E-learning System: Educational Content Delivery through Mobile Phones

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					   International Journal of Emerging Trends & Technology in Computer Science (IJETTCS)
       Web Site: www.ijettcs.org Email: editor@ijettcs.org, editorijettcs@gmail.com
Volume 1, Issue 2, July – August 2012                                          ISSN 2278-6856

             E-learning System: Educational Content
                 Delivery through Mobile Phones
                     Ogbuju Emeka1, Mbanusi Charity2, Chukwu Philip3 and M.O. Onyesolu4
                                                Department of ICT, Salem University,
                                                    Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria
                                  Department of Computer Science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University,
                                                Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria
                                       Devices and Techniques Limited, onash University,
                                                  Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria
                                  Department of Computer Science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University,
                                                Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria

                                                                 information in this research originated from exploring on
Abstract: This research was aimed at the development of a        the work done by Hamdan [4] in investigating the
mobile learning framework that will enable students to have      transformation from e-learning to mobile learning field.
access to learning facilities using their mobile phones. There      In this paper, our interest is to review the technologies
is need to utilize the technology in the hands of everyone to
                                                                 involved in e-learning and the technologies involved in
implement learning. The authors applied the theoretical
review of electronic learning (e-learning) system for            delivering learning content through mobile phones.
educational content delivery using mobile phones (m-             Applying object oriented analysis with prototyping; we
learning) for a federal institution in Nigeria using object-     shall implement an m-learning system using Java Micro
oriented design methodology with Java Micro Edition (J2ME)       Edition (J2ME) for mobile devices. Finally, we shall
for mobile devices. The advantages of successful                 present recommendations for successful implementation
implementation of mobile computing cannot be                     of Mobile Computing especially in Nigeria.

Keywords: E-learning, M-learning,             LCMS,      Web     2. E-LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES
Authoring, Mobile Computing                                      E-learning requires technologies in three different
                                                                 categories to be successful. These categories are
1. INTRODUCTION                                                  technologies for creating and managing the learning
The proliferation of mobile phones in Nigeria has been           content, technologies for delivering the learning content
                                                                 and finally technologies for accessing the learning
seen as an avenue of enhancing learning. Significantly,
                                                                 content [5] as shown in Figure 1
we can utilize the technology in the hands of everyone to
enhance their living, most especially learning at anytime
and from anywhere. This can easily be achieved through
the technology of mobile learning. Since the term mobile
learning emerged, many definitions have been proposed
to explain exactly what the term indicates. In reference
[1], the authors reviewed the current definitions of mobile
learning and they clarified that the term varies from one
author to other. For example, some authors over simplify
it by defining it as learning using mobile phones while
others like to take a broad techno centric view such as in
Traxler [2] which defines mobile learning as “any
educational provision where the sole or dominant
technologies are handheld or palmtop devices”.
Furthermore, there are common agreement that mobile
learning is a new dimension inherited from e-learning as
a consequence of the recent advancements in wireless
communications and mobile devices. For example, in
reference [3], mobile learning is defined as “a new stage
                                                                              Figure 1 E-learning Technology
of the development of e-learning”. Major source of
Volume 1, Issue 2 July-August 2012                                                                                Page 101
   International Journal of Emerging Trends & Technology in Computer Science (IJETTCS)
       Web Site: www.ijettcs.org Email: editor@ijettcs.org, editorijettcs@gmail.com
Volume 1, Issue 2, July – August 2012                                          ISSN 2278-6856

  2.1 Creating and Managing the Learning Content                                     and individual learning activities, interaction with
                                                                                     students, quizzes, homework activities and
Authoring tools are the most important e-learning tools
that are used to assemble and create the course as a
whole. It is the tool you would use to place all your course
                                                                               (2)       Chat: chat is a real-time delivery method that is
elements such as text, graphics or questions. Authoring
                                                                                     used to send and receive comments for the tutor or
tools can be classified into different categorization as the
                                                                                     between the students.
  2.1.1 Web Authoring Tools                                                    (3)        Audio and Video Conferencing: audio and video
An e-learning course is a type of website or web page. We                            conferencing technology can be used to support the
                                                                                     synchronous e-learning. Audio and video conferencing
can use the web authoring tools to create the e-learning
                                                                                     is a method of electronic communication that allows
content such as Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML)
                                                                                     the transmission of sound and video to hold the
editors or Media editors.                                                            communication among people located at different
  2.1.2 Course Authoring Tools                                                       locations. Audio conference can be implemented in
                                                                                     two ways, either phone conference in which the tutor
Course authoring tools are used to create e-learning                                 will teach through phone or via the Internet in which
courses. The market offers hundreds of these tools that                              the tutor would teach through a microphone attached
varied from advanced course authoring tools to end user                              to a computer that is connected to the Internet. Video
tools. The advanced tools have large design flexibility                              conferencing can also be done either by digital
while end users content authoring tools enable non                                   cameras attached to computer that is connected to the
programmer/users to build courses via form-based or                                  Internet or by special video conferencing devices.
                                                                               (4)         Shared Whiteboard: shard whiteboard is also
  2.1.3 Content Converters                                                           considered one of the important technologies that
Content converters are tools that automatically transform                            presents and edits documents. It can be used for
any traditional content format including Word                                        typing, highlighting and pointing any comments. For
documents, PowerPoint presentations or graphics into e-                              example the tutor can attract the student attention to a
learning courses on the web.                                                         certain sentence in the document by drawing a circle
                                                                                     around it or highlighting it.
  2.2 Delivering the Learning Content
The second set of technologies that are provided by e-                         (5)         Application Sharing: this tool is used for
learning is the content delivery technologies. E-learning                            teaching software applications for remote students.
offers synchronous and asynchronous collaboration tools                              The students can watch whatever the teacher does
that make it possible for learners to communicate with                               with the software or they can take the control of the
                                                                                     application and practice on it.
each other and with the tutor and it also offers other
common tools to deliver the learning content as web
server and media server.                                                       (6)         Online Meeting Tools: online meeting tools are
                                                                                     web and Internet tools that are used to share meetings
  2.2.1 Collaboration Tools                                                          or presentations.
Because collaboration is a necessary element in any
learning process, collaboration tools are making                          b)           Asynchronous technologies
significant impact on e-learning. These tools provide                   Asynchronous technologies support learning where the
medium for sharing information and transferring                         teacher and students are not online at the same time.
knowledge either synchronously or asynchronously.                       These technologies hold up the self-paced e-learning as
                                                                        well as asynchronous e-learning and they include:
  a)           Synchronous technologies
Synchronous technologies support the synchronous                               (1)        Electronic Mail (E-mail): e-mail which is usually
learning which refers to the learning process in which the                           short text messages sent from one person to another
tutor and students interact at the same time but they are                            via computer and it can be used as a communication
                                                                                     method between the teachers and students in the
not together in the same location. These technologies
                                                                                     learning process.
enable many important features that should be supported
by any e-learning platform such as: real-time interaction
among learners, remote presentations from teachers and                         (2)        Listserv: Is an automatic email service that
                                                                                     students subscribe to in order to receive mailings.
virtual classrooms. Synchronous technologies are like:
                                                                                     Students must be a member of the list to receive mail,
                                                                                     and can choose to unsubscribe at anytime (Cyber
       (1)        Virtual Classroom: it is an online private                         Media Creations).
             classroom that mimics the traditional classroom and
             provides a virtual place for the teachers to support the
             students. It offers many activities, for example, group

Volume 1, Issue 2 July-August 2012                                                                                               Page 102
   International Journal of Emerging Trends & Technology in Computer Science (IJETTCS)
       Web Site: www.ijettcs.org Email: editor@ijettcs.org, editorijettcs@gmail.com
Volume 1, Issue 2, July – August 2012                                          ISSN 2278-6856

  2.2.2 Web Servers and Media Servers                          4 CONNECTION            TO     MOBILE         LEARNING
Finally learning materials that are requested by a web         ENVIRONMENT
browser can be delivered by web servers and the media
                                                               Over the past years, Internet has been considered an
servers is used to deliver the media rich content such as
                                                               effective tool that can be used for education purposes.
delivering video, audio and other active media.
                                                               Regardless of the mobile device's capabilities, no mobile
  2.3 Accessing the Learning Content                           device can deliver learning material to learners if it does
Tools that allow the users to access the learning materials    not have an access to online learning materials. In this
are like: web browsers and media players. Web browser is       section, we will discuss some of the important wireless
software that allows the users to display and interact with    communication technologies that are used to allow mobile
HTML documents that are located on a web page and it is        devices to connect to the Internet in mobile learning
used to request the learning materials that are located in a   environment. These include:
web server. Media player is a software application that           4.1 Wireless Technologies
plays and control dynamic media, such as video and
                                                               Some of the main wireless telecommunication
                                                               technologies such as GSM, GPRS/EDGE, UMTS and
                                                               WAP are usually employed in Mobile Computing and m-
                                                               learning. They are described as follows.
PROCESS                                                           4.1.1 Global System for Mobile Communication
Moreover, there are different technologies that can be use
                                                               GSM is a widespread standard that is used for the digital
to manage the learning content and the learning process
                                                               cellular phone communication. GSM has a 9.6 Kbps data
itself such as:
                                                               transfer rate. Moreover, it offers many advantages to the
  3.1 Learning Management System (LMS)                         cellular phone users such as enhancing the quality of
Because learning process need to be managed, learning          voice and offering the short message service (SMS) which
management system is a critical part of e-learning. It is a    is an inexpensive way that allow the users to
system that offers a group of functionalities designed to      communicate with each other. In addition, through GSM
administrate the learning process. In [6], “The first          the user can use his own phone all over the world using
learning management systems (LMS) offered off-the-shelf        the roaming services.
platforms for frontend registration and course
cataloguing, and they tracked skills management and              4.1.2 General           Packet        Radio        Service
reporting on the back-end”. However, the market offers              (GPRS)/Enhanced Data Rates for Global
hundreds of these products that varied from simple                  Evolution (EDGE)
learning management systems that can provide some
                                                               GPRS is a technology that allows a ubiquitous mobile
functions such as: enable the learner to access the course
                                                               data service which has a higher data transfer rate than
and launch it, detect who has completed the courses and
                                                               GSM, approximately between 30 and 80 Kbps. GPRS as
who has passed the tests to advanced learning
                                                               the name indicates depends on the packet switched
management systems that can manage complex
                                                               approach in transferring the data and it is the most
registration issues and certifications, create assessments,
                                                               commonly used and available wireless technology. It
offer advanced reporting on completions, provide
                                                               offers the user the ability to browse the Internet and check
resource and administration management and provide all
                                                               e-mail on the move. However some users are able to
the features of the synchronous tools.
                                                               obtain faster internet connectivity speeds using the EDGE
  3.2 Learning Content Management System                       technology, which also called E-GPRS, because it
  (LCMS)                                                       upgrades the GPRS technology [9].
As stated in Díaz-Antón et al [7], Content management            4.1.3 Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
system (CMS) is defined in Hall [8] as "a system that is            (UMTS)
used to store and subsequently finds and retrieves large
                                                               UMTS is communication technology that based on GSM
amounts of data". However, LCMS is a system build on
                                                               and was first proposed in Europe. The high data transfer
the CMS and it is used to manage, create and store the
                                                               rate of UMTS, which is 2Mbps, makes this technology
higher educational learning content. In fact, there is
                                                               suitable for transferring large amounts of data, movie
confusion between the difference of LMS and LCMS.
                                                               downloads and video conferencing. As GPRS, UMTS
                                                               depends on the packet switched approach in transferring
                                                               the data but it is more expensive than GPRS.

Volume 1, Issue 2 July-August 2012                                                                              Page 103
   International Journal of Emerging Trends & Technology in Computer Science (IJETTCS)
       Web Site: www.ijettcs.org Email: editor@ijettcs.org, editorijettcs@gmail.com
Volume 1, Issue 2, July – August 2012                                          ISSN 2278-6856

  4.1.4 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)                      5.2 Specific E-Learning Services
WAP is a protocol that was designed to allow the users to     E-learning offers many tools such as LCMS to support
browse the Internet from their mobile device rather than      content management services. This kind of services are
browsing the Internet from a desktop computer.                responsible of organizing the learning content that is
Moreover, this protocol can view the information that is      usually arranged in components such as courses, lectures
written by Wireless Markup Language (WML) which is            and classes and subcomponents such as course syllabus,
actually derived from the Extensible Markup Language          lecture presentation section, exercise section and
(XML).                                                        additional material section [10]. Most of these
                                                              components should be organized and accessed through a
  4.1.5 IrDA, Bluetooth and 802.11
                                                              proper engine. Moreover, e-learning offers automated
IrDA, Bluetooth and 802.11 are the most familiar              self-assessment that automatically checks the results of
wireless local and personal area networking technologies.     the online tests and evaluate the student progress. Most of
  4.2 Other Communication Technologies                        these services considered specific services should be
                                                              provided by the e-learning industry.
There are other common communication technologies
which are equally employed in mobile computing for m-           5.3 Common Services
learning. They include:                                       E-learning, as any system, must fulfil the different actors'
  4.2.1 Short Message System (SMS)                            needs. Mainly, e-learning actors are administrators,
                                                              learners and tutors that can be either teachers,
SMS is the facility to send and receive small amounts of
                                                              communication masters or informatics. Besides satisfying
alphanumeric messages that can include numbers or
                                                              the major actors' needs, e-learning provides some extra
symbols from one mobile device to another. In mobile
                                                              services for the actors such as informing them about the
learning, SMS can play a role in transmitting limited
                                                              learning events through an event management system
important information for the learners and the tutors such
                                                              which is an online calendar or scheduler. Also, e-learning
as announcing the exams schedule or the assignments
                                                              offers tools that support synchronous and asynchronous
                                                              collaboration between learners and with tutors.
  4.2.2 Multimedia Message System (MMS)
                                                                5.4 Content Presentation
MMS that is descendant of SMS is used to enable the
                                                              The presentation of the e-learning content is one of the
users to send and receive one or more multimedia
                                                              most important services provided by e-learning and it has
messages such as digital photos, graphics, video clips and
                                                              a common requirement that is e-learning system must be
sounds through mobile devices. In mobile learning, MMS
                                                              accessible from a single point by using a normal browser.
can be used for example to transmit graphs and figures
                                                              Recent version of major browser must work correctly with
that can summarize some basic ideas that were illustrated
                                                              the system [10].
in the learning materials for the learners.
                                                              6 IMPLEMENTATIONS
5 E-LEARNING SERVICES                                         Having taken a concise discourse of electronic/mobile
                                                              learning technologies and services, we carried out a
There are services that must be run on the technologies
                                                              practical research to implement the technologies in a
we have described so far. As discussed in [10], the
                                                              course content delivery of a department in Nnamdi
services/functionalities offered by e-learning platforms
                                                              Azikiwe University (NAU), a federal institution located in
can be grouped in four categories: e-learning resources,
                                                              Awka, Nigeria. The developed system (MobileAcad
specific e-learning services, common services, and
                                                              shown in Fig. 2) was based on client server architecture
                                                              where the client is mobile phone and the server is a
   5.1 E-Learning Resources                                   computer system. The client makes request while the
E-learning provides electronic access to multimedia and       server serves the request. The third part of the system was
hypermedia learning materials and resources which can         database server which contains mobile learning data. The
be managed by e-learning tools; some systems allow            development was done using J2ME for client side
authenticated users to have their own workspace or to         development, Java Servlet for server side application and
upload personal resources [10]. Furthermore, most of the      MYSQL for the database system. The server deployment
e-learning tools such as LMS and LCMS have the ability        was done using Glassfish and the client deployment was
to create online tests that are used to examine the e-        done using NetBean IDE. The client testing was done
learners knowledge. In addition, e-learning offers            using Nokia N73 phone running Symbian operating
metadata repositories which refer to data dictionaries that   system and the server deployment was done on Microsoft
provide a data about each data element.                       Windows Vista.

Volume 1, Issue 2 July-August 2012                                                                             Page 104
   International Journal of Emerging Trends & Technology in Computer Science (IJETTCS)
       Web Site: www.ijettcs.org Email: editor@ijettcs.org, editorijettcs@gmail.com
Volume 1, Issue 2, July – August 2012                                          ISSN 2278-6856

              Figure 2 View of MobileAcad
                                                                       Figure 4 Activity List of MobileAcad
The developed system enables the following operations:
mobile library, collaboration, assignment submission and
access to archived lecture materials; see Fig. 4 below.
A desirable result was achieved which includes:
  1. Online/remote access to academic information
       where students can access the system at anytime of
       the day and from anywhere.
  2. Course works such as assignments can be
       submitted for assessment at anytime and from
  3. Access to library for academic research any time of
  4. Students can collaborate/relate with one another
       from any location to discuss academic issues.

The system flowchart is presented in Fig. 3. A user logs
on with a password and chooses an operation of choice.
The flow of data through the m-learning system is
illustrated using the Data Flow Diagram (DFD) in Fig. 5.
                                                                   Figure 5 Data Flow Diagram of MobileAcad

                                                            7 ADVANTAGES OF THE SYSTEM
                                                            The following are the advantages of electronic learning as
                                                            it relates to this system:
                                                               7.1 Complete integration of Features
                                                            This research implemented a mobile learning platform
                                                            that enables educational content delivery through mobile
                                                            phones. Today in Nigeria, the developing web based
                                                            electronic learning only allows those with computer
                                                            systems leaving out those with mobile phones; although
                                                            some web based electronic learning systems can be
                                                            accessed through mobile phones but without the full
                                                            features. Some web based electronic learning systems
                                                            used flash contents for the delivery which most mobile
                                                            phones could not understand; this leaves out those
                                                            awesome features. The product of this research is a
   Figure 3 System Flowchart of MobileAcad Operations       mobile phone based solution that integrates everything
                                                            that mobile phone could support.

Volume 1, Issue 2 July-August 2012                                                                         Page 105
   International Journal of Emerging Trends & Technology in Computer Science (IJETTCS)
       Web Site: www.ijettcs.org Email: editor@ijettcs.org, editorijettcs@gmail.com
Volume 1, Issue 2, July – August 2012                                          ISSN 2278-6856

   7.2 Availability of Mobile Phones                           References
Furthermore, there are more mobile phone users than
                                                               [1] Y. Laouris and N. Eteokleous, "We need an
computer system; this is due to the facts that the prices of
                                                                     Educationally Relevant Definition of Mobile
mobile phones are cheap compared to computer systems
                                                                     Learning," In the Proceedings of the 4th World
globally. In addition, the technological revolution in the
                                                                     Conference on mLearning, Cape Town, South
field of mobile phones has led to manufacturing of
                                                                     Africa, 2005
computer capability phones at relative cheap prices. This
                                                               [2] J. Traxler, "Defining Mobile Learning," In the
implies that the developed mobile learning system uses
                                                                    Proceedings of IADIS International Conference
what the students have to perform academic activity.
                                                                    Mobile Learning 2005, pp 261-266, Malta, 2005
   7.3 Flexibility of Learning                                 [3] T. Georgiev, E. Georgieva and G. Trajovski,
This research likewise contributes conveniences,                    "Transitioning from e-Learning to m-Learning:
portability and mobility, which are the attributes of               Present issues and future challenges," In the
mobile phone to learning. This implies that the developed           Proceedings of the Seventh ACIS International
system enables users to learn anytime, anywhere and                 Conference on Software Engineering, Artificial
anyhow. This can be viewed as a great achievement in the            Intelligence, Networking, and Parallel/Distributed
field of mobile computing.                                          Computing (SNPD '06), 2006
                                                               [4] Z. A. Hamdan, "A Model for Designing and
  7.4 Indigenous Curriculum Contents                                Adapting Mobile Learning Content,” Unpublished
One noticeable problem with most of the existing mobile             M.Sc thesis, Computer Information System
learning and web based learning system is that they are             Department, Middle East University for Graduate
localized to certain country or region. In most cases               Studies, Amman, Jordan, 2008
Africans are excluded from the list due to our educational     [5] W. Horton and K. Horton, "E-learning tools and
systems and curriculum contents. This research work                 technologies: A consumer's guide for trainers,
contributed greatly to the localization of the mobile               teachers, educators, and instructional designers,"
learning to Nigerian setting with focus on NAU, Awka as             Indiana, Wiley Publishing Inc., 2003
a case study.                                                  [6] Institute for Interactive Technologies, "E-Learning
                                                                    Concepts and Techniques", E-book, Bloomsburg
  7.5 Easy Usage with Low Bandwidth                                 University of Pennsylvania, USA, 2005
This work came at the point where the internet                 [7] G. Díaz-Antón and M. Pérez, "Towards Ontology of
connection fee is gradually going down on mobile                    LMS, a Conceptual Framework," In the Proceedings
network as against the broadband network. The                       of 8th International Conference on Enterprise
application utilizes the low bandwidth data connection for          Information Systems, Cyprus, 2006
content delivery. This eradicates the need for high speed      [8] B. Hall, "New Technology Definitions". Retrieved
internet connection before it can be used.                          from: http://www.brandonhall.com/
                                                               [9] L. Low, "M-learning standards report: Background,
8 CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATION                                         discussion and recommendations for usable and
The following recommendations are very necessary for                accessible m-learning," In the Proceedings of the
successful deployment of the system and of course all m-            Department of Education, Science and training of
learning systems for general/public uses:                           the Australian Government, Australia, 2007
  1. The architecture described in the implementation          [10] A. Trifonova and M. Ronchetti, “Hoarding Content
        section must be followed.                                   in M-Learning Context,” PhD thesis, University of
  2. There is need for hosting of the web server on                 Trento, Italy, 2006
        public internet.
  3. All the books that will be available in the mobile
        library must be converted to the format that mobile    AUTHORS
        phones could open. PDF would have been the best
        option but not all mobile phones understand that
                                                                                  Emeka Ogbuju and his co-authors are
        format. The commonest format that most mobile                             chartered       information     technology
        phones understand is the text format                                      practitioners and members of the Nigeria
Finally, electronic learning has metamorphosed into what                          Computer Society (NCS). They studied at
can be delivered through mobile platform. This                                    different times and levels in Computer
technology has been a tool for revolutionized learning and                        Science department of Nnamdi Azikiwe
teaching. It is currently a front runner in academic                              University Awka, Nigeria. Their researches
content delivery. This is a system we must embrace in our      and technical papers are published in both local and
institutions for sustainable development and economic          international journals and conference proceedings.

Volume 1, Issue 2 July-August 2012                                                                              Page 106

Description: International Journal of Emerging Trends & Technology in Computer Science (IJETTCS) is an online Journal in English published bimonthly for scientists, Engineers and Research Scholars involved in computer science, Information Technology and its applications to publish high quality and refereed papers. Papers reporting original research and innovative applications from all parts of the world are welcome. Papers for publication in the IJETTCS are selected through rigid peer review to ensure originality, timeliness, relevance and readability. The aim of IJETTCS is to publish peer reviewed research and review articles in rapidly developing field of computer science engineering and technology. This journal is an online journal having full access to the research and review paper. The journal also seeks clearly written survey and review articles from experts in the field, to promote intuitive understanding of the state-of-the-art and application trends. The journal aims to cover the latest outstanding developments in the field of Computer Science and engineering Technology.