Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Augmenting Traditional Books with Context-Aware Learning Supports from Online Learning Communities

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Augmenting Traditional Books with Context-Aware Learning Supports from Online Learning Communities

Article excerpt


Advances in ubiquitous and context-aware computing technologies have enabled environments in which applications and tangible objects can proactively support users' activities based on their context. These context-aware applications are generally implemented to facilitate capturing relevant information, proposing appropriate resources, or executing services automatically (Dey, Abowd, & Salber, 2001). Supports from capable learners, such as academic advice, material recommendation, or study guidance, would assist learning performance (Tharp & Gallimore, 1988), and would benefit students the most if these learning supports are provided at the right time. Web-based learning environments that enables online learning communities or other online systems with resourceful databases demonstrate the useful platforms to deliver these learning supports or other contextual information (Billsus, Hilbert, & Maynes-Aminzade, 2005; Derntl & Hummel, 2005; Jones & Brown, 2003; Kapsalis, Fidas, Tranoris, & Stoica, 2005; Lieberman, 1997; Ogata & Yano, 2004; Rhodes, 2000; Yang, 2006). The communicative and computational capabilities of these online systems allow them to acquire user context and deliver context-aware supports accordingly at the right time.

However, a significant proportion of students still perform reading activities more on traditional books than on electronic documents due to the better support of physical books in reading (Longhurst, 2003; O'Hara & Sellen, 1997; Robertson, 2006). Since integration of documents in electronic and physical worlds is limited, and the functions provided by the two worlds are different (Koike & Kobayashi, 2001; Wellner, 1993), these students would have to make extra efforts to acquire contextual resources from online systems due to the difficulty in collecting user context or the inaccessibility of computer resources in constrained environments. For example, when a student encounters a difficult passage interrupting her reading, she probably has emergent needs to seek for additional information through online support systems or search engines. She may have trouble in searching or determining the appropriate information among the recommendations from the search tools, or may even fail to find the appropriate information. Without the timely suggestion of appropriate information, these extra efforts and the difficulty in acquiring the right resources would disrupt students' learning flow and may eventually impair students' learning motivation and the quality of their learning activities.

Several studies have demonstrated augmentations on paper documents with audio, video or digital information (Back, Cohen, Gold, Harrison, & Minneman, 2001; Klemmer, Graham, Wolff, & Landay, 2003; Koike & Kobayashi, 2001; Mackay, Pothier, Letondal, Boegh, & Sorensen, 2002). Although these studies integrated information between physical and electronic documents to support user tasks, few studies have incorporated contextual supports from capable learners and peers into traditional book reading practice to enhance students' text comprehension and knowledge acquisition.

This study proposes an innovative approach to develop a paper-based learning support environment in which mobile phones, traditional books, and a Web-based discussion forum are integrated together. The integration allows capture of learning context during students' study via mobile phones. It also augments reading practice of traditional books with timely, contextual recommendatory messages from capable learners in an online learning community through Short Message Service (SMS). To explore the implications of these context-aware learning supports to students, an evaluation was conducted to understand students' use and perception of the proposed environment.

The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. …

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