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Overview

The Pas Researcher pack (PRP) is an open source suite of tools that can be installed by any research group and used as a platform for developing rich, interactive learning materials for students working in classrooms, at home, or in the field. Pas stands for "Project, Activity, Step", and loosely derives from a previous Web-based application called WISE, which offers a Web-based learning environment where students performed projects that consisted of a small number of activities which in turn consisted of individual steps to be completed by students.

The PRP is implemented in the java language with greater functionality and expandability than WISE. It is built from SAIL which has been carefully designed to enable small java-based curriculum elements to work smoothly together in order to form larger curriculum modules. The PRP portal system and easy-to-use authoring tool allows researchers (often graduate students) to create learning projects by opening each step in "author mode" and specifying its content, just as they did in WISE. The hope is that by offering these tools as a "research pack" we can encourage evolution of the an active open source community, supporting researchers as well as their technology team.

There are thus three key elements to the Pas researcher pack:

  • The Pas VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) where students interact with the materials
  • the Pas Authoring environment where researchers or teachers can author new content
  • the Pas Portal, where all students and teachers are registered, and all student data (e.g., drawings, notes, simulation settings, etc) are stored.

These three elements are multi-layered applications that share common code and libraries. In addition, a basic collection of curriculum units (curnits) will be offered in the form of a project library to offer researchers a core set of content to get started. Much of this content was built during the WISE project and its subsequent center: Technology Enhanced Learning in Science TELS.

demos of PAS projects

To view a PRP VLE example, pick one from the Preview Project list and click its "Preview Project" button.

For Mac OSX users

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Please install the Java Webstart Fix here before previewing a project. Note you must be logged in as an administrator. If the above fix still does not allow you to preview the projects, please refer to Technical reference for Java Webstart Fix and pick the more appropriate fix for your use.

Getting started using the PRP

Terminology

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Pas

Pas stands for "Project, Activity, Step", and loosely derives from the previous WISE program, which offered a Web-based learning environment where students performed projects that consisted of a small number of activities (usually between 2 and 8) which in turn consisted of individual steps to bve completed by students. Steps are discreet chunks of content with a specific type, such as note-taking, online discussions, drawings, Web-page viewing, models and simulations, etc. Activities are logical groupings of steps that can be performed by students working in a single class period or in a certain portion of the project. The Project consists of an overarching theme, usually with an inquiry question or challenge, such as "Design a house for living in the desert", or "Are humans causing global climate change?" The steps don't necessarily need to be performed by students in sequence, but they usually are. Projects are launched via the Web, and conducted by students on their classroom computers, or from home. All student work is saved on a specially configured server that belowings to the research project. A student and teacher portal coordinates all student accounts and gives teachers (and researchers) access to the student work for purposes of assessment or anlysis.

Pas is the first software framework implemented using SAIL (but very likely not the last, as we envision many "non-Pas" type environments to come). It includes an authoring tool for creating curriculum and a learner environment that allows students to work through your curriculum. A good strategy for understanding Pas is to first look at the predecessor project, WISE. An overview can be found through the WISE flash introduction. After that, you can sign up for a teacher account on WISE and explore. You can "preview" projects, edit them, and experiment with creating some simple curriculum materials. Refer to the help documentation for using WISE which is available once you are logged in.

WISE

WISE stands "Web-based inquiry science environment". WISE functions as a stand-alone Web application that was (and still is) available to researchers as a platform for developing and delivering WISE content and collecting student data. But was not available to them for purposes of developing new features, tools or user interfaces. Nor could it easily interoperate with other java-based tools. A group of researchers, computer scientists and programers from the University of California, Berkeley and several other institutions, have rendered the WISE model as a Java framework, carefully separating the portal from the authoring tools and student learning tools, and offering the whole package under and open source (LGPL) license.

SAIL

SAIL stands for "Scalable Architecture for Interactive Learning". It is a java based open source framework (API) to support the development of E-Learning systems. It has been designed to support distributed learning and authoring, to be adapted for use by many diverse education scenarios, to continuously evolve (rather than becoming obsolete within a few years as many E-Learning projects have done) and to allow content (curriculum and bits of curriculum) to be re-used and revised. The SAIL framework is still under development and is evolving in response to needs and requirements that emerge.

Curnit

A SAIL-based curriculum unit which is created by an author is called a curnit (from "curriculum" and "unit" squeezed together).


Metadata

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Copyright Status

GNU Lesser General Public License

Tags/Keywords

learning technologies, research, collaborative, CSCL, science education, open source

Resource Type

Technology Tools and Environments

Demo Link

http://www.encorewiki.org/display/encore/PAS+Researcher+Pack

Overview

Pas is a nimble open source stand-alone portal that provides researchers with a registration system, authorware, and student learning environment.

Intended Audience

Higher Education (college or university or beyond), Public and continuing education, Researchers, Teachers/Educators

Topic Area

Technology Studies,

Authors

Turadg Aleahmad, Stephen Bannasch, Ed Burke, Scott Cytacki, Tony Perritano, Jim Slotta, Cynick Young, Laurel Williams

Home Page Link

http://www.encorewiki.org/display/encore/PAS+Researcher+Pack


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2 Comments

  1. What is the "Limited Gnu Public License"? Shouldn't that say "Lesser GNU Public License"? Maybe the copyright status field should also include a link to the license? (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html#SEC1

    1. Good catch, Matt. You're right; I've updated it with your suggestions.