project is funded by
CANARIE Inc. - Learning Program
Web site hosted
Adaptive Technology Resource Centre
One of the
opportunities afforded by broadband networks is a highly responsive dynamic
web interface. Broadband networks open the communication channel in both
directions, enabling educational servers that can respond to each individual
learner and learning context in a timely manner. With the right tools
this provides the opportunity to introduce a new level of learner-centric
education that is inclusive of all learners.
and educators would agree that the ideal educational environment has at
its core one-on-one teaching that is closely customized to the needs of
the individual learner. In all current educational sectors, one-on-one
teaching is very rare. Learners must make-do with instruction geared toward
the average student or the perceived norm. This leads to a large segment
of marginalized students who do not fit the norm. They may differ in their
background knowledge, level of understanding of the topic, learning outcome
goals, learning style, learning skills and accessibility needs. With dynamic
web technologies and broadband we have the opportunity to deliver the
approximation of one-on-one teaching. The on-line educational environment
could be responsive to a number of learner needs and preferences. These
preferences could be general learning preferences or preferences related
to a particular learning session.
demonstrates the potential benefits of personalized courseware for the
learner and the impact this will have on the educator or content producer.
A core assumption of learner-centric courseware delivery, whether it is
simply providing device independent information or full learning-style
accommodation, is that the content delivery medium can be independent
of the content while still achieving a consistent learning outcome. This
requires a dramatic shift in instructional design that most educators
are not cognizant of when designing learning material for the web. It
requires a deconstruction of teaching and a new set of authoring tools
and supports. Most web-authoring tool features concentrate on the specific
visual presentation of the material. They do not assist the author in
extracting the content and structure and determining whether it transforms
gracefully while still retaining the intended learning message. Most educators
devote a great deal of attention to designing the presentation of the
learning content at the expense of refining the content and its structure.
Through this project we demonstrate the practical boundaries of transformable
content and the tools needed to support the mastery of learner customizable
From a list
of candidate preferences, we selected a refined list to be exposed in
the TILE Preference Wizard. The remaining preferences are implicitly addressed.
general preferences exposed in the Preference Wizard include:
preferences: This includes the information layout, the font size, and
the colours used on the page. For someone with low vision this may make
the difference between illegible and legible content.
of Navigation Tree: Some learners prefer to have all possible links
shown on one page while others prefer to have top level links with lower
level links appearing on subsequent linked-to pages.
Content Requirements: Learners with sensory impairments require streaming
auditory or visual information to be provided in another modality but
synchronized to the primary content. The system can provide the requested
type of equivalent content (captioning, ASL, video description) delivered
according to the user's preference (styling, layout, reading level,
The learner may have an alternative language requirement, or may wish
the content to be displayed in two languages to support better comprehension.
Density: Some learners prefer to master an overview of the content and
then learn the specifics of each subtopic, while others prefer to move
sequentially through all the details of the topic.
Scaffolding types: Learners require individualized learner supports.
Some learners benefit from readily available definitions of terms, others
benefit from exercises or illustrations of concepts, while still others
require peer interaction to fully integrate a concept.
that relate to a specific learning session exposed in the Preference Wizard
Outcome Goals: Learners approach learning content with different outcome
goals. A system that organizes content in support of the outcome goal
and assists the user in tracking their progression toward the goal may
assist in achieving the learning outcome.
Exclusions: In some instances, less is more. A filter to exclude content
that is not of interest or is already learned may help the learner to
focus on the target content.
Annotation and Knowledge Review: Progression through specific learning
content would be supported by allowing the learner to create placeholders,
personal annotations and by creating a synopsis or review of the previous
general preferences that are implicitly addressed include:
or Sorting Preferences: Mail archives frequently offer the choice of
sorting by sender, date, subject, priority level among others. Other
sorting criteria could include level of difficulty, match with expressed
learning outcome goals and teaching style.
Requirements: Learners with disabilities frequently require alternative
access strategies such as screen reading for people who blind, or on-screen
keyboards for people who cannot use a mouse or keyboard. The preferences
can address both the type of alternative access technology and the preference
settings for the access technology. (e.g., voice rate and pitch, key
size and spacing)
Equivalents: Learners with disabilities or language constraints are
unable to answer certain kinds of test questions. These individuals
require test questions in an accessible modality that are equivalent
in the skills or knowledge being tested.
Views (Image intensive, text intensive): Some learners are best supported
through visual illustrations of the content, while graphics and images
may be distracting or inaccessible to other learners.
candidate preference that relates to a specific learning session is implicitly
of Communities of Interest. Learners vary regarding their preference
for the frequency and timing of peer interaction in support of learning.
Methods of facilitating group interaction while respecting personal
preferences will be investigate.