A Cognitive and Ontology-Based Model for Building Glass-Box Learning Objects - Philippe Fournier-Viger


•Algorithms for sequence analysis, sequence prediction and pattern mining (current)

• Data Mining Algorithms with Applications in Tutoring Agents (2008 - 2011)

• Evaluating Spatial Reasoning in Intelligent Tutoring Systems (2006 - 2010)

• A Cognitive and Ontology-Based Model for Building Glass-Box Learning Objects (2005-2008)

• A Cognitive Model for Building "Cognitive Tutors"(2005-2010)


A Cognitive and Ontology-Based Model for Building Glass-Box Learning Objects 

In e-learning, a popular solution to make teaching material reusable is to design and package it as one or more learning objects that can be stored in learning objects repositories. Learning objects are in brief learning contents that are annotated with metadata. However, learning objects are "black-boxes" as they provide few information about how their content will be used by learners. Therefore, it is difficult to build virtual learning environments that can generate tailored assistance to learner using a particular learning object.

Fig 1. Redbool [1]

To adress this issue, we proposed to extend the concept of learning objects, by providing another layer of metadata that describes the cognitive processes of learners that will perform learning activities with a learning object. The proposed model allow to define learning objects that  provides enough information about their usage so that a virtual agent can offer tailored assistance during learning activites. 

The proposed model offers three layers of knowledge for the description of learning objects:

  • The first layer describes the knowledge with ontologies, to facilitate the separation of the knowledge in multiple files, their interpretation as a whole, and provide a basis for logical reasoning. 
  • The second layer describes cognitive processes to permit building learning objects that can be used for providing automated personnalized assistance. 
  • The third layer builds learning objects upon the two first layers, by relying on current e-learning standards (IEEE LOM and IMS-CP).  

The model was applied in Redbool, a tutoring system for learning to simplify Boolean expressions [1, 2] (cf. fig. 2). An extended version of the model was applied in RomanTutor / CanadarmTutora tutoring system for learning to operate a robotic arm (see project 2).


Main publications

[1] Fournier-Viger P., Najjar, M., Mayers, A. & Nkambou, R. (2006). A Cognitive and Logic based Model for Building Glass-box Learning Objects. Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects, Vol. 2. pp: 77-94.
[2] Fournier-Viger P., Najjar, M., Mayers, A. & Nkambou R. (2006). From Black-box Learning Objects to Glass-Box Learning Objects. Proc. 8th Intern. Conf. on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS 2006). LNCS 4053, pp: 258-267, Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
[3] RedBool  is a software program developped by the  GDAC and ASTUS research team, that involved the participation of  many B.Sc./M.Sc/Ph.D. students at University of Sherbrooke and University of Quebec at Montreal.