New Skills for the Electronic Library

TELSI: a web-based learning environment

Janne Himanka, Oulu University, Finland

TELSI got its start in the EU project SIMULAB, whose aim was to produce a framework for language simulations.

This framework had the following requirements:


Language simulation = collaboration of geographically distributed groups of students on a common theme.

A possible theme could be a tropical island, where groups could develop tourism, social policies, the constitution etc.

Groups can be located in several countries. All communication within the group and between groups uses the language to be learned.

Simulation typically involves background research, discussion, document composition and the presentation of results to others.

From simulations to groupware

Document creation and editing:

The document owner can set the read and write permissions individually for each file. A file can be shared, so that several people can contribute to its content.


Conversing in real time

A java applet + java daemon keep track of current users. Users can send real time messages to each other; the teacher can send announcements to all present users.

The daemon writes a log entry when a user enters or leaves the environment, so accurate data exists of the time each student has spent in TELSI.

Logging is done in all areas, so the supervisor/teacher has a good view of the behaviour of the users and the progress of the project.

Distributed management

There are three levels of users: administrator, supervisor and user.

Administrator can create new environments. He/she can also modify any existing environment, but rarely does so.

Supervisor, typically the teacher, is the coordinator of one environment. He/she creates and destroys users, mailing lists, document folders and so on.

Technical trivia

TELSI server currently runs in Sun Solaris machines, and it is easily ported to any common Unix variant.

Future directions

User profiles will detail what a user can and cannot do. In some courses the students won't need the mail facility and so they won't even see it. Another situation might be that the students need not create documents at all.

Scheduled actions will for example change the start page of the environment, or remind users if they haven't been active and the end of the course draws near.

The software will be compiled in binary form and licensed as a package for intranets.

The main server will be upgraded to a server farm.

More information: