The Knowledge Management Research Group

Personalized Access to Distributed Learning Resources (PADLR)

Coordinator: Wolfgang Nejdl, KBS / University of Hannover


The driving vision for the PADLR project is a distributed learning web infrastructure which makes it possible to exchange/annotate/organize and personalize/navigate/use/reuse modular learning objects, supporting a variety of courses, disciplines and universities. Each of the PADLR sub-projects deals with a specific problem on the way towards this vision. Infrastructure, tools, courselets and archives will be designed and developed in accordance with international standards for modularization and meta-data and will be compatible across the PADLR project.

PADLR-module 3.1: Edutella - an infrastructure for peer-to-peer networked exchange of educational media


Problem Description

Every single university usually has acquired a large pool of educational resources distributed over its different institutions. These are under the control of the single academic entities, and it is unlikely that these entities will ever give up this control. Thus, central-server approaches for the distribution of educational media are unlikely to happen.

The KMR-group is cooperating with research groups at the universities of Uppsala, Stanford, Hannover and Karlsruhe in order to develop Edutella, a peer-to-peer (P2P) based network infrastructure and search service that will facilitate the exchange of educational media.

These P2P networks have already been quite successful for exchanging data in heterogeneous environments, and have already been brought into focus with services such as Napster and Gnutella, which provide access to distributed resources like MP3 coded audio data.

However, pure Napster- and Gnutella-like approaches are not suitable for the exchange of educational media. For example, the meta-data in Gnutella is limited to a file name and a path. While this might work for files with titles such as "Madonna - Like a Virgin", it certainly does not work for "Introduction to Algebra - Lecture 23".

The educational domain, we thus see, is in need of a much richer meta-data markup of its resources, a markup that is often highly domain and resource type specific. In order to facilitate interoperability and reusability of educational resources, we need to build a system that supports a wide range of such resources. This places high demands on the interchange protocols and meta-data schemata used in such a system, as well as on the overall technical structure.

The Open Archives Initiative, which has recently defined an http-based protocol for retrieving meta-data information about digital documents from library servers, is an interesting initiative, whose further development might also be of interest to the Edutella project. Currently though, it is based on a server-retrieval protocol only, and just uses Dublin Core meta-data as its basic schema.

Proposed Solution

The Edutella P2P network will consist of nodes that provide different client/server functionalities based on common and interoperable meta-data and P2P conventions.

Constructing such a system poses two concrete problems: 1) define the meta-data infrastructure and functionalities for Edutella, and 2) define the P2P infrastructure and functionalities. For both of these problems we have to define the basic (abstact) model and then design and implement a sound realization of this model.

Edutella will be based on RDF and RDFS, and operate with IMS meta-data. Hence it will make strategic use of the RDF binding of IMS meta-data that has been created under the coordination of Mikael Nilsson of the KMR group and which was recently released as a part of the IMS 1.2 meta-data standard.

PADLR:module 5.3: Mathematical Visualizations


DSV/KTH (Jansson)

Problem Description

This submodule attacks two major difficulties for teachers and learners:

  • the difficulty to share and reuse learning material among students and teachers and across geographical and organizational boundaries
  • the difficulty to personalize and adapt existing learning material to a particular learning situation.. Adaptation is relevant both with respect to the students characteristics and the context of learning

Our particular concern is mathematics education. By courselets we mean fragments of courses composed from multimedia explanation modules or content modules in electronic form.

Research plan

We articulate seven main concerns for this research:

  • the commitment to shared standards, languages and tools to make sharing and reuse possible on a technical level (relations to the Module on Infrastructure and intelligent services).
  • the management of incrementally growing multimedia content archives, in particular version handling and
  • the handling of problems of structure and navigation (relations to the module on Infrastructures and intelligent services).
  • the sharing of simple models for courselet structures.
  • the modeling of domain knowledge, tasks and user competence as well as personal user preferences in such a way that it can form a basis for course structuring and personalization.
  • the personalization of content modules through annotations expressed as meta-data.
  • the personalization of courses or courselets through different ways to configure and modify structures of modules.
  • the adaption and combination of user interface metaphors for authoring and use of courselets.

In our approach the students will be stimulated to:

  • play with preauthored vizualisations and other multimedia explanation modules for mathematical concepts.
  • create, reuse or modify such modules.
  • create their own conceptual models of mathematical knowledge.
  • annotate nodes in conceptual structures with personal information.
  • create courselets based on sequences of explanations generated from the personal conceptual models.
  • indirectly create courselets generated through knowledge-based techniques basing their inferences on meta-data coding relevant contextual information.
  • browse courselet structures.
  • exchange courselets.

Proposals (approved)

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