Enrichment of Geographic Information Based on Gazetteers: An experiment in Massive Open Online Courses

Enrichment of Geographic Information Based on Gazetteers: An experiment in Massive Open Online Courses

Vladimir Luna (Centro de Investigación en Computación, Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), Mexico City, Mexico), Fred Fonseca (Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA), Clodoveu A. Davis Jr. (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil), Rolando Quintero (Centro de Investigación en Computación, Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), Mexico City, Mexico) and Imelda Escamilla (Centro de Investigación en Computación, Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), Mexico City, Mexico)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/IJKSR.2016010103
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Abstract

A large amount of geographic information is contained in text documents available in the Web. For instance, forum messages posted by students in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) may contain references to places. Unfortunately, this information is not exploited, although it can be useful to further understand the topics of the courses. Therefore, the authors propose an approach to instantly provide additional information to MOOC students about geographic features found in publications at course forums. The results are displayed through our tool, ORBIS, which automatically highlights the geographic entities in the texts. With this tool, the student gets access to additional information in the same environment, without disruption, interacting with maps and spatial relationships with other entities. Information on locations mentioned in text is obtained from queries posted to the gazetteer Linked OntoGazetteer. The authors applied their prototype to the students' posts in the forum space for the Geo-MOOC titled Maps and the Geospatial Revolution course, offered by the Pennsylvania State University.
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1. Introduction

Geospatial technologies and information have become ubiquitous nowadays [Goodchild 2006, Riihelä, J., & Mäki, S., 2015]. The geospatial competences required to view and manipulate spatial data and to adequately use geospatial technologies are increasingly sought after by employers [Riihelä, J., & Mäki, S., 2015]. Given the growing importance and recognition of these competences, Geographic Information System and Technologies (GIS&T) concepts are taught in various education frameworks: (1) Traditional on-campus education offering academic GIS degrees; (2) online distance learning programs leading to academic degrees and certificates [Goodchild, 2006]; and (3) open, mostly non-credit, geospatial education courses aiming at making GIS concepts and technologies accessible and understandable to as many people as possible for free.

The number of open courses designed to introduce GIS&T concepts to learners with different professional backgrounds, age and educations has increased tremendously over the last years, such is the case of MOOCs [Belgiu et al., 2015].

A large amount of geographic information is contained in text documents available in the Web, such as forums messages posted by students in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) may contain references to places. MOOCs environments (i.e. Coursera1, Udacity2, Udemy3, etc.) apply interactive discussion forums where instructors and students can ask questions, discuss ideas, provide help to or even socialize with other students [Yang et al., 2014]. Unfortunately, this information is not exploited, although it and can be useful to further understand the topics of the courses.

If forums could automatically highlight the geographic entities in the texts and gets access to additional information in the same environment, without disruption, interacting with maps, demographic data, and spatial relationships with other entities, it would make it more convenient to students to get additional information about an entity and even to encourage students and decrease the number of dropouts [Yang et al., 2013].

In this work, we propose an approach to instantly provide additional information to MOOC students about geographic features found in publications at course forums to further understand the topics of the courses. To do this, we apply our prototype ORBIS, which is a web tool that automatically highlights the geographic entities in the texts. With this tool, the student gets access to additional information in the same environment, without disruption, interacting with maps, demographic data, and spatial relationships with other entities. Information on locations mentioned in text is obtained from queries posted to the gazetteer Linked OntoGazetteer [Moura, 2015]. The gazetteer Linked OntoGazetteer (LoG) is able to hold semantically rich relationships between places and other entities. The reference data used by LoG are obtained from online sources that publish data according to Linked Data (Sources of information like GeoNames4, DBPedia5, Freebase6 and Linked GeoData7).

Finally, we applied our prototype to the students’ posts in the forum space for the Geo-MOOC titled Maps and the Geospatial Revolution course, offered by the Pennsylvania State University.

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