Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Study on contexts in tracking usage and attention metadata in multilingual Technology Enhanced Learning

Just submitted the final version of the paper to a workshop on Exploitation of Usage and Attention Metadata (EUAM 09). Here is a one-pager about it and the link to the paper.

Study on contexts in tracking usage and attention metadata in multilingual Technology Enhanced Learning

“Context” is widely accepted to be important for correctly interpreting user input and for improving predictive and possibly also diagnostic models. But what is context, and how can it be measured? By measuring we mean to operationalise the construct and data gathering to provide values for the desired variables.

In this study, we consider the intersection of the areas of digital learning resource repositories, digital libraries and social tagging systems where users from a variety of countries use technology enhanced learning (TEL) offerings in a variety of languages. We consider usage and attention metadata as an example of the wider notion of context adapting the definition of context as “any information that can be used to characterise the situation of entities” [Dey01]. We give an overview of dimensions of context that are relevant in TEL, specifically arguing that context comprises the usage situation and environment as well as persistent and transient properties of the user. Therefore, distinguishing between the macro-context and the micro-context of TEL is useful.

TEL and the analysis of the data it generates take place in different types of educational settings which we call the macro-context of TEL. We use the term micro-context to denote the context that is relevant for interpreting a specific user input and for designing adequate system responses and other output. The micro-context is subdivided into user models, material/environment models, interaction models, and background knowledge, showing that usage and attention metadata are of different types and play different roles for learning about context.

We then concentrate on teachers using learning-resource repositories as an important use-case example of TEL and focus on language and country as context variables. We describe different ways in which these variables are operationalised, and we outline ways in which TEL use such context information to improve the use and reuse of repositories by supporting users in a multilingual and multicultural context. A key theme of our article is the central role that social tagging can play in this process: on the one hand, tags describe usage, attention, and other aspects of context, on the other, they can help to exploit context data towards making repositories more useful, and thus enhance the reuse.

Riina Vuorikari 1,2, Bettina Berendt3
1 European Schoolnet, Brussels, Belgium,
2 OUNL, Heerlen, Netherlands,
3 KU Leuven, Belgium

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My tag paper nominated for best paper award 2009

I'm pretty exited that one of my papers for ICWL 09 was among the 5 best paper nominees. For a some time now I've been wondering what does it take to write a paper that arises above the general mass of papers. Well, now I have a bit better idea :)

What does it take? Reading tons of research papers, write a few (un)successful ones to practice, a good inspiring topic, some research work with ppl who are truly interested in what they are doing, and voila!

I also like how Celstec, OUNL (where I study), picked it up for their news feed. I think that over all, they have a pretty neat way to recognise what's going on and make others aware of it too. A modest person as I am, I would never make any fuss about it.... right.. ;)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wiley calls it “dirty secret” of OER

Just picked up a fresh PhD study by S. M. Duncan from USU, a student of D.Wiley's. The study is called Patterns of Learning Object Reuse in the Connexions Repository. The punch line is that there is very little reuse of LOs among the repository studied.

What new? Similar findings have been discovered here in Europe (end elsewhere) for a while now. Ochoa (2008), for example, found in his PhD dissertation that reuse in general remains low, about 20%, across all sizes of collections. This was interesting not only for how low the reuse is (20%, common!), but also because since forever folks have been saying that resources with smaller granularity are more reusable, as they lack context, etc (insert here the infamous graph of "modular content hierarchy", the most used LO). Well, according to Ochoa (2008), this was not the case.

I also looked at the reuse on 2 different platforms: LeMill and Calibrate from European Schoolnet. My twist was to study the cross-boundary use and reuse, i.e. teachers reusing learning resources that are in a language other than their mother tongue and originate from different countries than they do. I used the same reuse definition as Ochoa (2008), which basically is the same as in Duncan's study.

The finding was that the general reuse was around 20%, but NOT across all collections. For example, in LeMill, "Multimedia material" was used more often, but in Calibrate, the smaller granularity was seldom added to Collections. The cross-boundary reuse was notably less (37% to 55% of it). Moreover, in some of the collections only around 10% of resources were ever added to a collections, which makes you really think hard about the efficiency of this all..

Anyway, the good news in Duncan's study is this:

There was a common author in 3,722 module uses, while there were only 1,013 module uses where there was no common author. This means that modules were included in collections 3.67 times more often when there was at least one person in common with both the module and the collection.p.32

So if people know each other, they are more likely to reuse material from each other! This shows that social is important when we are talking about the use and reuse of learning resources! This is similar to what I am saying in my PhD thesis, which hopefully will come out one day soon. My twist of course is that tags can make those social connections between people, and by taking advantage of these underlying social connections, we can make the learning resource discovery much better - and hopefully also more useful for teachers.

Vuorikari, R., Koper, R. Evidence of cross-boundary use and reuse of digital educational resources. Link to a revised version of the paper, not reviewed yet!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Testing LeMill for embedding content

LeMill is one of my favourite tools to create online material. It's so simple and easy to use. What I like a lot is that they always follow their time, like here I'm testing how the embedding of my content happens in another platform.

Here is one "Collection" that I've created called "hansin kamaa" = stuff from Hans. It includes two different pieces of content. Apart from exporting the content as a zip-file, I can now also just embed it somewhere, for example in my blog. Pretty neat - and useful!

Testing something else here: