Monday, May 11, 2009

ICT Call 5 info days: European Schoolnet

I'm attending Call 5 infodays tomorrow for European Schoolnet. Here are a few things that we've been working with lately that could be relevant. The speakers look interesting, check them here.

For Large data sets:
  • eTwinning schools: more than 60 000 teachers have signed up. Stats available here. Now with eTwinning 2.0, new data will be available for new types of "connections" and "links" that teachers have.
  • Social Bookmarking data by teachers on learning resources residing on a number of different learning resource repositories in Europe. Some ManyEyes visualisation available to see different types of "connections" or "links" created.
Personal sphere
  • Would be interesting to study how is the personal sphere of a teachers in these days!
Some related slideshows:

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

SIRTEL'09: 3rd Workshop on Social Information Retrieval for Technology-Enhanced Learning

Paper Submission by June 14, 2009
in the International Conference on Web-based Learning (ICWL) 2009
Aachen, Germany, August 21, 2009


Contribution Submission: June 14, 2009
Results Notification: July 13, 2009
Camera Ready Submission: July 31, 2009
Workshop date: August 21, 2009


We are delighted to welcome exciting new contributions for the 3rd SIRTEL workshop
- Research papers
- System Demos
- Hands-On proposals
- Abstracts for "Pecha Kucha"


Learning and teaching resource are available on the Web - both in terms of digital learning content and people resources (e.g. other learners, experts, tutors). They can be used to facilitate teaching and learning tasks. The remaining challenge is to develop, deploy and evaluate Social information retrieval (SIR) methods, techniques and systems that provide learners and teachers with guidance in potentially overwhelming variety of choices.

The aim of the SIRTEL’09 workshop is to look onward beyond recent achievements to discuss specific topics, emerging research issues, new trends and endeavors in SIR for TEL. The workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to present, and more importantly, to discuss the current status of research in SIR and TEL and its implications for science and teaching.

The proceedings from the last years:

TOPICS OF INTEREST (but not limited to):

  • Recommender systems and collaborative filtering in educational settings
  • Defining the scope, purpose and objects of social information retrieval in TEL
  • Novel ways of generating input for recommenders (explicit and implicit methods)
  • Ranking of search results to support individualised learning needs
  • Integrating SIR services in existing educational platforms
  • Folksonomies, tagging and other collaboration-based information retrieval systems
  • Social navigation processes and metaphors for searching information related to teaching and learning
  • Social networks and interactions in learning communities to facilitate information sharing and retrieval
  • Approaches to TEL metadata reflecting social ties and collaborative experiences in the field of education
  • Pedagogic decisions, recommender systems and how to contextualise recommender system to support learning processes.
  • Interoperability of SIR systems for TEL
  • Visualisation techniques in learning and teaching
  • Semantic annotation and tagging for social information retrieval purposes
  • Evaluating the performance of SIR systems in educational applications
  • Measuring the effectiveness of SIR systems in supporting learning and teaching
  • Evaluation the user satisfaction with SIR systems in supporting learning and teaching


The workshop invites several types of contributions which allow a wide level of participation:
· Research papers (upto 8 pages)
· System Demos (upto 2 pages)
· Hands-On proposals (1-pager)
· Abstract for Pecha Kucha (1-pager)

The workshop proceedings will be published as CEUR Workshop Proceedings online at Copy rights will be reserved.

Please use the same template as the one for the main conference with details at Workshop paper length is not limited.

All questions and submissions should be sent to:

  • Alexander Felfernig, Graz University of Technology, Austria
  • Brandon Muramatsu, MIT, USA
  • Frans van Assche, European Schoolnet, Belgium
  • John Dron, Athabasca University, Canada
  • Lloyd Rutledge, OUNL, The Netherlands
  • Markus Strohmaier, Graz University of Technology, Austria
  • Markus Weimer, Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany
  • Martin Wolpers, Fraonhofer-Institut, Germany
  • Miguel-Angel Sicilia, University of Alcala, Spain
  • Olga Santos, UNED, Spain
  • Rick D. Hangartner, MyStrands,USA
  • Rosta Farzan, University of Pittsburgh, USA
  • Styliani Kleanthous, University of Leeds, UK
  • Tiffany Tang, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China
  • Wolfgang Reinhardt, University of Paderborn, Germany
  • Xavier Ochoa, Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral, Ecuador
  • Yiwei Cao, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  • Zinayida Petrushyna, RWTH Aachen University, Germany


* Riina Vuorikari, European Schoolnet (EUN), Belgium and CELSTEC, OUNL, Netherland
* Hendrik Drachsler, CELSTEC, OUNL,The Netherlands
* Nikos Manouselis, Greek Research & Technology Network
* Rob Koper, CELSTEC, OUNL, The Netherlands


ICWL is an annual international conference on web-based learning. Since the first ICWL was held in Hong Kong in 2002, it has been held in Australia (2003), China (2004), Hong Kong (2005), Malaysia (2006), United Kingdom (2007), and China (2008). The 8th ICWL 2009 will be held in Aachen, Germany, a city with rich culture, high-tech research, and a truly European spirit. ICWL 2009 will be jointly organized by Hong Kong Web Society, RWTH Aachen University, and Max-Planck-Institute for Computer Science.

Feel free to blog about this and social bookmark the call! Use the tag "sirtel09".

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Challenges and lessons learned from Social tagging in MELT

Social tagging in MELT, how do we want to take the social tagging work forward

Social tagging of educational resources potentially offers new ways for:
  • Individuals to
    1.1) better manage their digital learning resources that reside in different repositories and platforms, and

    1.2) discover and access new resources from different contexts (e.g. different language, educational system) through tags and other users.

  • LOR managers to
    2.1) get third party metadata on learning resources (either the ones that already reside on their repository, or the possible new ones to be added to collections,

    2.2) create affinities (e.g. link structure) between separate pieces of resources (either on their own repository, or the ones that reside on other repositories on the federation or on the Web) that were not cross-referenced before.

  • In the MELT project so far, we have only been able to see the peak of these potentials emerging. We list issues that we see important for future work in the field, for the clarity, we only list one of the main issues for each topic:

    • 1.1 To fully support users in their knowledge management task on digital learning resources, the bookmarks (including title, url and tags) should be exportable in standard Webfeed formats. This would allow users to access and manage their MELT resources as part of their other resources collections, whereas now users need to be logged on to the MELT portal to do this.

    • 1.2 Pivotal browsing of social bookmarks takes advantage of the affinities between the user, resource and tags. In the MELT context, more metadata could also be added to support pivotal browsing, such as the country of the user, interest topics; resource metadata such as multilingual indexing keywords. This would allow novel ways to access resources that other users have already discovered within the federation, and thus build on users’ social interactions and co-construction of knowledge.

    • 2.1 Tags by end-users on the MELT portal have been shown to be of good quality as additional metadata descriptors of resources. We have enumerated possibilities of metadata ecology that the use of multilingual Thesaurus can offer to a federation such as LRE. Apart from working on ways to automatically generate LOM from tags, we urge on using the hierarchical structure and multilingual features to leverage user-generated tags.

    • 2.2 Why not do Google for learning resources? Using PageRank-like algorithms on a learning resource repository or federation has been impossible for a number of reasons, the most important is the lack of a link-structure that cross-references resources. Tags, creating underlying connections between seemingly random pieces of content in different languages, on repositories in different countries and other platforms on the Web, rely on humans’ subjective idea of its importance for a given information seeking task. Using this new, emerging link-structure with tags as “anchor texts” offers totally new ways to “organise the world's learning resources and make them universally accessible and useful”. A new tag line could be “From teachers to teachers”.

    Monday, May 04, 2009

    Link structure and anchor text

    I read that Brin & Page (1998) paper again. A few guidelines to keep in mind:
    ..our notion of "relevant" to only include the very best documents since there may be tens of thousands of slightly relevant documents. This very high precision is important even at the expense of recall (the total number of relevant documents the system is able to return).

    Two features to produce high quality precision:
    • Link structure is used to create objective measure of its citation importance that corresponds well with people’s subjective idea of importance. Well, it's that simple..

    • Anchor text:
      ..anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves. Second, anchors may exist for documents which cannot be indexed by a text-based search engine, such as images, programs,..
    The point about the anchor text is so interesting, I wonder how well does it apply to tags? I bet really well..

    I also found this interesting: "it has location information for all hits and so it makes extensive use of proximity in search"

    Differences Between the Web and Well Controlled Collections
    • extreme variation internal to the documents: documents differ internally in their language (both human and programming), vocabulary (email addresses, links, zip codes, phone numbers, product numbers), type or format (text, HTML, PDF, images, sounds), and may even be machine generated (log files or out putfrom a database).
    • external meta information as information that can be inferred about a document, but is not contained within it. Examples of external meta information include things like reputation of the source, update frequency, quality, popularity or usage, and citations. Not only are the possible sources of external meta information varied, but the things that are being measuredvary many orders of magnitude as well.

    Saturday, May 02, 2009

    Cross-language use of the Web; users behaviours and attitudes

    Berendt & Kralisch (2009) A user-centric approach to identifying best deployment strategies for language tools: the impact of content and access language on Web user behaviour and attitudes

    The results indicate that non-English languages are under-represented on the Web and that this is partly due to content-creation, link-setting and link-following behavoiur. User satisfaction is influenced both by the cognitive effort of searching and the availability of alternative information in that language.

    Cost=time+cognitive effort

    Not only capacities to access the site but also opportunities to access it, thus language is only one factor.
    • Language can be expected to not only influence the total amount of information available to Web users, but also how information sources (i.e. Websites) are linked among each other and therefore how easy/likely it is to find and access a certain Web site.
    • Bharat et al. and Halavis are first indicators of the potential impact of language: Website in different languages are less connected than sites in the same language (note: studied data aggregated on the national level and therefore only limited insight into the role of language.
    "Web sites are, in most cases more likely to link to another site hosted in the same country than to cross national borders. When they do cross national borders, they are more likely to lead to pages hosted in the United States than to pages anywhere else in the world." (Halavais, A, 2000, p. 7)

    Behavioural aspects of information seeking:
    1. Users' information seeking behaviour,
    2. information and information flow on the Web,
    Attitudinal aspects of information seeking:
    1. "usefulness", i.e. the language related value of information decreases as more information is offered in that language on the Web. "..value perceptions are also determined by topic; thus a large amount of content on a topic in a native language may also reduce the value of content on that topic in other languages.

    2. "ease of use", i.e. the cost of language processing during information seeking can be expected to affect attitudes in Web search.
    Results on behavioural aspects

    1. Non-English languages are under-represented on the Web in terms of the amount of content supplied.
    2. Search engines do not register all pages linking to the site, and many links known to the search engine were not used. This indicates that non-English language s are under-represented on the Web in terms of the links that content creators set to content in those languages.
    3. Users have a clear preference to navigate in their native language when it is available via a link, but if that is not available they accept the necessity to navigate in English.
    4. This all means: behavioural tendencies both of content providers and of content users lead to mutually reinforcing under-representation of non-English languages. Compared to the respective market size or available options, there is less content in these languages, this content is linked to less and the links are followed less often.
    Results on Attitudinal stuff:
    1. A complex interplay of English language skills, the perceived saved effort of using native-language content, the perceived overall supply in that language on the Web, and satisfaction:

    2. People who are proficient in English often prefer to navigate in English (even if offered content is their own language) and are more scrutinised of the quality of Web content. Do not care much about whether sites make efforts to provide them with content in their own languages.

    3. People who are not so proficient in English do perceive the (real) scarcity of information in their native language and are highly appreciative of content in this language.
    This means that content and search-tool designers should not draw simplistic conclusions based on behaviour alone, because this is not a reliable indicator of attitudes and preferences. In the absence of links and/or content in their native languages, users will acquiesce to English-language content. However, their preference will persist.

    Berendt, B., & Kralisch, A. (2009). A user-centric approach to identifying best deployment strategies for language tools: the impact of content and access language on Web user behaviour and attitudes. Inf. Retr., 12(3), 380-399.

    HALAVAIS, A. (2000). National Borders on the World Wide Web.New Media Society, 2 (1), 7-28. doi: 10.1177/14614440022225689.

    Bharat, K., Chang, B., Henzinger, M. R., and Ruhl, M. 2001. Who Links to Whom: Mining Linkage between Web Sites. In Proceedings of the 2001 IEEE international Conference on Data Mining (November 29 - December 02, 2001). N. Cercone, T. Y. Lin, and X. Wu, Eds. ICDM. IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, 51-58.