The Web is going to produce a revolution in learning and teaching: the debate on the role of ICT in educational processes leads to a reconsideration of how we deal with information and knowledge. The widespread use in educational contexts is also due to the ease with which learning resources can be retrieved and shared: for example, the recent introduction of learning objects means that the contents which reside in different e-learning platforms is easy to find and access. But knowledge is also deeply embedded in millions of Web pages. Nonetheless, searching for information on the Web is not a simple task and the great number of documents found using search engines, such as Google, is beyond the human cognitive capacity to deal with this information overflow. Teaching information literacy skills or stimulating collaborative information filtering that supports the discovery of resources in a way that is responsive to the context of users may help, but there is a need for more efficient cognitive tools to search, organize, and discuss information in order to codify it in shared knowledge structures.
Semantic Web And Ontologies
The Web has arrived at an important epistemological crossroad and there is a need to integrate the current dialogic-informative model, which allows us to interact with people and search for documents on the Web, with a model based on the contextual knowledge domains within which we operate: the Semantic Web approach (Berners-Lee et al., 2001). Both models are strongly based on a learner-centered approach so the applied research, in particular in the field of ICT and educational technologies, is moving in two directions:
The development of solutions for information exchange, and in general, for intelligent knowledge management;
The development of a collaborative/cooperative approach to knowledge building.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Social Network: A social network is a set of people or organizations or other social entities connected by a set of social relationships, such as friendships, coworking or information exchange. The connections between them may show specific patterns and can be represented by graphs. Recently many online social networking sites have begun to flourish with millions of users describing themselves in terms of who they are, what music they listen to, what books they read, and so forth, and trying to discover other people with similar interests.
Wiki: A Wiki is a collaboratively-edited Website that uses a software publishing tool. The distinguishing feature of wikis is that they typically allow all users to edit any page, with full freedom to edit, change and delete the work of previous authors. Collaborative knowledge creation is thus a central aspect of a wiki system. Wiki pages are accessible and usable at any time, and the content constantly evolves. The first wiki was created by Ward Cunningham, and the word “wiki” came from a phrase in Hawaiian—“wiki wiki”—which means “quick”. It’s quick because the process of editing is entwined with the process of reading. Both are done using a standard Web browser. Unlike most Websites, there’s no need to edit a file, upload it to a Web server, then reload the original to check it.
Ontologies: An ontology is a formal representation of knowledge about an area of interest. The part of the world conceptualized or described is called the “knowledge domain.” Ontologies provide a vocabulary for representing and communicating knowledge domains and a set of relationships that hold among the terms in that vocabulary.
Folksonomies: Folksonomies are bottom-up taxonomies that people create on their own, as opposed to being created and imposed by a group or institution such as by professional librarians using complex and lengthy rule sets (e.g., Dewey decimal system or Library of Congress index). Synonyms include folk categorization, social tagging, and ethnoclassification. They are grassroots classification systems for data. The value in folksonomies is derived from many people adding their own tags. The more people tagging one object, the better, because it gives alternative ways of searching for and finding information.
Semantic Web: The Semantic Web is an extension of the current Web in which information is given a well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation. The mix of content on the Web has been shifting from exclusively human-oriented content to more and more data content. The Semantic Web brings to the Web the idea of having data defined and linked in a way that it can be used for more effective discovery, automation, integration, and reuse across various applications. For the Web to reach its full potential, it must evolve into a Semantic Web, providing a universally accessible platform that allows data to be shared and processed by automated tools as well as by people. [W3C]
LOM (Learning Objects Metadata): We can define metadata as “information about information”, and a LOM is a metadata about a learning object that can refer to multimedia or digital educational resources. Sets of metadata are used to identify and meaningfully describe characteristics relevant to these resources, for example, the learning resource type, the intended end user, difficulty level, educational goal, and so forth. The Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) give rise to the IEEE LOM (Learning Object Metadata) 1484.12.1-2002 standard of educational metadata.
Communities of Practice: Communities of practice are groups that form to share what they know and to learn from one another regarding some aspects of their work. People in organizations often realize they could benefit from sharing their knowledge, in-sight, and experiences with others who have similar interests or goals. For the most part, this process of informal gathering and sharing of expertise is a voluntary.