An Open Learning Format for Lifelong Learners' Empowerment

An Open Learning Format for Lifelong Learners' Empowerment

Sabrina Leone (Università Politecnica delle Marche, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7365-4.ch010

Abstract

Open, lifelong, and ubiquitous learning, cloud computing, and smart city frameworks are the pillars of the change that is replacing the traditional education and work models and transforming the way crowds of people learn, communicate, collaborate, teamwork, produce value and growth for the entities of which they are part. This chapter presents the updated version of SSW4LL (social semantic web for lifelong learners), an adaptive, modular, flexible, and integrated learning format that has been devised to support the characterization of adult lifelong learners' PLEs by implicit and explicit tools of personalization, in a learner-centered framework. The SSW4LL system, the technological architecture, is presented as a whole made up of components of formal and informal learning environments: Moodle 2.9 integrated with an adaptive mechanism (conditional activities) and some tools of social semantic web, Semantic MediaWiki 2.3, Diigo, and Google+, respectively. The SSW4LL format was successfully validated during the course SSW4LL 2011.
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Introduction

Open learning and lifelong learning (LLL) are not new concepts in research literature (Brügelmann, 1975; Coffey, 1988; Kent, 1987). Anyhow, the current fervid debate is on the need for disruptive education at the light of the fundamental technological and societal changes that have occurred in recent decades (Stevens & Kirst, 2015). The whole life course is being reworked. Open, lifelong and ubiquitous learning, cloud computing and smart city frameworks are the pillars of the change that is replacing the traditional education and work models and transforming the way crowds of people learn, communicate, collaborate, teamwork, produce value and growth for the entities of which they are part (Leone & Biancofiore, 2015).

Education systems are urged to meet the growing demand for personalised learning paths, and individuals are driven to acquire awareness, tools and competences towards personal learning goals.

In particular, emerging practices with social semantic computing technologies and research findings signal the need for more personal, social and participatory approaches that foster learners in co-producing learning resources, rather in managing the learning process as a whole, and in pursuing personal life goals and needs. Indeed, learning occurs increasingly for the most part outside the traditional formal situations, especially for adult lifelong learners (European Commission/EACEA/ Eurydice, 2015).

In this regard, over the last years highlighting on the shift from formal to informal eLearning through knowledge management and sharing has been placed. Growing attention has been paid to Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) as an effective framework for lifelong learners, and to the need of integration of formal and informal learning. Formal teaching spaces are defined within Learning Management Systems (LMSs). Spaces agreed in informal learning communities, instead, are to be used by social software. They are aimed to build networks of virtual identities and to define PLEs of dynamic contents, based on continuous accesses, validations, dialogic exchanges. ELearning 2.0 has mediated the shift from formal to informal eLearning, from LMSs, which are organisation-centred spaces that overlook individual differences and potential, to PLEs as emerging learner-centred spaces.

A wider and wider range of open source and free learning applications on the web are offering lifelong learners powerful tools to construct and characterise their own PLEs.

Technologically speaking, this change of perspective manifests in a learning web where information, activities and relations are distributed across sites and web-based learning applications, of which social networks have become a key factor. Consequently, knowledge management becomes an issue, and personalisation requires the support of adaptive mechanisms and of semantics applied to social components.

This work presents the updated version of SSW4LL (Social Semantic Web for Lifelong Learners), an adaptive, modular, flexible and integrated learning format which has been devised to support the characterisation of adult lifelong learners’ PLEs by implicit and explicit tools of personalisation, in a learner-centred framework (Leone, 2013; 2014; 2015). The SSW4LL system, the technological architecture, is presented as a whole made up of components of formal and informal learning environments: Moodle 2.9 integrated with an adaptive mechanism (conditional activities) and some tools of Social Semantic Web (Semantic MediaWiki 2.3, Diigo and Google+), respectively. The SSW4LL format was successfully validated during the course SSW4LL 2011.

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