Since 2001 the chair of Media Informatics at the University of Bamberg provides a range of eLearning courses within the field of Information Retrieval with more than 50 students each year. These courses are integrated within the curricular of the University of Bamberg as well as within two virtual study programs, a virtual master program (www.vawi.de) and the Bavarian Virtual University (www.vhb.org).
The courses are designed to be conducted as distance learning. Using a self developed course authoring system based on DocBook in conjunction with an open source eLearning System (moodle), we provide the textual course content in HTML and PDF. Besides the content and forums for the communication between students and teachers we make strong use of automated quizzes and manual assignments, giving students feedback about their learning advance. For a deeper understanding of several concepts and algorithms we have created several Java-applications which are integrated within the course and the quizzes. These applications cover f.e. pattern matching algorithms, string distance computation, cluster algorithms, stemming algorithms, and so forth.
Based on more than five years of providing Information Retrieval within different eLearning courses the paper presents a mature concept for distance learning in Information Retrieval together with usage statistics and evaluation results.