Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has adopted E-learning as a complementary tool for teaching and learning, combining it with the conventional classroom lecture and tutorial education. The system used at NTU is " Edventure " (NTU, 2002) supported by "Blackboard". In this environment, lecturers can post the course materials, exercises and project assignments to the forum. Students can download course materials from there, submit assignments and post questions regarding the course they are taking.
Although the "
" system runs smoothly and plays an important role in conducting teaching and learning at the school, there are still some limitations. It is based on centralized client-server
Using the mobile agent-based E-learning system described, we reconstructed the Edventure system based on a highly decentralized network configuration ” distributed mobile agent paradigm. Several proxy servers are needed in addition to the central server. Both the central server and the proxy servers are used to construct faded information field (FIF), in which both the CPU time and network bandwidth are distributed.
For the weekly updating of course materials ” after the materials are posted to the central server by the lecturers, and when the user requests increase ” the system calculates the access effort (Equation 1) of each information based on the number of hits, information lifetime, and
The course structure in the previous Edventure system is fixed, and students have to take course modules in a fixed sequence. Thus, the reusability of course materials is low. For example, in the department where the authors of this article work, "Network Design and Simulation" and "Network Performance Analysis" are two typical courses. For both courses, the mathematics behind probability and statistics are the foundation for other
Using a mobile agent system, the problem is
It has been shown that the more interaction and cooperation between instructors and learners, the more effective learning will be. User tracking functions provide an interactive environment for lecturers and students to conduct teaching and learning. This environment can be realized through the cooperation of static agents at student machines and static agents that sit on an e-learning central server. These two groups of agents monitor the course status for a particular student, and communicate this information by message passing.
There are two types of tracking. At the lecturers' side, they receive feedback from students regarding the course materials effectiveness. For example, if the user tracking report shows a high access rate for a certain course material, it may mean the difficulty level of this course material is appropriate or that the course is taken by many students. On the contrary, if the access rates of certain courses are low, that may mean the courses are not very popular; either the difficulty levels are too high or the course formats are not userfriendly. With the feedback from students, the course materials can be customized to match students' learning pace and interest.
To test the effectiveness of student learning, after the course is taken, the system also provides some randomized questions for students in the form of quizzes. The quizzes will be graded by the e-learning server, and the server will feedback the grade information to each student. This is realized through the communication of two groups of static agents.
The Edventure system provides strict user authentication. Each student who has registered for some subjects has an independent account. Each user can only log in to his own account to search for course materials, and the system enforces regular password changes by users. At the server side, information on all transactions performed by an individual user is recorded into a log file. In the event that the system faces any security attack, it is easy to trace the source of attack from the log file.