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The ELEKTRA Ontology Model: A Learner-Centered Approach to Resource Description


Abstract and Figures

There is little doubt that intelligent and adaptive educational technologies are capable of providing personalized learning experiences and improving learning success. Current challenges for research and development in this field concern, for example, the design of comprehensive data models for adaptive systems as well as the interoperability of systems and the re-usability of learning material across different systems. In the present work we introduce an ontology model, basically developed in the context of immersive digital games, which attempts to provide a solution to existing problems in resource description. On the one hand, comprehensive data models for adaptive systems are supported by separating static information from adaptive systems as far as possible. On the other hand, the ontology model offers a potential solution to precise and, above all, learner-centered resource description by separating latent competencies from observable performance (in learning objects or test items).
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H. Leung et al. (Eds.): ICWL 2007, LNCS 4823, pp. 78 89, 2008.
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008
The ELEKTRA Ontology Model:
A Learner-Centered Approach to Resource Description
Michael D. Kickmeier-Rust and Dietrich Albert
Cognitive Science Section, Department of Psychology, University of Graz
Universitätsplatz 2 / III, 8010 Graz, Austria
{michael.kickmeier, dietrich.albert}
Abstract. There is little doubt that intelligent and adaptive educational tech-
nologies are capable of providing personalized learning experiences and im-
proving learning success. Current challenges for research and development in
this field concern, for example, the design of comprehensive data models for
adaptive systems as well as the interoperability of systems and the re-
usability of learning material across different systems. In the present work we
introduce an ontology model, basically developed in the context of immersive
digital games, which attempts to provide a solution to existing problems in
resource description. On the one hand, comprehensive data models for adap-
tive systems are supported by separating static information from adaptive
systems as far as possible. On the other hand, the ontology model offers a po-
tential solution to precise and, above all, learner-centered resource description
by separating latent competencies from observable performance (in learning
objects or test items).
Keywords: Adaptive Tutoring, Game-based Learning, Resource Description,
Ontology Model.
1 Introduction
In the past two decades learning technologies dramatically changed. Web-based solu-
tions for educational purposes are widely accepted and commercially successful.
Intelligent and adaptive educational technologies are a logical evolution, acknowledg-
ing the need for tailoring individual learning experiences. However, such intelligent
and adaptive systems did not open up the market yet. Reasons are seen in the diffi-
culty of designing comprehensive data models, interoperability, and re-usability of
learning media as well as in a lack of a focus on the learner. At the same time, excit-
ing new technologies for (web-based) learning are already dawning, for example
game-based learning. The emergence of these new technologies is attended by further
challenges and it is increasing the need for precise data models and resource descrip-
tion frameworks. In the present work we introduce an ontology model, developed in
the context of game-based learning, that attempts to provide a solution to existing
problems of adaptive systems as well as a potential solution to precise and, above all,
learner-centered resource description.
Kickmeier-Rust, M. D., & Albert, D. (2008). The ELEKTRA ontology model: A learner-
centered approach to resource description. Advances in Web Based Learning – ICWL
2007 (pp. 78-89). Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 4823/2008. Berlin: Springer.
The ELEKTRA Ontology Model 79
1.1 Intelligent and Adaptive Tutoring
The idea of using “intelligent” machines for educational purposes has a long tradition.
It can be traced back to 1926 when Pressey [1] tried to build a machine that presented
multiple choice questions and immediate feedback on the answers. Psychologists and
educationists have since reported that carefully designed individualized tutoring pro-
duces the best learning for most people (e.g., [2]). First so-called intelligent tutoring
systems (ITS) for web-based application were reported in the mid-nineties [3] and
also research on adaptive hypermedia turned towards educational objectives, develop-
ing adaptive tutoring systems (ATS). Both use similar approaches and techniques to
realize individualized tutoring.
Adaptive presentation refers to providing individual learners with personalized in-
formation, for example by conditional inclusion of information, re-ordering of informa-
tion, or providing different media types [4]. Adaptive navigation support refers to guid-
ing an individual learner through the learning material in the most suitable and
successful way, for example by direct guidance, link sorting, or link hiding. Problem
solving support is basically a concept of ITS that attempts to provide a learner not only
with the final solution of a problem, for example when the learner is stuck, but to ana-
lyze how a solution was obtained and which knowledge might be missing, or which
misconceptions might have been the cause for an error. An alternative terminology
comes from [5], basically established in the context of educational games, macro and
micro adaptivity. Essentially, macro adaptivity refers to traditional approaches of adap-
tive presentation and navigation on the level of LO or learning situations (LeS) whilst
micro adaptivity refers to adaptive presentation and problem solving support within
a LO/LeS. Although there is a strong need for personalized tutoring, such techno-
logies are implemented sparsely in commercial E-Learning platforms. Reasons are for
Adaptive features might still be a less important and visible factors in the
market [6]
ITS/ATS are often technology-driven and lack a plausible psychological
and pedagogical background [6]
Although there are significant efforts spent on providing suitable resource
description [7], these are not commonly accepted and probably not suffi-
ciently powerful to describe learning resources, especially in the context
of ATS
A number of authors [8] argue that it still is difficult to re-use and ex-
change learning material across different applications because of the often
strong concatenation of LO, adaptive logic, and psycho-pedagogical
Most often the focus of resource description is -quite naturally- on LO,
having the disadvantage of ambiguity of different learning methods and
different learning objects covered by a single LO
The development of ITS/ATS is still facing major challenges and existing resource
description approaches and standards are not commonly accepted yet and may be not
complete enough. At the same time, the “very next big thing” (following the title of
80 M.D. Kickmeier-Rust and D. Albert
Paul De Bra’s article “The next big thing: Adaptive web-based systems” [9]) that is
already dawning is using immersive digital games for educational purposes.
1.2 The Very Next Big Thing: Immersive Digital Educational Games
The majority of E-Learning systems and multimedia LO are based on traditional 2D
user interfaces; provocatively speaking, they have all more or less the same unexcit-
ing look and feel. This perspective is compounded by the proliferation of appealing
computer games. The idea of using such games for educational purposes was already
born with the appearance of the first computer games. Ever since, scientists and de-
velopers have published numerous articles and books on the advantages of digital
game-based learning as a promising approach to improve and facilitate learning, es-
pecially when fun, motivation, and immersion could be maintained [10]. In addition
to single player games for educational purposes, multiplayer online games increas-
ingly get in the focus of educational research [11]. Such games are interesting from a
psycho-pedagogical perspective because they incorporate possibilities for collabora-
tive peer-to-peer learning and social interactions.
However, educational games, and especially educational multiplayer games, bear
further challenges to adaptive technologies, underlying data models, and resource
description models:
The complexity and scale of LO/LeS is substantially higher than in tradi-
tional LO. Moreover, LO/LeS are strongly integrated in a specific game’s
narrative and visual style
The costs of developing LO/LeS for immersive, state-of-the-art educa-
tional games are extremely high and successful approaches to re-usability
are even more important than in traditional E-Learning
Adaptive technologies are facing new challenges in order to provide suit-
able adaptive interventions
In multiplayer games learning may be independent from pre-described
LO/LeS, for example through collaboration, peer-tutoring, and social in-
2 The ELEKTRA Project
The ELEKTRA project ( has the ambitious goal to utilize
the advantages of computer games and their design fundamentals for educational
purposes and to address disadvantages of game-based learning as far as possible.
Within the project a methodology for successful design of educational games shall be
established and a game demonstrator is developed based on a state-of-the-art 3D ad-
venture game teaching optics according to national curricula. ELEKTRA will also
address important research questions concerning data model design as basis for adap-
tivity and resource description enabling interoperability of systems and re-using
LO/LeS as well as the data model itself.
In view of the mentioned challenges to adaptive technologies, data models, and re-
lated resource description frameworks and also in view of the emerging challenges by
The ELEKTRA Ontology Model 81
(multiplayer) educational games, we propose a conceptual change towards a separa-
tion of competence (i.e., a set of skills) and performance.
2.1 Competence versus Performance
An early distinction between latent competence and observable performance was
introduced by Chomsky [12] in the framework of linguistic theory. Today, this dis-
tinction has a much wider application, especially in knowledge and learning psychol-
ogy. Still, in practice the concepts of latent competence and related observable
performance often lack a thorough differentiation; operationalizations are often one-
to-one mappings of underlying competencies and performance and often the same
labels are used for both concepts. From a cognitive point of view, this approach is
fraught with difficulty; for example, it does not acknowledge that performance (e.g.,
mastering a task) can be the result of various competencies. Thus, it is not only neces-
sary to break down certain types of competencies to a certain level of granularity but
also to separate competence from performance. Such separation enables establishing a
sound basis to address existing challenges: (a) it offers a learner-centered and cogni-
tively sound approach, (b) it enables resource description (and probably standards)
without the focus on specific LO; it is not about which content is included in a LO,
but what exactly a learner can gain from a LO, and (c) it enables a separation of LO,
adaptive mechanism, and psycho-pedagogical principles and, therefore, serves the
design of adequate data models underlying adaptive systems.
A method to realize such separation is ontologies. On such basis, a clear, precise,
and probably standardized definitions of competencies in a given domain can be real-
ized which, in turn, can be used as a data model for an adaptive system. The cognitive
model underlying the data model of ELEKTRA is based on Competence-based
Knowledge Space Theory (CbKST).
To address the challenges for research and development and to incorporate a sepa-
ration of latent competence and observable performance, ELEKTRA utilizes the
framework of CbKST to provide the game with a methodology for suitable adaptive
interventions. It provides an internal cognition-based logic that is quite similar to the
logic of ontologies: well-defined entities (the competencies or skills) are in a well-
defined relationship (a so-called prerequisite relation).
CbKST is an extension of the originally behavioral Knowledge Space Theory [13]
[14] where a knowledge domain Q is characterized by a set of problems. The knowl-
edge state of an individual is identified on the subset of problems this person is capa-
ble of solving. Due to mutual dependencies between the problems captured by
prerequisite relations, not all potential knowledge states will occur. The collection of
all possible states is called a knowledge structure K. To account for the fact that a
problem might have several prerequisites (i.e., and/or-type relations) the notion of a
prerequisite function was introduced. The basic idea of CbKST is to assume a set E of
abstract skills underlying the problems and LO of the domain. The relationships be-
tween the skills and problems (or LO) is established by a skill function. Such function
assigns a collection of subsets of skills (i.e., competence states) to each problem,
which are relevant for solving it and it assigns the skills to each LO taught. By associ-
ating skills to the problems of a domain, a knowledge structure on the set of problems
82 M.D. Kickmeier-Rust and D. Albert
Fig. 1. The left panel illustrates a prerequisite function (the bended line below skill X indicates
a logical or). The right panel shows the corresponding competence structure. The bolded line
indicates one of several meaningful learning paths.
is induced. The skills, which are not directly observable, can be uncovered on the
basis of a person’s observable performance. A further extension is to assume prereq-
uisite relationships between the skills, inducing a competence structure C on the set of
skills [15]. To illustrate this approach, assume that a knowledge domain is represented
by Q={a, b, c, d}. Consider the set E={V, W, X, Y, Z} of skills that are relevant for
solving them. A prerequisite function that might exist among these skills is demon-
strated in Fig. 1a. For example, this function reads that if a student has skill X we can
assume that this student also possesses either skill V or W, or both; the corresponding
competence structure is shown in Fig. 1b. It includes only 13 possible competence
states from a total of 25 = 32 states.
The outlined approach entails several advantages. Given the performance, that is, the
subset of problems a student could master, the latent skills underlying that problem solv-
ing performance can be identified. Due to the utilization of representation and interpreta-
tion functions no one-to-one mapping of performance to skills is required and meaningful
learning paths can be identified.
3 The ELEKTRA Ontology Model
3.1 Ontology Web Language (OWL)
Originally, the term ontology was established in philosophy where it describes a dis-
cipline concerned with existence. The term was introduced to computer science by
Gruber [16] where it describes “a formal, explicit specification of a shared conceptu-
alization”. An ontology provides a structured and semantically rich approach to model
a certain domain; ontologies count classes, instances, inheritances, and relationships
between classes as their major components. The entities of an ontology can be de-
scribed with attributes, each having a name, a certain data type, and one or more val-
ues. In the context of E-Learning, ontologies serve as a means of achieving semantic
precision between a domain of learning material and the learner’s prior knowledge
and learning goals. Ontologies bridge the semantic gap between humans and ma-
chines and, consequently, they facilitate the establishment of the semantic web and
The ELEKTRA Ontology Model 83
build the basis for the exchange and re-use of contents that reaches across people and
applications. From a technical perspective, an ontology is a text-based reference of
information, represented by an ontology representation language. Most of them are
built upon XML and RDF. There is a variety of such representation languages (see
[17] for a review). The primary benefit of using ontologies is their ability to reason
over defined relationships and therefore to relate instances to their abstract types.
Reasoning is used to derive new relations between individuals from an existing ontol-
ogy by using and applying logical rules. Reasoning might refer to class memberships,
to the equivalence of classes, to consistency, or to classifications. As an example,
ontologies allow determining a complete list of skills required by a specific compe-
tence state or by a specific LO.
In 2004, W3C has officially released OWL (Web Ontology Language) as recom-
mendation for representing ontologies. OWL is developed starting from description
logic (DL) and DAML+OIL. The popularity of OWL, which is still increasing, might
lead to its establishment as the standard ontology representation language on the se-
mantic web. Basically, OWL is a set of XML entities and attributes with well-defined
meaning that are used to identify concepts and relations between. OWL consists of
three species, OWL Full, OWL DL, and OWL Lite [23]. OWL provides a set of con-
structors (e.g., oneOf, intersectionOf, hasValue) that allow deriving classes from other
classes and a set of axioms (e.g., subClassOf, disjointWith, sameAs, TransitiveProp-
erty) that allow asserting subsumption or equivalence in terms of classes, individuals,
or properties, the disjointness of classes, or properties of properties.
3.2 Architecture
The ELEKTRA ontology model is supposed to address the requirements of providing
adaptive interventions in the game in order to balance challenge and ability and there-
fore not only providing successful learning paths within the game’s narrative but also
to retain motivation and even flow experience. Thus, the ontology model incorporates
the concepts related to adaptive interventions on a macro as well as on a micro-level,
that is, it models problem solution spaces for problem solving tasks within the game
environment. Although the re-usability of learning objects is more difficult in digital
games for educational purposes because the learning objects are an integral part of the
entire game which is not interchangeable between different games in most cases, the
presented ontology model is supposed to serve the growing demands on standardiza-
tion and semantically rich resource description in the context of educational technolo-
gies also. As mentioned before, some authors argue that currently a lack of commonly
accepted resource description standards for learning objects exists. One reason might
be a focus on learning objects in current approaches. In the presented ontology model
we introduce a focus on the learner and, therefore, on latent skills. This approach
might be a more comprehensive and easier to standardize method for describing and
defining LO and learning objectives. While learning objects are most often strongly
interlaced with instructional methods or events, the focus on underlying skills offers
a cornerstone, which is not only directly related to human abilities and learning
84 M.D. Kickmeier-Rust and D. Albert
Fig. 2. The ELEKTRA ontology model architecture
objectives but which also allows a very precise description of LO. From a technical
perspective the ELEKTRA ontology model builds upon OWL DL; due to its popular-
ity it is the quasi-standard for ontology representation languages. All classes have the
RDF-attributes label and description. The ontology model is illustrated in Fig. 2. Most
relations between the classes’ instances are non-functional (marked with an asterisk in
Fig. 2), meaning that one or more instances of one class can be associated with the
instances of a related class.
The ELEKTRA Ontology Model 85
Learner. The ELEKTRA ontology model puts the human learner and, therefore,
skills in the foreground. Consequently Learner is the center class of the ontology.
Using attributes such as age, school level, sex, culture, country, or learning styles
allows establishing distinct groups of learners. In turn, such well-defined groups of
learners provide the adaptation engine of a learning environment, the game by the
example of ELEKTRA, with a comprehensive learner model. The Learner class is
(indirectly) associated with classes related to latent skills, LO (LeS in the terminology
of ELEKTRA), problem solution states, and curriculum.
Skills. The most important component describing the learner is skills. The Skill class
is defined by a factual concept (e.g., convex lenses) and related action verbs (e.g.,
recall or apply). This type of skill definition was introduced by [18] and is associated
with Bloom’s revised taxonomy of learning objectives [19]. There are six cumulative
levels of cognitive processing, which can be thought of as degrees of difficulties
which establish a hierarchical order; a more simple level of knowledge or ability must
be given in order to reach a deeper one. The levels are (a) knowledge (the recall of
factual information), (b) comprehension (understanding of the meaning, translation,
interpolation, and interpretation of instructions and problems), (c) application (using
of a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an abstraction), (d) analysis
(separating material or concepts into sub- components so that its organizational
structure may be understood), (e) synthesis (building a structure or pattern from
diverse elements, joining parts to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new
meaning or structure), and (f) evaluation (making of judgments about the value of
ideas or materials). Action verbs are assigned to each category, describing recall
methods or knowledge more detailed. For the category “knowledge” action verbs are,
for example, “define”, “describe”, or “label”; for the category “analysis” “compare”,
“quantify”, or “measure”. The Skill class has a relational attribute has_prerequisite.
This relation identifies skills that are prerequisites for a given skill as claimed by
CbKST (see section 2.2) and, therefore, establishes a prerequisite relation between the
skills. Fig. 3 shows the prerequisite relation for the physics course realized in the
ELEKTRA game demonstrator. A related class is the SkillSet class. This class
specifies a set of skills, which is in turn a prerequisite for other skills. This
supplement is based on rather technical constraints when including and/or-type
relations (i.e., prerequisite functions).
Learning Objects/Learning Situations. A further class defines LO or, in the
context of game-based learning, LeS. The LearningSituation class has the relational
attribute skills_taught, which refers to the skills that can be learned with certain LO or
within a certain LeS. To acknowledge the fact that certain skills may be required to
successfully apply such LO/LeS this class has the relational attributes skills_required
and skillsets_required. The present ontology model includes both because the
definition of skill sets is necessary when and/or-type prerequisite functions are
Although learning and assessment is often overlapping, in the present model we
distinguish between LO/LeS and assessment objects/situations. Such objects are
86 M.D. Kickmeier-Rust and D. Albert
Fig. 3. Upward drawing for the prerequisite relation between skills realized in ELEKTRA
typical test items or learning situations primary aiming at assessing knowledge with
which the current knowledge state is assessed. The separation facilitates the adaptive
presentation of learning material and assessment of learning progress. The Assess-
mentSituation class has the attributes skills_required and skillsets_required, specify-
ing the skills that are necessary to successfully master such assessment. To account
for pedagogical implications and strategies, two related classes concern the type of
learning events and the depth of knowledge. Learning events (prototypically) refer to
the Eight Learning Events Model [20], which is a pedagogical approach emphasizing
that learning events are based on eight basic components. The eight learning events
are (a) imitation / modeling, (b) reception / transmission, (c) exercising / guidance, (d)
exploration / documentation, (e) experimentation / reactivity, (f) creation / confronta-
tion, (g) self-reflection / co-reflection, and (h) debate / animation. The depth of
knowledge refers to Bloom’s taxonomy of learning objectives. To include these
classes, the LearningSituation class has the attributes covers_event and covers_depth
and the AssessmentSituation class has the attribute covers_depth.
Curricula and Units. An aim of ELEKTRA is to design a methodology for game-
based learning that is close to school curricula. The game demonstrator, for example,
will be relying on the curricula of France, Belgium, and Germany. To integrate such
information, we used a Curriculum class. This class has the attributes subject, level,
country and release (version or date) to identify the curriculum. To link the LO/LeS
to the curricula, this class has also the relational attribute includes_learningsituations.
A similar class is LearningUnit, which specifies larger learning units within the game
or curriculum.
Problem Solution States. To provide a basis for micro adaptivity (as described in
section 1.1), which attempts to analyze the states of a problem solution process in order
to provide subtle adaptive interventions (e.g., giving hints), we included the Object class.
This class is strongly related to the game-approach and identifies the manipulable objects
that exist in different learning and assessment situations (e.g., books, tools, lenses,
microscopes, etc.). These objects are linked to learning and assessment situations by the
exists_in attribute. In order to allow the adaptive system to determine to progress in the
The ELEKTRA Ontology Model 87
problem solution process (and also possible misconceptions), this class is linked to
the Position_Category class. The attributes poscat_value, poscat_skills_missing, and
poscat_skills_required enable the assignment of some value of correctness, determined
by a specific utility function, to each position category of each manipulable object and it
allows determining available and missing skills. On the basis of the correctness value the
probability distribution of the related skills states can be updated and interventions can be
made on a skill-basis rather than on behavioral basis.
Domain Ontologies. As included in Fig. 2, in addition to the ontology structure that
serves as a data model for the adaptive system, either on a macro or on a micro-level,
also a domain ontology can be linked to the data model. Domain ontologies generally
include propositions (two factual concepts which are connected by any type of
relation) that describe a certain domain (e.g., the domain of optics). Such domain
ontologies can be used to enable a manual or semi-automatic derivation of skills and
the prerequisite relations between them [21].
4 Conclusion and Future Work
In the present work we introduced an ontology-based data model that essentially was
developed in the context of game-based learning. This model is anchored in CbKST
and supposed to enable suitable adaptive interventions on a macro and on a micro-
level. In the framework of the ELEKTRA project, such adaptive intervention not only
involves the learner’s knowledge and learning progress, it involves pedagogical im-
plications and strategies as well as motivational characteristics and immersion. Al-
though developed in view of a specific application, the data model might serve as a
role model for other adaptive systems and approaches to adaptive interventions.
The primary aim of the introduced ontology model is providing adaptive systems
with a basis for suitable adaptive interventions and to separate static information from
the adaptive system as far as possible. The architecture enables the realization of the
initially described techniques of adaptivity (adaptive presentation, adaptive naviga-
tion, and adaptive problem solving support), on a macro as well as on a micro-level.
In a context of probabilistic skill assessment and, particularly, in the context of evalu-
ating the “correctness” of problem solutions states, which includes some characteris-
tics of fuzzy logic, existing ontology representation languages have limitations. For
example in OWL any sentence (e.g., reasoning results) must be either true or false.
Consequently, ontologies cannot quantify the degree of the overlap or inclusion of
concepts [22]. Future endeavors will incorporate existing approaches to probabilistic
extensions to ontology representation languages (e.g., the Bayesian network approach
of [22]).
In addition, we proposed a conceptual change towards a learner-centered focus on
latent skills in resource description methods. Both data model and competence-
performance separation may offer a promising approach to address the problems and
challenges of adaptive educational technologies. First, the introduced approach to
separate competence and performance and to include this separation in the data model
offers a cognitive basis opening the doors for new development in knowledge con-
struction and assessment. Furthermore, the data model acknowledges the need for
88 M.D. Kickmeier-Rust and D. Albert
pedagogical implications and strategies and for the integration of individual states
and traits (e.g., motivational components). On the basis of this triad, LO/LeS and
learning objectives can be defined very precisely. In view of resource description
methods and their standards, the proposed separation of a learner’s possessed and
desired skills from LO and learning objectives establish similar to propositions of
domain ontologies smallest - or at least sufficiently small - entities for describing the
learner, LO/LeS, and learning objectives. At the same time, problems in tracking
learning progress emerging from multi-learner environments (such as multi-player
games), for example learning by social interactions and independent from specific
LO, can be reduced by swerving from a focus on LO/LeS. Future endeavors will
extent the present ontology model towards an increasing compatibility with existing
attempts to provide metadata standards and to include ontologies for the definition of
skills or competencies (e.g., the IMS information model specification for reusable
definition of competency or educational objective). Moreover, the presented model
offers a suitable supplement to attempts of combining learning design standards with
ontology models, for example by providing a generalized taxonomy of pedagogical
strategies and learning objectives or by acknowledge information for adaptive prob-
lem solving support.
Acknowledgements. The research and development introduced in this work is funded
by the European Commission under the sixth framework programme in the IST
research priority, contract number 027986.
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... Teachers are also an important conduit between the learning context and the play context, and need to know how to contextualize the game content to the subject matter being taught [40]. A deep understanding of the game being played can also be important for evaluating a student's progress through the curriculum [40,41]. ...
... The problem for learning games here stem from the fact that the average classroom consists of individuals whose primary unifying characteristics are their age and geographical location. A classroom is filled with individuals that have varying interests, backgrounds, degrees of computer and gaming literacy, and different amounts of knowledge within the subject area being taught [35,41]. Trying to cater to all these individuals is an immense undertaking, and it is unlikely that a game that is not thoroughly adaptable by teachers or thoroughly player-driven would be able to provide an engaging experience for the majority of a classroom audience. ...
... There are also several parameters other than player skill that dictate game enjoyment and that varies greatly between individuals in a classroom as well [35,42]. Subject matter familiarity, gaming literacy and proficiency, and computer experience will certainly all have their averages that you can cater to as a designer or developer, but depending on the type of classroom it is difficult to create games that do not alienate some individuals due to the fact that they have widely different preferences and abilities [41]. ...
The complexity of balancing educational purpose and engaging gameplay mechanics through appropriate design decisions has frequently been discussed in learning game literature. The discussion has primarily focused on highlighting connections between game design principles and learning principles and making guidelines for achieving engaging learning scenarios through game mechanics tailored to specific subject matters. Play, and the learning derived from it, is thus often studied as a phenomenon of the two disparate forces of education and gameplay colliding inside a closed system. The complexity of designing games for educational purposes is subsequently also seen as a product of the dichotomies between these two forces. However, the discussions on the design of learning games and their potential as learning tools seldom take the practicalities of formal educational environments into consideration. In this paper, learning game design principles are investigated alongside developers' and educators' working practices. In our analysis we identify and examine a set of issues that complicate learning game design and development. The primary conclusion of this research is that the contexts in which learning games are used significantly alter the way they can be played by introducing constraints as well as facilitating conditions to the play sessions. The paper concludes with an argument for a shift of attention from the product centric view of today to a view that takes pedagogical contexts and organizational values into better account.
... Adaptivity has been considered by the ELEKTRA model (Kickmeier-Rust and Albert, 2007), which is grounded on Competence-based Knowledge Space Theory (CbKST). As the authors of ELEKTRA model highlight, this intervention is not only related to the learner's cognitive background and the progress they have made during their learning stages, but also to the pedagogical strategies and the motivational characteristics the educational environment encompasses. ...
... This framework models problem solutions on both a macro and micro level for a problem solving task by implementing the necessary interventions within the game environment. Additionally, according to the authors, due to the growing demand for standardizing rich resources (learning objects) for easy reference and global use, this framework is supposed to address the growing demand for the reusability of such learning content within the field of educational technologies (Kickmeier-Rust and Albert, 2007). ...
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Nowadays, due to the proliferation of the Internet and the increasing deployment of the plethora of internet-connected devices, security and privacy issues are considered fundamental topics in students' education. For instance, semantic attacks (also known as social engineering) such as phishing, aim to deceive or lure people into visiting a seemingly legitimate hyperlink in hopes to disclose their personal information. Similar attacks intend to violate computing devices and usurp users' personal information via the use of malware. All these kinds of attacks, exploit human's lack of knowledge rather than the system vulnerabilities. This is quite expected since attacks of this kind are typically unknown to the non-security-savvy individual, while for some others, the knowledge on security protection measures and privacy awareness is mostly classified as a secondary task Over the last decades, the concept of integrating learning and entertainment appeared in the Information Technology (IT) field and shaped new terms including learning by playing, Educational entertainment (Edutainment) and Game-Based Learning (GBL). Today, within the context of e-Learning, DGBL generally refers to the deployment of various forms of digital games to support teaching and learning. Such games can be played over the Internet, on personal computers, smartphones, or on specific mobile or traditional game consoles. GBL also pertains to digital board games, card games, and many others that are strategy-intensive. In the literature, DGBL is often referred to as Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL). On the other hand, smart mobile devices are considered as context-sensitive and one of the most challenging technological fields in formal or lifelong learning due to their intrinsic characteristics such as portability, connectivity, built-in sensors, etc. Taking advantage of this technological trend, several researchers consider that e-Learning has given birth to an independent type of learning, which is known as mobile-Learning (m-Learning). This transformation supports just-in-time and just-in-place learning capabilities, by allowing learners (and instructors) to have instant access to the learning content and collaborative activities anytime, and from arbitrary device types and platforms. Further, several mobile hardware advancements, such as the plethora of sensors and wireless interfaces that these devices offer, have also contributed to a new transformation of m-Learning which is known as ubiquitous learning (u-Learning). So, the plethora of contextual information that can be detected from a u-Learning environment, led to context-aware learning apps. In this context, in this Ph.D. thesis, a literature review is conducted in order to identify several aspects of (m)DGBL for improving students' learning experience, spanning a period from 2004 to 2016. This review also contributes to pinpointing the different mobile characteristics and the main trends in mDGBL environments so far. We also paid special attention to whether the existing mobile games substantially utilize the technological affordances of mobile technologies for supporting innovative and pedagogically efficient context-aware learning environments. In this respect, we used a six-dimensional framework for scrutinizing the inherent constituents of the learning games and bring to the foreground important issues pertaining to mobile and context-aware ubiquitous DGBL. Moreover, this doctoral thesis focuses on the design and development of a novel learning platform that consists of a Learning Content Management System (LCMS) and a mobile DGBL (mDGBL) app for educating and raise users' awareness on basic cybersecurity and privacy issues. More specifically, the implemented mDGBL app, namely CybeAware, comprises a suite of quick games, that can be played either in a standalone or in a client/server mode, and it is designed to support elementary and early secondary students in formal and informal learning to basic Internet security and privacy issues. Further, the mobile version of CyberAware app can be experienced as a classroom or an outdoor learning activity. Contrary to analogous studies found in the literature so far, during the design phase of the app, our focus was not solely on its technological aspects, but we uniformly paid special attention to the educational factor by applying a specific model of motivation. Our findings from both the literature review and the evaluation of CyberAware suggest that, in information security and privacy domains, DGBL is rather the most efficient method to be used toward educating young learners. However, additional evaluation efforts are needed to better assess and estimate the positive impacts of this kind of learning for this particular domain.
... A domain ontology identifies the key concepts, objects and entities that exist in some knowledge domain or area of interest and the relationships between them [15,16]. Ontologies play a significant role for knowledge sharing and as knowledge models in instructional science, technology-enhanced learning, knowledge management and training [15,14,13]. Ontologies consist of instances, properties and classes, where instances represent specific project data, properties represent binary relations held among software engineering concepts/instances, and classes represent the software engineering concepts interpreted as sets that contain specific project data [25]. ...
In a domain like software process that is intensively knowledge driven, transforming intellectual knowledge by formal representation is an invaluable requirement. An improved use of this knowledge could lead to maximum payoff in software organisations which is key. The purpose of formal representation is to help organisations achieve success by modelling successful organisations. In this paper, Software process knowledge from successful organisations was harvested and formally modeled using ontology. Domain specific knowledge base ontology was produced for core software process subdomain, with its resulting software process ontology produced.
... Ontologies play a significant role for knowledge sharing and as knowledge models in instructional science, technology-enhanced learning, knowledge management and training (e.g. Gruber, 1995;Kickmeier-Rust & Albert, 2008;Zouaq & Nkambou, 2009). Approaches of ontology learning, i.e. the (semi-)automated extraction or generation of knowledge representations, aim at dealing with the bottleneck inherent in the manual creation of domain ontologies and with the difficulty of modelling the knowledge that is actually relevant for a specific domain (e.g. ...
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Ontologies play an important role as knowledge domain representations in technology-enhanced learning and instruction. Represented in form of concept maps they are commonly used as teaching and learning material and have the potential to enhance positive educational outcomes. To ensure the effective use of an ontology representing a knowledge domain it needs to be validated. In this paper a previously presented validation methodology for concept maps is exemplified. Two different types of concept map validity are distinguished, referring to the correctness of the concept map’s content (content validity) and to the applicability of the concept map for its designated purpose (application validity), like its use in intelligent tutoring. To demonstrate the usefulness of the two validation types and approaches, they are illustrated by an empirical study. The content validity of a concept map on elementary geometry has been investigated by comparing it with empirically collected criterion maps through s...
... Specifically, 80Days aims to tackle the problem of reducing the costs of developing immersive DEGs by providing a methodological framework, including technical advancements, adaptive and interactive digital storytelling and generic adaptive tutoring methodology (cf. Competence-based Knowledge Space Theory (CbKST) [9]) and by realizing different scenarios on the same base game. Scenarios being deployed in our project are inspired by Jules Verne's appealing novel "Around the world in eighty days", in which our project's name is rooted. ...
Conference Paper
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The main goal of our project 80Days is to develop cost-effectively an immersive digital educational game (DEG) to enable learning with fun and pleasure. The domain selected for the game is geography, given its broad range and rich cartographic material. In this paper, we first illustrate how the game concept of 80Days can well exemplify the four themes of Reality-based Interaction (RBI), as described by Jacob and his colleagues [8]. Next we describe our evaluation frameworks, addressing some major issues pertaining to evaluating usability, adaptivity, and learning efficacy. We also describe a questionnaire-based validation study on the acceptance of the 80Days game design.
Storytelling and gaming approaches are used as motivational instruments for suspenseful, engaging learning. This chapter describes the concept of Narrative Game-Based Learning Objects (NGLOB), providing a model of how to combine these different axes (narration, gaming, and learning) and how to apply it within personalized, adaptive Digital Educational Games (DEG). From a research perspective, this results in one of the main technical challenges of Serious Games (SG): personalization and adaptation. Here, the central question might be summarized with “How does one create and control a game during play considering the game context and characteristics of individual users or user groups?” This question and the use of NGLOBs are illustrated through the example of “Save the Earth” for teaching and learning geography.
One of the trump cards of digital educational games is their enormous intrinsic motivational potential. Although learning game design is often understood on a one-fits-all level, the actual motivational strength of an educational game strongly depends on the individual learners, their very specific goals, preferences, abilities, strength and weakness, personality, and experiences with gaming. Considering motivation being a fragile and constantly changing state, it is important to continuously assess learning and gaming processes and the oscillations of motivation and immersion within a game. With this premise in mind, the authors developed a psycho-pedagogical approach to a non-invasive embedded assessment of motivational states and learning progress, feeding into a dynamic, ontology-driven learner (and gamer) model. To evaluate the approach, the demonstrator games were subject to intensive quantitative and qualitative experimental research. Results show that a meaningful personalization and an individual support are key factors of the success of learning games.
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"Serious gaming" is a recent approach, using the techniques implemented in video games, to conduct "serious" activities such as communication, awareness and learning. Serious games have now become an essential element of online training. This thesis takes place in the context of serious games for training. Indeed, whatever the preferred meaning, many research questions arise. In particular, how can we assess the knowledge acquired by the player / learner through the game? We have focused on case study type games used especially in management or medicine. We propose a method based on Evidence Centered Design to plan the monitoring of the learner for diagnostic purposes to the teacher and the learner. Actions in case studies are very close to business actions and resort to specific rules. We have chosen to represent them using Petri nets. To bring semantics to the Petri net analysis, we have added a domain and game action ontology. The ontology provides a significant complementarity to Petri net that has a purely procedural dimension. We have combined Petri nets and ontologies to produce performance indicators for this particular category of serious games. The study of errors led us to propose a particular taxonomy for serious games based on the work done in the field of security.
This chapter develops an extension of Doignon and Falmagne's knowledge struc-tures theory by integrating it into a competence-performance conception. The aim is to show one possible way in which the purely behavioral and descriptive knowledge structures approach could be structurally enriched in order to account for the need of explanatory features for the empirically observed solution behav-ior. Performance is conceived as the observable solution behavior of a person on a set of domain-specific problems. Competence (ability, skills) is understood as a theoretical construct accounting for the performance. The basic concept is a mathematical structure termed a diagnostic, that creates a correspondence be-tween the competence and the performance level. The concept of a union-stable diagnostic is defined as an elaboration of Doignon and Falmagne's concept of a knowledge space. Conditions for the construction and several properties of union-stable diagnostics are presented. Finally, an empirical application of the competence-performance conception in a small knowledge domain is reported that shall illustrate some advantages of the introduced modeling approach.
To support the sharing and reuse of formally represented knowledge among AI systems, it is useful to define the common vocabulary in which shared knowledge is represented. A specification of a representational vocabulary for a shared domain of discourse—definitions of classes, relations, functions, and other objects—is called an ontology. This paper describes a mechanism for defining ontologies that are portable over representation systems. Definitions written in a standard format for predicate calculus are translated by a system called Ontolingua into specialized representations, including frame-based systems as well as relational languages. This allows researchers to share and reuse ontologies, while retaining the computational benefits of specialized implementations.We discuss how the translation approach to portability addresses several technical problems. One problem is how to accommodate the stylistic and organizational differences among representations while preserving declarative content. Another is how to translate from a very expressive language into restricted languages, remaining system-independent while preserving the computational efficiency of implemented systems. We describe how these problems are addressed by basing Ontolingua itself on an ontology of domain-independent, representational idioms.
This article has two primary goals: (a) to illustrate how a closer analysis of language can lead to fruitful insights into the activities that it helps constitute, and (b) to demonstrate the complexity of the practices that make up Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming (MMOGaming) through just such an analysis. The first goal is in response to the way we sometimes treat language in studies of activity, despite calls for more nuanced analyses (e.g., Wells, 2002), as a mere conduit for information in which its other (social, identity) functions are overlooked. The second goal is in response to the diatribes against video games in the media and their frequent dismissal as barren play. In this article, I use functional linguistics to unpack how a seemingly inconsequential turn of talk within the game Lineage reveals important aspects of the activity in which it is situated as well as the broader "forms of life" enacted in the game through which members display their allegiance and identity.
Abstract  This is a non-specialist introduction to intelligent tutoring systems, one way in which artificial intelligence is being applied to education. It presumes little knowledge of AI. The aim is to explain what an ITS consists of, in general terms, and to give some feel for the current products of this kind of research.