1. Introduction
  2. How to access the software
  3. Discussion control panel
  4. Replay control panel
  5. Chat
  6. White board
  7. Annexes

1 Introduction

Drew is a Computer Supported Collaborative Learning tool (CSCL). It allows students and teachers to discuss with one another across the Internet in real time, on a topic elaborated by a teacher. The topic of discussion is displayed on line. Under the current version of DREW, students and teachers may communicate in the following two ways :


A CHAT is a zone on a participant's computer screen where typed messages are displayed as they are "sent". This permits a discussion, with delays on the level of seconds, in real time. As the discussion progresses, the text scrolls up. It is possible to use the scroll bar to check previous dialogue.


A WHITE BOARD is a zone on a participant's computer screen where they may draw using the tools that are available (line, eraser, text, arrow with name of participant, different geometrical shapes, etc). As with the CHAT, drawings appear on all the participants' computer screens, in quasi real time.


2 How to access the software

The current version is in French, the screen copies below will reflect that. However, the documentation should be explicit enough to allow the understanding of non French speakers. We are studying the problem of interface translation.

Subject list

DREW is accessed with the help of a browser, software that is available at no charge for anyone owning a computer and connected to the Internet. DREW is public domain software and the source code is available. If you want to install a DREW server, you need a web server. See Installing DREW. Alternatively, you can connect tothe DREW server at the Ecole des Mines.

Acces a la discussion ou au rejoueur

The current version works on the following platforms :

When the first web page is accessed in the DREW configuration, the screen on the upper left appears.

You may choose a subject of discussion from the list available or create a new subject (the resulting procedure for creating a new subject is not shown here but see preparing a session destined for teachers).

When the lower left screen appears, you have the choice of clicking on the button "discuter" (discuss) in order to join a discussion or "rejouer" (replay) in order to visualise a discussion that has already taken place.

You may also return to the list of subjects (cliquez ici).

The reader will notice that subject may contain hyperlinks that when clicked upon will open a new browser window. In the example shown here, the CESIFS web site provides important information to be consulted during discussion.


3 Discussion Control Panel

The Discussion Session Control Panel is the first window that you see when you have clicked on "discuter" (discuss).

Begin by entering your name in the space after "Entrez votre nom" :

After that, the control panel allows you to :

Connect to the server
Click on the button "connecter." This is necessary in order to participate in a discussion

Deconnect from the server
Click on the button "deconnecter"

Read the subject of discussion
Click on the button "Afficher le sujet"

Erase your name
Click on the button "effacer"

Quit the discussion
Click on the button "quitter"

Find out who is connected
Click on the button "Liste des participants". The list of participants appears in the main window of the control panel.

Change rooms
Click and maintain pressure on the arrow where it says "Hall" (the room occupied in the example). You can choose Salon or Boudoir. Participants can only be a party to discussions if they are in the corresponding room.

When you connect to a DREW server, you can choose if you would like to have access to one or both of the CHAT and WHITEBOARD modules. Just click on the white boxes to the left. In the exemple, the participant will only have access to the CHAT module. If once connected, you change your mind, just go back and click. The Discussion Session Control Panel always remains visible.

NB: During the definition of the subject of discussion, the teacher has the possibility of defining access to CHAT and WHITEBOARD modules. If the teacher doesn't allow the WHITEBOARD, for example, students connecting to a DREW server won't be able to call one up.


4 Replay Control Panel

The replay control panel is the first window that you see when you have clicked on "rejouer" (replay). depending on the configuration specified when the original session was defined, a CHAT and/or a WHITEBOARD will appear. First, arrange your windows on your computer screen so that you can see them all (or parts of all of them for those with small screens!). Then click on the button "connecter" (connect).

After a short (!) delay, the appropriate DREW server will send a line of text to the space after (MESSAGE d'INFORMATION) saying that the replay session is open. You now have access to the buttons that resemble the buttons on a cassette player.

Button functions :
RWD rewinds to the beginning of the session currently being viewed
STOP stops reading the trace file of the session currently being viewed by PLAY
PLAY reads the trace file and replays the session
STEP replays the next action of the trace file

Every action that is visualized in the replay mode is reconstructed from a line in the computer recorded trace file of the original session. This line, in its brute form is shown under the words " Ligne en cours de traitement". A translation of what the line means is shown under the words "Signification de la ligne traitée".
Although you would need quite a large screen, it is possible to replay simultaneously the discussions that went on in all the rooms. You may also select one room in which to replay the discussion. The participants appear in the list as they enter the room.

Deconnect by clicking on "quitter" (quit).



A CHAT is a window on your computer screen in which you may freely type messages to those who are connected at the same time as you.

The text in a CHAT window scrolls up and out of sight as other messages are added. Each message is preceded by the name of the user who typed it.

There can be many different "conversations" going on in a CHAT window and it can become difficult to keep track of ones interlocuters. Therein lies the interest of the different rooms.



The window on the left contains the tools that you can use to draw and color on the white board. There are 16 buttons. 10 are for choosing a particular type of action, and 6 are for choosing a color (if appropriate) to carry out that action in.

From the top to bottom and from left to right :

  1. Blanket eraser : This tool erases the entire whiteboard in one fell swoop. Simply click on this button in order to erase the whiteboard. Make sure and get the accord of your partners before using this tool!
  2. Eraser : The eraser erases. Click on this button and move the mouse over what you want to erase.
  3. The-"your-name-on-it"-arrow : This tool allows you to label with your name, what you have done on the whiteboard. It's usefulness becomes apparent with multiple users. If you click on this button, and then move the mouse and click somewhere on the whiteboard, an arrow will appear with your user name on it.
  4. Text : You may also write on the whiteboard. Click on this button, then click on the whiteboard where you would like to enter text. After typing, press "enter". This tools does not allow you to modify text.
  5. Line : This is a line drawing tool. Click on the button, then click on the part of the whiteboard where you would like to begin drawing a line. When you drag the mouse, the line will appear. You must reclick for the line tool to finish drawing.
  6. Curve : This tool allows you to draw curved lines. It works in the same way as the line tool.
  7. Open circle : You can draw circles or ovals with this tool. After clicking on the button, and then clicking somewhere on the whiteboard, drag the mouse without letting go of the button. Let go when you reach the desired size.
  8. Open rectangle : You can draw rectangles with this tool. It works in the same way as the open circle tool.
  9. Colored circle : This tool allows you to draw colored circles. You must first choose a color.
  10. Colored rectangle : This tool allows you to draw colored rectangles. You must first choose a color.
  11. Choose black to draw or write
  12. Choose white to draw or write
  13. Choose reg to draw or write
  14. Choose yellow to draw or write
  15. Choose green to draw or write
  16. Choose blue to draw or write


Example of what could have been drawn by a student.

The student used the line and curve tools to draw the test tube.

He used the colored rectangles (red and blue) to show the different liquids. He used the empty circles to simulate the boiling.

The text tool was also used with different colors chosen.

As the student drew on the whiteboard, the result appeared on the screens of all the other users connected at that time and located in the same room as the student.


After the corrections and interventions of other students

In this case, certain students have completed the whiteboard drawing with pertinent remarks. The original text was erased in order to make room for them.

The two students working together during this particular session (Patrice and Sylvain) signed their own whiteboard additions. When the whiteboard becomes cluttered, this tool is useful for sorting out who did and wrote what.


DREW 2000