Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

An Ontology to Automate Learning Scenarios? an Approach to Its Knowledge Domain

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

An Ontology to Automate Learning Scenarios? an Approach to Its Knowledge Domain

Article excerpt

Introduction

In recent years, the research by the eLearning community has been focused on topics such as standardization and learning objects. Nowadays, as a result of this research, we have a lot of standards and specifications developed. Examples are the LOM metadata standard (IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee, 2002), which provides recommendations to annotate learning objects in order to facilitate their location and retrieval, the SCORM standard (Advanced Distributed Learning, 2004), which proposes guidelines to specify learning objects focusing on the content and package, the IMS LD specification (IMS Global Consortium, 2003b), which is centered on the description of the structure of learning units and the learning design process, and the IMS DRI (IMS Global Consortium, 2003a) or the LORI (Simon, Massart, Van Assche, Ternier, & Duval, 2005) specifications, which give recommendations to access in an interoperable way the repositories that allocate learning objects. It proves that the learning object topic has been the focus of the research from different points of view. However, if we want to construct a Learning Management System (LMS) based on these standards and specifications and make it more intelligent and adapted to the learning needs, we must go beyond the learning object concept and consider some other wider concept such as the learning scenario.

From an instructional point of view and related to the learning scenario concept, many people consider a scenario of the student only or an educational experience based on some learning strategies. Later, we will describe the learning scenario concept in more detail, but now we will sketch its meaning in order to avoid any confusion. The concept of a learning scenario in this paper must be understood as a model of an expected sequence of events to achieve a goal related within the LMS. Furthermore, the scenarios will let us describe the most usual functions of the LMS, such as those related to a student or a group of students (the assessment of a individual student in a specific activity, the itinerary proposed by the instructor to achieve a learning objective or the monitoring of learning) or to other more administrative or organizational ones that do not involve the student directly like the preparation of a course, the publication of a suitable learning activity, or the purchase of a learning object for a given learning need and so on.

There is some related research work about our view of the learning scenario. In Sicilia and Lytras, (2005), the concept of learning-scenario-type is presented as a generalisation of the learning scenario concept and the use of the learning objects metadata as an infrastructure to support the main functions of the LMS. A first approach to the specification of such scenarios promoting their automation was given in Sanchez-Alonso and Sicilia, (2005) and Sicilia, Garcia-Barriocanal, Sanchez, Rius, and Pages (2004) through setting up the semantic conformance profiles (SCP). Also, in Rius, Sicilia, Garcia-Barriocanal, and Macarro (2006), an implementation mechanism of learning scenarios was suggested using the combination of SCP-BPM-BPEL; although this technique permits obtaining an executable code, it does not guarantee correct behaviour of the system at execution time, because the learning scenario needs to be previously defined in a consistent and non-ambiguous way.

In order to achieve the automation of the most usual functions that occur in a LMS from well defined learning scenarios, first of all, we propose to create a catalogue of learning scenarios and then obtain, for each of them, its formal description based on a learning scenario ontology. Later, this formalisation of learning scenarios will be useful to achieve an executable code of the described scenarios. With respect to the catalogue, there is a proposal of cataloguing primitive learning scenarios in Rius, Sicilia, and Garcia-Barriocanal (2007), which must be extended in the near future. …

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