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Pedagogical rationale

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The constructivist approach to learning sees the individual and the interactions he constructs with others as a crucial factor for learning. Constructivist learning would occur only when the learners are fully engaged in what they are doing. Such engagement reaches its peak when learners are given the opportunity to discuss topics together.

In order to achieve the goal of engagement, this approach suggests the introduction of assignments to learners, introducing tasks and tools that guide and scaffold their learning. This way the learner is the one that takes the decisions, chooses between different alternatives and creates his/her own ??new knowledge?? on the issue under discussion.

Cognitive and pedagogical research highlights the benefit of external and visual representation of knowledge for better understanding and learning. In this regard, the graphical representation of an argument (a fundamental building block for rational thinking and informal reasoning) has proved to be a powerful catalyst for learning. The benefit lies not only in being able to represent the ??pure logic?? of an argument but also in running a coherent discussion while using argumentative ontologies.

The DUNES learning environment addresses the challenge of promoting constructivist learning by building on the graphical representation of the argumentative discussion as the learning engine. The DUNES system ?? comprising the ??Oasis??, ??Digalo?? and ??Paseo?? software components - stands for an organic group of tools that helps teachers and instructors create and conduct courses that enable collaborative learning building on the constructivist approach.

Why is this a winning group of tools? The dynamic visual representation of a discussion helps students and teachers to reflect on their argumentative actions and to use these reflections to further elaborate on the issue being debated. Starting from the ??case?? ?? an organized description of the issues to discuss, background information, instructions to the students and other relevant material - teachers can encourage their students to enlarge and deepen their knowledge on a given subject by giving them the opportunity to challenge their own ideas through interaction with others. In this way they may form different perspectives in an argumentation process.

The content of a DUNES-based course is developed in such a way that students may become - to a large extent, and imperceptibly - self-learners, while the teacher ??facilitates?? the discussion apparently standing aside (but actively, silently moderating the discussion) and letting the students learn as they develop their argumentative skills.

The maps, created and mediated through the Digalo pad, add order to the discussion, clarifying its direction and smoothing its flow, while enabling a simpler representation of large amounts of information. Trends may then be detected, common views expressed and changed perceptions observed. A heightened awareness of contributions made by others is promoted.


 

 
Competences you can develop with us

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Pedagogical Solutions
The DUNES solution elaborates an advanced and highly user-friendly environment, featuring an innovative discussion space, several didactical scenarios for collaborative learning, methods for intervention by the instructor or moderator, and methods for evaluation.

IT Solutions
The DUNES solutions are characterised by an underlying versatility, which allows for easy adaptation, and exploitation for your pedagogical environment. Functional richness allied with simplicity of use enables reducing awareness deficits in collaboration.
We propose our services for :
?· Consultancy: study your needs in collaborative tools and elaborate possible solutions
?· developing with you ad hoc solutions and tools for your requirements
?· deploying and tuning PASEO, Digalo and/or the OASIS in your environments
?· Hosting Dunes Servers for an ASP-mode (leasing) usage.
?· Provide support and maintenance services for all DUNES Components you??d like to use.

Our Resources
We propose experimented and highly skilled staff for dealing with your consultancy, training, support requests (in French, English, German or Spanish languages).
Our infrastructures allow for secured and reliable hosting services
Our tools allow for quick and careful consideration of your questions and request, including:
?· mailing lists and discussion forums
?· FAQs
?· trouble ticketing systems
?· monitoring and remote intervention on your installation if necessary

 

 
Examples of Services

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DUNES shall be available either by purchase or by monthly lease.

If you??re not sure which option is best for you, or if you have other questions, please feel free to contact us and we??ll help explain the benefits of each arrangement.

DUNES on CD-ROM (purchased)
If you choose to purchase DUNES, we??ll provide you with an installation copy of DUNES, which you can set up on your own hardware for your organisation. This allows you to manage DUNES and institute your own policies.

?·Onsite unlimited user license for use in your workplace, organisation
?·including all necessary software, installation, administration and user manuals
?·including package of 5 requests/questions (tickets) to our support team.

DUNES on ASP mode (leasing)
If you choose to lease, we??ll work with you to set up a DUNES System for you and we will host it. You will have a complete DUNES Oasis for your own organisation that you can entirely self-manage. You won??t need any new hardware or software for a leased DUNES. Pricing is usually based on the number of users in your organisation using DUNES.

DUNES Technical Support
Packages of requests/questions (tickets) to our support team for information and light corrective actions.
Installations and tuning on site...

DUNES Maintenance
Access to patches for bug corrections, access to intermediate/minor versions over one Year.

DUNES Consultancy, Training and Software Development
For consulting, ad-hoc developments, evolutions, customisation, training etc.

 

 
Products and Services

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Various partners in the DUNES consortium have already devised commercialization plans, including a detailed description of the products/services that can be created on the basis of the knowledge generated in the project. Some of these products will be developed and sold by individual partners, while others will involve the collaboration among two or more partners.



The following are some examples from a wide range of products and services that can be modularly adapted to every specific need. For convenience, the list is broken-down in five categories:

DUNES tools

Provision, integration and/or adaptation of the ??Digalo?? pad, the ??Oasis?? portal or other software components of our system into existing platforms or environments. This includes:

  • Licensing / ASP / hosting;

  • Users training;

  • Support, maintenance, upgrading;

  • Additional services.


Education / training

  • ??Translating?? existing courses to DUNES (map-based) form and the development and implementation of new DUNES-based courses or training sessions in schools, high schools, universities, companies, government, etc.;

  • Development of ??Cases?? (discussion issues and related guidelines) for DUNES applications;

  • Packaged learning and training modules;

  • Training of teachers in DUNES-related (or other argumentation-based) teaching activities.


Special projects

Articulated projects - for national/regional authorities or individual schools - addressing one or more of the following:

  • Feasibility studies and identification of suitable schools, classes, courses, for DUNES implementation

  • Preparation of the implementation program

  • Teachers training

  • Implementation

  • Evaluation and reporting.


Other corporate and institutional applications

  • Decision-making and/or negotiation-related DUNES applications for governmental and private institutions, international NGOs, etc.

  • Development, implementation and direction/animation of DUNES-based tools for institutions or countries/regions with special needs like:

    • Settlement of international disputes

    • Reducing ethnical or religious conflicts at national levels

    • Providing the infrastructure for national/international debates on hot political, economic, environmental and other issues - sponsored by governments or supranational institutions.


Other services and activities

  • Analysis and evaluation of DUNES maps/sessions.

  • Development of improved or target-specific features for argumentative maps.

  • Development of theoretical background, methodologies, algorithms, user interfaces, etc. - for ??awareness tools?? (teachers/researchers?? aids for the effective conduction or analysis of DUNES sessions).

  • Other related products or services on demand.









 

 
Relations with other universities & projects

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?· DUNES presentation to Siegen University, Germany.

?· DUNES presentation to Royal Holloway University, UK

?· SCALE project was presented to Institute of Education

?· Cooperation with HOPE project

?· Participation in LCCN Activities (Website, ResultSMART, Workshops)

?· Cooperation with IST Results and publication of DUNES article in their Web page

?· University of Lyon: working meetings around methodological and theoretical issues in Dunes project

?· French Open university: working meetings around methodological and theoretical issues in Dunes project


 

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Dialogic and argUmentative Negotiation Educational Software