GRAPPLE is an EU FP7 STREP Project. GRAPPLE stands for ‘Generic Responsive Adaptive Personalized Learning Environment’.
The GRAPPLE project aims at delivering a technology-enhanced learning (TEL) environment that guides students through a life-long learning experience, and automatically adapts to personal preferences, prior knowledge, skills and competences, learning goals, and the personal or social context in which the learning takes place. The same TEL environment can be used/accessed at home, school, work, or on the move (using mobile/handheld devices).
GRAPPLE will include authoring tools that enable educators to provide adaptive learning material to students, including adaptive interactive components (visualisations, simulations, virtual reality). Authoring includes creating or importing content, assigning or extracting meaning from that content, designing learning activities and defining pedagogical properties of and adaptation strategies for the content and activities.
GRAPPLE delivers a framework where the content shown can be adapted to the individual user. An example of adaptation is that a student answers a series of questions on a specific topic and, based on the outcome of this knowledge acquisition, the introduction to a sequence of lessons can either be skipped or not. Another example of adaptation is that the first time a text is shown it is shown in its entirety, but the second time only a summary appears so that students are not forced to completely reread the page. Pages can thus be automatically customised based on the usage of the course.
An author – a teacher, for example – decides what has to be included in the system. Content can consist of text, video, audio, and so forth. The author also decides which rules will be used to adapt the system, such as the course requirements, or a student’s learning style. The author can choose from a number of predefined adaptive templates. A requirement for the authoring system was that it must be simple to use, as authors with limited knowledge of the software must be able to adapt the content.
The intention is to integrate the system with existing Learning Management Systems (LMS). Suppliers of LMSs such as universities and commercial companies are partners in the project. The GRAPPLE system is integrated within the LMSs and can exchange data, such as courses followed or examinations that have been completed.
The project is currently starting the main evaluation phase. The partners of the project and their client organisations will start using the system and provide the project with feedback. The project will conclude with a workshop at the beginning of 2011.
FP7 Periodic Reporting
Periodic Reports must be submitted on a yearly basis. The reporting period is six weeks. At the beginning of the reporting period the scientist who must report on the results of the deliverables, as well as on deviations and future actions, receives an e-mail with an explanation of EU-xpert and a notification of the assignments to be distributed. After that the work package leaders create assignments for each scientist. They receive the assignment by e-mail and by clicking on the link they can access that part of the report where they have to submit their contribution. There is close cooperation with the scientists so the response is high. The scientists know what to write. Creating an output quickly shows who still has to make a contribution.
When working with EU-fin it is important to realise that not all the financial information will be available at the beginning of the reporting period. So, two weeks after the beginning of the reporting period, all financial contact persons receive an e-mail notifying them of the deadline for delivery of the financial data. Reports show whether the contribution has been made or not.
As in the Description of Work (DOW), data in EU-fin is on the work package level. Each work package relates to one task. GRAPPLE only uses the EU-fin system to register actuals, such as actual costs, explanation of costs and actual person-months. Reports are created and collated with the flexible report module. Examples include the ‘Person-month per Work Package per Partner per Year’ and the ‘Actual Costs per Work Package per Partner per Year’ reports. The standard ‘Explanation of Costs’ report is also used. This data is compared with the tables in the DOW. Furthermore, the FORM-C output is compared to the information that has been submitted in the online Negotiation Forms (NEF) tool of the EC.
Setting up the system
EU-xpert was explained to the project office. FP-tools consultants created the structure of the document in EU-xpert based on the DOW. This was reviewed and minor modifications were suggested and implemented. The deliverables of the first reporting year were removed for the second year. No further modifications were required. EU-fin was set up for the first year and this set up did not change in subsequent years. Only the names of contact persons had to be added or deleted.
Using EU-xpert means that you do not have to compose the report yourself by copying and pasting. Moreover, all the scientists can review each other’s contributions. If the first people to contribute do this comprehensively, they set a standard for the other scientists. Using EU-fin means that financial data is collected in a structured way and reports are easily made. Support from FP-tools for both tools was excellent: such support is especially valuable during the first year. Specific questions, for example, on how or what to report, and explanations of indirect cost methods, were answered satisfactorily.