“Open Learner Models: Research Questions” Special Issue of the IJAIED
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Лабораторія СЕТ | Дослідження, статті, розробки | Статті інших авторів | “Open Learner Models: Research Questions” Special Issue of the IJAIED
Дослідження, статті, розробки | Статті інших авторів по тематиці: дистанційне навчання, штучний інтелект в освіті, E-Learning
“Open Learner Models: Research Questions” Special Issue of the IJAIED
WHAT ARE OPEN LEARNER MODELS?
The learner model is central to an adaptive educational system, as it is the model of the learner’s understanding (and possibly also other attributes such as their goals, motivation, learning preferences, etc.), that enables a system to adapt to the individual user’s current learning requirements. Traditionally, the learner model has been closed to the learner since its primary purpose, as indicated above, has been to allow a system to adapt to the individual’s needs. For several decades now, the Artificial Intelligence in Education community has been developing methods for modelling learners, and dealing with the dynamics and potential inaccuracy of learner models. One promising approach to improving the accuracy of the learner model is to open the contents of the model to the learner it represents, to allow them to suggest additional information, or to propose corrections to entries, thereby helping to maintain the accuracy of a system’s model of the user’s knowledge and other attributes relevant to the specific educational context. A second benefit of this interactive approach to learner modelling is that the learner model now plays a new role – not only can the learner contribute information to help increase the accuracy and therefore the utility of their learner model for adaptation purposes, but the model can also become a learning resource for the student in its own right. Such an open learner model (i.e. a learner model accessible to the learner modelled) offers the learner a perspective on their understanding that is not usually available to them, which can facilitate reflection on their knowledge and on the learning process more generally, as students must carefully consider their knowledge state before suggesting changes to their model. Furthermore, even non-interactive open learner models (that is, learner models that are inspectable but not changeable by the user) have the potential to prompt learner reflection and metacognition in a similar manner, as they confront the learner with information about their understanding which is likely to provoke some kind of cognitive reaction from them.
In addition to being available to the learner being modelled, learner models can also be opened to other parties, such as instructors (to help them better understand the needs of their students); to peers (to enable learners to compare their knowledge and progress to that of other learners, and to facilitate collaboration amongst a co-present or distributed group of students); to parents (to inform them of their child’s progress or help them to help with their child’s learning); and potentially also to other stakeholders in the education process.
To date there have been two general approaches to open learner modelling research: (i) opening the learner model of an adaptive learning environment in order to investigate a range of issues relevant to the open learner model in a more traditional setting of a complete adaptive system; and (ii) developing open learner models distinctly from a full system in order to investigate their potential without the confounding factors of a larger system. These approaches can be used to inform the design of open learner models within a complete adaptive learning environment or (in the latter case), to suggest the likely utility of new learner models in isolation, which have a role in promoting formative assessment while leaving the control over learning with the student. In the special double issue of IJAIED we see both approaches, but with a strong bias towards full systems, reflecting the balance of current research.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS FOR OPEN LEARNER MODELLING
The field of open learner modelling is still relatively new, and although a number of successful systems have been demonstrated, there remains much work to be carried out. Important questions include:
Presentation of open learner models
Open learner models for groups of learners
Open learner models for different learner types
Many of the above issues remain to be addressed. Through stating these questions we hope to prompt interest and new work on some of the key areas. Perhaps the most important question is: “What kind of open learner models do students actually use?”. This special issue draws together findings of some of the early work to date, to serve as a foundation upon which to build in the investigation of the many remaining topics.
SPECIAL ISSUE OF IJAIED ON OPEN LEARNER MODELS (PART 1)
The special double issue of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education is the first journal special issue on open learner modelling. The special issue is in two parts. This issue (part 1) starts with a paper giving an overview of current research in open learner modelling from a range of perspectives, by Susan Bull and Judy Kay. The paper offers a framework for the design and analysis of open learner model systems that aims to facilitate fuller description of open learner models in order that they may be understood and contrasted more easily, and that the relevant features may be used as guidelines for consideration in the design of new open learner models. The framework includes purposes for opening the learner model, and the methods of achieving these purposes. As a general paper, it discusses a range of the issues introduced above.
The second paper by Antonija Mitrovic and Brent Martin considers how a very simple inspectable learner model format (the skill meter), built on top of a complex model, may be successful in supporting learning and metacognition, and facilitating the selection of appropriate problems, for university level learners. The particular focus is on the learner’s ability to assess their own learning. This work has been carried out in the context of constraint-based tutors, but the results may also apply to other types of adaptive learning environment. Positive outcomes for simple open learner models such as these indicate the potential for even very straightforward open learner models, which are easier to implement. The potential for more detailed open learner models to support learning and self-assessment may be even greater. This paper considers in particular the above questions of the adequacy of simple skill meters; the effects of open learner models on learning for both more and less able students; and when learner model information is available to learners.
The third paper by Zhi-Hong Chen, Chih-Yueh Chou, Yi-Chan Deng and Tak-Wai Chan investigates an interesting method to encourage children to use an open learner model: embodying the model in a virtual simulated pet which the child can look after. The aim is that children can be motivated to learn through the need to care for their individual pet (their own learner model), or their team’s pet (the group learner model). This paper considers the above issues of motivating learners to use open learner models, and supporting both individual and group/collaborative learning. The early results reported in the paper suggest the potential for open learner models designed specifically to appeal to children (here, eleven year olds), to motivate children to learn.
The final paper in this first issue of the double special issue on open learner models is by Josephine Tchetagni, Roger Nkambou and Jacqueline Bourdeau. Their paper considers the issue of learner reflection explicitly, not only after the learner model has been built (reflection-on-action) but also during the process of obtaining the learner model (reflection-in-action). The paper describes tutoring dialogues which follow reflection strategies to engage learners in interaction that helps them become aware of their knowledge (of the Prolog in this case). The approach enables students to inspect and interact with their learner model more directly, with the possibility of changing the contents of the model through taking a ‘control exercise’ to justify their viewpoint if they disagree with the model data. This paper contributes to approaches that deal with planning the interaction with an open learner model and provide the means to support learning by fostering reflection through an open learner model approach. In the next issue we will introduce the second set of papers in this special double issue, and further reflect on open learner modelling. We would like to conclude this introduction to the first volume with a brief introduction to the Learning Modelling for Reflection (LeMoRe) special interest group.
LEARNER MODELLING FOR REFLECTION
The “Learner Modelling for Reflection (LeMoRe)” group is a community of learner modelling researchers who share an interest in the use of learner models to promote learner reflection. One of the key methods of achieving this aim may be through open learner modelling: allowing the learner to view and perhaps even interact with their learner model contents can provide a focus for reflective thinking. Similarly, access to the models of peers can help students appreciate their knowledge in relation to that of others; and learner models open to instructors or other parties can help those others to better understand learners and their needs. New LeMoRe members are welcome, and new examples of open learner models and other approaches to stimulating learner reflection are sought. For further information please see http://www.eee.bham.ac.uk/bull/lemore.
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