App project to provide work-based training here next month
STAFF working in companies here will be able to up-skill on the job using a loaned tablet computer and a ground-breaking app developed by technology experts in Waterford.
The app is already being used by a group of long-term unemployed in Wales, men and women who have accessed videos of interview tips, confidence building techniques and training under the technology and training partnership between Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) and Pembrokeshire College and Gower College Swansea, Wales.
Plans have been announced to expand the mCommunity initiative into Ireland next month to help SMEs provide on-the-job training and upskilling for staff. SMEs based in or close to Waterford will be the first here to benefit from the initiative.
The project is a three year Interreg 4A Ireland Wales Programme that has identified a new and effective way to engage with the unemployed and provide the SME sector with tailored training. mCommunity also provides a social network for learners, allowing candidates to communicate freely with tutors and support one another.
The roll out to Ireland will include the partners running a free, Level 3 Award in Leadership and Management in Waterford. Participants will get the loan of an android tablet computer whilst on the program. The course will involve a number of days of classroom delivery in the Waterford area in late May and then the rest will be delivered on the mCommunity app by tutors via the loaned device over a number of months.
Those behind the initiative are now looking for SME’s, particularly in the Waterford area, to avail of this opportunity. It is hoped that up to 8 participants from SME’s will then take part in the programme. To take part, interested SME’s should contact the project management team now on the following link: http://mcommunity.pembrokeshire.ac.uk/eligibility-3/business/leadership-and-management-award/
The mCommunity technology has been completely developed at the TSSG group in Waterford and is being rolled out successfully using experienced tutors with project partners in Wales. The project has developed an innovative learning platform aimed at adults not currently in employment, education or training.
Learners in Wales have been provided with a smartphone from which they can access course modules with topics ranging from confidence-building to interview techniques. The courses aim to improve employment potential and opportunities through education.
The technology is also being used to supply accredited courses to SME’s and their staff from both Pembrokeshire and Gower College Swansea. The programmes are structured to allow learners to continue in full-time employment whilst studying part-time via a mobile device. This provides greater flexibility over how, where, and when learners achieve their qualification.
Sean Lyons, Project Manager, TSSG said: “When we were approached to collaborate with Pembrokeshire College on this project, we realised that the technical requirements would be challenging. The platform had to be very user friendly, allowing users to choose preferred communication channels, whether it’s Instant Messaging or via Social Media. It also had to integrate with Moodle; WIT’s’ virtual learning application.
“Research and development is all about collaboration with partners both nationally and internationally. We are very proud of the significant contribution that we are making to the project, the feedback has been excellent and we are confident of seeing the very positive results continue”, Lyons added.
A flexible, multi-faceted communication and virtual learning platform was developed and built into mCommunity which is now tackling the problems of social disengagement. The app includes a job interview video module which provides a variety of video clips showing interview techniques, hints and tips.
Learners can access these and interact with tutors for feedback using instant messaging. Learners progress week by week until they have completed each section of their agreed individual learning plan.
Course Tutors are a combination of both social worker and educator. Tutors meet learners at social centres, where they engage with candidates before providing them with a Smartphone. Through the mCommunity portal, tutors can specifically craft a module to suit the needs of an individual learner. They have full control over the type of education modules each learner receives on their phone. mCommunity also provides a social network for learners, allowing candidates to communicate freely with tutors and support for one another.
According to Caroline Griffiths, Project Manager, Pembrokeshire College:“This innovative educational programme is providing users with the knowledge they need to re-engage with society and rejoin the workforce using technology that is accessible, personal, and most importantly mobile.”
A critical component was the installation of a “presence” function in its instant messaging structure. This enables tutors to see when learners are on-line and monitor how they are using and engaging with the platform.
“Tutors become the gatekeeper for mCommunity – they ensure that the platform is used correctly and to its full potential,” she said.
Further information on the initiative is available on http://mcommunity.pembrokeshire.ac.uk/eligibility-3/business/leadership-and-management-award/
The 2013 Future Internet Assembly (FIA) event, will be held in Dublin, Ireland on 8th, 9th and 10th May in association with the Irish presidency of the Council of the EU.
The European Commission, in collaboration with EU Presidencies has, since 2008, hosted regular Future Internet Assembly events (FIA, http://www.future-internet.eu). FIA is a research community driven initiative supported by more than 150 research projects that have recognised the need to strengthen European activities on the Future Internet (FI) to maintain European competitiveness in the global marketplace. In particular, these projects have identified the urgent need to redesign significant part of the Internet, taking a broad multidisciplinary approach, to meet European societal, business and technology ambitions.
Participants are members of the FI community, who include the national and EU project coordinators and partners of FP7 funded projects both academic and industry researchers.
FIA is open to all researchers engaged in FI research (including non EU-funded researchers) to contribute and participate. It allows for open interactions and cross-fertilisation across technical domains, reaching out to our expert European FI community. It is a platform for exchanges on research challenges, scenarios and roadmaps. It supports (pre-) standardisation consensus building. The technical discussions lead to exchanges between national and EU-funded FI initiatives.
The theme for FIA-Dublin will be “Future Internet accelerates Innovation”, and the event will focus on how European Future Internet research and innovation will support EU’s competitiveness and enable a new wave of technologies at the eve of Horizon 2020.
FIA Dublin will be framed around two major themes:
European competitiveness: towards a strong, diversified and competitive EU Future Internet industrial base, with high innovation performance in global markets
European research & innovation: towards a more effective exploitation of EU Future Internet research results from industry, academia and research
The event will also feature an Exhibition area, involving some 40 EU Future Internet projects demonstrations, such as FIRE (Future Internet Research and Experimentation). FIRE has two related dimensions: on the one hand, promoting experimentally-driven long-term, visionary research on new paradigms and networking concepts and architectures for the future internet; and on the other hand, building large-scale experimentation facilities to support both medium- and long- term research on networks and services by gradually federating existing and new testbeds for emerging or future internet technologies.
The twelve FIA sessions will compete for the “Best session award” and the projects showcasing their results for the “Best demonstration award”. The event will also announce in the FIA Closing the project winner of the 5th edition of the Future Internet Award.
To register: www.fi-dublin.eu
Future Internet Research and Experimentation (FIRE) is an EU funded initiative that has recognised the internet as not simply a communication tool but rather the backbone of modern day living. Its growth is inextricably linked to social, economic and cultural developments while its limits are constantly pushed by feature filled apps emerging from cutting edge technologies. The TSSG has a long history in FIRE on FP7 projects such as PanLabs II, PERIMETER and Vital++.
A key aim for FIRE is to promote the concept of experimentally driven research while creating a large scale experimentation facility to provide the tools to conduct this work. TSSG researchers are making significant contributions to this effort through the €7M FP7 funded OpenLab project. OpenLab brings together 19 of the leading testbed providers from around Europe and beyond. With previous experience in integrating and federating testbeds, the partners on this project have set challenging goals to extend existing testbed facilities while merging these same facilities through control plane and experimental plane federation activities.In effect, this means that under the hood the partner testbeds will be interconnected while on the surface they expose their resources by providing user friendly accessibility to experimenters to trial their work
The OpenLab project is more than half way through its 30 month duration and is already progressing the integration of wildly varying and heterogeneous testbeds and resources. Combining wired, wireless and virtual environments the project is enabling large scale testing of emerging products fuelled by global demand for feature rich services. For example, at a recent event, project partners demonstrated video streaming between the wireless NITOS and the wired Planetlab Europe testbeds using the SFA (Slice Federation Architecture) and OMF (Control Management Framework) federation technologies.
The TSSG work on this project is two fold. Firstly we are expanding and developing the testbed resources and services that we offer locally. A key goal for TSSG is to provide a service to experimenters where they can incubate and test application level P2P traffic routing algorithms with an aim to guaranteeing a certain level of QoS. This is centred around our IMS testbed and involves the addition of the OpenFlow protocol to enable discovery and provisioning of network resources. Secondly, we are collaborating with the other partners to develop and implement the hooks and tools that will allow for integrated testing and experimentation across geographically distributed and technologically varying testbeds.
The proof of impact of the OpenLab project is apparent in the Open calls for experiments that are being coordinated by the project partners. The OpenLab project issued one open call for experiments on its federated testbeds in 2011 while the results of the second call are just about to be announced. Here it is widely expected that new project partners will choose the TSSG IMS testbed to run novel experiments. Researchers from both academia and industry were invited to propose and submit experiments that demonstrate technological expertise, scientific novelty and quality in the area of the Future Internet, e.g. the ALLEGRA project from the first open call is delivering and evaluating the worlds first geo-location aware greedy internet routing prototype. Facilitating industry innovation for the successful market uptake of new products and services is another important driver for our testbeds. Also, this is a truly international effort as already proposals have been submitted from many EU countries as well as China and Japan.
For further information contact:
With the way the Internet is being used today, from carrying Voice to TV there is a high demand for reliability from the Internet. However it’s proving more and more difficult to predict failures in the network, to spot flash crowds or to predict when the next distrubited denial of service (DDoS) attack will happen.
The Internet has being trying for years to route around these network failures, however to date once the routing protocols have done their job, only a single path, or small number of equal-cost paths are used to transmit packets, ignoring possible alternative paths.
MultiPath TCP is a new way of making the different network downlinks available to the transport protocol, and allowing for the establishment of more than one path between the same pair of servers for the same connection. In effect with MultiPath TCP we can make use of the additional paths that are ignored by the Internet routing system. Doing so can provide more bandwidth and better resiliency for the user and higher network utilisation for network operators.
As of March 2013 the first stable implementation of MultiPath TCP was released for the Linux Kernel and there a contribution in there from our very own John Ronan, a researcher in the Security research unit of the TSSG.
As John points out, “multi-path transport protocols will be the key to making the Internet more robust and more responsive to congestion”.
This first open source software release will bring Multi-Path TCP a step closer to the path of being a fully blown standard from the IETF.
SOCIETIES Workshop and User Evaluation @ Intel
by Edel Jennings and Mark Roddy (EFM/TSSG)
Last week the SOCIETIES consortium held a Workshop at the Intel Innovation Open Lab in Leixlip, Ireland.
A significant number of Intel employees were invited to attend and were presented with some of the value propositions from the project’s Innovation Tree.
David McKitterick from Intel presents the SOCIETIES Innovation Tree
The Workshop started with an architectural overview of the SOCIETIES platform from the project’s Technical Co-ordinator, David McKitterick from Intel, and was followed by Dr. Ioanna Roussaki from the National Technical University of Athens who provided attendees with an insight into the project’s Context Management & Inference engine.
Then Prof. Nick Taylor from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh explained how the platform uses the Personalisation & Learning enablers to tailor the SOCIETIES experience for the project’s targeted user communities.
Bruno Jean-Bart & Olivier Maridat from TRIALOG presenting the Privacy by Design techniques
Tailoring this user pervasive experience relies heavily on the platform’s ability to have a fine-grained understanding of the user’s context, which could be regarded suspiciously by our end users. These suspicions were taken on board in our final presentation by Bruno Jean-Bart & Olivier Maridat from TRIALOG based in Paris, who jointly presented the project’s ‘Privacy by Design’ techniques. If the Q&A session at the end of the presentations was anything to go by then the workshop was judged to be a resounding success.
The Workshop was followed by an evaluation of the first SOCIETIES prototype, and six people from Intel elected to participate in the user evaluation exercise as part of the SOCIETIES Enterprise Community, which was based around a ‘Networking at a Conference’ scenario. The user evaluation featured two of the project’s current third party services: the Networking Zones application, and the Context Aware Wall application; along with the main SOCIETIES platform application. The technical set-up, support and running of the trial system was successfully staged by Intel and IBM researchers, who provided essential expertise and support through the setup, including the management of WIFI sniffers, which successfully demonstrated indoor location discovery.
Since the prototype system software is still very much in development, and there are many known usability and integration issues; it was decided to begin with a participative walkthrough demo, to introduce participants to the software. Each of the six Enterprise Group participants was provided with a smart phone device, on which the required system software had been installed. They were asked to follow along a set of predefined tasks, as they were simultaneously being demonstrated and explained on a large monitor by the SOCIETIES presenter. A task sheet with a checklist of the basic tasks and steps involved was provided, which also included a section for comments, to invite feedback from each individual participant as they were guided through the platform and Context-Aware Wall applications. Seven SOCIETIES researchers were also present to support, observe and record the exercise. Post-its and pens were provided and a large whiteboard in the room had two sections organised to capture comments and questions, for each of the applications.
A ‘chase the clues’ treasure hunt game, designed to illustrate the potential of location and context aware communication within different communities, was played by all of the participants. This brought the first part of the trial to a pause when all game participants discovered the final destination specific message and shared the final prize – lunch! All six participants completed the System Usability Scale (SUS) Survey at this point.
‘Guardian Angels’ Alec and Guy helping some of the DragonSoc contenders
Lunch was followed by an introduction to SOCIETIES’ Networking Zones application. Then, four participants were engaged in a scenario role play exercise, called DragonSoc. Scripts were provided for four characters, or personas, to illustrate a ‘dragon’s den’/'secret millionaire’ game scenario, designed to play out how users selective sharing impacts on relevance, and implicit/explicit learning. Participants were required to use and switch between all three of the applications, and make decisions regarding how much information to share to follow the scripts. Societies researchers provided ‘guardian angel’ and ‘tech support’ services to assist users as required, and a conceptual ‘large prize’ was provided to the eventual winner of the game.
Fabio the Investor presents a delighted Kieran with his €1,000,000 post-it prize
Feedback flowed freely between participants and researchers during this exercise, as questions, comments, discussions and suggestions were captured in post-its and recorded observations. A closing participative discussion engaged both the enterprise trial participants and some SOCIETIES researchers on the projects’ value proposition and key innovations. This brought the trial to an end.
The Intel participants were actively and critically engaged throughout the trial. They provided intelligent insight from the user perspective to the proposed scenarios. The data from the SOCIETIES’ Enterprise user trials will now be analysed and reported on in detail in a forthcoming project deliverable, and the results will be harnessed to assist the development team in focusing their future efforts.
SOCIETIES User Trials provide an opportunity to see how the work done by all the SOCIETIES partners, can be integrated and utilised to create a rich social and pervasive experience, which can be appreciated by real people. When real users begin to glimpse the potential of the project’s proposed innovations, despite the limitations and constraints of early prototypes, it does indicate and strengthen the project’s underlying achievements.