Thursday, 27 January 2011

#LAK11 the #semantic web and how the intelligent curriculum will enhance our learning

This week was rather busy, developing an online mobile course that will be open to all, following LAK the open course on learning analytics and finalizing a needs assessment, on top of regular work. But! The LAK content keeps intriguing. This week's content focused on the semantic web, linked data and intelligent curriculum.

Intelligent curriculum: or how data analysis will tailor content to the learner
The topic that struck me the most in this weeks LAK-topic was the idea of an intelligent curriculum. Just imagine that all the data that you - as a learner or knowledge worker - go to, examine, read, ... are analyzed and put against the content of the rest of the Web? And just think that an algorithm is put upon that data to see which content might be of use to you, but really of use to you... that would certainly enhance in-depth learning in your field of preference.

So the screening of data would result in immediate relevant content (which affects what needs to be learned, as old/new knowledge can change rapidly). Professional learners will be able to get to relevant up-to-date information much quicker.

The benefits for learning are enormous: it would not only provide me with personalized, tailored content that fits my current hunger for knowledge, it would also allow me to stay in close contact with those who provide that information and share it amongst those who have a similar interest (if an algorithm would keep track of who has similar interests, or who is close to the content I go to). This would have an effect on my (and others) professional networks, for the professional groups will shift from a more localized network to real global networks that learn through connectivity (well, most of us do this already, but professional groups that link up will become more important and most of all attainable).

Semantic course: the course wraps itself around the learner
We - as educators or trainers - might even be in the possibility of creating a course which redesigns itself depending on the prerequisites and skills of a particular learner, thus giving her/him a much smoother learning path, without leaving the learning objective itself.

Moving away from old-fashioned classrooms divided by age, going for skills and enthousiasm classes
This approach of semantic learning might even take us out of the artificially divided classrooms. If we could cater lessons to a variety of learners, they would not be put into classes depending their age, but depending their ability to grasp what is necessary, or depending on their eagerness into specific subject matter.

Creating research proposals in a jiffy
It will also facilitate research: just imagine, that you want to launch a new project in your scientific field? You need to write a proposal, and with an algorithm (AI friend) which searches in your scientific field (e.g.) and cross-references this to the data bank of EU/WHO or B.& B. Gates foundation for funding that was granted... you could be on your way to get a funded post-doctorate or project going with much more ease.

Corporate intake: Bert De Coutere launches use cases based on learning analytics
Bert who works at IBM and comes up with great learning strategies and educational games, launched an interesting concept which fits learning analytics. This is what he proposed to enhance learning performance: OK, I'll try one again. Does anyone else feel comfortable adding some use cases as we go along in this course?

The use case:
A young manager quarterly runs a tool to picture his social network, as part of his continuous leadership development. Data mining has shown that successful leaders in his corporation typically have 1/3 of their network amongst subordinates, 1/3 with other managers on the same level, and 1/3 higher up the chain. The tool allows the young manager to see the evolution in his network and get some action points to move it to the desired state.
The semantic web
The semantic web is growing, and it effects all of us who search for content or other things in the vast amount of digital data that is on the web.
As the web will become more semantic, all the data that is on it will be tagged, linked, analyzed... and this should increase our feeling of the 'living web'. Which ties the semantic web into Artificial Intelligence (AI) nicely.

For those interested of hearing more on semantic technologies in learning environments, have a look at the video lecture given by Dragan Gasevic available at (cool guy).