by Erich Gams and Georg Güntner
Intelligent Edumedia Repository (InterEDU), a project conducted at Salzburg NewMediaLab (SNML), is developing a framework for an online platform for educational multimedia content. This is based on semantic Web and social software technology which is applied in the project to improve searchability (eg by semantically interrelating content) and to enhance the usability and attractiveness of content by combining the collective expertise of the learning and teaching community.
Both teachers and learners are increasingly using the vast range of educational multimedia content that is available on the World Wide Web and in specific databases. Most resources do not exactly fit their personal requirements and thus need to be adapted or merged. In the InterEDU project, Salzburg Research (a non-profit research organization), punkt.net services (a provider of knowledge software), and Education Highway (Austrias largest online provider of educational resources), offer a broad collection of videos, texts and images to teachers via the WWW. The growing amount of multimedia content and the heterogeneous access points of our partner's content management system (CMS) inhibit efficient search and navigation, making it difficult for users to find relevant content. The existing CMS, which has been adapted and enhanced several times, struggles with heterogeneity and the distribution of content and metadata over several repositories. The systems currently in use do not consistently support desirable features such as full-text search across all media types, or browsing based on taxonomies that adapt to new content. Furthermore, the current system does not support collaborative creation, sharing or enhancement of educational content.
InterEDU is a three-year project split into three phases. Based on an incremental approach, each phase has its own defined goals and objectives which will be evaluated by the users. The first phase - currently in progress - is dedicated to semantic functionalities and tagging. The second phase will address the collaborative generation of content and the third phase will focus on social networking and quality assurance aspects. Overall our project is developing a framework for an online platform for educational multimedia content (EduMedia repository) that supports:
- the organization and composition of learning material
- reuse and search of multimedia content
- discourse about learning materials
- collaboration between teachers by applying semantic Web and Social Software technology.
It is not our intention to reinvent another CMS, but rather to enhance an existing CMS with semantic and social semantic Web functionalities. In each phase the functionality of the prototype will be successively enhanced with semantic Web technology, such as ontologies to file, search and find relevant content. Social Web or Web 2.0 methods will help us to personalize and socialize content management and to help people assess and improve content quality.
The scientific approach taken by the project is to construct an adaptive ontology for the domain knowledge of the users by annotating learning material or assigning learning material to categories or concepts defined in a background ontology. The domain model created by the collective experience of the users enables existing and newly generated content to be associated with its context, which leads both to new connections between learning materials, and to semantically supported search and navigation. The project creates a single point of access which mediates between different standards such as the learning objects metadata standard (LOM, IEEE 1484.12.1-2002) and the metadata extension as proposed for school material (a national standard issued by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education). User annotations allow users to assess the quality of individual learning units, and to exchange information about relevant topics. An integrated quality rating framework will support content consumers by assessing the overall quality of the content they would like to use.
Outlook and Results
Based on the objectives, the project partners have introduced different use cases that will be evaluated with a prototype implementation. On the basis of the requirements for a CMS we have developed a modular reference architecture and a data model for a generic semantic CMS. A novel aspect of our approach is the clear separation of content in the AssetStore and metadata in the TripleStore, accessible by a component called Knowledgebase Manager. Hence, all metadata is modelled in a (modular) ontology, which enables a unified interface for reasoning. For the implementation of our architecture we choose a Service-oriented Architecture (SOA)-based approach, as a SOA is well suited for migrating the monolithic architecture of our legacy CMS to a modular semantic CMS architecture. Currently, we are working on a prototype that provides a personal workspace in which each user is able to manage the collaborative creation and sharing of content, and the search for related content.
InterEDU is a project of Salzburg NewMediaLab, an industrial competence centre in the Kind programme funded by the Austrian Ministry of Economics and Labour (BMWA) and the State of Salzburg.
Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft, Austria