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Modularization of the Learning Architecture: Supporting Learning Theories by Learning Technologies
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Numerical Analysis and Computer Science, NADA.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the role of modularity for achieving a better adaptation of learning technology to pedagogical requirements. In order to examine the interrelations that occur between pedagogy and computer science, a theoretical framework rooted in both fields is applied.

During the twentieth century, the focus of pedagogical research and practice has gone from behaviourism, via cognitivism, to learning theory based on constructivism. Changes in learning objectives and an increasing cognitive complexity of learning tasks are likely to have contributed to this evolvement. This puts new requirements on the design and implementation of pedagogical instruction (instructional design) and its application to learning technology. Using instructional design together with technology requires the pedagogical process to be predetermined, which is partly contradicted by the nature of constructivism. Many constructivist approaches require social interaction and dynamic learning environments that can adapt to changes that are required by different pedagogical approaches. Those requirements have been met using modular approaches for content, i.e., learning objects, implemented in non-modular web-based virtual learning environments (VLE), like learning management systems (LMS).

This thesis argues that modularity promotes adaptability and adaptivity, but that the current practice of using learning objects and LMSes is too restricted to fulfill the increasing needs for flexibility. The reasons are that the learning object concept is still too ill-defined to function as a component framework, and there are complex and unsolved issues regarding the representation of pedagogical instructions. This is especially complicated from a constructivist perspective where pedagogical instructions cannot always be assumed to be predetermined, which needs to be encountered for by technology.

This thesis contributes to the research field by suggesting a modular approach that includes both digital learning content and VLEs. This was accomplished by suggesting a taxonomy and an abstract model for learning objects, which address both functional and technical properties. Furthermore, six action areas are suggested in order to enhance the technical quality of learning objects.

Using the abstract model as a basis, the software architecture of learning objects was addressed in order to separate data, logics and presentation – including the separation of the representation of pedagogical process from the components that implement it. This facilitates the combination of modularity and representation of pedagogical instruction that utilizes machine-processable semantics, enabling the utilization of modularity at composition time as well as at run-time. This approach has resulted in a SOA-based architecture framework that has been used as blueprint for implementing two prototypes of modular VLEs, using different technology platforms. The objective was to verify the taxonomy, the abstract model, and the architecture framework. The experiments have shown that it is possible to incorporate learning content and the VLE into the same modular framework in order to provide the flexibility needed for learning technology to better adapt to changing pedagogical requirements.

The experiments have also shown how pedagogical processes benefit from being represented using machine-processable semantics in being able to better utilize the flexibility offered by modularity in keeping the components of the VLE together by representing context and structure. This has been illustrated by adding semantic annotations that were used to dynamically connect pedagogical instruction to annotated learning objects, using machine-processable semantics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2008. , vii, 121 p.
Series
Trita-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2008:06
Keyword [en]
Computer Science, Technology Enhanced Learning, e-learning, Semantic Web, Service Orientation, Learning Object, Virtual Learning Environment
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4712ISBN: 978-91-7178-943-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-4712DiVA: diva2:13577
Public defence
2008-05-20, F3, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100903Available from: 2008-04-29 Created: 2008-04-29 Last updated: 2010-09-03Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Establishing technical quality criteria for Learning Objects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Establishing technical quality criteria for Learning Objects
2007 (English)In: Exploiting the Knowledge Economy: Issues, Applications, Case Studies / [ed] P. Cunningham & M. Cunningham, Amsterdam: IOS Press , 2007, 1431-1439 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]
  • The idea of Learning Objects is now a widely accepted concept for the delivery of modularized e-learning content. Originating from Object Oriented programming, the concept has evolved to embrace almost everything that is digital. Based on literature, experience from implementation and a comparative study of Learning Objects, we argue that the concept needs to be more clearly defined in order to deliver what it promises. We argue that most implementations are not technology- and pedagogy-neutral and do not support sophisticated reuse. In the conclusion, six action areas for establishing technical quality criteria are suggested: a narrow definition, a mapping taxonomy, more extensive standards, and best practise for use of existing standards, architecture models, and the separation of pedagogy from the supporting technology of Learning Objects. 
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2007
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8290 (URN)1-58603-682-3 (ISBN)
Note
QC 20100902Available from: 2008-04-29 Created: 2008-04-29 Last updated: 2012-01-19Bibliographically approved
2. Virtual Workspace Environment (VWE): A Taxonomy and Service Oriented Architecture Framework for Modularized Virtual Learning Environments: Applying the Learning Object Concept to the VLE
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Virtual Workspace Environment (VWE): A Taxonomy and Service Oriented Architecture Framework for Modularized Virtual Learning Environments: Applying the Learning Object Concept to the VLE
2006 (English)In: International Journal on E-learning, ISSN 1537-2456, E-ISSN 1943-5932, Vol. 5, no 1, 45-57 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Based on existing Learning Object taxonomies, this article suggests an alternative Learning Object taxonomy, combined with a general Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) framework, aiming to transfer the modularized concept of Learning Objects to modularized Virtual Learning Environments. The taxonomy and SOA-framework exposes a need for a clearer definition of the aggregation and granularity of Learning Objects together with a clearer separation of data, presentation and application logics. The Virtual Workspace Environment (VWE) demonstrator shows that there is a necessity to unite fundamentals from computer science and pedagogical theories to achieve this.

Keyword
Standards, Virtual Environments, Collaboration, Educational Technology, eLearning, Instructional Design, Instructional Materials, Learning Management Systems, Learning Objects, Software
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8291 (URN)
Note
QC 20100902Available from: 2008-04-29 Created: 2008-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
3. Suggesting an SOA framework for modular virtual learning environments: comparing two implementation approaches
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Suggesting an SOA framework for modular virtual learning environments: comparing two implementation approaches
2008 (English)In: International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, ISSN 1548-1093, Vol. 3, no 1, 43-57 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Keyword
educational technology implementation; semantic data model, SOA, software architecture, web-based learning, web-delivered education, web technologies
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8292 (URN)
Note
QC 20100903Available from: 2008-04-29 Created: 2008-04-29 Last updated: 2010-09-03Bibliographically approved
4. A service oriented architecture-framework for modularized virtual learning environments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A service oriented architecture-framework for modularized virtual learning environments
2006 (English)In: Current Developments in Technology-Assisted Education, Badajoz: Formatex , 2006, 1935-1939 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Modularization of digital learning content has been addressed for through the concept of Learning Objects. In this article it is shown this modularized concept can be extended to the Virtual Learning Environment. A general, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) framework for modularized Virtual Learning Environments was implemented based on the VWE Learning Objects Taxonomy. It is argued that SOA is a suitable approach for modularization, and that the resulting SOA-framework can be used as basis for implementing specialized e-learning services, specified by future standard frameworks and reference models.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Badajoz: Formatex, 2006
Keyword
VLE, LMS, SOA, Learning Object, e-learning, modularization
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8293 (URN)
Note
QC 20100903Available from: 2008-04-29 Created: 2008-04-29 Last updated: 2010-09-03Bibliographically approved
5. Treating metadata as annotations: separating the content mark-up from the content
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Treating metadata as annotations: separating the content mark-up from the content
2007 (English)In: International Journal:  Emerging Technologies in Learning, ISSN 1868-8799, E-ISSN 1863-0383, Vol. 2, no 1, 1-7 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The use of digital learning resources creates an increasing need for semantic metadata, describing the whole resource, as well as parts of resources. Traditionally, schemas such as Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) have been used to add semantic markup for parts of resources. This is not sufficient for use in a ”metadata ecology”, where metadata is distributed, coherent to different Application Profiles, and added by different actors. A new methodology, where metadata is “pointed in” as annotations, using XPointers, and RDF is proposed. A suggestion for how such infrastructure can be implemented, using existing open standards for metadata, and for the web is presented. We argue that such methodology and infrastructure is necessary to realize the decentralized metadata infrastructure needed for a “metadata ecology".

Keyword
metadata, XML, XPointers, content markup, Semantic Web
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8294 (URN)
Note

QC 20100903

Available from: 2008-04-29 Created: 2008-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
6. Marking the National Curriculum: a new model for semantic mark-up
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Marking the National Curriculum: a new model for semantic mark-up
2005 (English)In: Innovation and the Knowledge Economy: Issues, Applications and Case Studies, Amsterdam: IOS Press , 2005, 1731-1738 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The use of information structure and metadata for the National Curriculum becomes more and more crucial as the demands for advanced eLearning services increases. In a Swedish pilot project a simple information model was developed and tested on the National Curriculum. An implementation of a common XML based Mark-up Language called TEI was used for the first approach. An alternative model where three different kinds of metadata where identified and separated using RDF, XML and Annotea as core technologies was used for the second approach. Two approaches where tested and evaluated against five criteria. It was found that XML-based mark-up languages like TEI fail in cases where complex metadata and a combination of several metadata models are required. In conclusion we argue for the importance of separating information structure, descriptive metadata (including semantics) and catalogue metadata.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2005
Series
Information and Communication Technologies and the Knowledge Economy, 2
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8295 (URN)978-1-58603-563-1 (ISBN)
Note
QC 20100903Available from: 2008-04-29 Created: 2008-04-29 Last updated: 2010-09-03Bibliographically approved

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