Web Learning with Nestor: The Building of a New Pedagogical Process

Web Learning with Nestor: The Building of a New Pedagogical Process

Liliane Esnault (E. M. LYON, France) and Romain Zeilinger (GATE-CNRS, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-60-5.ch006


When designing a new computer-supported course, special attention has to be devoted to the design of human-computer interaction (HCI). When the course is Web-based and thus takes the form of an hypermedia, then navigation issues are some of the main concerns in the course HCI design : Special attention should be given to the design of the course structure and to the navigation features which very often come as an outcome. This is even more important in the educational domain where learners are novices in the domain to be learned, and thus, efficient navigational aids cannot be based on their knowledge of the domain structure. This is a key recommendation when the course is a stand-alone closed hypermedia corpus. But more and more often, new Web-based courses take advantage of interesting resources which can be found on the Web and tend to let the learner free to wander on the open Web. Then a smart design of the course navigation model, although still crucial, is not sufficient. New navigation aids have to be incorporated in the browser itself. For this purpose, we have developed NESTOR, a new Web browser which provides learners with means allowing them to organize their navigational experience. NESTOR’s approach is to provide an interactive, stimulating environment where the learner’s expertise is deployed, rather than drawing on knowledge held in some expert model as in a knowledge-based system. In that view, we suggest that NESTOR promotes a constructivist approach to Web navigation support. Experimentation of NESTOR at EM-Lyon has been conducted during the last school-year in the domain of information and IT management in network companies with a population of a hundred graduate students. A specific Web-based course called “The Net Comp@ny” has been developed for this purpose. Both the constructivist approach which underlies the NESTOR software, and the pedagogical approach which was chosen to teach the domain combine and lead to the building of a new Web-based pedagogical process. As coined by Kaptelinin with much soundness, the design of a new software tool ultimately amounts to the design of a new activity.

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