E-science or electronic science describes the various research and development areas in the context of the construction and use of computer technologies in scientific research. While the term e-science predominates primarily in Germany and Great Britain, a comparable concept of a “cyber infrastructure” can be found in the U.S. or the term “e-research” in Australia. Currently, with using the buzzword “science 2.0”, the discussion expands especially to scientific collaborative digital work (Weichselgartner, 2010). Here, the thematic spectrum ranges from infrastructure to application architectures, grid and cloud technology up to educational technologies, the so-called e-learning. Moreover e-science systems support the cooperative research in and between universities as well as in cooperation with industry (see Ziegler & Diehl, 2009). Subject areas of e-science are therefore specific regarding the research framework and research material, which leads to concepts like e-humanities, e-medicine and e-engineering. In either case, it is about the expansion of scientific activity through the integration of e-technologies and methods based thereon. Thereby it turns out that especially the methodology of cooperative research, but also the organization of knowledge is rapidly changing. However, these changes have not systematically been brought into view by representatives of different scientific disciplines yet. Even at the interface of re-use or on the justification of research contexts, new paradigms such as the concept of ‘living lab’ occur. The ‘living lab’ is a user-centered research and open innovation practice based on the research work in multidisciplinary teams. One of the main activities of these teams is the co-creation, i.e. the matching of technological innovation and its application through procedures such as crowdsourcing and crowdcasting. In such community-driven research practices, a variety of opinions, requirements and knowledge sharing can be included into the development of new ideas, scenarios, solutions and applications.
To concentrate excellent research competencies and to ensure quality, professionalism and sustainability three research clusters are established at three different Saxon universities.
The research clusters of the “eScience – network” focus on:
- e-business (TU Bergakademie Freiberg),
- e-learning (TU Dresden),
- e-systems (HTWK Leipzig).
The overall coordination of the entire project is provided by the Media Center as a well equipped and established central scientific institution at the Technical University of Dresden.
Due to the variety, value and vulnerability of resources the move to e-science is much more difficult than to the World Wide Web. It is based on new software mechanisms for the distribution of resources as well as a substantial increase in communication networks performance. Thus, this step will not only give a strong pulse to science, but promote the sharing of resources in business, administration, and finally also in the private sector. E-business in this context demands distributed problem solving processes and a distributed support in decision-making, so that concepts such as knowledge discovery in databases, data warehousing and multi-agent systems in the context of e-business applications can be adopted in order to cope with future challenges.
With the World Wide Web a system was created, that changed not only the private sector, but also strongly influenced business processes and their scientific analysis. Nowadays value chains are electronically linked; globally distributed project teams work together to develop and sell products or services. That led to cost savings for companies on the one hand, and to increased revenues on the other. Though there is great potential of integrated analysis of the complex phenomena in terms of e-science and thereby the e-science itself – in order to achieve a gain in knowledge, which then might flow back positively into the economy.
All artifacts, e.g. learning opportunities in the workplace for professional education, can be considered as products or services that are to be connected to all customers as efficiently as possible. As a result the access to information is becoming easier, development times for products or services are shortened and associated costs will be reduced. For e-business this is a critical factor of success and requires the investigation of so-called system-level concepts. A progression in e-business will cause the increasing conversion of companies. Companies will have to subdivide themselves more than ever before into different centers of excellence providing services more clearly defined. This will facilitate the outsourcing or spin-off of such services, but simultaneously needs the support of the possibilities of IT. This constitutes the research potential of the cluster e-. The expected insights concerning development and impact of e-business are to be transferred to sustainable concepts, which may find meaningful application in industry and at this point in particular to strengthen the Saxon economy.
For further information please contact:
Funded research projects in e-business: here
Taking into account a sufficiently broad definition, we are using a concept of e-learning that includes the technological aspects of the various processing steps as well. Thus, e-learning are all kinds and forms of learning and teaching in basic education, advanced training and self-education using digital materials and/or information and communication technologies to arrange, create, organize and implement processes (Kohler & Ihbe 2006).
Within the Saxon Education Portal, but also beyond the higher education landscape of Saxony, the Technical University of Dresden (TUD) is well known as one of the e-learning pioneers (see Book & Hener 2006; Saupe et al. 2009). Overall during the last few years various initiatives and measures were taken in Saxony, which should lead to a stabile and sustainable situation for e-learning in academic education and training.
However, comparing the extent of adoption of media technologies at the Saxon universities, but also within the major universities of the Free State of Saxony, a high degree of heterogeneity between the individual departments can be found. Nonetheless it is also observed that the consistent access to information of the widely-used learning management system held by the Saxon State and University Library (SLUB), the adoption of virtual electronic reserves or the implementation of thereby uses shared databases and content management systems and is well advanced. This heterogeneity is partly owed to the different requirements of teachers, on the other hand, it’s also due to the complexity of the requirements that have to be fulfilled and the concomitant lack of transparency. This is not only due to the implementation of the technical and technological innovations, but an extraordinary multi-faceted transition to a new learning and teaching culture, which is in turn part of a comprehensive high school reform process (in the context of the Bologna Declaration). Hence it is not surprising that even the more media-centric teachers are experimenting with some very advanced solutions, while the large number of teaching staff sees little benefit or can not find access. It is therefore necessary to consider what tools will be the base for future adoptions and to learn about the justifications they could reach in cooperative use within teaching-learning activities. In this way the state-of-the-art use of media technologies for university teaching shall be developed sustainably.
For further information please contact:
Funded research projects in e-learning: here
Within the “eScience – Network” we characterize e-systems as a scientific discipline focused on analysis, adoption and development of local and distributed hardware and software systems, associated application scenarios and organizational structures to create an efficient environment for collaborative cross-university research. Similar to the “lifelong learning” in the field of educational technology, this is about a continuous monitoring of various process phases, which are often still treated separately. The ‘real’ research in its diversity shall be considered along with upstream activities such as resource mobilization, problem identification and calculation, downstream phases such as the transfer of results into economy and the evaluation of research performance, as well as with accompanying phases such as public relations and teaching.
The emphasis on the aspect of cooperation, the typical heterogeneity of problem-specific scientific working environments and the essential information management in the context of scientific work require the consideration of distributed application and system architectures. An important role thus is played by the treatment of interface problems. Here, the research cluster can build on ongoing and past project work concerning coupling systems communication in e-learning (Hering et al. 2010; Herring & Schaar 2009; Köber & Schaar 2008). A very efficient support of scientific work is provided through problem-solving environments (PSEs) (Houstis, Gallopoulos, Bramley & Rice 1997), which are designed as hardware/ software systems to solve particular classes of problems. Such systems usually have mechanisms for the combination of tool components within adequate workflows (Hering, Rünger & Trautmann 2005). In weakening the assumptions on the PSE infrastructure, a wide range of working environments up to loose collections of problem-specific tools appears (Rühl 2008). Besides the identification and implementation of operational scenarios, within the research cluster e-systems the transfer of principles related to problem-solving environments to work environments for the research management is additionally of interest.
For the realization of cooperative activities and for knowledge transfer within the proposed research network, the use of Web 2.0 based tools is to be investigated in particular. The idea of networking takes up a central position in the model of the HTWK Leipzig (Leipzig University of Engineering, Economics and Culture 2009). As a strategic sub-goal therefore the formation of advanced research areas in cooperative association with the (regional) economic and scientific institutions is proposed for the sector of research and development. Since 2007, the three research profiles of energy-building environment, life science engineering and software and media are built up. Hence, scientific and economic contacts with the Max-Planck-Society, the Fraunhofer Society, the Center for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle GmbH, the MDR as well as various institutes of the University of Leipzig can be incorporated into the planned Saxony-wide research network. A starting point for the development of organizational structures for the realization of innovation and technology transfer in the research cluster represents the Research and Transfer Centre (FTZ) of the HTWK Leipzig, which is structured as a project-oriented network.
A report on the economic development of the city of Leipzig commissioned by the Leipzig Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWH 2008) notes in particular the need to develop application-oriented research activities in the region. The development of this planned research cluster will make a significant contribution in this direction.
For further information please contact:
Funded research projects in e-systems: here
Cluster E-Learning and Project Coordination
Dr. Daniela Pscheida
Dipl. Wirt-Inf. Claudia Koschtial
Dr. Toni Tontchev