Challenges in Developing Adaptive Educational Hypermedia Systems

Challenges in Developing Adaptive Educational Hypermedia Systems

Eileen O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland) and Liam O'Donnell (Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7365-4.ch017
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The purpose of adaptive educational hypermedia systems (AEHS) is to provide each learner with learning experiences that have been specially tailored to their specific learning requirements. While the concept of AEHS appears promising, AEHS are very complex systems to design and develop. This chapter reviews a few of the challenges encountered in the design and development of these complex systems and some of the challenges encountered by educators who propose to use AEHS with their students. A number of the skills required by educators to develop positive learning experiences are discussed. In order to successfully use AEHS, educators must decide on what student characteristics to base the adaptive elements of the course. Educators may feel challenged to show the impact that AEHS can have on the learning experience. Educators may have a dilemma in deciding to allow or not to allow (1) student access to their user model and (2) students to edit their user model. Further research is required to explore why AEHS have not yet impacted education as initially expected.
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“Adaptive hypermedia systems build a model of the goals, preferences and knowledge of each individual user, and use this model throughout the interaction with the user, in order to adapt to the needs of that user” (Brusilovsky, 2001, p. 87). AEHS build a model of each individual student, and use the information from this model to determine the adaptive learning experiences to be created for each student.

The following sections provide more information on AEHS and include definitions of the terms Adaptive Education (AE), Adaptive Educational Hypermedia (AEH) and Adaptive Educational Hypermedia Systems (AEHS). E-learning and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) pertain to various forms of teaching and learning through the use of technology (O’Donnell & O’Donnell, 2015) and access to the Internet. TEL in the context of this article can be used synonymously with E-Learning. AEHS is a form of E-Learning which goes beyond the “one size fits all” approach to E-Learning by adapting the content to suit the learning requirements of individual learners.

Adaptive Education (AE)

Adaptive Education (AE) can be defined as an educational experience that adapts to suit the learning requirements of each individual learner. The purpose of AE is to provide learners with learning resources which have been specially selected to suit their specific learning needs.

Adaptive Educational Hypermedia (AEH)

AEH is electronic content which can be used in the provision of adaptive education. Software developers and educational providers are continuously exploring how technology can be used to enhance the learning experience of students.

In a study of AEH authoring tools, Gaffney, Staikopoulos, O’Keeffe, Conlan, and Wade (2014) suggest that “AEH authoring tools have however not been as successfully adopted as was initially expected” (p. 416). Further research is required to explore why AEH authoring tools have not been as successfully adopted as initially expected.

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