Category Archives: 2010/1-2

Editorial

This issue of FormaMente is centered around two main groups of proposals and is characterized by a great variety of contributions, examined by different thematic and geographical perspectives.

In the Research section, the comparison method significantly analyzes the link between the interparadigmaticity of the philosophic systems against the gadamerian assumption of the fusion of horizons and the differentiability of the mathematical objective functions used to solve non-linear problems and to model parts of reality when looking for best solutions rather than exact ones.

Giovanni Briganti

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Comparison paradox, comparative situation and inter-paradigmaticy: a methodological reflection on cross-cultural philosophical comparison

It is commonly believed that philosophical comparison depends on having some common measure or standard between and above the compared parts. The paper is to show that the foregoing common belief is incorrect and therewith to inquire into the possibility of cross-cultural philosophical comparison. First, the comparison paradox will be expounded. It is a theoretical difficulty for the philosophical tendency represented by Plato´s theory of Ideas to justify comparative activities. Further, the connection of the comparative paradox with the obstacles met by cross-cultural philosophical comparisons will be demonstrated. It will be shown that to attribute the difficulty of cross-cultural comparisons to incommensurability of traditions is irrelevant and misleading. It is to be argued that the original possibility of comparison depends on the comparison paradox, i.e., the mechanism of meaning-production that functions in a non-universalistic and anonymous way. A philosophical paradigm does facilitate the attendance of such a situation, but it is also possible for the situation to emerge between paradigms in a gamesome way. Accordingly, the genuine comparison at issue will not originate primarily and merely on the level of concepts and propositions, but can only be achieved through inter-paradigmatic conditions, where we have the sharp awareness of a paradigm´s boundary from which we can attempt to achieve situational communication with another paradigm. In light of this, the perspective of a philosophical comparison differs not only from the traditional or universalistic one, but also from Gadamer´s hermeneutics, such as the doctrine of ‘fusion of horizons’. The new perspective finds an illustration in Heidegger´s relations with Daoism.

Article originally published in ‘Comparative Philosophy’, V.1(2010), n. 1, pp. 90-105. Reprinted with permission.

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Unconstrained methods for nonsmooth nonlinear complementary problems

We consider a nonsmooth nonlinear complementarity problem when the underlying functions admit the H-differentiability but not necessarily locally Lipschitzian nor directionally differentiable. We study the connection between the solutions of the nonsmooth nonlinear complementarity problem and global/local/stationary points ofthe associated square penalized Fischer-Burmeister and square Kanzow-Kleinmichel merit functions. We show under appropriate regularity conditions on an H-differential of f, minimizing a merit function corresponding to f,leads to a solution of the nonlinearcomplementarity problem.

Article originally published in ‘AMO Advanced Modeling and Optimization’, V. 12(2010), n. 1, pp. 20-35. Reprinted with permission.

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Methodological and epistemological issues on linear regression applied to psychometric variables in problem solving: rethinking variance

The aim of the present paper is two-fold. First, it attempts to support previous findings on the role of some psychometric variables, such as, M-capacity, the degree of field dependence-independence, logical thinking and the mobility-fixity dimension, on students´ achievement in chemistry problem solving. Second, the paper aims to raise some methodological and epistemological issues concerning the implementation of the general linear model (GLM) in this type of research. Multiple regression analysis was used to analyze the data, which were taken from students (N =86) in tenth grade of high school taking a compulsory course in chemistry. Three different techniques were implemented in order to support a linear model: The Added Variable Plots, the Stepwise Regression and the Best Subsets Regression. Residual analysis and collinearity diagnosis were also performed in order to test the robustness of inferential statistics. The GLM explained 39% of the variance and suggested that only M-capacity and logical thinking were the significant predictors, even though all the correlation coefficients with achievement were statistically significant. The extensive analysis of the linear regression procedures revealed their advantages and also their limitations in terms of statistical robustness. Moreover, a discussion is initiated concerning the explanatory power of linear models and suggests rethinking variance explained under a different philosophical perspective. It is argued that the weakness of the GLM in studying complex dynamical processes, such as problem solving, is rooted not merely in the statistical assumptions that do not hold, or in the variables that are ignored, but substantially it is deeply epistemological.

Article originally published in ‘Chemistry Education Research and Practice’, V. 11(2010), pp. 59-68. Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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Ontology-based approaches for improving the interoperability between 3D urban models

3D geodata are more and more available as well as realtime visualization possibilities with free three-dimensional viewers such as Google Earth. This implies a growing demand of 3D city models, which are 3D representations at the scale of the city. Despite their intended wide range of applications, such models cannot be used for many urban tasks as they cannot represent the urban information associated with these tasks. On the contrary, ontologies have proven their capacity and usability in the representation of information and knowledge of various domains. Besides, interoperability is a crucial problem for urban information systems. Transferring information between different systems or models requires the ability to set up correspondences between concepts from one system to concepts in the other one. The use of ontologies can greatly facilitate this mechanism of concept matching. In this paper we will present, on the basis of case studies, how ontologies can overstep the semantic limitation of 3D city models and how ontology-based approaches can be used to interconnect urban models in order to improve their interoperability.

Article originally published in ‘Tcon – Journal of Information Technology in Construction’, V. 15(2010), Special Issue: Bringing urban ontologies into practice, pp. 169-184. ©The authors. Distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence 3.0 unported.

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Feathers in the nest: establishing a supportive environment for women researchers

This paper discusses research examining the attitudes and behaviours of researching women in academia and considers the effect of these factors on successful researching outcomes. The results of this exploratory research highlight in particular, a number of interesting environmental influencers which contribute to enhancing successful work outcomes for academic women researchers. Specifically, personal factors such as, marital status, partner support, age, cultural background and level of organization (in life) coupled with, research defined factors such as incentive for conducting the research and the existence of research partnerships and/or groups are identified as significant performance influencers. These dimensions appear to facilitate the level of research productivity for women academics based on key performance indicators such as journal/conference paper submissions and successful research funding applications. The potential benefits of this exploratory research are that any correlation between specific self-supporting attitudes or behaviours of successful women academics and effective research outcomes could provide important clues to both emerging and continuing researchers for career development and promotion.
Much of the current research on women in research focuses upon highlighting or measuring barriers to academic success. Past explanations for the lower productivity of female researchers, compared with their male counterparts, include factors such as the multiple roles adopted by women (mother, partner, friend, care-giver, colleague, academic), gender stereotyping, and what as been regarded as ‘toxic atmospheres’ for work which are exacerbated by gender biasing issues such as inequality in pay rates, promotional opportunities, non-flexible workloads (Stark-Adamec et al., 1993; Wilson, 2001, 2004; Fodor, 2005). Further research has investigated some of the sacrifices made by women academics, for example, forgoing or postponing having children in order to sustain a successful academic career (Williams, 2001; Wilson, 2003). In response to this body of literature, this paper adopted a counter perspective on the climate for women academics by highlighting the positive influences for women in these roles. Specifically, this research seeks to explore the nature of the relationship between research success (measured through research publications and successful research grant applications) and specific techniques to achieve this success. The answers to these questions could provide valuable information to women academics at all levels and foster enhanced performance for women employed within academia.

Article originally published in he Australian Educational Researcher, V.36(2009), n. 1. Reprinted with permission.

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A neuro-fuzzy controller for collaborative applications in robotics using labVIEW

A neuro-fuzzy controller was designed and implemented using LabVIEW over a mobile robotic platform. The controller is based on fuzzy clusters, neural networks, and search techniques. Also, wireless communication with Bluetooth protocol was used to communicate the robot with the controller running in LabVIEW, allowing a simple collaborative task that consisted in pick and place objects, through knowing the position of the robot and measuring the distance to the objects. The neuro-fuzzy controller was split in two parts: the position controller and the evasion controller against collisions.

Article originally published in ‘Applied Computational Intelligence and Soft Computin’, V.1(2009). ©2009 Hiram E. Ponce et al. Distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/acisc/2009/657095.html

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Managing the platform higher education and the logic of Wikinomics

The success of Wikipedia and wikinomic has led to a reassessment of distance learning universities, especially with reference to their structure. Such university model is being considered increasingly important in creating and disseminating knowledge. If comparing traditional universities with the basic
features of Wikipedia, it is possible to envisage a new structural model melting the positive aspects of both structures in a single system.

Article originally published in ‘Educause Review’ v. 44(2009), n. 1, pp. 36-47. Reprinted with permission.

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Incremental development of a shared urban ontology: the Urbamet experience

Thesauri are used for document referencing. They define hierarchies of domains. We show how document and domain contents can be used to validate and update a classification based on a thesaurus. We use document indexing and classification techniques to automate these operations. We also draft a methodology to systematically address those issues. Our techniques are applied to Urbamet, a thesaurus in the field of town planning.

Article originally published in ‘Tcon – Journal of Information Technology in Construction’ V. 15(2010), Special Issue: Bringing urban ontologies into practice, pp. 132-139. ©The authors. Distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence 3.0 unported.

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Designing online learning communities: lessons from Ekşisözlük

Lack of student participation and intrinsic motivation in online learning environments is a challenge to instructional design. There are some online communities which overcome this challenge by attracting participants from diverse backgrounds to engage, learn, and share information within their context.
Ekşisözlük, an online collaborative dictionary, is one of these communities. In this study we inquire for the unique characteristics of Ekşisözlük that can be applied to online learning environments to increase student motivation and participation. Study data were collected through online surveys and one-to-one interviews.
Study findings show that the unique characteristics of Ekşisözlük include a community history, individual identities evolved through participation, an effective search facility, and representation of multiple perspectives. In the implications for practice section, we discuss the identified characteristics and address some strategies to implement them in learning environments.

Article originally published in ‘EURODL European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning’, October 5, 2009. Reprinted with permission.

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Including personality in e-learning design

Despite the advances in the context of Adaptive and Intelligent Web-Based Educational Systems, currently, almost all software for e-learning usually present contents in exactly the same fashion to all users, without taking into account their different learning styles. As a result, unstructured teaching models might gradually lead users to a chronic process of exclusion from the traditional approach to learning based on the interaction between the preceptor and the student. This paper introduces a novel approach that includes individuals´ psychological characteristics in e-learning, so that applications can adapt the information presentation layer to the cognitive, perceptual and attitudinal requirements of each user. The design of the proposed framework is based on three major psychological theories, and it is consistent with current models of Adaptive e-learning applications. Our system aims at enriching the interaction dialogue by tailoring applications on individual styles. This may allow users enhance their learning performances and it may help them achieve better results, more quickly.

Revised version of the paper presented at GUIDE International Workshop Rome, 19-19 March 2010, Rome, Italy. http://www.guideassociation.org. Reprinted with permission.

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Evaluating and assessing quality in the online environment

The complex process of providing university level instruction on a variety of platforms, with a variety of degree choices, inspires as well as inhibits quality. Achieving excellence in the online environment requires dedicated instructors, staff, systems, and a university wide commitment to evaluation and assessment.

Revised version of the paper presented at GUIDE International Workshop Rome, 19-19 March 2010, Rome, Italy. http://www.guideassociation.org. Reprinted with permission.

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Monitorización de la red social en la plataforma educativa de la UOC: Sistema Xarxa-UOC

En la Universitat Oberta de Catalonia (UOC), estamos trabajando para la evolución de nuestro modelo educativo actual, integrando la innovación como un elemento propio del sistema.

Revised version of the paper presented at GUIDE International Workshop Rome, 19-19 March 2010, Rome, Italy. http://www.guideassociation.org. Reprinted with permission.

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ODE to combat poverty through microfinance education: a certificate program

The Department of Commerce, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Open University proposes to offer a ‘Certificate Program in microfinance’ through distance education mode in collaboration with a Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) to improve functional abilities of Self Help Group (SHG) members and community resource persons. In order to launch the certificate program, a research on the educational needs of SHG members has been conducted.

Revised version of the paper presented at GUIDE International Workshop Rome, 19-19 March 2010, Rome, Italy. http://www.guideassociation.org. Reprinted with permission.

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Retos y desafíos para una educación abierta y a distancia con pertinencia en el entorno venezolano

La Universidad Católica Cecilio Acosta de Maracibo (Unica) una universidad perteneciente a la Iglesia Católica y cuyos valores institucionales enarbola la pertinencia social en sus programas de estudios, especialmente en aquellos que se imparten en la modalidad a distancia, es la institución de educación superior con mayor experiencia en el campo de los Estudios a Distancia en Venezuela.

Revised version of the paper presented at GUIDE International Workshop Rome, 19-19 March 2010, Rome, Italy. http://www.guideassociation.org. Reprinted with permission.

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The University Life Café: promoting students’ emotional health

Contemporary technologies can be harnessed to meet community-building and emotional health objectives for university students. Cross-functional teams, student advisory committees, and campus partners add value when building a collaborative website designed to serve the campus community. To better engage and meet the needs of site users, websites need continual reevaluation and adaptation in response to the various feedback streams. Edutainment may have an important place in higher education, especially when used judiciously and strategically to increase student engagement.

Article originally published in ‘Educause Quarterly’, V. 32(2009), n. 4, Reprinted with permission.

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Self-directed learning processes, motivation towards learning and digital technologies

The conference ‘Efficacité des dispositifs de formation ouverte et à distance’, which was held at Le Mirail University, Tolose (15th -16th January 2009) focusing on the technologies needed to support self-directed learning processes and practices, officially opened a new horizon in the educational research concerning self-training. Anyway it doesn´t coincide neither with digital literacy nor with the acquisition of digital skills. Self-directed learning activities achieved thanks to the use of technologies have to be distinguished from the consciousness of each subject involved as main actor in the learning process and in the different training contexts, activating this way deep motivation processes.

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