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D3.2 Summary of the necessary functionality and a conceptual toolbox design

1. Introduction

The I-Use project addresses the question of the useage of statistics within the curriculum of secondary schools in Europe. A central element of the project is related to the creation of an online toolbox which will empower beneficiaries of the project to use statistical data in a flexible manner. The I-Use project has already delivered the following related products:

- Report on the pedagogic importance of statistics

- Report on the present situation on the use of statistics in the curriculum

- Summary of the pedagogic approaches to statistics use

- Study on the availability and usability of Web 2.0 tools for visualization and analysis of statistical data

All of those are made available within a web based I-Use platform at www.I-Use.eu. Following the literature review and the report on the pedagogic approaches to statistics use, and most of all the recommendation for an extensive use of ICT by both teachers and students,  the I-Use project shortlisted and evaluated technology, to be used in order to create statistical educational tools. This report is created in tight relation with the above mentioned deliverables, and aims to conceptualize the I-Use statistical toolbox, which is subject to development within the project.  This is important in light of the findings of the the summary of pedagogical approaches, which clearly states that “Working with new technology helps to engage teachers and students in tasks that simultaneously develop their understanding of statistical ideas and allows them to experience how technology tools can be useful in fostering statistical and spatial thinking”. Furthermore, the toolbox which are conceptualized within this report are not isolated, but rather complement the teacher training material which the project will deliver.


2. I-Use toolbox: introduction


The I-Use toolbox is a central element of the project which is enables teachers and students to better understand topic of qualitative data analysis and statistical data visualization and interpretation. It is to be entirely web based and be generic in terms of data input and output. In the ideal situation the I-Use project should contribute the developed code the a broader open source community which will ensure the sustainability of the project results. Moreover, as defined above, one of the first deliverables of the I-Use project is an online platform (I-Use platform) for communication of project results as well as handle the broader question of result visibility. The open source content management system (CMS) Joomla is chosen as the server-side software product for handling the content. The homepage of the Joomla instance is provided within Figure 1.



Figure 1. Home screen of the custom designed I-Use Joomla Instance

Joomla is an award-winning CMS, which enables users to build interactive web sites and powerful online applications. Many aspects, including its ease-of-use and extensibility, have made Joomla one of the the most popular Web site software available with an easy to use interface for authoring data (Figure 2). Best of all, Joomla is an open source solution that is freely available to everyone. Joomla is extended with a custom design to meet the requirements of the project.

 

Figure 2. Joomla admin panel for data authoring

 

It is critically important that the I-Use platform also hosts the educational tools after being developed, and the tools should be developed so that they can easily be integrated with the rest of the content.

 

3. Conceptual design

The I-Use toolbox should offer easy to use access for secondary school teachers and students to instruments, which are not self-centered, but allow the better understanding of statistical matter.

We suggest that the toolbox is developed using generic technology, and is provided as open source product, taking full advantage of the benefits of such an approach:

- Community support

- Extension beyond the original

- Ensured sustainability

- Very short development life-cycle

 

3.1 Summary of functionality

The following functionality should be satisfied by the I-Use toolbox to act as supplement to the educational process in statistics:

- Be able to interact with data on the web (including sort and filter functionality)

- Visualize quantitative data through the following sophisticated means

          - Choropleth maps

          - Three dimensional globe (such as NASA WorldWind, Google Earth, etc.

          - Widespread statistical charts

                 - Bar

                 - Line

                 - Area

                 - Column

                 - Treemap

       - Web Print (table and/or any other visualization material)

       - Translate information within the tables to one or more of the official 24 European Union languages

 

3.1.1 Toolbox look and feel

The toolbox should be integrated with the rest of the I-Use platform, thus it should have the same look and feel.

 
3.1.2 Design scheme

To satisfy the above requirements the toolbox should have the possibility to read CSV input and display them as:

          - HTML sortable table;

          - Statistical Graphs;

          - Statistical representation through KML.

The toolbox should consider the following indicative rules for CSV input:

          - The first line is the title of the table (only when it is in a single cell). If left empty the title is taken from the file name replacing special characters with spaces.

          - The second line is the head of the table (data series names).

          - The following lines are considered as data lines. The script should be able to distinguishes them by counting the number of non empty cells on that each line.

                    - When the CSV input is intended to use the Geo Charting and Statistical representation through KML countries have to be correctly spelled.

                    - Country names could also be represented as two char codes using ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code:

          - The last lines are considered as bottom lines – source / contribution. Each bottom line will be recognized as one by:

                    - being after the data lines;

                    - and consisting of a single cell.

3.1.3 Input provision

The provision of input should be possible through file upload and direct text admission. For permanent tables on-site the input should be provided from uploaded CSV files. Once the file is uploaded its name should be placed into an content article.

  

IUSE.png

Once the page is opened (on the user computer) the filename should be read by the javascript libraries.

 

This name should be then send to the server asynchronously  


The server will get the name, read the file and output it in JSON format.

 

The I-Use jQuery library should process the JSON formatted answer.

 

Taking into account user preferences:

 

outputs it in the browser.

 

If the user interacts with the table the jQuery library should reprocess the data and output it again in the browser.  




Figure 3. Conceptual design of data input and processing by the I-Use toolox

3.2 Enabling technologies

 

The toolbox might use the following components in order to deliver the functionalities, as they are defined above:

Components

Description

JavaScript

Client-side programming language with wide browser support.

jQuery

Cross-platform JavaScript library designed to simplify the client-side scripting of HTML.

JSON

JavaScript Object Notation is a lightweight data-interchange format. It is easy for humans to read and write, and is at the same time as easy for machines to parse and generate.

PHP

Server-side scripting language designed for web development but also used as a general-purpose programming language

Joomla

Open source content management system (CMS), used by the I-Use platform.

Google Charts

API for charting from data which can further be embed into a web page.

Google Earth

Virtual globe software product for interactive geospatial data visualization.

Google Earth browser plugin

Plugin which allows users to navigate and explore geographic data on a 3D globe using a web browser.

World border dataset

World dataset containing country polygons, made available through a Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike License.

 

Read the report: PDF - version