Learning grid

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Draft 2

Editors: Saverio Salerno and Pierluigi Ritrovato CRMPA – Research Center in Pure and Applied Mathematics University of Salerno

Contributor: Matteo Gaeta CRMPA – University of Salerno


A Learning Grid is an enabling software architecture based on three pillars: (i) grid technologies, (ii) semantics and (iii) educational Modelling allowing the definition and execution of new kinds of social-collaborative learning experiences obtained as a composition of distributed heterogeneous actors, resources and services, discovered and orchestrated through the Grid.

Comments on the history

The Grid technology was first defined in the late 90s by Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman, in the famous book “The Grid: Blueprint for a New Computing Infrastructure” (Foster and Kesselman 1999) as “a hardware and software infrastructure that provides dependable, consistent, pervasive, and inexpensive access to high-end computational capabilities”. The idea was to allow computing to have the same access facilities as those available for the power grid: just plug the cable in the wall and got the services. Further research (Foster et al. 2001, 2002) brought to a new vision of Grid that became synonym of infrastructure to “coordinate resource sharing and problem solving in dynamic, multi-institutional virtual organizations” where the focus is on the concept of Virtual Organization (VO). Starting from this wider vision, where the strict connection with high-end computing has been loosened, the term Learning Grid has got its new definition. The first discussion on the use of Grid technologies for enabling new forms of Learning was held by the Working Group on “eLearning Futures and the Learning GRID” established in the frame of EU-US cooperation in Science and Technology, in the 2001 e-Learning agreement. These research activities first led to the FP5 thematic network LeGE-WG (Learning Grid of Excellence – Working Group) in 2002 and later to a Working Group in the FP6 Network of Excellence Kaleidoscope (Salerno et al. 2008) and an FP6 Integrated Project named ELeGI – European Learning Grid Infrastructure (Ritrovato et al. 2005) where an innovative learning platform (IWT – Intelligent Web Teacher) was integrated with a Grid Middleware (GrASP – Grid Based Application Service Provision) in order to create the services of the Learning Grid Infrastructure (Ritrovato et al. 2009).

Currently, the Grid technologies are still under development, mainly in the context of Research Infrastructure, with an evolution towards Service Oriented Architecture before and Cloud Computing now. Indeed, in the 2009 Gartner Hype Cycle for Education there are direct references to the Grid (climbing the scope area) supporting high-intensive computational tasks, Virtual laboratories and the creation of Private Cloud or concepts like CaaS – Computing as a Service. In the 2010 and 2011 hype cycle reports, Grid Computing is moved in the plateau (2010) and off the hype (2011), while Cloud HPC/CaaS are still in at the Peak area.

Related terms

Cloud e-Learning; Learning in the Cloud.

Translation issues


Disciplinary issues

Even if the Learning Grid has quite unique meaning, sometime, scientist in the computer science and artificial intelligence fields could misunderstand the “learning” meaning due to the direct mind association with the “machine learning”, namely the way the machine automatically learns something.

Key references

[1] Foster I. and Kesselman C. (1999) The Grid: Blueprint for a New Computing Infrastructure. Morgan Kaufmann.

[2] Foster I., Kesselman C., Nick J., Tuecke S. (2002) The Physiology of the Grid: An Open Grid Service Architecture for Distributed System Integration.

[3] Foster I., Kesselman C., Tuecke S. (2001) The Anatomy of the Grid: Enabling Scalable Virtual Organizations. International Journal of Supercomputer Applications 15 (3) 200-222

[4] Ritrovato P., Cerri S. A., Alison C., Gaeta M., Salerno S., Dimitrakos T. (eds.) (2005) Towards the Learning Grid: advances in Human Learning Services. Coll. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, Volume 127. IOS Press 2005.

[5] Ritrovato P., Gaeta M., Gaeta A. (2009) A grid based software architecture for delivery of adaptive and personalised learning experiences. ACM Personal and Ubiquitous Computing Journal 13 (3) 207-217.

[6] Salerno S., Gaeta M., Ritrovato P., Capuano N., Orciuoli F., Miranda S., Pierri A. (eds.) (2008) The Learning Grid Handbook – Concepts, Technologies and Applications. Coll. The Future of Learning Volume 2. IOS Press.