Background/Context: A large number of educational resources are now made available on the web to support both regular classroom learning and online learning. The abundance of available content has produced at least two problems: how to help students find the most appropriate resources and how to engage them in using and benefiting from these resources. Personalized and social learning have been suggested as potential ways to address these problems. Our work attempts to integrate these directions of research by combining the ideas of adaptive navigation support and open student modeling with the ideas of social comparison and social visualization. We call our approach Open Social Student Modeling (OSSM).
Objective/Research Questions: First, we review a sequence of our earlier projects focused on Open Social Student Modeling for one kind of learning content and formulate several key design principles that contribute to the success of OSSM. Second, we present our exploration of OSSM in a more challenging context of modeling student progress for two kinds of learning content in parallel. We aim to answer the following research questions: How do we design OSSM interfaces to support many kinds of learning content in parallel? Will current identified design principles (key features) confirm the power of the learning community through OSSM with multiple learning-resource collections? Will the OSSM visualization provide successful personalized guidance within a richer collection of educational resources?
Research Design: We designed four classroom studies to assess the value of different options for OSSM visualization of one and multiple kinds of learning content in the context of programming-language learning. We examined the comparative success of different design options to distill successful design patterns and other important lessons for the future developers of OSSM for personalized and social e-learning.
Findings/Results: The results confirmed the motivational impact of personalized social guidance provided by the OSSM system in the target context. The interface encouraged students to explore more topics and motivated them to work ahead of the course schedule. Both strong and weak students worked with the appropriate levels of questions for their readiness, which yielded consistent performance across different levels of complex problems. Additionally, providing more realistic content collection on the navigation-supported OSSM visualizations resulted in uniform performance for the group.
Conclusions/Recommendation: A sequence of studies of several OSSM interfaces confirmed that a combination of adaptive navigational support, open student modeling, and social visualization in the form of the OSSM interface can reinforce the navigational and motivational values of these approaches. In several contexts, the OSSM interface demonstrated its ability to offer effective guidance in helping students to locate the most relevant content at the right time while increasing student motivation to work with diverse learning content.