Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Designing Collaborative E-Learning Environments Based upon Semantic Wiki: From Design Models to Application Scenarios

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Designing Collaborative E-Learning Environments Based upon Semantic Wiki: From Design Models to Application Scenarios

Article excerpt

Introduction

E-Learning has become one of the most popular teaching and learning methods by stretching the spatial and temporal barriers. Various e-learning systems have been developed in the past decade. Learning Management Systems are able to support online training with different levels of granularity and formalization, which focus on automation of some aspects of the design process, execution and assessment (Acqua, 2009). Learning Content Management System expects to provide standard-based content repositories that allow learners to capture, store, deliver, and manage learning resources (Goecks et al., 2002)(Jari et al., 2003). Furthermore, ubiquitous learning environment gains more and more attention in recent years, which aims to provide an interoperable, pervasive, and seamless learning architecture to connect, integrate, and share three major dimensions of learning resources: learning collaborators, learning contents, and learning services (Cheng et al., 2005)(Yang, 2006). However, almost the e-learning systems are self-independent and the learning resources are disordered, isolated, and heterogeneous, and there is no common overarching context for the available resources.

Virtual learning communities are cyberspaces in which individual and collaborative learning is implemented by groups of geographically dispersed learners and providers of knowledge to accomplish their goals of learning. Though there are no agreements on what constitutes a virtual learning community, it has gained widespread acceptance that virtual learning communities are knowledge based social entities where knowledge is the key to their success (Bhatt, 2001)(Malhotra, 2000). An important activity in a virtual learning community is the collaboration. Many virtual learning communities strive to attract new members or encourage members to learn and to contribute knowledge. Nevertheless, such collaboration environment is generally not supported by conventional learning environments (Hage et al., 2008).

E-learning 2.0 emerges inspired by the popularity of Web 2.0, which places increased emphasis on social learning and use of social software such as blogs, wikis, and etc. (Rosen, 2009). Conventional e-learning systems were based on instructional packets that were delivered to students using Internet technologies. The role of students consisted in learning from the reading and preparing assignments. By contrast, E-learning 2.0 is built around collaboration, which assumes that knowledge is socially constructed. Learning takes place through conversations about content and grounded interaction about problems and actions. Misanchuk et al. (2001) propose strategies focus on promoting communication, social interaction and participation to scaffold learning. Therefore, it is desirable to design and develop a sophisticated learning environment to achieve e-learning 2.0, encouraging learners' active involvement of resource contribution, enabling convenient resources accessing and utilization, and facilitating better interaction and collaboration.

Semantic Web is the emerging landscape of new web technologies aiming at web-based heterogeneous resources that would be understandable and reusable by both humans and machines. Semantic knowledge is playing an increasing important role in order to have heterogeneous resources well organized and managed. Some researches have been done to utilize semantic web technologies to support e-learning (Kolovski et al., 2003)(Stojanovic et al., 2001) (Sampson et al., 2004). Wikis are well-known as online encyclopedias or websites that provide a vast source of information and allow each individual to contribute his own knowledge and experience on any topic (Clark, 2006). But a wiki is essentially a collection of Web sites connected via hyperlinks, which contain many hand-made, redundant, inconsistent lists and links and the meaning of its content is not machine-understood and machineprocessable, so finding and comparing information from different pages is challenging and time-consuming. …

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