Synchronous E-Learning Integrating Multicast Applications and Adaptive QoS

Sérgio Deusdado1, Paulo Carvalho2

Instituto Politécnico de Bragança1
P-5300 Bragança, Portugal
E-mail: sergiod at

<>Universidade do Minho2
Departamento de Informática
P-4710-057 Braga, Portugal

E-mail: pmc at

A new generation of e-learning development, based on synchronous groupware applications integration, providing improved interactivity and pro-human relations, allows richer training experiences far
beyond a virtual classroom. Despite WWW service evolution, e-conferencing multimedia applications remain “killer applications” and insensitive to resources degradation, in fact, the quality of service (QoS) provided by the network is still a limitation impairing their performance. Such applications have found in multicast technology an ally contributing for their efficient implementation and scalability. Additionally, considering QoS as design goal at application level becomes crucial for groupware development, enabling QoS proactivity to applications. The applications’ ability to adapt themselves dynamically according to the resources availability can be considered a quality factor. Tolerant real-time applications, such as videoconferences, are in the frontline to benefit from QoS adaptation. However, not all include adaptive technology is able to provide both end-system and network quality awareness. Adaptation, in these cases, can be achieved by introducing a multiplatform middleware layer responsible for tutoring the applications’ resources (enabling adjudication or limitation) based on the available processing and networking capabilities. Congregating these technological contributions, an adaptive platform has been developed integrating public domain multicast tools, applied to a Web-based distance learning system. The system is user-centered (e-student), aiming at good pedagogical practices and proactive usability for multimedia and network resources. The services provided, including QoS adapted interactive multimedia multicast conferences (MMC), are fully integrated and transparent to end-users. QoS adaptation, when treated systematically in tolerant real-time applications, denotes advantages in group scalability and QoS sustainability in heterogeneous and unpredictable environments such as the Internet.

in the book "Strategic Applications of Distance Learning Technologies", IGI Publishing, 2008