a distance learning model for internet based teleoperation
Communication technologies are generally categorized as asynchronous or synchronous. The mechatronic lab described in this paper is a mix of these two communication technologies. On one hand, we have asynchronous activities, where participants may be engaged in the pursuit of acquiring knowledge and skills without being dependent on the simultaneous involvement of other participants. On the other hand, students may also benefit from synchronous activities: several participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other, sharing the same application. Such activities involve the exchange of ideas and information with one or more participants during the same period of time. Brief history of e-learning One of the first contacts with e-learning took place in 1728. An advertisement by Caleb Phillipps, “Teacher of the New Method of Short Hand”, was published in the Boston Gazette, suggesting that "Persons in the Country desirous to Learn this Art, may by having the several Lessons sent weekly to them, be as perfectly instructed as those that live in Boston." At the beginning of the 1960s the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations)  system, which was oriented towards the delivery of managed course content  over the Internet. It is easy to notice that nowadays the same idea brings life to the newly developed e-learning applications  and platforms. If in the late 70s microcomputers were already used at the University of Michigan (Educational Technology  article by Karl Zinn) – favouring mainly the work with word processing, extending laboratory experience, simulation, games, tutorial uses and building skills in computing, in 1980 a K-12 learning management system put an emphasis on reading, spelling and numeracy, the software being upgraded in 1997 to the SuccessMaker version 5.5 . Virtual learning environments  have become a “fashion” since 1990, when they encountered a signifiant growth, mainly due to the advent of the Internet. After 2000 there was a “bum” of applications in the software industry. Some of them were: CAT1 (Computer Assessment and Tutorial)  released by Technological Fluency Institute - 2001; Moodle , ATutor  – 2002; WebCT  – 2003; Sakai Project  – 2004; VirtualOnDemand  – 2005; Scolastance's platform  - 2006; Campus VirtualOnline (CVO)  – 2007 . II. E-LEARNING vs. E-TEACHING Every time one confronts to learning a new concept and has to get accustomed to new information, images and applications especially make this process easier and more pleasant. Nowadays talking about e-learning brings no major novelty in hearing about this domain, but in improvements which have been made to create and develop an appropriate medium to transmit the new information – e-teaching – to the students, who are going to receive and use this material to learn and perfect their knowledge, about a certain subject, offering them a great help mainly in working by applying the newly acquired information – e-learning. Although nothing seems to compare to the traditional system of education, e-learning has both advantages  and disadvantages. Among the disadvantages are the longer time spent in front of a computer, which may affect one’s sight faster as usual favoring the wear of glasses at early ages on one hand, whereas, on the other hand it drastically reduces socialization and face to face discussions among people, teenagers getting accustomed and integrating in the virtual world which might be used as a great manipulation tool. Furthermore, even if e-learning also offers the possibility to videoconference (real time class teaching and interacting with students), it is not the same with communicating with a person face-to-face or collaborating directly – as one does in real world - to other students.
The concept of blended learning Blended learning represents primarily the transition from traditional learning (teacher centered) to modern learning – electronic learning (learner centered) techniques. In e-learning the teacher is only a facilitator, the teacher-student interaction occurring less than in a traditional classroom. Furthermore, learning is largely self motivated, and the student bearing more responsibility to manage time and complete tasks within the given time frame . One major aspect is that learners are not identical: they do not have the same capacity to acquire new information nor the same speed and self-discipline as other learners of similar age do. Some of them may not be able to comprehend the given information without further explanation from a teacher. E-learning, at the stage it is today, may not be able to entirely replace the traditional classroom, but only to provide a supporting tool in helping the learners memorize and become accustomed to the new topics faster, by the use of interactive lessons, which tend to be more like computer games they all enjoy - with lots of task applications and practical issues presented as colourful and vivid as possible. The blended e-learning model is based on mixing collaborative learning , problem-based learning (PBL) and independent learning. Face-to-face environment and online learning are combined through the learning management system (LMS)  – also referred to as adaptive hypermedia . Adaptive hypermedia is supporting learning and testing and also introduces new constructive (learners and instructors are guided in conducting, managing and encouraging personalized learning activities through collaborative learning ) and cognitive (concerned especially with the changes in a student’s understanding that results from learning ) elements to education. In addition, it promotes students’ motivation by supporting collaborative and project-oriented activities, as well as establishing learning as an active and interactive process . An architecture for adaptive Web-based systems  is illustrated in Figure 1. The different system components are equipped with facilities to communicate with the other components in terms of service invocations. Bridges are used in accordance with the UPML (Unified-Solving Method development Language) framework connector definition , in order to specify mappings between the different model services within the architecture. Ontology is used to define and unify the system's terminology and properties to describe the knowledge of each system service. Each service can be specified by means of a specific ontology, and, in this way, a common ground for knowledge sharing, exploitation and interoperability among the services is provided. Thus, a highly modularized and flexible architecture is obtained . Figure 1. Semantic Web-based Adaptive Hypermedia Architecture