not acknowledged or handled within the deadline, so that the alert can be re-routed if necessary. Monitoring is especially essential to ensure timeliness and availability of consultation or decision, otherwise suitable exceptions should be raised and handled. We outline our implementation framework for communications among education administrators, education staff, students, and system administrators, enhanced by alter management via various communication devices for ubiquitous support of communication in distance education.

Keywords: Distance education, Ubiquitous communication, Alert management, Conceptual modeling, System design architecture

[502 Kb]