STUDIO - Ontology Driven Learning Environment

Motivation, background

The European Higher Education Area is structured around three cycles where each level has the function of preparing the student for the labor market, for further competence building and for active citizenship. One of the most challenging and burning problems is that the outputs of different bachelor programs (1st cycle) do not provide homogeneous input for a given master program (2nd cycle) . At the same time competition between e-learning solutions is increasing at an alarming rate, while changes of the surrounding environment and the demands of both students and the labor market are frequent and substantial. There is high pressure on higher education institutions to turn towards the development and application of such innovative and modern technologies that enable students to easily access, understand and apply complex curricula and other teaching materials.
Accordingly the primary objective of the Studio approach and system is to provide support in exploring missing knowledge areas of candidate students in the frames of an electronic learning environment in order to help them to complement their educational deficiencies.

Ontology Driven Learning Environment

The major role of this learning environment is to actively support the whole learning cycle, independently from its form (e.g. workstation- or mobile learning). This learning infrastructure consists of an Ontology Repository and a Content Repository — that are the two major pillars of this solution —, a Content Presentation tool, a Test Bank, an Adaptive Testing Engine, and some additional support tools as well. The figure below presents how the above mentioned system elements are connected to each other to provide a comprehensive solution.

Ontologies – that are stored in the Ontology Repository – are the central elements of the content authoring processes. Several domain ontologies are stored in this repository. These ontologies constitute the core of every other component in the system. Curriculum content may come in many forms and formats, from different departments, with different internal structures and even in different languages. The ontology-based approach provides support for capturing regularities in a single framework, general enough to model the curriculum content management requirements of multiple institutions.

The electronic learning objects are stored in the Content Repository in this system. Additionally, there is also a Content Developer application, which offers content management functions to the content authors; and a Content Presentation component, which is entitled to present the stored content pieces to the users. Content submitted to the system is not format dependent, all widely used text and multimedia file formats are accepted, recognized and supported.
The above mentioned three components (Content Repository, Developer and Presentation) constitute a Content Management System (CMS) specialized for the needs of the ontology-driven environment. With this approach content is also structured according to the ontologies, meaning that every concept in the ontology is connected to a specific piece of content, describing details or relations of the concept with other items in the same ontology.

Students’ knowledge is evaluated with the help of multiple choice questions. All questions and possible answers reside in the Test Bank and are connected to one specific concept in the ontology. This way, the learners’ knowledge about a certain concept can be evaluated. The Test Item Editor component is responsible for visualizing the ontology structure and letting the user to assign questions to each node in the ontology.

For students the Adaptive Test Engine is a key application, which is also embedded into the LMS. In the course of testing the Adaptive Testing Engine walks through the ontology structure and asks questions about concepts of the ontology. It evaluates the student's answers and decides on the following knowledge elements to be tested. At the end, the user's knowledge is mapped thoroughly and a tailored learning content is offered to be learned. This customized material consists of pieces of learning objects, which are offered by the Content Presentation component.
The following demo illustrates how adaptive testing works in practice.

How the STUDIO works:

What to know about Environment?

Studio Administration

From learnes' perspective

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