A project of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering won a Hewlett Packard award



The 2009 winners...

HPIIE 2009
Table of contents


Project summary

Project title: Integration of Virtualization and Mobility for Learning

Principal Investigator: Associate Professor Nadezhda Ruskova, PhD. Head of the Computer Science and Engineering Department.
         1, Studentska Str. Technical university of Varna, 9010, Varna, Bulgaria
         phone: +359(52)383424, fax: +359(52)383320, e-mail: ruskova@tu-varna.bg

Team members:
Trifon Ruskov, assoc. prof. PhD, teacher, virtual framework designer
Anatolij Antonov, assoc. prof. PhD, teacher, course preparation
Vladimir Nikolov, assoc. prof. PhD, teacher, course preparation
Hristo Valchanov, senior assistant, PhD, tutor, virtual framework developer
Konstantin Kapinchev, assistant, tutor, virtual framework developer

Campus: Technical university of Varna

Department: Department of Computer Science & Engineering

The traditional teaching method requires the students to attend classes. Those classes are held in laboratories designed for some particular subject, equipped with cables, network devices, servers, and software needed for that. The classes are scheduled at certain time and in certain laboratory or seminar hall. The maximum number of students cannot exceed the capacity of the laboratory or the hall. All these conditions bring limitations in the teaching process. It appears not to be flexible and unable to react quickly enough to the rapidly changing areas of study like IT technologies. Changing the curriculum, both in theoretical and practical aspect, will bring the need of changing the existing laboratory infrastructure, and the software already installed. The aim of this project is by virtualization of the infrastructure, combined with mobility of the learners, to increase the efficiency of the teaching process and the research capabilities of students and lecturers. With the achieved flexibility, the teaching will become more adequate to the rapidly changing world of IT industry. The usage of virtual machines and virtualization technologies will increase the capacity and usage of the existing infrastructure, and it will ease its administration. The virtualization will avoid the need for redesigning and reconfiguring the hardware and software in the laboratories, when changes in the curriculum occur. With the virtual infrastructures it would be possible to use simulation tools to analyze and investigate real systems and processes. To build this, without the mentioned technology, a significant amount of expenses will be needed. Changes in the curriculum will lead to logical configuration of the virtual infrastructure, in form and structure corresponding to the new requirements. Using the mobility by notebooks and Tablet PCs, the students will not need to attend the university halls, to complete their practical classes. This will give them the possibility to plan their students’ activities in their own way and style. Also, as a result, the students would be more interested in the learning process. On the other hand, this system will let the lecturer to have a complete view on the students work, and their achievements.

How will teach
With the Tablet PCs it would be possible to create virtual mobile laboratory, which does not exist in the university at present time. This would give the opportunity to implement Anyplace Anytime Learning (AAL) in higher education. The aim of the project is to introduce, in few years, this way of study not only to students from “Computer System and Technology” course, but also to other students, in other areas of study. With the help of Web Interface, the students will be able to access the real equipment in the laboratories. Also, the simulation software will let them make their research, without attending the classrooms. The award will give the opportunity to achieve better usage of the existing university network. The university network is based on latest HP network devices and technologies, including HP ProLiant 320 G4 server, HP ProCurve 2600, 2800, 3400 switches, HP access points, VMware. The network is build as totally switched Ethernet infrastructure, utilizing VLANs. It is possible to use the Tablet PCs to estimate the functionality and security of the wireless network across the university campus. With proper software for wireless communication analysis, Tablet PCs would be primary tool for expanding the virtual learning environment, regardless the actual location.

The project results will be measured in two aspects:
First aspect is regarding the availability of the virtual learning environment throughout the university campus. Before the start of the project, spots with problems in wireless connection are marked. The Tablet PCs will be used as mobile agents, and with their help the wireless equipment will be tuned to achieve proper connection.
Second aspect is regarding the quality of education. This evaluation will occur every academic year. For those students, participating in AAL, a baseline will be defined.
Various data and information about the learning process will be kept, such as: consumed time for preparation of classes, number of projects assigned to students, number of practical tasks prepared by students, number of practical classes, results and marks achieved by students. This information will be collected as feedback, by the lecturers and tutors during the semester. Based on this data, at the end of each academic year a statistical analysis will be created.
Important aspect in the measurement process will be how the AAL is accepted by both students and lecturers. This information will indicate the efficiency of the virtual learning environment, and as a baseline for further improvement and development.

Courses impacted
The students, impacted by this project will be undergraduates and postgraduates, studying the “Computer Science and Technologies” course.
The first re-designed courses within the project belong to the “Computer Science and Engineering” Department will be: “Operating Systems”, “Computer Communications”, “Network Administration” and “Distributed Programming”. A significant portion of the students work to support themselves during their years of studying. The implementation of the following project will allow them to adjust better to their responsibilities at the University and at work.
“Computer Science and Engineering” department offers courses to foreign students. Using this technology will help them to overcome the language barrier and the social differences.

Academic Leadership
The academic leader of this project is Nadezhda Ruskova, associate professor and head of the Department of Computer Scoence and Engineering (CSE) at Technical university of Varna. She is the author of several papers published on international scientific journals. She holds two undergraduate and two graduate courses.
The CSE is the pioneer in the academic computer society in Bulgaria in improving its curricula and syllabuses to reflect most adequately recent advances in computer science and information technologies. Our academic programs improvements are made considering the demands of the IT labor market, the latest directions of IEEE and ACM and the current academic programs of leading universities worldwide.

Project timeline

The duration of the project is 24 months (2 academic years).

  1. Launch (3 months) – during this phase the courses, connected to the project, will be analyzed, also the virtual framework will be planned;
  2. Development (6 months) –  during this phase the team participants will implement the virtual infrastructure;
  3. Execution (12 months) – during this phase practical classes, involved in the project will be organized. Feedback information, describing the learning process will be collected periodically. Periodical analyze of the efficiency of studying and renewing the curriculum will be made;
  4. Conclusions (3 months) – during this phase a complete analyze of the collected information will be created. Based on this information, efficiency of the virtual learning environment will be measured.

HP World Conference
HP and ISTE organize a "2010 HP Innovations in Education Worldwide Summit" that will be held in San Francisco, California USA on 22-24 February 2010. This world conference will allow all the members of the projects to share ideas and opinions about the introduction of the new technologies in the learning and teaching processes.
Here is the poster that representing us during the conference.