ARI-Lab has been a long-term research project carried out by CNR (Italian National Research Council) researchers working, first, at the Institute for Applied Mathematichs (IMA), then at the Institute for Educational Technologies (ITD). During project development different progressively richer versions of the ARI-LAB system had been designed and implemented.
The ARI-LAB system (CNR licence) is an educational multi-environment system based on microworlds, and communication technology. It is aimed to arithmetics problem solving.
The first prototype of the ARI-LAB system had been experimented with widely and exhaustively. The system had been tested in different school situations and with different kinds of students (different school levels, normal students, deaf students, students who are considered as low achievers in mathematics). All the experiments were developed in the long term. With one class, the system was used for almost the whole cycle of primary school (from the second to the fifth grade), with significant integration into the mathematics curriculum.
During all experiments, the teachers of the classes involved were present throughout and participated actively both in planning the teaching itineraries and in following the students’ work on the computer. Each experiment was accomplished in a real class situation and during normal class hours not in an “ad hoc” laboratory setting.
After this phase, the structure of the system had been reviewed taking into consideration results and hints coming from the experimentations. A new version of the system was designed and implemented under the Windows operative system. This enhached version was tested in different classes too and in training courses for teachers. DIDAEL spa marketed it at the beginning of 2000 (http://www.didael.it/sito/index.htm).
The work and the research related to ARI-LAB grew then up thanks to a project of the European Community: ITALES project – Innovative Teaching and Learning Environments for Schools (IST-2000-26356): (http://italesdev.itscotland.org.uk), Fifth Framework Programme, IST, key action: “School of Tomorrow”. Within this EC project the latest versions of the ARI-LAB system were designed and implemented: ARI-LAB 2 and ARI@ITALES.
ARI-LAB 2 is an evolution of the ARI-LAB system with a completely re-designed interface, many changes in the offered functionalities, and with the addition of two new microworlds: one for approaching rational numbers, and one for introducing the algebraic language.
ARI@ITALES was designed and implemented to offer teachers tools for projecting and managing online classes. It allows users to access some of the interactive tools of ARI-LAB 2 through a common browser (Explorer).