Strategies for Dynamic Course Map Creation in a Non-Formal Learning Environment
Online learning is rapidly becoming a widely used alternative to the traditional approach of classroom learning. Creating courses for an online formal learning environment is a very tedious and time consuming process which includes identifying the course map, creating appropriate text as well as all of the required multimedia object material and setting up the tools for evaluating student performance. Course creation is hence an expensive affair in terms of the amount of time and the expert knowledge required by the author/s. The fast growing demand for online courses in vast variety of topics is hard to satisfy, even though a lot of information in electronic form is available. In this situation a non-formal learning environment is filled with potential. The knowledge seeker in such an environment could create personalized courses with the assistance of a decision support system by dynamically creating a learning path according to their requirements. All the required learning material is then assembled from the vast electronic collection of text and multimedia objects. In order to bring such a non-formal learning environment to life, the three main issues that need to be addressed are: 1) How to create a learning path for the user? Or what concepts are to be learned by the user to understand the topic of their interest? 2) How to identify all the required text and animation materials to support the learning from the large collection of electronic resources? 3) How to present the information to the user? This paper focuses on strategies to build a learning map or path to help the users to achieve their goal. This includes obtaining the required specifications from the user, identifying various concepts that are to be known for understanding the topic, identifying their relationship to each other and creating a structured course map or learning path. Natural language processing techniques, principles of graph theory and statistical approaches are used to achieve this. Various challenges that are faced in these processes are addressed in the paper and the heuristics used to obtain the results are also described in detail.
Keywords: Course Map, Natural Language Processing, Graph Theory, Statistical Methods, Heuristics
Dr. Pamela Lawhead
Associate Professor, Director IAEGS, Computer and Information Science
Graduate Student (ABD), Department of Computer and Information Science, The University of Mississippi