HYDROWEB" - June/ July 2004
|HydroWeb is a Web-based course created by Dr. Frank Molkenthin. It is an international course, organized and performed in a close cooperation of several partner universities.
Students from these partner universities form small teams (about eight members) to solve a river engineering problem on a Web-based project platform. This leads to an international and interdisciplinary team composition. Each team is provided with local technical support, ensured by a supervisor who is always available during all the course time (thank you, Frank!! ).
Core module of the course is one common Web server, located at one partner (actual at BTU Cottbus, Germany). This server provides a Web-based platform as "Virtual Office" for all course participants independent from their location. This platform supports info exchange (e-mail, mailing lists, newsgroups), info sharing (Web documents, shared file base, shared data base), conferencing (audio/video, application sharing) and project management (time schedule, work plan, coordination, work flow).
The course is composed of three parts:
" Introduction and preparation lectures;
" Online exercise in the Web (1-2 weeks);
" Result presentation and course examination.
Part One are conventional lectures and exercises held locally at each partner university. Part Two takes 1 or 2 weeks, in which the student teams solve the given river engineering on the Web - based course platform using all the available facilities to overcome their spatial distribution. Part Three deals with the evaluation and assessment of the team results and collaboration. The team students present their engineering solution and collaboration experiences to the other students in online seminars and they receive a certificate to attest their participation to the course. The idea of this course is to simulate in a "game" a hydroengineering project, performed by collaboration partners (students from different universities ) at different locations in a Web environment. The teams are operating as independent units, so the organisational structure, work plan, work distribution and coordination inside the teams is defined by the team members themselves. This mean that a team as a whole is responsible for the performance of the given engineering task without any instruction or influence from outside. Since 1999 the course has been held once a year and is divided in three windows, each lasting two weeks.
Last June some IAHR-Student Chapter of Naples members took part in the third window, after having a meeting with Frank here at university. He explained us the course purposes and showed us both how to use the technical support and the procedures to follow. He also told how many of us could attend the course according to the whole number of the already participating foreign students. In the end, Stefania, Giada, Luca & Luca formed the Sub-Team of Team 6 ,while we together with Annamaria & Michele formed the Sub-Team of Team 7.Our Sub-Team joined two other Sub-Teams, one from Stuttgart and one from St. Petersburg. We spent the first day giving a quick look at the exercise and checking if everything worked. In addition, we created on the Web our own Personal Cards. It was a real fun, first because we had to find something interesting about each of us to write there and secondly because we added our photos…you should have seen us: we were dressed up as we were going to a party!! After this amazing beginning, the real and hard work started! 9 We arranged daily Net Meeting sessions with our fellows and edited them in the Work Plan. We split our activities and defined the working rules.. unfortunately this was a quite rusty point.. While we went on solving the exercise (and that required all our concentration and determination!!! It has effectively been a demanding task, especially for the two of us, as it was the first time we faced a real engineering problem), there were some memorable events. First of all, we had to face the "Anton Escape" (Anton being our fellow from St. Petersburg)..even though he had given his whole availability, he vanished little by little occasionally communicating us "he was still alive" until he totally disappeared! Another funny moment occurred when we shared our desktop with Stuttgart's one in order to show how to use and save data without modifying the Original Data Set…we really felt like professional hackers and we have to confess that we were tempted to make our fellows some jokes!! We'll never forget the only video Net Meeting session, always with our mates from Stuttgart: we were able to listen to their voices and to see their faces, as they hadn't loaded their photos on the Personal Cards yet…if only we'd had a Web-cam ourselves… Joking apart, these two weeks were extremely important for the two of us, because we learnt how to collaborate with other people (both physically next to us and from other countries) and how difficult this could be. We have to thank Annamaria and Michele, who helped us and explained step by step everything we were going to do. We were only sad we couldn't work together with the other members of our Student Chapter, as we had different times and different ways of solving the exercise…but it was part of the "game"!!! However, we celebrated the end of the course all together with a wonderful party (cake & "spumante"… the only missing thing was music!) to reward all the work done.
Chiara and Giuditta