NeoWorks ( have been commissioned by London Metropolitan University’s Learning Technology Research Institute (LTRI) ( to further the development of AcademicTalk, a ‘state of the art’ software tool for synchronous discussion. The development is part of a larger collaborative project involving the University of Southampton, the UK Open University and Bolton Institute, that will facilitate further research into synchronous group discussion based e-learning between geographically dispersed participants.

LTRI in collaboration with the project partners have been awarded funding to develop this e-Learning tool for structured discussion by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Distributed E-Learning Tools strand of development. The aim of this initiative is to develop a distributed e-learning technical architecture that provides increased opportunities for learners through the use of better learning tools, easier access to personal learning information such as portfolios, and access to greater quantities of quality assured learning materials.

NeoWorks is further developing the prototype application as an open source (Apache licensed) project for use on Windows 2000 and XP platforms. The new application uses a XMPP 1.0 (Jabber) compliant server back end. Both synchronous and asynchronous (offline) usage modes will be available, via a store and forward mechanism.

The application will be developed using the Java language and will take advantage of the existing server-to-server infrastructure provided in XMPP.

Dr Andrew Ravenscroft, deputy director of LTRI and project leader said: “NeoWorks became our clear choice due to their understanding of the innovative and emerging technical landscape in which the project has to be conducted”.

Nigel Atkinson, director of NeoWorks said: “The combination of leading edge e-learning research and interesting technical work make this project particularly exciting”.


For further information on NeoWorks or this project please contact Karen Durham-Diggins, KDD PR: on 020 8989 2541 or email:

For further information on London Metropolitan University’s Learning Technology Research Institute (LTRI) please contact Dr. Andrew Ravenscroft (C.Psychol, PhD, MSc, BSc) at

NeoWorks Limited -

NeoWorks develop, deploy and support high quality software solutions. A focus on well designed and maintainable software ensures performance, scalability and low total cost of ownership. NeoWorks have over five years of experience developing content management, e-community, e-business and desktop application solutions.

Clients include: Levi's® Europe, Universal Group Direct, Five, Royal Doulton

Learning Technology Research Institute -

The LTRI conducts research into the application of information and communication technologies to augment, support and transform learning. There are three major research themes:

Learning objects and learning design concerns the design, development and use of reusable resources and designs. A two-year project has evaluated the use of learning objects with over 1000 students.

Learning interaction and networked communities concerns the nature of effective learning dialogue and interaction with an emphasis on the development of supportive software tools.

Informal eLearning studies the processes and impact of eLearning in informal settings. It extends the communities studied by the Institute beyond the domains of university, college and school.

The Institute's research is supported by a range of funded research projects.

London Metropolitan University:
London Met is one of the foremost providers of undergraduate, postgraduate, professional and vocational education and training in Britain. Our courses are planned in consultation with employers and examining bodies and the end result is courses that are of direct relevance to their field and of a high quality. Based on two campuses right in the heart of London, the University was created on 1 August 2002 by a merger between London Guildhall University and the University of North London.

Published on: 12:00AM on 1st December 2004