Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Citation and Metadata
Document Actions
Full Text

Hochschulschrift (Dissertation)

Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL), Heerlen, The Netherlands, 2008

ISBN: 978-90-79447-06-0


This thesis studies social tagging of learning resources in a multilingual context. Social tagging and its end products, tags, are regarded as part of the learning resources metadata ecology. The term “metadata ecology” is used to mean the interrelation of conventional metadata and social tags, and their interaction with the environment, which can be understood as the repository in the large sense (resources, metadata, interfaces and underlying technology) and its community of users. The main hypothesis is that the self-organisation aspect of a social tagging system on a learning resource portal helps users discover learning resources more efficiently. Moreover, user-generated tags make the system, which operates in a multilingual context, more robust and flexible. Social tags offer an interesting aspect to study learning resources, its metadata and how users interact with them in a multilingual context. Tags, as opposed to conventional metadata description such as Learning Object Metadata (LOM), are free, non-hierarchical keywords that end-users associate with a digital artefact, e.g. a learning resource. Tags are formed by a triple of (user,item,tag). Tags and the resulting networks, folksonomies, are commonly modelled as tri- partite hypergraphs. This ternary relational structure gives rise to a number of novel relations to better understand, capture and model contextual information. This thesis first provides two exploratory studies to better understand how users tag learning resources in a multilingual context and to find evidence on the “cross-boundary use” of learning resources. The term cross-boundary use means that the user and the resource come from different countries and that the language of the resource is different from that of the user’s mother tongue. The second part introduces a trilogy of studies focusing on self-organisation, flexibility and robustness of a social tagging system using empirical, behavioural data captured from log-files and user’s attention metadata trails on a number of learning resource portals and platforms in a multilingual context. The IMS Learning Design (LD) specification, which has been released in February 2003, is a generic and flexible language for describing the learning practice and underlying learning designs using a formal notation which is computer-interpretable. It is based on a pedagogical meta-model (Koper & Manderveld, 2004) and supports the use of a wide range of pedagogies. It supports adaptation of individual learning routes and orchestrates interactions between users in various learning and support roles. A formalized learning design can be applied repeatedly in similar situations with different persons and contexts. Yet because IMS Learning Design is a fairly complex and elaborate specification, it can be difficult to grasp; furthermore, designing and implementing a runtime environment for the specification is far from straightforward. That IMS Learning Design makes use of other specifications and e-learning services adds further to this complexity for both its users and the software developers. For this new specification to succeed, therefore, a reference runtime implementation was needed. To this end, this thesis addresses two research and development issues. First, it investigates research into and development of a reusable reference runtime environment for IMS Learning Design. The resulting runtime, called CopperCore, provides a reference both for users of the specification and for software developers. The latter can reuse the design principles presented in this thesis for their own implementations, or reuse the CopperCore product through the interfaces provided. Second, this thesis addresses the integration of other specifications and e-learning services during runtime. It presents an architecture and implementation (CopperCore Service Integration) which provides an extensible lightweight solution to the problem. Both developments have been tested through real-world use in projects carried out by the IMS Learning Design community. The results have generally been positive, and have led us to conclude that we successfully addressed both the research and development issues. However, the results also indicate that the LD tooling lacks maturity, particularly in the authoring area. Through close integration of CopperCore with a product called the Personal Competence Manager, we demonstrate that a complementary approach to authoring in IMS Learning Design solves some of these issues.

This Dissertation is licensed under a Creative Commons License .