As of today, at the end of its 30-month life as an R&D project and roughly 6 months after the launch of its second and last prototype, DUNES provides a unique environment for conducting synchronous discussions on the web (or in other networks). The system, comprising the Digalo, Oasis and Paseo tools, has achieved a remarkable degree of usability and technical performance and is fully operational.
The intensive and extensive experiments have been virtually concluded and the partners are involved in the final reporting work, which will include a thorough evaluation of the contributions of DUNES to learning.
With the conclusion of DUNES as a project, a promising exploitation phase starts, in which the project??s achievements are translated into an attractive commercial offer. The products and services that constitute this offer ?? associated both with the software tools developed and with a varied range of ??services?? based on the academic knowledge generated in the project - will be of great interest for educational, corporate, governmental and other institutions.
The final review of the DUNES project is scheduled for August 24 at the EC facilities in Brussels.
The following is a sample screenshot of the pad with a scrollable, partial view of an argumentative map:
The discussion and its contents may be viewed and quickly grasped by the users (pupils, students, teachers), benefiting from enhanced order and ease of reference. In the map, participants select and use the shapes and arrows to discuss. The ontology (the shapes, arrows and their meaning) is customizable, although a standard ontology is given as default. The default set includes different shapes for claim, explanation, information, comment/question and argument; the default set of arrows includes pro, contra and neutral. Each participant is identified by a symbol and a color, changeable at will. Full texts are visible through double clicking (also for editing) or right clicking (for viewing only) on the shapes; otherwise, the shapes show only the ??titles?? of the contributions (and some additional information, like ordinal of contribution, etc.). Some ??awareness?? functions are available, like replay and filtering / layering capabilities. A chat facility is attached to the main discussion arena, to enable comments and any formal or informal transmission of information among users. The discussion can be moderated/facilitated by one of the participants - usually the teacher - who is given special prerogatives; floor control (including turn-taking) is fully configurable. Some export functions enable users to do detailed analysis of the discussion using spreadsheet programs like Excel.