iCamp & N-Gen Educational Web
Antonio Fumero
Department of Telematic Systems Engineering, Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Telecomunicación
(ETSIT),Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), Avenida Complutense s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040, Madrid, Spain
Keywords: Web 2.0, Internet, eLearning, TEL, Education.
Abstract: This article presents iCamp – innovative, inclusive, interactive & intercultural learning Campus – as the first
implementation of an actual Next Generation Educational Web, supported by the emergent Web 2.0
paradigm and the technologies surrounding it. It is intended to show you how the key elements under this
blurry umbrella-like concept of Web 2.0 permeate the educational domain, allowing us to develop a brand-
new learning environment upon a series of innovative pedagogical models, designed to be the basis of
Higher Education in an enlarged Europe.
Since blog phenomenon exploded, many other
emergent processes have been considered as an
integral part of a new evolutionary stage of World
Wide Web that has been labeled as Web 2.0. This
working concept can be useful for developing a new
theoretical framework to fit new pedagogical models
within. Among the different approaches and various
efforts in that direction, iCamp could be the first
pedagogy-driven project for designing and
developing an actual learning virtual environment
from the Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL)
point of view.
2 WEB 2.0
It does exists a multi-faceted phenomenon that is
driving the evolution to “a whole new Web” (Hof,
2005) known as Web 2.0 or Next Generation Web, if
you want to accept this analogy with the Next
Generation Internet motto generally associated with
the IPv6 deployment.
Within that phenomenon, we can identify a series of
technologies and services that are been built through
a growing number of user innovation processes. We
are talking about a certain kind of user, the super
user or digerati – some kind of “digital literati” –
capable of leading the way in the prosecution of new
technological frontiers.
Blogs are just the tip of Next Generation Web
“iceberg”. Wiki phenomenon – responsible for the
Read/Write Web dream renaissance – syndication
standards and aggregation services, tagging services
(folksonomies) or social networking services like
Orkut, Linked or eConozco are all of them an
integral part of the same process.
We could refer to all that technologies – in a ‘wide-
sense’ – as Social Software (Boyd, 2003). It can be
considered as a supporting layer for the growing
amount of services that are emerging just right now,
paving the Web 2.0 way.
The blogosphere itself could be understood as a
“communication sub-space”, where the
conversational nature of human transactions is
amplified by the network effects that emerge in the
“World Live Web” that is being built from the
current World Wide Web. The key points of the blog
phenomenon are far beyond the weblog as a web-
publishing format with its characteristic updating
frequency, hypertext density or its inverse
chronological order.
This is a process of socialization, in the sense that
the Web (its content and its dynamics) is acquiring
“human” significance. It’s not about being online
anymore but living online. It’s about the things we,
the users, do when we’re connected. We can create,
edit, publish, share... content (every kind of content)
by collaborating through the Internet in a social
manner i.e. giving our actions a social significance;
hence, the socialization of the Web. Among the
myriad of new services, we can find different
Fumero A. (2006).
EDUWEB 2.0 - iCamp & N-Gen Educational Web.
In Proceedings of WEBIST 2006 - Second International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies - Society, e-Business and
e-Government / e-Learning, pages 299-304
DOI: 10.5220/0001239702990304
blogging services like Blogger, TypePad or
WordPress; we can share our photos in flickr,
defining our different social circles (friends, family,
colleagues); we can define, manage and extend our
social (personal or even professional) networking
(contact networks) with Linked, eConozco or Orkut
services; we may also collaborate online with project
management tools like BaseCamp or wiki services
like SocialText or eApuntes; if you want to, you can
publish your videos or audio clips in OurMedia, or
broadcast your podcasts through Odeo; You can
access to encyclopedia-like articles with an
outstanding update frequency in Wikipedia... the list
grows to the infinite.
It's time for the real productive consumers – beyond
the DIYers-like prosumers of the third wave
announced by Alvin Toeffler – to lead the way.
Anybody can contribute to a global categorization
effort, the collaborative semantic tagging process
that is taking place all over the world through
folksonomies services like Blogmarks,, or Wists. This kind of project is not viable
for any centralized computing resources you could
ever imagine before.
We can try to visualize the Web 2.0
conceptualization in a layered scheme (Figure 1),
where the Web itself appears as the technology
platform supporting a growing and emergent amount
of new applications and services we can consider as
belonging to a single (wide-sense) social software
concept. Upon this social software layer, we can
realize the existence of a processes layer where the
emergence of new human-technology interactions
takes place shaping new habits, routines and
information “prosumtion” patterns. Finally, we find
the social networks people are building within a new
(cyber)social environment that resemble some kind
of “real virtuallity”, bridging the current gap people
usually see between their lives in the real world and
their different “avatars” within the Internet.
If we open up each of these layers (Figure 2) we're
talking about, we'll find a growing amount of
different components; a series of elements, each of
them with its own domain, but contributing - as a
whole - to the new “platform” that is been built upon
the New Generation Internet. In the technology
layer, we can identify microformats like xhtml or
FOAF (Friend-Of-A-Friend) that could be
generalized as semantic web technologies (with
small letters, to be differentiated from Semantic
Web efforts from W3C), Web Services acronyms
architectural paradigm or AJAX as a new
technology combo aiming the developing of a new
generation of rich user interfaces.
The majority of them appear in the detailed figure
below, while you can miss some acronyms. Don't
worry about it; it's the same with the upper layers: in
the social software one, you have blogs (all kinds of
weblogs), wikis, folksonomies... and the you can see
processes like blogging, tagging, sharing... and the
corresponding actions in the social layer but, at the
end of the day, the key driver to have such a kind of
layered architecture “up and running” must be
innovation, USER INNOVATION, and its
representation at every level in the scheme. That is
the actual engine of this conceptualization, the only
one that can support the conversational dynamic and
emergent nature of this Next Generation Web.
The history of the pedagogical models behind the
traditional learning systems and tools has been built
upon a series of well-known theories that have to put
up with the new challenges the network society is
realizing. If we briefly review these theories, in
chronological order, we’ll be able to establish some
kind of evolutionary path to end up with the “E-
learning 2.0” (Downes, 2005) that could be
considered as the iCamp conceptual framework.
Behaviorism is related with a passive learner and a
traditional transfer mode for teaching in a one-way
unidirectional (verbal) communication. This model
is based on the “know-what” paradigm.
Cognitivism is related with an active learner and a
not so traditional tutor mode for teaching in a bi-
directional (mostly verbal and unbalanced)
communication. This model is based on the “know-
how” paradigm.
Constructivism is related with a so-called creative
learner and a hardly seen coaching mode for
teaching in a two-way bi-directional (mostly visual
and almost balanced) communication. This model is
based on the “knowing-in-action” (“learning-by-
Figure 1: Web 2.0 layered scheme (I).
doing”) paradigm. The formalization of
constructivist learning theory is attributed to Jean
Piaget, who suggested, “Through processes of
accommodation and assimilation, individuals
construct new knowledge from their experiences”.
Social Constructivism is a way of extending the
constructivist approach and its “interpretivism”
epistemological background with some kind of
internally driven social interaction. Social
constructivists view learning as a social process.
“Vygotsky favored a concept of learning as a social
construct, which is mediated by language via social
discourse” (McMahon, 1997).
Reality cannot be
discovered: it does not exist prior to its social
invention; knowledge is also a human product, and
is socially and culturally constructed. Meaning is
created through the individual’s interactions with
each other and with their environment. They accept
the existence of some kind of “inter subjectivity”, as
a shared understanding among individuals.
Connectivism (Siemens, 2005) is intended to unify
chaos, networks theory and complexity yielding a
new theoretical framework for explaining not only
individual but also social and organizational learning
processes too. This approach goes beyond the
constructivism itself and even the latest “versions”
of social constructivism including social interactions
without avoiding the same inside-out limitations of
the original theory.
The starting point for this concept is that the
knowledge exists by itself. Individuals mustn’t build
it. They are supposed to realize that knowledge by
connecting the nodes where it's located; being that
nodes other individuals, organizations, different
clusters weakly tied... “It is changing the Know-
How and Know-What for Know-Where the
Knowledge is” (Siemens, 2005).
Some of the connectivism key principles are
expressed as follows by its author.
Learning is a network forming process
Capacity to know more is more critical than
what is known
Learning rests in aggregating diverse, often
opposing, views.
Content is often the by-product of the learning
process, not the starting point.
Connections, not content, are the beginning
point of the learning process.
Learning can reside in non-human appliances.
Knowledge can rest within our network, not
only internally in ourselves.
Ability to see connections (pattern
recognition) between ideas and concepts
critical to learning.
Currency (up to date knowledge) is the intent
of properly created learning networks.
Decision making is in itself a learning process
N-Gen stands not only for Next Generation, but also
even for Network Generation as a reference to the
Millennial Generation that was grown up with the
Internet as an integral part of their lives.
The connection between these two facets of the
same emergence process is the eLearning 2.0
metaphor described in (Downes, 2005) based on
some principles and paradigm shift heritage from
Connectivism and Web 2.0:
Learner-centered design
N-Gen students
Teachers and Learners (Students) as peers
within social networking environment
Social Software as services built upon a Web
“From a web of documents to a web of data”
with the emergence of “microcontent”. Hence
the emergence of micro- and nano- learning.
“From a Web as Media to a Web as platform”
“From Communities of Practice to Social-
From traditional learning applications and
systems managing learning objects within a
pre-defined learning architecture to an open
learning environment composed of
interoperable loosely coupled open-source
platforms and tools aimed to support the social
interactions of peers on the N-Gen EduWeb,
the Educational Web 2.0.
It's not about matching traditional models with
existing tools (Baumgartner, 2005) anymore; it’s
Figure 2: Web 2.0 layered scheme (II).
EDUWEB 2.0 - iCamp & N-Gen Educational Web
about developing a brand-new pedagogical model
and implementing the Next generation Web
environment upon it.
5 iCamp
The project – iCamp – starts in October 2005, with
the participation of ten associated centers from nine
different countries as consortium partners:
Jozef Stefan Institute (JSI), Slovenia.
Tomas Bata University (TBU), Czech
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM),
University of Leicester (ULE), UK.
Tallinn University (TLU), Estonia.
Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), Austria.
Vienna University of Economics (VUE),
University of Science and Technology (AGH),
Kaunas University of Technology (KTU),
Isik University (ISIK), Turkey.
The project will be coordinated from Austrian CSI.
Some of these partners belong to PROLEARN
Excellence Network for eLearning development.
5.1 Project Objectives
The main objectives of iCamp is to create an open
virtual learning environment for university students
across Europe by connecting different open source
learning systems and tools, and provide
interoperability amongst them. This new learning
environment is a learner-centered space where
students and educators will work collaboratively on
assignments across disciplines and across countries.
The objectives in iCamp are driven by
pedagogical, technical and social challenges and
can be summarized as:
Investigate, develop and validate innovative
pedagogical models for social instruction that
support learners in achieving their learning
goals in a self-directed manner and to establish
social networks
This information has been published in the iCamp
Project website, (
Provide a validated portfolio of constructivist
learning tools that support these innovative
learning models
Provide an open virtual learning
environment consisting of a network of
learning tools, platforms and repositories
Develop and describe open source code for
connecting to the iCamp network and to
provide interoperability amongst different
Document and describe best practices to be
derived from the validation trials for
universities that may benefit from iCamp in
the future.
Assess the actual and potential impacts of
the iCamp network on Higher Education
Institutions at different levels and from
different perspectives
5.1.1 Pedagogical Objectives
The pedagogical approach in iCamp starts from the
constructivist learning theory, with a focus on an
independent and self-organized learner. The iCamp
project emphasizes social instruction through a
social networking model, with educators playing
the role of mediators and mentors. The new
environment we envision – iCamp Space – will
provide tools to facilitate the mentoring and
mediating role of the educators in an open learning
environment and peer mentoring amongst students
to support social learning.
The iCamp model of scaffolding self-organized
learning will support the learners in identifying their
needs and to plan and carry out learning projects in
non-formal and informal settings. Individual
learning contracts (as an integral part of a learning
incentive model supporting the motivation of
students for self-directed learning) and learning
diaries will be drafted and combined with an easy
access to distributed and networked resources, and
personal and collaborative web publishing tools and
practices that are used for blog authoring.
The collaboration amongst students across countries
also implies cultural differences in learning and
these have to be respected and supported by the
learning environment. Diversity and localization
issues will be addressed in the design model. In this
context, a further analysis of emerging personal and
collaborative web publishing practices such as
weblog authoring will provide insights into the
codification and standardization of cross-cultural
and cross-disciplinary social networking and
information sharing in open, networked
5.1.2 Technical Objectives
In terms of collaboration and communication iCamp
will focus on the potential of new tools that support
the creation of social networks amongst the students
and other peers. These new tools shall support the
personal preferences of the students.
iCamp will offer the students as well as any
academic staff access to large content repositories
that go beyond the currently existing learning object
repositories. The challenge for iCamp is to further
explore ways to retrieve important information from
the deep web by extending the Simple Query
Interface (SQI) and thus provide interoperability
amongst the various systems.
iCamp will also develop strong interoperability
amongst different open source learning platforms.
Some of the known learning tools and repositories
that have already been identified for potential
integration and usage are Educational Repositories
(EducaNext and PROLEARN network of
educational nodes, Universal Brokerage Platform
(UBP) based repositories, EMDEL, EUDORA
portal, LIEDM (Lithuanian Distance Education
Network), Slovenian catalogue of learning
resources), Learning and Content Management
Systems (Moodle, Drupal, Plone, DotLRN, IVA
from Tallinn University), Digital Libraries (Central
and Eastern European Online Library),
Videoconference Tools (VIPS - Interactive Video
Presentation and Lecturing System - ISABEL,
FlashMeeting), Synchronous & Asynchronous
Communication Tools (Instant Messaging, E-mail,
VoIP), Wikis (TikiWiki, MediaWiki), Authoring
Tools (CDK Course Development system from
Kaunas University), Blogs (full CMS based as Plone
or specific platform based like WordPress).
An iCamp Space will then be designed and a set of
iCamp Building Blocks that most contribute to the
iCamp pedagogical goals selected. The selected
tools will be adapted for integration and support of
the functions and mechanisms that foster
Personalized search functions for peer
learners and learning resources that most
contribute to the learning needs.
Mechanisms for decentralized sharing of
experiences and reflection on the learning
process and resources with other peer learners.
Personal learner portfolios.
5.1.3 Social Objectives
In order to assess the potential of iCamp in
supporting and fostering the creation of social
networks the project will apply a social network
analysis approach. The research questions tackled
are related to the theory of social capital, with
experiments in the iCamp educational environments
carried out to examine its explanatory power in a
cross-cultural setting.
During the validation phase of iCamp the question
of how an eLearning community evolves as a social
network over time shall be addressed by analyzing
certain influence factors: the size and shape of the
network or its interaction patterns.
The cooperation and collaboration of students from
different countries in an enlarged Europe also
implies social challenges related to cross-cultural
aspects and diversity. It is the objective of iCamp to
provide a careful exploration and evaluation of the
social interactions that emerge in this kind of virtual
collaboration environments.
All these objectives must be translated into specific
results via the definition of a series of project goals.
These goals can be summarized as follows.
1. iCamp Space: an open virtual learning
environment consisting of a network of
learning tools, platforms and repositories
2. iCamp Interoperability & Collaboration
Patterns: description and open source code
for connecting to the iCamp Space
3. iCamp Building Blocks: a portfolio of
constructivist learning tools
4. iCamp Models: validated models for
scaffolding, social instruction, cross-cultural
collaboration, and learning incentives
5. iCamp Best Practice: experiences gained and
validated by trials in various universities
across Europe will be documented in the
iCamp evaluation reports
6. iCamp Exploitation Model & Plan: ensure
sustainability beyond the project consortium
by investigating and establishing Public
Private Partnerships (PPP), active awareness
building and trailing outside the consortium
partners, elaborating Revenue Models,
creating a supporting infrastructure, and
integrating existing open-source and
standardization initiatives
EDUWEB 2.0 - iCamp & N-Gen Educational Web
5.2 Contributions to Standards
Standards play a crucial role when it comes to the
set up of semantic networks. For iCamp the
following rather newly developed standards are
Learner profiles: IEEE Personal And Private
Information (PAPI), IMS Learner Information
Package (LIP).
Learning Artifacts Metadata: Learning
Objects Metadata (LOM), Dublin Core, IMS
Learning Design (LD).
Digital Rights Management: Creative
Commons (CC), Open Digital Rights
Language (ODLR).
Seamless access: Security Assertions Markup
Language (SAML), eXtensible Access Control
Markup Language (XACML).
The iCamp consortium has identified the following
areas where standards are lacking and the project has
the potential to significantly contribute to the
evolution of such:
Standardized APIs for Querying and
Metadata Replication: SQI could be an
effective solution for achieving
interoperability between heterogeneous
repositories. However, still a lot of work
remains to be done in order to enhance the API
with methods for collaboration, query process
management or personalization. An extension
of the API that supports metadata replication is
also needed. The project will be in strong
collaboration with standardizing bodies and
other driving forces of the field such as the
Network of Excellence in E-Learning and
Semantic Web and aims at contributing to the
further development.
International Standards for Collaborative
Technology: iCamp will contribute to the
JTC1 ISO/ICE SC36/WG2 on interoperability
of collaborative learning systems. This
working group is a Joint Technical Committee
between ISO and the International Electro
technical Commission (IEC) and is engaged in
the gradual evolution of learning systems from
stand-alone systems to collaborative learning
I would like to highlight – as a concluding remark –
the key points that explain the emergence of a whole
new breed of TEL projects like the one we’ve just
presented here:
Many things have changed in this first decade
of Web history, and we are entering a different
evolutionary stage where the Web is becoming
– more than ever before – an actual “social
environment”. Hence, this transformation
impacts every industry, economic sector or
social segment without any exception.
We have new theoretical frameworks – far
beyond the traditional epistemological
pragmatism as the philosophical basis for
cognitive constructivism – for dealing with
that change, allowing us to integrate
technology itself and social issues within our
iCamp could be useful as a pioneering project and a
case study for future efforts in developing such an
ambitious learning space.
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Communication and Interactions in eEducation”
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Boyd, S., “Are you ready for Social Software?”, Darwin
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Downes, S., “E-learning 2.0”
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Fumero, A., “Web 2.0, beyond The Blog Phenomenon”
(, V Edition of
Next-Gen Internet Workshop, Madrid, 2005.
Hof, R., “It’s A Whole New Web”
39/b3952401.htm), Business Week, September 2005.
McMahon, M., “Social Constructivism and the World
Wide Web - A Paradigm for Learning”
/Mcmahon/Mcmahon.html), ASCILITE, Australia,
Siemens, G., “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the
Digital Age”
m), eLearn Magazine, ACM, 2005.