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CBILE - A Case-Based Immersive Learning Environment


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CBILE is an immersive environment that supports Apprenticeship Simulation (AS) – a method for teaching/learning modeling skills in university education. AS is aimed at the students acquiring not only explicitly defined syntax and semantics of modeling languages, but also skills of analyzing various types of sources for obtaining information to build a model. AS is a kind of case-based learning that presents a case to the students using multimedia sources, such as recorded interviews and web-based sources. CBILE integrates all sources, simulated as well as real, to be used in the case in one place and connects them to the project tasks. The environment uses WordPress as an underlying platform for both integration and simulation of web sources.
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The final text was published and Copyright by IEEE, in the EDOCW proceedings DOI: 10.1109/EDOCW.2018.00036
CBILE – a Case-Based Immersive Learning
Ilia Bider
Department of Computer and Systems Sciences
Stockholm University
Stockholm, Sweden
Martin Henkel
Department of Computer and Systems Sciences
Stockholm University
Stockholm, Sweden
Abstract — CBILE is an immersive environment that supports
Apprenticeship Simulation (AS) – a method for teaching/learning
modeling skills in university education. AS is aimed at the students
acquiring not only explicitly defined syntax and semantics of
modeling languages, but also skills of analyzing various types of
sources for obtaining information to build a model. AS is a kind of
case-based learning that presents a case to the students using
multimedia sources, such as recorded interviews and web-based
sources. CBILE integrates all sources, simulated as well as real, to
be used in the case in one place and connects them to the project
tasks. The environment uses WordPress as an underlying
platform for both integration and simulation of web sources.
Keywords— immersive environment, apprenticeship simulation,
case based learning, modeling skills
I. I
The demo to be presented is an environment, abbreviated to
CBILE, that can be employed in university courses related to the
IT domain, especially in courses that include a learning goal of
acquiring modelling skills of any type. CBILE stands for Case-
Based Immersive Learning Environment, and it is aimed at
supporting an innovative approach to teaching/learning called
Apprenticeship Simulation (AS).
AS is an augmented version of Case-Based Learning (CBL),
the essential part of augmentation being substitution of the text
description of a business case with its multi-media presentation
[1,2]. Moreover, AS is built upon that students can act as
apprentices following a combination of virtual and real-life
expert/master. Learning in AS is arranged around group (or
individual) projects where the students follow the modelling
master and help him/her to do some part of the work on building
models. More specifically, the master chooses the information
sources to be used for building a model, and hands the work of
building the model to the students. Sources may include: (a)
recorded interviews with stakeholders, e.g. CEO or CIO, which
simulate actual participation of the apprentices as listeners in the
interview sessions, (b) samples of relevant documents, e.g.,
meetings protocols, forms for managing orders, (c) web-based
sources, e.g. a company web site, a link to real product site, or
simulated results of twitter search on company name. Fig. 1
illustrates the main ideas of the AS concept where a textual
description of a case is replaced with a multitude of sources.
AS as such is aimed at solving the following problem.
Modelling skills consist of two parts: (a) formal skills -
knowledge on syntax and semantics of modelling languages,
and (b) informal skills - knowledge on how to analyse the
business reality in order to build a model. A problem in teaching
and learning (enterprise/business) modelling in the university
environment of today is that it mainly focuses on acquiring the
formal part of modelling skills; the students learn the syntax and,
partly, semantics of the formal languages used for modelling.
The more important informal part of modelling – the knowledge
on how to capture the reality to build a model through making
field observations, interviewing people, and analysing diverse
documents – often remains outside the scope of the modelling
The formal part of the skills is quite suitable for acquiring in
the classroom, however, the informal part is not, as it belongs to
the area of tacit knowledge (term coined by M. Polanyi), or
Ways of Thinking and Practicing (WTP - in the terminology of
modern pedagogical studies). A solution for acquiring this type
of knowledge is apprenticeship where the students follow and
help a modelling master in a real business case. However, in the
university classroom setting this is difficult, if possible, to
arrange, especially, for the large undergraduate classes. It would
simply be too costly to use a many teachers as masters/experts,
Fig 1. Substituting a textual case description with mulmedia sources
and it would also be necessary for some teachers to play the role
of customers. Thus, AS can be seen as a cost-effective and good
enough approximation to real apprenticeship. The concept of AS
and its application in teaching in the field of Information
Systems (IS) is considered innovative, and our group that coined
the concept has got two awards for innovation in teaching, one
is national from the Swedish Academy for Information
Systems (SISA), the other is international from the
Association for Information Systems (AIS).
CBILE as a tool for facilitating AS is needed to assist in
simulating web-based information sources, e.g. companies'
websites, and integrating all sources in one place as well as tying
them to the project tasks.
The need for CBILE came to our attention when we were
introducing AS the first time in a course called "IT in
organizations" for the first year bachelor students in which the
students were introduced to a number of different modeling
techniques, such as goal modeling, process modeling, etc.
Having limited resources, we could not afford a custom-made
technical solution, and looked for a generic tool that could be
used for our ends without much of programming. As the
integrated project site to be built should be available to many
students working both from the university campus and from
home, our attention was drawn to web-based content
management systems such as Drupal and WordPress.
WordPress had been chosen for a test, more or less arbitrary, as
it was easy to set it up in our department, in which a WordPress
server was maintained by the internal IT staff.
CBILE, in its current state, consists of the following
1. A technical platform – in our case we use WordPress as
an underlying platform.
2. A set of information sources, such as text and video
fragments, to be included in the case descriptions.
3. A deployment in the form of a set of project sites built
for different courses, some of them interconnected.
These could be used as examples to follow when
creating new sites. Furthermore, if a business case used
in a particular example suits the needs for a new course,
the site can be reused for a new course with a minor
We presume that the first component of CBILE, i.e.
WordPress, is familiar to the reader, therefore, we focus only on
the second and third components in the next section.
As far as information sources are concerned, we early on
settled on three types of sources video-recorded interviews,
web based sources and documents. These are described in more
detail below.
Video recordings. Video recordings are used to capture
interactions between the modeling master and the case
participants, for example, interviews aimed at getting
information about a particular business process. In our case,
these sources have been created by using a professional studio,
but simpler means, such as a video camera, may be used as well.
The video recordings are embedded in WordPress sites in MP4
Web-based sources. Video recordings are complemented
with web-based sources for static information such as
information about products, organizational roles and other facts
about a case. The web-based sources are created by using the
build-in WordPress page editor. When needed they are linked
together using WordPress menus.
Documents. These are mostly documentation of internal
events in the organization, such a board meeting protocols and
mails, but can also be examples of invoices, or other documents
external for the organization. The documents are provided to the
students as pdf:s. The documents themselves are created by any
external means, such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
What helped the construction of sources in our practice was
the use of a combination of real and fictitious sources. In this
respect, we can introduce three categories of sources: real,
prototype-based and fictitious.
Real world sources. A real world source is something that
exists in a real world and is used "as is" without introducing any
changes. A typical example here is information about what kind
of software the case organization is using, which can be
provided by referring to the real product, or vendor company
web site.
Prototype-based sources. A prototype-based source is a real
world source where some elements have been replaced with
fictitious ones. This includes taking a real-world company's
balance sheet and replacing the name of the company to fit the
case. Another example is recording interviews with real people
from a real company, and changing the names of the company
and people to the fictitious ones.
Fictitious sources. A fictitious source is an artificially
constructed source. Fictitious sources are used to cover aspects
that are not found in a real-world case. This includes, for
example, staging interviews with stakeholders were teachers
play both interviewees and interviewers. Another example,
which we have used in a course based on recorded prototype-
based interviews, is adding fictitious emails that contain
important for the project information.
Information sources are combined in a case presentation by
creating a project site for each case. An example of content of
the project site to be discussed in detail in the next section is
presented in Fig. 2. Each project has a separate website where
sources are arranged in groups according to their types:
recordings, web-based sources, and document sources. Each
type, if needed, could be subtyped, for example, internal and
external documents. Each source has its own web page, which
in turn may have links to subpages, e.g. if a source is a
company's website. A menu of any type can be used to provide
links to the sources, e.g., a horizontal menu on the top of the
project site as in Fig. 3, or a slide bar menu. In addition to
sources provided in the project site, the students can be asked to
find alternative sources themselves, e.g. possible competitors of
the case company.
While the sources are always put on the project site, it is also
necessary to decide on how the project tasks are to be presented
to the students using CBILE.
The tasks could either be located in a designated university
Learning Management System (LMS), or be put together with
the sources on the project site. In our practice, we used both
alternatives, dependent on the course and the preferences of the
teachers involved. An example of tasks integrated into the
project site is shown in Fig. 3, where each task has its own page,
and a menu is added to the project site that helps to navigate to
a particular task. The teacher may also decide whether the
students should be led to the sources relevant to a certain task.
For example, Fig. 3 shows a task description that includes direct
links to the sources that the students need to use in order to
complete the task.
The SERDES course will be used as an example of the
structure and content of a CBILE project site. Fig. 2 gives an
overview of the parts of the CBILE related to the course.
SERDES aims at teaching the students software service design
in the public sector by use of enterprise modelling. It contains
elements of theories on service-oriented organisations, such as
service-dominant logic (SDL). Moreover, the course covers the
use and design of e-government service platforms, and the
design of service API:s. In the SERDES course, a case called
“Harmony Inside” is used for creating enterprise models,
including service value networks and conceptual models. The
Harmony Inside case is based on a real-world business that
provides dietary recommendations to their clients. The CBILE
for the case consists of the following parts (see also Fig 2):
A company website. WordPress was used to create the
“Harmony” company site. The content of the site was based on
the real-world organisation website, but the style had been
changed, see Fig. 4. A part of the site contains web pages
describing the domain of the company, dietary
recommendations in this particular case.
A case project web site. Again, WordPress was used to create
a web site for a project for which the students were supposed to
work as apprentices, see Fig. 5. On the project site, the expert
“master” has gathered sources that are of interest. In the
SERDES course the main source was interviews – they were
recorded with the real stakeholders, but the name of the
company had been changed (making the interviews prototype-
based sources)
Furthermore, the project site used fictitious sources that
complimented the interviews. A document with a screen
mockup was provided in order to create the feeling of the
students participating in an on-going design project, see Fig. 6.
In addition, documents with fictitious mails were provided as
sources. These mails extended the information given in the
interviews to provide details needed for specific modelling
On the case project site, links are provided to the company
website, and external web pages describing dietary illnesses and
standards regarding information encoding of healthcare data.
Links were also used for embedding the video interviews located
on a file server.
Fig 3. Project site where a task is directly related to sources
Fig 2. Logical structure of the CBILE for the SERDES course
Fig 4. The Harmony Inside company web site
For the course, it was decided that the tasks given to the
students should be separated from the project site and provided
via the university LMS. This was based on convenience – the
university provided a learning environment based on the Moodle
platform with the possibility to have hand-in boxes close to the
task descriptions.
For providing the students with tasks, the course utilizes
links from the learning management system to the case project
site. In the final design, three tasks were given to the students –
where each task had clearly identified sources. This meant that
the students did not have to consider all sources when doing the
first task. The reason for doing this was to speed up completing
the tasks by making them more focused. There was also the
desire to mimic a typical project where information is added as
the project progresses.
V. E
The CBILE environment has been deployed in four courses,
ranging from large (250+ students) to small (20 students). Table
1 contains a summary of the courses were CBILE has been used.
In all courses, WordPress was used as a means for creating
case projects sites. WordPress was also used for creating
fictitious companies' web sites
Courses SERDES, SYSTOIT and BPCM were based on the
same real-world case, the “Harmony Inside” case. While
SYSTOIT and BPCM used the case as-is, SERDES added
fictitious elements. ITO used a completely fictitious case, but
some sources were created based on real data from real cases.
As three courses used the same “Harmony Inside” case, we
were able to re-use some of the sources and web sites created
with the help of WordPress. All three courses used the recorded
interviews as sources. Two web sites were used in all three
courses: the Harmony Inside web site (Fig. 4), and the
STTransformer web site, were STTransformer was a
consultancy entrusted to do work for Harmony Inside.
# Course name Level
# of rounds
& students
Types of models &
1 ITO -
IT in
BS, 1st
4 * 250
Vide range of
modelling notations
and sub-subjects
2 BPCM -
and Case
MS, 3rd
2 * 30 2016-
Business Process
Modelling (different
Citizen Centric
Service Design
MS, 3rd
2 * 30 2016-
Service Value
Network modelling,
Conceptual modelling
System Theory,
and IT
2 * 20 2017-
Viable System Model
Variety Engineering,
organizational learning
Having the same case for several courses was intentional, as
we wanted to achieve a tacit-based connection between the
subject matters taught in these courses based on the common
case. The idea and results achieved are discussed in [3]. The
usage of AS and CBILE was evaluated through surveys and the
results were positive, see [1,2,3].
In this paper, we have presented CBILE, an environment for
supporting a CBL approach called Apprenticeship Simulation
(AS). AS in combination with CBILE is a low-cost way of
providing students with tacit knowledge in enterprise modeling.
The CBILE is constructed as a set of interlinked WordPress sites
that contain multi-media case presentations, and accompanying
tasks that the students should perform. The CBILE has been
successfully deployed in four courses for several years.
[1] I. Bider and M. Henkel, "Using the Structure of Tacit Knowing for
Acquiring a Holistic View on IS Field," in Proceedings of 11th IADIS
International Conference on Information systems, Lissabon, Portugal, 2015,
pp. 19-26.
[2] I. Bider, M. Henkel, S. Kowalski, and E. Perjons, "Simulating
apprenticeship using multimedia in Higher Education: a case from the
information systems field," Interactive Technology and Smart Education,
vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 137-154, 2015.
[3] I. Bider, M. Henkel, S. Kowalski, and E. Perjons, "Teaching enterprise
modeling based on multi-media simulation: a pragmatic approach," in
Proceedings of 6th International MCETECH Conference, LNBIP Vol. 209,
Montreal, Canada, 2015b, pp. 239-254.
Fig 6. Project web site, fictitious screen mockup
Fig 5. Project web site, interviews with real stakeholders
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The paper considers the problem of students acquiring a holistic view on the IS discipline via a set of not explicitly connected subjects taught in disparate courses. The main idea is based on M. Polanyi's works on a structure of tacit knowing that can produce "a stereoscopic image from two separate pictures". The images that are used for creating a stereoscopic picture give different perspectives on the same reality, but they do not explicitly refer to each other, the 3-d picture is being created unconsciously by the human mind. This paper demonstrates that a connection between subjects can be created by using the same or tightly connected business cases in different courses that use case based learning combined with computer-based apprenticeship simulation. The paper discusses the main idea, the trial settings, and preliminary results.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The paper addresses the problem of how university students can acquire enterprise modeling skills so that they can build high quality models of organizational structure and behavior in practical settings after their graduation. The best way of learning such skills is apprenticeship where the students follow a modeling master in a real business case. However, in a university classroom setting this is difficult to arrange, if even possible. Therefore, the paper suggests the use of a computer-based simulation as a good approximation to apprenticeship. Moreover, it suggests a pragmatic, low-cost approach making the idea accessible even for courses with a low budget. A business case is simulated by providing the students with multi-media information sources that are usually used by system or business analysts when building models. The sources consist of recorded interviews with the stakeholders, a web-site of the enterprise under investigation, internal protocols from management meetings, results of twitter search on the company name, etc. The paper presents practical guidelines on how to build such simulation based on a trial successfully completed at the Department of Computer and System Sciences at Stockholm University.
Full-text available
Purpose – This paper aims to report on a project aimed at using simulation for improving the quality of teaching and learning modeling skills. More specifically, the project goal was to facilitate the students to acquire skills of building models of organizational structure and behavior through analysis of internal and external documents, and interviews with employees and management. An important skill that practitioners in the information systems field need to possess is the skill of modeling information systems. The main problem with acquiring modeling skills is to learn how to extract knowledge from the unstructured reality of business life. Design/methodology/approach – To achieve the goal, a solution was introduced in the form of a computerized environment utilizing multimedia to simulate a case of an apprenticeship situation. The paper gives an overview of the problem that the solution addresses, presents the solution and reports on the trial completed in a first-year undergraduate course at Stockholm University. Findings – The results of the trial indicate that using rich multimedia along with a case-based learning approach did improve the overall performance of the students. It was also shown that both students’ and the teachers’ attitudes toward the solution were positive. Originality/value – The solution presented in this paper, using computer simulation in teaching/learning by focusing on an apprenticeship situation, can be reused by other university teachers, especially in the Information Systems discipline. This solution can thus be used in teaching, system design, requirements engineering, business analysis and other courses typical for information systems.