M.Sc, GIAT Research Group, Politecnico Colombiano Jaime Isaza Cadavid,

Ph.D, Research Group on Artificial Intelligence in Education, Universidad Nacional de Colombia,


Received for review on July 17th, 2011, accepted on November 9th, 2011, final version: January 13th, 2012


ABSTRACT: Digital television (DTV) provides pedagogical and technological advantages to education. DTV is presented as a novelty for the audience and involves the convergence of education, telecommunications, and internet in a unique environment. This technology will allow for the development of interactive educational platforms known as t-learning platforms. Currently, there are relatively few models which describe the processes involved in t-learning. This article presents a cyclic model, which takes into account the feedback of the process and other requirements. It also presents the theoretical framework associated with t-learning. It describes the PDCA t-learning proposed model (PDCA is plan, do, check, and act) that has been implemented in a prototype of a module (wireless networking fundamentals) on the area of telecommunications. This application was tested in a digital terrestrial television (DTTV OR DTT) laboratory.

KEYWORDS: digital TV, t-learning, PDCA t-learning model, DVB, ICT in education, interactivity and adaptation.

RESUMEN: La televisión digital (TD) brinda grandes ventajas pedagógicas y tecnológicas a la educación. La TD se presenta como una novedad para los telespectadores y supone la convergencia de los sectores educativo, telecomunicaciones e internet, en un mismo medio. Esta tecnología permitirá el desarrollo de plataformas educativas interactivas conocidas como t-learning. En la actualidad, son escasos los modelos que describen el proceso de t-learning. En este artículo se presenta un modelo cíclico, que toma en cuenta la retroalimentación del proceso y otros requisitos. Presenta también el marco teórico asociado a t-learning. Describe el modelo PHVA (Planear, Hacer, Verificar, Actuar) propuesto, el cual ha sido implementado en un prototipo de un módulo (Fundamentos de redes WiFi) en el área de las telecomunicaciones. Este aplicativo se probó en un laboratorio de televisión digital terrestre (TDT)

PALABRAS CLAVE: televisión digital, t-learning, modelo PHVA t-learning, DVB, TIC en educación, interactividad y adaptación.



Digital TV (DTV) is considered to be the convergence of television and computing technologies, bringing together three typical features such as interactivity (which means that the user can control the activities), customization (which is adapting the interactive contents for each user profile), and digitalization (the technological advances that allow the highest sound and image quality) [1]. DTV is made operational either by cable, satellite, microwave, terrestrial broadcast; or by ADSL or IP (IPTV and WebTV) trends. Also, several applications can be developed with DTV, such as t-administration, t-commerce, t-programming, t-learning, t-entertainment, t-advertising, t-information, t-employment, t-health, and interactive applications in private TV networks. In this article we will emphasize t-learning.

In Colombia, the Colombian National Television Commision (CNTV, Spanish stands for Comisión Nacional de Televisión) began to implement DTV and to project itself with DTV, based on the European standard (digital video broadcasting, DVB) [2], known as DVB-T for terrestrial type, DVB-H for mobile devices, DVB-S for satellite, and DVB-C for cable transmissions. The choice of DVB-T was announced on August 28, 2008 and reaffirmed in the December 2010 Agreement by the CNTV [3]. It also defined the use of compression format MPEG-4. Under the standard DVB, it was made standard that the middleware (interface between applications and operating system) is the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) [4], which is used in digital receivers to allow the execution of interactive applications. Multimedia home platform applications are of two types: Hyper Text Markup Language (DVB-HTML) and DVB-Java. Java programming is the most widely used.

The motivation behind this paper is to initiate research and development in learning applications for DTV in Colombia. This is due to the limited number of model researches existing, allowing to understand what it is needed for their implementation. Among the researches related to t-learning there is the ELU project [18,29] founded by the European Community to develop educational resources (tools for creating, prototypes, and virtual teacher systems) through interactive DTV, but it does not present a model for developing t-learning. The VEMiTV project [7]- research conducted in Portugal, focused on testing the potential of DTV as an educational tool- assesses the usability and cognitive response of the students. This research lead to the creation of the 'Panda' application, which is based on the Microsoft TV platform but it does not present a model either. Companies such as the BBC [11] have developed several educational applications for children such as CBeebies, but they do not detail models of implementation either. In [1], a framework is proposed for t-learning courses, which is divided into two parts: the production and the client. That research is not clear about the development of a prototype and does not show results of the framework's use. In [30] there is also a framework for collaborative educational services; it creates t-learning contents with its own tools, it does not take customization into account and does not present an explicit model. In [16], an alternative framework for DTV applications is presented, but it does not deal with general purposes on learning-oriented contents in depth. In [31], a service model is manifested, but it has limitations in the return channel and possibilities of interaction. It is only for DVB-J and is based on the idea that t-learning is just edutainment. In [13], a conceptual framework for customization is shown, and some simulations on PC are performed; however, there is no general model. The EDiTV project [33], implemented in Latin America, focuses on distance virtual education courses using IPTV. The latter project is lined up with agro-industrial topics and participatory action research (PAR). It does not show evidence on TV and there is no explicit model. Others like [32] and TV Escola [12] in Brazil explore educational content development, but it is based on the Japanese standard, which is different from the Colombian one. In [15], a requirement model approach is presented, that, in addition to be linear, focuses on DVB-HTML. In this model, a description of the elements involved is missing, and there is no practical example of its use.

In this paper a cyclic model is presented, which takes into account the feedback of the process and other requirements. An example of its use is also presented. It also serves as the basis for any other application or subject, taking into account the aspects considered in the model stages. The rest of the paper is organized as follows: In Chapter two the theoretical framework associated with t-learning is presented. In Chapter three, the PDCA t-learning proposed model is described. In Chapter four the results of implementation of the model and the application on Wi-fi are shown. Afterwards, recommendations are presented. Then conclusions are drawn and, finally, the bibliography is listed.



T-learning are teaching and learning processes based on the DTV. They are the convergence of TV technologies with telecommunications and systems (informatics), and are in accordance with the education and audiovisual sectors, among others.

Other definitions of t-learning are: interactive learning via television, or interactive access to video-rich educational contents mainly for home use, through a TV [5]. It is a subset of e-learning, the latter referring to any form of learning through a digital electronic device connected [6]. Thus, [19] defines e-learning as a generic term for the use of various tools and resources such as the Internet, intranets, CD-ROM, multimedia presentations, among others. T-learning is the convergence of DTV and e-learning technologies [7], [8]. It is the convergence of television and computer technologies (and more specifically, the Internet) [9]. Figure 1 details that convergence.

Figure 1.
Convergence PC, TV and e-learning

For [15], t-learning is the convergence of different media (mobile technologies and Internet protocols) and e-learning. Importance is given to the term learning to indicate the active role of the student, based on the constructivist approach, where the student is responsible for his/her own learning, as it is also mentioned by [19].

It is important to note that IDTV has its impact if there is an interaction channel (return channel), and its presence or absence affects services and applications established for users (customization, requests and communication, among others). Among t-learning applications are: formal and informal learning courses, support on formal learning courses of educational institutions, specialized training courses (interested business and individuals), support on home care, continuing education programs in several disciplines, personalized courses, social and support training, training for immigrants (languages or others), and training programs for people in remote areas. The propitious scenarios for t-learning are designed according to the student's willingness for education through television [1]:

Edu-tainment -education + entertainment- allows to watch TV while offering a course related to the TV program, or to follow a formal education course that has been improved to make it more effective and entertaining (such as games, movies or game shows). In this experience, educational contents are more relevant [13].

Entertain-sion -entertainment + television- provides educational contents associated with the program the viewer is watching. Those contents allow the viewer to go into the topic in depth; for instance, learning a language by watching a soccer game [14].



The model is composed of four main stages, namely: plan, do, check, and act (PDCA). Plan, to see what is already done, what is to be achieved, and the specifications and assignments to be defined. Do, to begin the construction of the learning environment and everything previously defined. Check, to verify the application's deployment; and Act, to take into account the feedback perceived from the educational project and thus, to redefine future processes. Figure 2 illustrates the cycle plan-do-check-act (PDCA). Figure 3 details the proposed PDCA t-learning model.

Figure 2.
PDCA t-learning model cycle

Figure 3.
Teaching model based on DTV, t-learning

3.1. Plan stage
There is a first initial state phase characterized by a knowledge society, by its population (students), teachers, and the available technologies, among other features of the environment. After this, the requirement model based on [15], [17] is considered, which describes the necessary features and functions (see Table 1). These requirements are part of the production of pre-content phase. The support team is defined to support the t-learning project. Besides, the subjects and their demarcations, the preliminary sketch and the target public are defined here.

Table 1. T-learning requirement model

The necessary subsystems (of information to be transmitted, of communication if there is a return channel, and of storage, or any other specific item) to achieve the purpose of the service are planned; and alternative solutions for their construction are given.

3.2. Do stage
This stage constitutes the first phase of the construction process of the application, its design (final sketch of contents, navigation, video, game, etc.), and encoding. In this stage, it is also defined whether the application is done in open source tools or with commercial software programs known as authoring tools, such as [25] and [27]. To develop the plugins some complementary programs are necessary [20].

Within the life cycle of t-learning contents is the content production phase. It is divided into the sub-phases of pre-production, production (subsystems), and post-production (all the elements of the application and videos are combined). Also, the general recommendations for the contents and deployment are taken into account, considering the TV as a means [15], [21], [22], [23], [10]. Special attention must be taken with aspects such as font size, backgrounds and colors, navigation, appropriate use of remote control, usability, interface, cultural and educational aspects, aids, images, interaction options, among others.

On the other hand, technologies, architectures and infrastructures, equipment, servers, etc. must be considered, from the set-top-boxes (STB) for receiving and decoding digital signals, to the analog or digital TV set, through the MPEG 2/4 encoders, modulators, special boards, multiplexer, and return channel technology, among others. A playout server will be needed (it integrates coded elements, the generation of the object carousel, and the generation of programs, services and information of applications). To achieve a true broadcast environment, separate servers are needed, for instance, for the programming and video guides, for sending applications, for the interactive control servers, for authentication and profile, etc. It may also be necessary to have a more specialized content server for a learning management system (LMS) [39], or a content management system (CMS). There are several commercial suppliers with laboratory equipment and DTV broadcast stations such as [24], [25]. The t-learning value chain is extensive and involves several factors such as programmers, content creators, technology, among others.

3.3. Check Stage
Considering the life cycle of t-learning contents, in this stage the delivery of learning materials is guaranteed, with the transmission of the service and the applications. Here, the first phase is visual display, verifying the signal deployment and reception on the TV, or through an emulator on the computer such as [26], [28]. In the second phase more tests of its running can be done in the experiments laboratory or at a real TV broadcast center. Appropriate adjustments will be made if necessary. After the solution or proposal set out, there is a result of the project implementation, and a learning result and possible skills for the student. Here, the student is receiving and interacting with information on the TV.

3.4. Act stage
The last phase, the feedback phase, is about reviewing the whole process and the final results, evaluating and /or refining the process, and monitoring the result again. This allows involving a continuous improvement process, collecting the experiences and observations from the student or expert, continuing the research, improving the design or functionality, and adding other elements such as a virtual tutor, games, customization, among others.



For the development of the prototype application some aspects based on the proposed PDCA t-learning model were taken into account. For test effects, only one cycle will be put into practice.

4.1. Plan stage

Table 2. Points of reference for technical needs

Table 3. Points of reference for personal needs

Table 4. Points of reference for pedagogical needs

4.2. Do stage

4.2.1. Description of the simulation system
It is based on the Eclipse development environment for the respective encoding. A web server allowing to store course and user navigation data is set. The following components are needed: Apache Tomcat (6.0), Java (Jre, and MySQL. Wampserver program is recommended (Apache server, MySQL and PHP). By setting the packages classes (Java), and libraries, the following are defined for simulation: a content server (it stores information about the "course" progress and repository function); an authentication server (login and user registration); and a return channel (for data submission process). A 'client' is defined, which is the part that runs on the simulator (emulator) or for a STB. The client makes requests to log in and access the resources of the "course" stored in the contents server by calling the web services.

Figure 4 describes the architecture for PC simulation. In this case, both the web services server software and the database engine will be on the same simulation computer (PC with the software needed).

Figure 4.
PC Architecture of simulated prototype

Figure 5 describes the architecture with equipment for deployment testing of the TV in a DTT environment. For this experience, they were also used in hardware: (Playout server PC100 Icareus, also called carousel server; TV LG 42", STB i-CAN 3810T MHP 1.1 with support for the return channel via Ethernet); and in software: (configuration software for Playout server PC100, Eclipse-Osmosys SDK, Osmosys Navigator).

Figure 5.
Architecture for deployment test in TV

4.3. Do stage of PDCA model
In this section, the tests performed and a checklist to assess the application comprehensively are presented. A simulation environment based on PC and at a test laboratory is defined. Figure 6 shows the operation of the simulated application on a PC.

Figure 6.
Prototype interface and PC emulator

The user can interact with the navigation buttons (arrows, OK, yellow and red buttons on the remote control simulator), and choose the theme. At the end, the quiz option appears (self-assessment). Figure 7 shows the deployment test on TV, using an interactivity laboratory.

Figure 7.
Deployment tests on TV.

Figures 8 and 9 illustrate the result of using authoring tools (iTV suite) and Icareus commercial equipment, in an interactivity laboratory.

Figure 8.
Test in the Icareus iTVsuite emulator

Figure 9.
Application test developed with iTVsuite on TV.

Checklist method is used to evaluate the performance and perception of the t-learning application. It consists of questions about the characteristics of the application and is based on usability issues. Twelve people were invited to participate in the tests. The application provides basic fundamentals of wireless networks (Wi-Fi), and also assesses the learning achieved. After interacting with the application, they received a form with the checklist, in which each item is assessed with "yes", "partial" or "no" options, allowing inspection of the technical, pedagogical and personal elements. Figure 10 illustrates an example of a result of the checklist applied.

Figure 10.
Example of results of the application checklist

The results of the evaluation and testing indicate that the operation of the application was verified under DTV.

4.4. Act stage



These are some recommendations for this research:



In this article, a PDCA model of t-learning is presented. It includes different stages for the development of an educational project based on DTV; and indirectly provides information about the basis and elements involved. The model's application and the results of t-learning application development on a module of Fundamentals of Wi-Fi wireless networking are shown here, as well as the evaluation through laboratory tests on both PC emulator and deployment in DTT scenario. This model can be implemented in similar projects, taking into account each stage considered, such as how to define subjects, requirements (plan stage), open source application or authoring tools (do stage), checking application running and assessment (check stage), and improvements (act stage). Besides, although the model is defined for the domain of t-learning, it is the basis for various applications in DTV. This proposal is developed under open standards such as DVB and MHP. It has been proved that it is possible to have an experimental laboratory from the open source development and computer simulation.

As DTV is implemented, research, and training efforts should be strengthened, and projects supported on all underlying opportunities of digital technology on TV should be developed. DTV offers multiple options in the information society; among them, the convergence of electronics, telecommunication and informatics. Although the technology is the essential basis, it is necessary to provide it with contents. The expectation with the development of applications on television is higher or equal than the one with the start of e-learning based on PC. The door is open to implement it in other projects in different fields.



The authors thank the Laboratory of Interactivity (Laboratorio de Interactividad -Technoparque SENA Bogotá), for providing the equipment for testing.



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