Collaborative Face to Face Educational Environment

The educational technology and digital learning wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The printable version is no longer supported and may have rendering errors. Please update your browser bookmarks and please use the default browser print function instead.


“CoFFEE is a suite of applications to support collaborative problem-solving discussions in the classroom. Its main components are a series of tools for collaboration, shared work, individual work and communication. Around these core tools, several other components make it possible to plan, run or participate in a CoFFEE lesson (or session).” (, retrieved 11:22, 12 January 2009 (UTC).)

CoFFEE is the main technology produced in the EU LEAD project. The software itself is {{citation|complemented by pedagogical scenarii - customisable lesson plans that are written by the projects researchers. These scenarii offer a good starting point for teachers who want to start using CoFFEE. They include both files that teachers can plug into CoFFEE to run a lesson plan, as well as a written step-by-step lesson plan instructing the teacher on all the relevant aspects of running a CoFFEE supported classroom activity. ([1], retrieved 11:22, 12 January 2009 (UTC))

See also: the french version (better for now).

Architecture of the CoFFEE system

CoFFEE lessons are called Sessions. A session can be a short part of a whole lesson or span several lessons over a period of several weeks. Such a session is composed of a number of distinct Steps, each with different tools or tool combinations. During the lesson, the teacher can navigate from step to step. A Step may contain a single CoFFEE tool, or a combination of up to 5 different tools.

Coffee system diagram, reproduced from without special permission

Learner Tools

From the "Coffee discusser" tool the learner can access the various learning tools:

  • Threaded discussion tool with several extra features, e.g. manage several topics at the same time
  • Graphical discussion tool (with grid and time organisation)
  • Co-Writer tool
  • Positionometer
  • Presence and learner groups tool
  • Repository
  • Chat tool
  • Quick messaging tool
  • Private note tool. Each other tool also can be configured for private use only.

Additional tools are available as plugins, e.g.

  • Streaming tool
  • IE Explorer tool
  • Document browser tool

Teacher Controller tool

The Controller tool (Session Player):

  • can manage steps and monitor what students do (except private tools)
  • organise sessions and group formation

Lesson planner/editor/designer tools

Notice: Depending on the publication and version, these tools maybe arranged differently

  • The Lesson Planner can import templates for reuse without changing its structure, e.g. the teacher can adjuste subject matter and groups..
  • The Session Editor allows for advanced configuration of components and to create templates
  • The Class editor: Define students and passwords, can also assign students to groups

The replayer tool

The Replayer (available as "Tatiana") can replay all the details of a sessions. It's both an evaluation and a research tool.

Modelling and Formats


A pedagogical scenario in CoFFEE is defined as a session that includes set of steps (phases). Each step is defined by an activity - either a classroom activity or a (several) groups activity - usually involving several interactions and supporting tools. Therefore a scenario is sequence of activities that engage learners in tasks using tools.

In "groups" mode, it is possible to assign different tasks and tools to various groups. Products are only available to group members until the activity ends. After that, the artifacts of all groups are revealed to everybody.

A session can be part of a lesson or extend over a longer period. The activities sequence is assembled, beforehand, as a Session defined as a sequence of steps, through the Session Editor/Designer component.

Sessions can be extended during runtime and latecomer users also can be managed.


A template is a combination of tools and steps that are designed to support an activity type (e.g brainstorming, planning or problem solving) within a particular setting (small groups, whole-class, a particular age-group). Technically, a template consists of a session file, a description file (in rtf format) and a template information file (xml), which can all be created in the Lesson Planner's Session Editor.


CoFFEE allows a teacher to (1) use an existing Session, (2) modify an existing Session, (3) create a Session from an existing template, (4) or finally create a Session from scratch. See tailorability




  • Belgiorno, F., De Chiara, R., Manno, I., Overdijk, M., Scarano, V. & van Diggelen, W. (2008). Face to face cooperation with CoFFEE. Paper at the European Conference on Technology-Enhanced Learning Conference (ECTEL2008), Maastricht, The Netherlands.
  • De Chiara, R., Di Matteo, A., Manno, I., Scarano, V. (2007), CoFFEE: Cooperative Face2Face Educational Environment, in Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Collaborative Computing: Networking, Applications and Worksharing (CollaborateCom 2007), New York, USA, November 12-15, 2007. PDF
  • Grieco, R., Malandrino, D., Palmieri, G., Scarano, V. (2007), Face2Face social bookmarking with recommendations: WebQuests in the classrooms, in Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Collaborative Computing: Networking, Applications and Worksharing (CollaborateCom 2007), New York, USA, November 12-15, 2007. PDF
  • Ligorio, M.B., Tateo, L., Manno, I., De Chiara R. and Iannaccone, A. (2007), COFFEE: a software to blend face-to-face and written communication in collaborative problem solving-based scenarios, in Summer School "Building Knowledge for deep Understanding" at the institute for knowledge innovation and technology, Toronto, Canada, August 7-10, 2007. PDF
  • Ligorio,M. B.; J. Andriessen, M. Baker, N. Knoller, L.Tateo (2009). Talking over the computer. Pedagogical scenarios to blend computer and face to face interaction. ISBN 978-88-6381-019-6 (see also: home page of the book, abstracts and e-version)

Acknowledgement: This article or part of this article has been written during a collaboration with the EducTice group of INRP, which attributed a visiting grant to DKS in january 2009.