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Durham e-Theses
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Technologies to enhance self-directed learning from hypertext

AlAgha, Iyad Mohammed (2009) Technologies to enhance self-directed learning from hypertext. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



With the growing popularity of the World Wide Web, materials presented to learners in the form of hypertext have become a major instructional resource. Despite the potential of hypertext to facilitate access to learning materials, self-directed learning from hypertext is often associated with many concerns. Self-directed learners, due to their different viewpoints, may follow different navigation paths, and thus they will have different interactions with knowledge. Therefore, learners can end up being disoriented or cognitively-overloaded due to the potential gap between what they need and what actually exists on the Web. In addition, while a lot of research has gone into supporting the task of finding web resources, less attention has been paid to the task of supporting the interpretation of Web pages. The inability to interpret the content of pages leads learners to interrupt their current browsing activities to seek help from other human resources or explanatory learning materials. Such activity can weaken learner engagement and lower their motivation to learn. This thesis aims to promote self-directed learning from hypertext resources by proposing solutions to the above problems. It first presents Knowledge Puzzle, a tool that proposes a constructivist approach to learn from the Web. Its main contribution to Web-based learning is that self-directed learners will be able to adapt the path of instruction and the structure of hypertext to their way of thinking, regardless of how the Web content is delivered. This can effectively reduce the gap between what they need and what exists on the Web. SWLinker is another system proposed in this thesis with the aim of supporting the interpretation of Web pages using ontology based semantic annotation. It is an extension to the Internet Explorer Web browser that automatically creates a semantic layer of explanatory information and instructional guidance over Web pages. It also aims to break the conventional view of Web browsing as an individual activity by leveraging the notion of ontology-based collaborative browsing. Both of the tools presented in this thesis were evaluated by students within the context of particular learning tasks. The results show that they effectively fulfilled the intended goals by facilitating learning from hypertext without introducing high overheads in terms of usability or browsing efforts.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2009
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:26

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