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* Author(s)
* Author(s)
* Choice of: Total Shareability or Proprietary (depends  
* Choice of: Total Shareability or Proprietary (depends on a server)
  on a server)
=== Optional Features ===
=== Optional Features ===

Revision as of 20:04, 26 March 2006

Universe University. Specifications for Web Based Educational Environment




Universe University is supposed to answer to contemporary challenge for educational systems. The core demand, in our view, is to bring up thinking vs. pure informing and training, which has traditionally been implemented through Western schools since XVII century. If we find a way to bring up, say, math thinking, this means that our students do enjoy math, are interested in the subject itself vs. credits and other outer reasons. In this case, information, training, generally speaking, knowledge of traditional type will be acquired as a side effect of educational process.

Speaking in general terms, we aim to create educational environment with countless possibilities, namely to build rich, helpful and convenient environment for creating of courses and studies.

== Working Educational Principles == Back to Contents

There are two specific principles contemporary education should be based on, in our view: dialogue and problem solving. correspondingly we want these to be easily implemented within Universe University.

Dialogue is supposed to be provided in at least five dimensions of the environment.

1. Firstly, directly through different communication

 tools, which can be used in conjunction with work on 
 studies or course development.We intend to build 
 organic system of all suitable communication 
 protocols to be embedded in the Universe University: 
 direct email, mailing lists, news groups, message 
 boards, chat rooms. All of them will be enriched by 
 special features to allow to easily work on documents 
 and problem solutions.

2. Secondly, we offer special feature for course

 building, which allows to put, what we call, parallel 
 explanations for each single topic. That is, an 
 author may use absolutely different explanations for 
 a single fact, including those, which interpret it in 
 opposite directions. Such an approach traditionally 
 considered unacceptable, because a traditional course 
 is built sequentially. However, sequential courses do 
 not awaken thinking this way. If a student encounters 
 different explanations for a single fact, this will 
 rise questions, which is the first step in thinking.

3. Generally, Universe University offers the best

 environment to built courses of "open source" type. 
 That is, different people may participate in a course 
 construction, bringing in different approaches, stand 
 points, understanding of a subject, and so forth. 
 This alone develops definitely dialogic environment, 
 attitudes and mood. On the other hand, those authors, 
 who are not inclined to do the job collectively has 
 in their disposal tools to do it alone.

4. Universe University supposed to offer various tools

 for feedback on courses, single topics, problems, 
 problem solutions, authors, and so forth, which is 
 also a normal dialogic form.

5. One more way featuring dialogue in UU is also

 unique, though functionally very simple component, 
 which is called "Dialogue of Classical Texts". This 
 supposed to be a work of high level experts, 
 scientists, scholars who can find and display 
 different classical texts on particular subjects, 
 beyond particular courses. Important specific task 
 here is to find texts contradicting each other. The 
 implying idea is the same: to provoke thinking.

Problem solving supposed to be imposed on potential students in at least five dimensions of the environment.

1. Each single topic of a course can feature blocs of

 problems of different levels of difficulty.

2. A single problem may be featured by one out of four

 types of solution control by: single answer, multiple 
 choice, solution template, content.

3. UU supposes to implement the generator of formalized

 classes of problems to ensure training of any level 
 of perfection, whenever it is necessary.

4. A course may include built in testing, rating and

 work flow based on the pace of problem solving

5. UU allows to conduct cross-course subject based

 contests and rating system.

Programming Approach

The application is supposed to be built as a system, implementing: UMO (User Manageable Objects) and GSF (Generic System Functions). UMO are more or less close to programming objects. They represent functional possibilities to build courses and educational dynamics, which may be combined in different ways or exist independently. GSF also represent some functional possibilities, but on the system level. They are always here, although can be opt out.

User Manageable Objects

Course. A Course Structure

Necessary Features

  • Title
  • Author(s)
  • Choice of: Total Shareability or Proprietary (depends on a server)

Optional Features

  • Topics. May be authentic or borrowed from other
 authors directly or from Structured Shared Repository.
  • Faculties / Objectives
  • Master

1. Rights

2. Duties

  • Apprentice

1. Rights

2. Duties

  • Admin Tools


  • Groups w. subscription types

1. School

2. Class

3. Organization/Company

4. Country

5. Some free union

  • Tests / Competitions


Necessary Features

  • Title

Optional Features

  • Summary (Annotation)
  • Keywords
  • References
  • Rating
  • Test

1. Explanation(s) / Discourse

2. Problem blocks differing by difficulty level

Enumerated are those items which could be created or borrowed from other authors directly or Structured Shared Repository

Explanation (Discourse)

An author may write his own explanations or include chunks of classical texts. He may neatly explain some subject, ways of problem solving or make a discourse around a topic, research his subject instead of explaining. A author may make just one explanation for a topic, which is traditional way to build courses. However the app allows to build as many parallel explanations. This feature may be used to provide:

  • Any number of short or detailed explanations, so that
 a student could use that one he needs. 
  • Different approaches for the same subject to provoke
 dialogue between students and critical thinking.


  • A problem consists of the problem statement, solution
 and answer.
  • As of today, 4 solution control methods are being developed:

1. Single Answer

2. Multiple Choice

3. Template

4. Generator driven full control

  • Problems comprise blocks of different difficulty levels
  • Chain of problem blocks corresponds to a topic and is
 its element
  • Problems can be generated and gathered for tests and

Test / Homework

  • Test can be generated for a topic within a course.
  • The possible structure / features of a test may include:

1. 10 - 12 problems should be in the pool for any test.

2. 5 randomly generated problems would represent a

 particular test.

3. For test problems only time allowed should be specified.

4. "PASSED" or "NON PASSED" grade should be assigned.

5. Points for "PASSED" grade should be specified for

 each test.

6. In order to get "PASSED" grade 6 times allowed to

 take a test.

7. The rate score ( RT ) should be assigned to each

 student after successful completion of test. (based 
 on the time deduction principle, 10 sec = 1 point)

8. RT is a function of only time specified for the test.

9. In case student has RT not equal to zero, the system

 will let him/her to solve the general problems to 
 improve their regular rating.( but only within this 
 particular topic)


Continuous (e.g. problem of the day)

Real time

Long term rating (e.g. chess style mastership)

  • "Through Problems"

Course independent, a subject bound problems of different level of difficulty, frequently changed on each level. The chain of problems may have author or group of authors.

Faculties / Objectives

A special apprentice ability, that a course, topic, problem block or exercise slated to develop . An optional feature.

Exercise / Games

Generic System Functions

Access Level / Subscription Type / Payment Tools

Multiple authors for one course

Multiple authors can work on same course. It means all of them will have same rights over given course, including an ability to add experts, more authors, set usage policies etc.


  • Author
  • Expert - personally granted access
  • Teacher
  • Paid user (For Proprietary server only)
  • Basic user: gets limited feedback from the system,
 contact and rating possibilities
  • Contest participant
  • Groups w. types

UU - Organizations

  • Sponsorship
  • Certifying/Highly paid
  • Non-profits
  • Big companies, no matter what

Choice of subscription

  • Flat rate
  • Per student
  • Commissions
  • Sponsorship

Variants for subscription management

  • Regular Revisions (say every 6 mo)
  • Price, picked by subscriber

Cross UU subscriptions


Structure management

Rating / Voting system

1. On changes in the list of headers

2. An item inclusion

Featured Storage

1. Classical problems

2. Border line subject-to-subject problems

3. Classical texts

4. Border line science-to-life problems

5. Games

6. Teaching techniques

7. Faculties to develop

General Storage

Items from the General Storage move up into the Featured storage by getting rated.

Masters Board

Review of automated submissions and special submissions

Disagreement Storage

Stores submissions disapproved by the Masters Board

Problem Generator

Problem Control Tools

  • Single Answer
  • Multiple Choice
  • Template
  • Semantic Model
  • Custome/Language Driven Control

Editing Tools

Basic Element/Page

  • Prerequisites (links)
  • Developing directions (links)
  • More complex/hard to guess problems (links)
  • Easier problems (links)
  • Off topic gigs (links)

Possibility to link any unit to any course

(For Open server only)

Each entity in course can be included into any other course or linked to some other places, subject to attribution to authors and sources.

Tools to make turning multiple courses into one easier

(For Open server only)

May include tools for analyzing tree structures, and pointing out similarities to authors, etc.

Locking-unlocking for editing

Simple features to make sure no conflicts are created during simultaneous work on courses.

Course versioning

Every object will have versioning history. Version is created every time an author indicates that this text is ready for inclusion. Until that time any changes are saved, but are not visible to anyone but authors.

References to external sources

Work Flow

1. Problem solving based

2. Psychology based

Rating System


1. Voting: on courses, problems, authors, messages, etc.

2. Functional: on people, participating in through

 subject chess mastership type rating

General user rate formula

It is a function of:

1. Fact of growing

2. Level of difficulty of problems

3. Frequency of participation

4. A single problem solving time

5. Rating of courses taken

6. Other factors

Specific user rate formula

It is a function of:

1. Should be around 50 for every topic in the course.

2. Points for the problem - N (m, k, l, p), where m -

 the level of the course ( 0 < m < 3); k - the number 
 of the theme within the course; l - the level of the 
 problem ( 0 < l < 4 ); p - the number of the problem 
 within the course ( 0 < p < 50).

3. Correspondence: 0 < N ( m, k, 1, p) < 40; 40 < N (m,

 k, 2, p) < 65; 65 < N ( m, k, 3, p) < 90; 90 < N ( m, 
 k, 4, p ) < 100.

4. Rating RG is a function of average amount of:

5. Points of the last five problems chosen,

6. Overall points,

7. Deductible points,

8. Levels of courses and problems taken,

9. Communication,

10. Activity.exercise

Communication Tools

List of tools

  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Wikis
  • Chat Rooms
  • Mailing Lists
  • Message Boards
  • Other

Discussions around solutions

Gives students an ability to solve problems together. This may include giving them an ability to work on common solution text, combined with any communication tool from the list.

Course review & Related data. Public notes & Rating

  • One for those who have been taking the course, and
  • Another one for "experts".

PHP-doc style comments

Each entity in course can have set of publically viewable notes attached to it, that anyone can add to.

?The notes are moderated by?

Questions to an author

A special tool linking communication tools to a course authors.

Course related fora (mandatory for Open server)

Each course will have a forum that anyone taking this course and anyone, designated by author as an "expert" can participate in.

1. Public fora

2. Comments rating

Each public message will have a tool that allows anyone to rate it.

Masters club

Set of public fora designated for course authors and experts to allow some general discussions not necessarily bound to specific courses.


1. Visiting

2. Attendance

3. Revenues

4. Rating

5. Participations/Results in/of within/out UU contests

6. Usage in other courses

7. Usage out of UU


1. Authenticity: original, derived, borrowed objects

2. Accessing Openness (For Proprietary server only)

3. Editing Openness,

4. Subscription types (For Proprietary server only),

5. Visiting,

6. User added categories

Search Engine & Lists

1. All items in the lists below go with related "demographics"

2. All lists are cross referred

3. Lists

  • All objects
  • All courses, including languages
  • All topics
  • All problems
  • All languages
  • All course subjects
  • All authors, teachers, experts, students, etc.
  • All schools w. their level of participation
  • All groups w. their level of participation
  • All of the above associated with a user

Business Assumptions

Open Server

Proprietary Server