Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rural Observatory 2.0: Storing and Managing Resources for Training Rural SMEs in the usage of ICT

Small and Medium Enterprises constitute the backbone of European economy. Therefore it becomes evident that improving the adoption and efficient usage of ICT solutions by SMEs should be a primary goal for all involved stakeholders. Such a strategy becomes even more challenging in regard to SMEs that operate in rural areas, due to specific constraints they have to confront with. Rural Inclusion, a project supported by the Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme of the European Commission, aims to adopt, adapt, and deploy a Web infrastructure, in rural settings, combining semantics with a collaborative training and networking approach, offering e-government services that will be supported by a rigorous and reusable service process analysis and modeling, and facilitating the disambiguation of the small businesses needs and requirements when trying to carry out the particular transactions. The approach is complemented by a number of other applications that support the creation of communities of learning, practice and experience exchange, in rural settings, thus enhancing the uptake of e-government-based innovation process throughout rural areas.

Contributed by Axel Maroudas, Nikolaos Marianos, Pantelis Karamolegkos, Alexios Dimitropoulos

Download the full paper


  1. I read the paper and found especially interesting the differentiation of training and e-gov resources.

    My main question to the paper is how the impact of the resources is to be measured in a quantitive and/or qualitative way, especially how usage tracking is to be implemented. And specially how the different kind of resources will be evaluated against differentiated criteria.

  2. The object of this paper is really significant especially during these years, where SMEs are facing a significant pressure to evolve and adapt new technologies in order to be sustainable.

    However, based on my experience with other projects, the solutions provided by such projects are usually well-designed and selected but there always seems to be a problem applying to real-life situations. I am sure that the testing and validation of the procedures described in this paper will provide positive results but I am really curious to see how they will be applied after the project ends. Due to my expertise, I am especially interested in the way that the "training scenarios" described in the paper are designed and implemented in the context of each case.

    The paper itself is well-written, well-structured and provides a wealth of information.

  3. In order to evaluate the Digital Training Objects (DTOs) uploaded in the Rural Observatory 2.0, we use a questionnaire originally based on the Learning Object Review Instrument (LORI) an established, validated and widely used tool (Nesbit et al., 2003). The main Dimentions and criteria we use are the following:
    1. Content Quality: Veracity, accuracy, balanced presentation of ideas, and appropriate level of detail
    2. Learning Goal Alignment: Alignment among learning goals, activities, assessments, and learner characteristics
    3. Motivation: Ability to motivate and interest an identified population of learners
    4. Presentation Design: Design of visual and auditory information for enhanced learning and efficient mental processing
    5. Reusability: Ability to use in varying learning contexts and with learners from differing backgrounds

    The questionnaire which is used for the evaluation of the Rural Inclusion platform and the Rural Observatory 2.0 is based on the WebQual questionnaire (http://www.webqual.co.uk/index.htm). It is based on Version 4.0 of the questionnaire, which has been used in several evaluation studies of web sites and portals (http://www.webqual.co.uk/papers.htm).

    Rural Observatory 2.0 is also connected to Google Analytics which is used to create valuable usage reports.