Last Wednesday (7th March 2007), KMi’s Marta Sabou and Mathieu d’Aquin have been invited to discuss through FlashMeeting with Master students at the Utrecht University (Netherlands) in the context of a weekly course about the Semantic Web. This session was mainly focused on the problems of ontology integration and ontology learning, on which students have been asked to read papers, some of these papers being written by researchers in KMi. After, student presentations on these topics, attendees have been given the opportunity to ask questions from Marta and Mathieu, for clarifying elements of the papers or, more generally, to exchange opinions about the ways to solve these problems, ongoing research in KMi (Watson, ontology matching, relation extraction from texts, etc.), or the future of the Semantic Web.
The use of FlashMeeting for interacting with students was a particularly interesting experience. It made possible a quick set-up of the intervention, even at very short notice (the discussion has been planned only 5 days before it took place), as simply as if everybody was in the same place. Thus, it was a great opportunity for students to have a direct interaction with researchers on the subjects they learn about and for KMi researchers to get feedback on their work from a different audience than the one they are used to.
Of course, using FlashMeeting also introduced some additional difficulties, in particular because of technical problems. Paola Monachesi, one of the lecturers for this course, said:
“I have never used FlashMeeting for classes but I have to say that it is more complicated than for meetings and we need better equipment such as a good microphone ”
But there is no doubt that, for both sides, this was a very positive experience, showing an increasing interest in two core topics in KMi: the Semantic Web and the interaction with distant learners.