Castle: Environment for Cooperative Learning

Initial Situation

“I am supposed to go to a seminar for four days? And who is going to make my work during this time? After the seminar, I have to work twice as much as before to catch up on everything.” This sentence highlights the well-known difficulties of advanced vocational training especially for highly skilled employees and self-employed workers. It is not a surprise that you, as an essential resource, are almost indispensable in the knowledge society. Those who can not attend full-time events that take several days, relied so far mostly on the flexible, self-directed but also isolated training in a quiet chamber. All forms of individual learning, whether learning by reading books or taking part in a computer based training (CBT), do not show an essential part of traditional classroom-based trainings: learning and the exchange of ideas with other participants, who are interested in the same problem.


The Internet learning environment of the EU-funded collaborative project CASTLE combines self-directed, individualized learning with distributed, concurrent learning sessions to leverage the strengths of both forms of learning. As part of an evaluation course with this learning environment environmental experts from government agencies, research institutions and companies in Germany, Great Britain and Spain have jointly acquired basic knowledge about the use of data from Earth observation satellites for environmental protection and environmental monitoring. In addition to course materials for self-study, a special focus was given to the virtual seminars, which were held every fourteen days. In these virtual seminars participants from five locations in Europe were guided by a tutor during their joint work on self-study units.


The CASTLE software provides access to the course materials for the self-study by an integrated interface and provides necessary tools which allow synchronous work in learning sessions. Three core elements are implemented in the software:

  • The creation of a virtual workspace for collaborative learning with adequate communication channels.
  • The provision of tools for work on common material which are proven by computer supported cooperative work sessions.
  • The ability to remotely control the working space and the available tools by a tutor or moderator during the learning session.


Scientific Partners

Technische Universität München, Chair for Information Systems (Prof. Dr. Krcmar)
Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel
C.I.C.E.M. Huelva
University of Dundee
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) (German Centre for Aviation and Space Travel)
Niederländisches Luft- und Raumfahrtlabor (NLR) (Dutch Centre for Aviation and Space Travel)

Research Funding

European Union, DG XII, No. ENV4 0312


  • Koppenhöfer, C., Böhmann, T., & Krcmar, H. (2000). Evaluation der CASTLE-Umgebung für kooperatives Lernen. In: S. Uellner, & V. Wulf (Eds.), Vernetztes Lernen mit digitalen Medien: Proceedings der ersten Tagung "Computergestütztes Kooperatives Lernen (D-CSCL 2000): 147-162. Heidelberg: Physica.
  • Böhmann, T., Koppenhöfer, C., & Krcmar, H. (2000). Avoiding the Hermit's Way of Distance Learning: Augmenting Individual Learning With Internet-based Seminars. In: H.-R. Hansen, M. Bichler, & H. Mahrer (Eds.), European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Vol. 2: 1355-1362. Vienna.


Prof. Dr. Helmut Krcmar