EUROGENE is a 36 month project supported by the EC's e-ContentPlus programme. Eurogene.eu is an eLearning system in the domain of genetic medicine that provides free multimedia learning resources in 9 languages for statistical, medical and molecular genetics and delivers them to students and professionals. The Eurogene content includes presentations, reviewed research articles, images, videos and learning packages submitted by world-leading geneticists.
The authoring of educational content is gradually shifting from a traditional approach (lectures with text books) to a more complex blended learning approach, in which publishers, lecturers and students play a complementary role. At the same time, specific domains such as human genetics have become "fast moving educational domains" due to continuous breakthrough research and innovation. Coherent supportive services and frameworks are lacking to support authors in their task of continuous development and updating of high quality educational packages with limited resources.
The EUROGENE project's objective was to migrate towards a more efficient development of higher quality (multimedia) didactic material on genetics through the guided editing and "assembly" of educational packages based on the IMS learning design metadata framework and the sharing of different types of "learning objects" between content owners, in 9 languages.
Working towards this goal Eurogene has created a genetic domain ontology and a hierarchy of terms that are first used to annotate and enrich the eLearning resources. This automatic annotation forms structure to support the suite of web based tools developed specifically for providing, finding and translating digital educational content in the field of genetics. Interactive machine translation tools allow approved users to refine, train and hence validate the genetic context multilingual dictionary.
The Eurogene portal exploits technology which makes it easy to navigate and explore the available articles, images and videos. Educators can thus move toward "blended learning" in an interactive and natural way, while students are given the opportunity to finally become "actors" in the educational process.
The EUROGENE project reached its end on 30 September 2010.
Funded under the eContentplus Programme, Call for proposals for indirect actions under the multiannual Community Programme to make digital content in Europe more accessible, usable and exploitable (Official Journal 2006 C 172/24), Area: 4.1 - Targeted projects for educational content.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
The original partnership of EUROGENE featured 17 outstanding educational content providers selected from the most prestigious European institutions skilled in Genetics and 4 technical partners providing linguistics, translation and web facilities for the multilingual access to the learning resources and tools for the enrichment of the contents in order to make them searchable through the repository and throughout the web.
The original partners providing content were European universities, research centres and scientific organisations highly specialised in the most relevant fields of Genetics: Clinical Genetics, Human Genetics, Molecular Genetics and Statistical Genetics. These original content providers have defined functional and non-functional specifications which were used to build the EUROGENE portal and database and have given their support in testing and assessing the project portal's facilities and tools.
Technology partners have provided the tools for content enrichment, tools enabling multilingual translation and the technology to integrate these into the Eurogene Portal. KMI has spearheaded the development of a Multilingual Domain Ontology and procedures for its maintenance as a basis for the enrichment of educational content and tailoring tools for the querying, searching and re-using of educational content towards the development of multimedia educational packages. Telelingua and Systran, two companies with linguistic and technological expertise, designed and implemented multilingual capabilities giving tools like our search engine search engine cross-language retrieval of educational content. SEGESTA, provided web development and some of the more technical functionalities like video transcoding support and integration of all adapted and existing tools into EUROGENE Platform.
Main results, benefits and impacts
The EUROGENE project successfully reached its objectives managing to build up a European reference portal for Human Genetics. EUROGENE's main services to the user community are:
- Free access, sharing and reuse of quality approved multimedia educational content on genetics in 9 European languages
- Advanced search engine
- Semantic similarity tools
- Access to machine-translated versions of learning materials and dedicated ontology terms
- Translation tools tailored to the Human Genetics domain
- Courses, lectures and presentations available on line
- Learning content organised in thematic modules
- State-of-the-art semantic web technology and knowledge management
Courses lectures and presentations are available online and have been organized in learning packages. Eurogene has aggregated over 300Â 000 educational content items.
41 European and Non-European institutions are currently collaborating with Eurogene. There are 81 educators using the system and we offer educational materials created by over 1400 authors. New content providers have come from different countries (Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Romania Spain, USA, Mexico and Russia).
The Eurogene Consortium plans to ensure that the Eurogene portal is sustainable after the course of the EC co-funding. The Sustainability plan isÂ based on the following principles:
- Free, immediate access online
- Unrestricted distribution and re-use
- Authors retain rights to attribution
A Service Level Agreement will regulate mechanisms among partners in order to will provide Eurogene users with high quality service and support during the roll-out phase of the Eurogene project. No fees will be charged on system users.
Track record of sharing
There were 8 papers/articles presented at conferences or workshops.
Supporting Self Directed Learning
- Promotes digital competence by providing well developed tools to sift through the content with specific questions.
- Fosters a focussed and critical approach to learning.
- The potential to extend their learning experience to cover a broader and more personal path than the registered course allows.
- Through Eurogene students can discuss topics with other well motivated learners on programmes outside of their Institution- access a wider tutorial group.
Open Education and Eurogene
- Most Open Educational initiatives are not yet domain specific.
- Open Access material in genetics is generally aimed at specialist and highly trained researchers.
- The well developed domain specific search and machine translation tools in Eurogene make it possible to navigate through the large amount of content.
- Eurogene provides a means for entry level researchers to learn the language to interface with the Open Access Research repositories.
- The Eurogene resources are stable and citable.
Teaching genetics and Eurogene
- Human genetics research is a rapidly changing field due to technological advances. New techniques give rise to associated new terminology.
- Multidisciplinary field- mathematicians, geneticists, bioscientists, clinicians, epidemiologists, genetic counsellors (and more).
- Setting educational standards in such a field is difficult.
- Eurogene provides an adaptable framework for educators to share, reuse and develop material. This exchange of material between educators affiliated to different institutions will help to define comparators for benchmarking.
- Eurogene is well placed to support and promote the highest standards for teaching genetics.