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FORGE Methodology

FORGE Methodology FORGE 24/04/2015 English

Methodology

Methodology FORGE 22/04/2015 English

The methodology for creating FIRE courseware that has been developed in FORGE guides the course designer from defining thecourse up to deploying it, considering the educational and technologicalrequirements, which are part of the adopted LD approach. The methodologydescribes the steps that have to be taken in order to create and/or reuse acourse within the FORGE context. Figure 5 presentsthese steps, describing two main stages: a) the course preparation, where thecourse designer must identify the requirements for the course and b) the FORGE supported activities, where depending on the identified components in stage a, different components will be set.


Figure5. FORGE course methodologyflowchart

Specifying requirements

Specifying educational objectives

Educational objectives or learning outcomes cover knowledge, skills and personal, social and/or methodological abilities that a learner should have acquired when successfully having finished a learning opportunity. According to the European Qualification Framework (EQF), learning outcomes are defined in terms of knowledge, skills, and competences.

Knowledge is the outcome of the assimilation of information through learning. Knowledge is the body of facts, principles, theories and practices that is related to a field of work or study. An example learning outcome about knowledge would be: “Students are able to enumerate and explain the seven layers of the ISO/OSI ReferenceModel.”

Skills are the ability to apply knowledge and use know-how to complete tasks and solve problems. An example learning outcome about skills is: “Students are able to design aninteractive website that complies with Web Accessibility Guidelines.” In this example, in order to achieve this skill, students will need to assimilate knowledge in web programming and web accessibility. They will be able to do something by applying knowledge, therefore this signifies a skill.

Competence is the proven ability to use knowledge and skills inwork or study situations and in professional and personal development. One key aspect of a competence is the degree of autonomy and responsibility with which students are able to apply knowledge and skills. An example of such a learning outcome would be: “Students are able to review the architectural model of a given system and formulate suggestions for improvement based on relevantsoftware metrics with minimal supervision by a tutor.” This learning outcome requires the ability to use knowledge and skills: it requires knowledge about architectural models and software metrics; it requires the skills of being able to do a critical review, apply software metrics, and suggest improvements tothe model. It is a competence because it adds information about the degree ofautonomy by stating that students are able to do this with minimal supervision by a tutor.

Organization of context

To develop a course, the course designer must identify and/or define several context components that will affect the course development and deployment since the most suitable FIRE facility and FORGE tools will be adopted based on these components. The most relevant components are:

Dates: The dates when the course will be performed. It may affect the selection of FIRE facility due to scheduling and bookingmatters.

Number of students: The amount of students who will perform the course directly maps into the amount of equipment and the sharing/scheduling mechanisms to be applied inthe FIRE facility.

Geolocationand connectivity: An important factor to know in advance is the location inthe world and the type of connectivity available. Depending on such information, different facilities may be chosen.

Computational devices to be used (ibook, ebook reader, laptop/PC,tablet): Regarding the main devices to be used by the learners, different FORGE tools may be applied.

LMS to beused: Same as the previous item, the Learning Management System (LMS) capabilities will determine the FORGE tools to be used.

Language:The language to be used for the content development. Moreover, the language to offer support by FORGE will be, mainly, English with exception of the mother tongues of our partners, if they are available for such task.

Financial matters: Regarding the financial model of the course, different FIREfacilities services can be provided/offered, since some of them offer differentiated services depending on the level of service previously agreed.

Identifying FIRE facilities

In this step, the course designer needs to identify the FIRE facility which best suits the requirements - as specified inthe previous step - of the course one wants to develop. There are various aspects which come into play. The two most relevant ones are related to: a) facility features and b) reservation practicalities.

The first and most important task is to identifythe facility features which match the intended course content. When someone, for example, wants to include experimental exercises using specially developed wireless transmission protocols, a facility should be chosen where one has permission to adapt theradio drivers or where one can use cognitive radio devices, etc. A basicoverview of the most prominent facility features covered in Fed4FIRE is given in Table 1.

Table 1. FIRE facilities overview

Facility

Location

Focus

Nodes

Prominent features

Virtual Wall

Belgium

wired

cloud

openflow

300+

4 to 16 raw cores per node/server

full 1-10 gbps interconnection

bare metal or virtualization

software network impairment

Planetlab Europe

France

World

wired

1000+

internet connected virtual machines

primary locations: U.S., Europe, Asia

Norbit

Australia

wireless

38

2 wired, 2 Wi-Fi interfaces per node

wired and wireless experimentation

office environment

fully managed by OMF

w-iLab.t

Belgium

wireless

80

IEEE 802.11,802.15.1,802.15.4 interfaces

cognitive radio platforms

spectrum scanning engines

20 mobile robots

NITOS

Greece

wireless

openflow

100

in- and outdoor office environment

indoor shielded environment

GNU Radio boards with MIMO

50 high powered Intel Core i7-2600 nodes

OpenFlow experimentation possible

NETMODE

Greece

wireless

20

alix3d2 nodes with 2x IEEE 802.11a/b/g

Intel Atom nodes with 2x 802.11a/b/g/n

Smart Santander

Spain

wireless

2000+

3-tiered WSN network with REST API

IoT sensors: temperature, light, CO, etc.

Separated 802.15.4 management network

Meshlium Gateway nodes

FuSeCo

Germany

wireless

60+

Wireless broadband network experiments

OpenIMS Playground and 3GPP EPC

Virtualization of functional elements

2G, 3G, 4G femtocells

Ofelia

Spain
Germany England

wired

openflow

20*

Multiple OpenFlow islands

Interconnected and federated

Infrastructure as a Service

VM Experiments on shared OpenFlow switches

KOREN

Korea

openflow

6

Backbone network experimentation

6 Large connected cities by OpenFlow and DCN

10Gbps~20Gbps links

Connected to TEIN3, GEANT, JGN-X, Internet2

BonFIRE

Europe

cloud

400+

Infrastructure as a Service model

Federated multi-platform Cloud

2 to 48 raw core cloud servers

more nodes available on request

Community-Lab (C-Lab)

Spain

wired

140

Community Network experimentation

C-Lab nodes contain: community device, research device and optional recovery device

*Number of OpenFlow switches

A broader overview of high levelfunctionality per FIRE facility is given below, based on the informationprovided by XiPi,an on-line catalogue of Future Internet infrastructures operated by TheInfinity Project Consortium and compatibility criteria defined by FIWARE**. Table 2 covers functionality on the following topics: Cloud Computing, Data and context management, Internet of Things (IoT), Application Service Delivery, Security and Interface to Network and Devices (I2ND).

**As defined in FIWARE D3.7 - Methodology and tools for the determination of infrastructures requirements and for the detection of Common Enablers and Interoperability constraints

To describe the functionality, FIWARE usesone of the following indicators:

  • High compatibility (H)
  • Potential compatibility (P)
  • Non compatibility (N)
  • Unknown compatibility (U)

Table 2. FIRE facilities functionality

Facility

Cloud

Data

IoT

Services

Security

I2ND

CESGA - Fund Pub. Gallega Centro Tecno. de Supercomputación de Galicia

H

P

H

N

H

H

Cognitive Radio Experimentation World (CREW)

U

P

H

U

U

H

Community Cloud (CLOMMUNITY)

H

U

U

U

U

U

Community-Lab.net

U

U

U

N

P

H

Czech Optical Backbone Network for Research and Education

U

U

U

U

P

H

DOTSEL

U

U

U

U

P

H

ETOMIC nmVO (Network Measurement Virtual Observatory)

U

P

P

N

P

P

ETOMIC SONoMA (Service Oriented NetwOrk Measurement Architecture)

U

U

U

N

U

P

European Traffic Observatory Measurement Infrastructure (ETOMIC)

U

U

U

U

P

P

EXPERIMEDIA CAR

U

U

U

P

P

H

EXPERIMEDIA Foundation for the Hellenic World

U

U

U

U

P

H

EXPERIMEDIA Schladming Ski Resort

U

U

U

P

P

H

EXPERIMENTA PLATFORM

U

U

U

U

P

H

FEDERICA Federated E-infrastructure Dedicated to European Researchers Innovating in Computing network Architectures

U

U

U

U

U

H

FOKUS FUSECO Playground

U

U

U

U

P

H

FOKUS Smart Communications Playground

H

U

H

P

P

H

Fraunhofer FOKUS SmartTV Lab

U

U

U

P

U

H

Fundació i2CAT. Recerca i Innovació en l'Àmbit d'Internet

U

U

H

U

U

P

GAINA

H

U

U

U

P

H

Grid'5000

U

U

U

U

P

H

iMinds technical testing: iLab.t

U

U

H

N

P

H

MiNI LAB

H

U

U

U

H

H

National Technical University of Athens

U

U

U

U

P

H

Network Implementation Testbed using Open Source code (NITOS)

H

U

H

U

P

H

NiWi, Nicta Wireless Testbed

U

U

U

U

P

H

OFELIA Testbed i2CAT

U

U

U

U

P

U

OFELIA TUB-Island

U

U

U

U

U

U

PlanetLab Europe

U

U

U

U

U

U

POZMAN

U

U

U

U

U

H

SmartSantander

U

U

H

U

U

H

SmartSantander Testbed

U

U

H

U

P

P

SmartSantander Testbed - Lübeck Facility

U

U

H

U

U

U

Tkn Wireless Indoor Sensor network Testbed (TWIST)

U

U

H

U

P

P

Trentino Testbed

U

U

U

U

P

H

UFU Future Internet Testbed

U

U

U

U

P

H


For further details, we refer to the specific information pages of each facility and/or to available overview lists(Fed4FIRE testbed overview, ICT FIRE overview).

Next, the course designer should check whether the facility is capable of handling the size of the experiments included in their intended course. How many resources are needed at most on thefacility? If this number of nodes is not achievable on the facility which matched the course features, could the experiment(s) be modified so that itwill use less nodes, leverage virtualization, or have some students sharing the same nodes? Or maybe another facility with more nodes can be used which also matched the course requirements.

The next item to be checked is reservation practicalities. The course designer has identified a facility which can provide the features they needs and which has sufficient resources to start experimentation on the desired scale of magnitude. However, the course designer now needs to ensure that they will be able to use these resources on the desired time. If they needs to use the resources at a very specific time (e.g.during a guided in-classroom lab session), they needs to check whether these resources are not used by any other person. The course designer should make areservation to use these resources for the required time, if the facility provides such a mechanism. Should a facility be used which does not implement a reservation mechanism, the course designer will need to anticipate for a worst-case scenario where the resources will not be available. If one needs to use the resources for remote learning (with optionally self-assessment) during a longer period of time, they will also need to check whether the facility allows to have the resources reserved for this amount of time, or to have anautomated reservation and provisioning of these nodes on request.

The course designers are encouraged to explore the documentation of the different facilities. Should they however still doubt about the appropriate FIRE facility to use, they can contact the FORGE consortium.

FORGE Widgets and Adapters

Now that the course requirements have been specified and anappropriate FIRE facility has been identified, the course designer needs todetermine what widgets (the interface with the experiment) and adapters (theinterface with the facility) to use.

  • A widget is a service that runs in a remote environment and can be accessedthrough a web interface. The resources required to run a widget are generallyoffered by the host organization that created it. The front-end of a widget isa web GUI (graphical user interface), usually designed using a language withgraphical capabilities e.g. java applets, HTML5 etc. The process of embeddingof widget inside courses is done with the use of iframes. More details aboutwidgets can also be found in D3.1
  • Adapters are small programs orscripts which aid in the conversion of requests from widgets (controlled atclient side by learners) to actual calls for starting, stopping or controllingexperiments at a FIRE facility. An adapter may or may not have a graphicalinterface with the end-user and can also include additional modules to extendits functionality with capabilities which may not be provided (yet) by thetargeted FIRE facility. More information about adapters can be found in D2.1.

The FORGE project has organized and categorized all its components and content in such a way that all interested parties can search, locate and reuse existing software, resources and educational content without the need of creating everything from scratch. It is definitely worthwhile to have a look at the existing widgets and adapters that were created for previously made courses. Most widgets and adapters are created in a generic way, allowing them to be readily (or with minor changes) used for other courses or other facilities. For instance, an example course on LTE,as used in the FLEX project, is usingthe exact same adapters as the prototype 'iMinds WLAN course' (as described in D5.1) and the widgets are provided with different content and experiment descriptions, but are behaving exactly the same.

The following paragraphs describe how these concepts are implemented in FORGE technologies. Before describing the process of creating a complete educational course we need to give a small description of the two major platforms, FORGEStore and FORGEBox.

  • FORGEStore:FORGEStore is an online marketplace which contains the complete set of sharedwidgets, FORGEBox services, FIRE adapters and shared interactive courses.FORGEStore items are developed by the FORGE team members as well as severalthird party organizations that are interested to share learning material forFIRE experimentation. FORGEStore website is available at www.forgestore.eu
  • FORGEBox:FORGEBox is a platform that interconnects learning interactive content withFIRE resources rather than an LMS. It is the place where a course designer hasaccess to all the necessary utilities to create a lab course. An organizationcan setup its own FORGEBox platform and design its own educational content. Alltools required to create a course (e.g. widgets, adapters etc.) can be importedin a FORGEBox installation, directly from FORGEStore. The code to setup and runthis platform can be downloaded from github (https://github.com/bakkostas/ForgeBox). An instantiation of FORGEBoxadministered by the FORGE project is available in www.forgebox.eu/fb.

Both FORGEBox and FORGEStore platforms require from an enduser to be registered and signed in.

Identifying/using/reusing existing FORGE widgets, courses and adapters

FORGE offers alarge variety of tools and content that has been designed by multipleorganizations across Europe. All interested parties are recommended to checkthe FORGEStore marketplace for any apps, widgets, adapters or even completecourses that they can download and use for their needs, before they startcreating their own courses.

  1. Working with existing widgets.


Figure 6. FORGEStore list ofwidgets

Figure 6 depicts a screenshot of available widgets in FORGEStore. These widgets are organized in different categories based on their functionality and capabilities. Examples of these categories are: future internet, monitoring, networking, course support etc.Each widget has a "View Details" button where more information aboutthe widget is presented.

If a user wants touse an existing widget they cannot download it directly from FORGEStore, but instead, the process of installing a widget is an automated process performed through the FORGEBox platform. All FORGEBox installations are connected to the widget repository of the FORGEStore marketplace by default. If a user wants to download a FORGE widget from the FORGEStore market they must use the option Widgets > Install New (header menu) in their FORGEBox account. They will be redirected to a webpage (Figure7) with a dropdown menu where they can select the repository from which they wishes to locate the desired widget. (Yes, FORGE allows multiple widget designers andproviders to create and host their own widgets). By selecting the optionFORGEStore, the user can see the list of available widgets from the FORGEStoremarketplace, identify the widget they wants and download and install it in their account.


Figure 7. Installing a new widget in FORGEBox

  1. Working with existing Course Bundles.
  2. A user can see the list of available FORGE courses in FORGEStore by selecting the link "Course Bundles" from the top (header) menu. A FORGE course Bundle is a complete package of an educational course, in SCORM format, which can be imported in:

    a.an LMS system to be used forteaching purposes

    b.a FORGEBox installation forfurther editing or modifications.

    With course bundles FORGE gives the ability to its users to share and use off-the-shelf educational material that can be immediately imported across multiple platforms and learning systems.

  3. Working with existing Services/FIRE adapters.

A user can see the list of available FORGE adapters in FORGEStore by selecting (from the headermenu) the option "Services/FIRE adapters". Like widgets, each service/adapter also has a "View Details" button. By clicking this button, a user can see more information about this service/adapter.

FIRE Adapters are backend services, for which, FORGEStore gives instructions on how to either install this FIRE Adapter or use it as a web service. In many cases they are just packages that lab course designers can download and install into their FORGEBox installation.

Developing your own widgets/adapters and sharing it with FORGE

The philosophy behind the FORGE architecture is to allow the creation of diverse widgets/adapters that can perform different tasks and meet diverse needs and requirements. The whole process of creating new widgets/adapters is intentionally designed to be openand very flexible since they are offered as web services available to be usedin course mashups. There are no specific guidelines on how to create a widget but only instructions on how to embed your remote service (widget/adapter) insidea course or system and link it with the resources that are used to operate it.

A user can share their widgets/adapters by publishing them to FORGEStore. This process can be performed using the option (header menu) Admin > Registered Widgets and Admin> Registered Services (Figure8).


Figure 8. Adding a new widget inFORGEStore

Widgets and theLearning Tools Interoperability LTI standard

Widget developers are encouraged to followthe LTI standard for their developments. This will allow the seamless integration ofwidgets inside any Learning Management Systems and will allow theidentification of a learner’s identity, which can later be used for monitoring theirbehaviour using APIs like the TinCAN API. FORGE widgets are towardsinvestigating the adoption of LTI ready to be consumed be LTI compliant LMSs.

Educational content

The educational content that can be placed in a FORGE course is any kind of learning material that can help a teacher achieve the course’s learning targets. This material can have the form of text that describes the theory behind a specific exercise, questionnaires with multiple-choice options, videos with lectures, videos with instructions on how to conduct the exercise, images and diagrams about the architecture and topology of the required components, graphical representations of the desired results etc. A teacher can also create links and references to online books and other exercises or even upload their own documents e.g. slides. The only requirement for using a specific piece of learning material in a FORGE course is its ability to be integrated and presented in the FORGEBox platform and later on ready to be consumed by any modern LMS. This means it has to be available in somekind of a web format.

We advise lab course designers to include some informationabout the FORGE platform and FIRE facilities in their educational content. Thiswould give students an idea about their exercises’ underlying platform and willalso help them with the use of widgets and adapters.

Integration of widgets/adapters/content

The content of a course, the widgets and thebackend FIRE Adapter services are integrated to provide a full experience of aninteractive course. Next sections present how these elements are integratedtogether into the FORGEBox platform.

Create the FORGE educational package

When a user creates a new account in FORGEBox he is able to view and perform FORGEBox courses (with the learner role) but he cannot create a course. In order to be able to create educational content, a user must contact the administrator of the FORGEBox system and upgrade his account to “lab designer”. The following steps are also available in a video tutorial in the FORGE vimeo channel

My coursemodules

When a user logs in the FORGEBox system they is able to view courses that have already been created by other users. To create their own course, the user must follow the link Courses> My Course Modules from the top menu. They will then be redirected tothe webpage My Course Modules (Figure9) whereall the required tools for creating and managing their own courses are available.