September 29 or 30, Nice, France

Creating and Delivering Adaptive Course Material through GRAPPLE

Tutorial at the European Conference on Technology-Enhanced Learning (EC-TEL'2009)

The GRAPPLE Project

The GRAPPLE project (Generic Responsive Adaptive Personalized Learning Environment) aims at delivering to learners a Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) environment that guides them through a life-long learning experience, automatically adapting to personal preferences, prior knowledge, skills and competences, learning goals and the personal or social context in which the learning takes place. The same TEL environment can be used/accessed at home, school, work or on the move (using mobile/handheld devices). GRAPPLE includes authoring tools that enable educators to provide adaptive learning material to the learners, including adaptive interactive components (visualizations, simulations, virtual reality). Authoring includes creating or importing content, assigning or extracting meaning from that content, designing learning activities and defining pedagogical properties of and adaptation strategies for the content and activities. To ensure the wide adoption of adaptation in TEL GRAPPLE works with several Open Source and commercial Learning Management Systems (LMSs).

The core technoloties used in this project are: a) graphical authoring tools for creating a conceptual representation of an adaptive application (or course text), b) a powerful generic adaptive delivery engine, also called GRAPPLE Adaptive Learning Environment (GALE), which is looselyintegrated into different LMSs in a generic way, c) a distributed GRAPPLE User Model Framework (GUMF) to enable different components to share user model information (used for adaptation), d) a communication infrastructure for the different components, built around the GRAPPLE event bus, and e) a single sign-on facility based on Shibboleth.

Within GRAPPLE 15 partners are working together to make adaptive course delivery become a reality for teachers (and institutes) using a variety of LMSs. Several LMS suppliers are in the consortium to ensure that this potential is actually realized and reaches the market. So the tutorial will teach you how to create adaptive courses using technology that will actually become available within LMSs in the near future.

Target Audience

This tutorial is mainly aimed at educators who wish to start offering adaptive course material. The Adaptive Learning Environment GALE can be used independent of an LMS (or other GRAPPLE components) so also educators whose institute does not use a (supported) LMS can make use of GALE. The tutorial is also interesting for researchers who wish to study adaptive course delivery methods and techniques and may wish to use the GRAPPLE environment (or just GALE) as a base technology to build their own extensions on. The software is open source and very extensible.

Tutorial Topics

  1. During this tutorial we will learn to define a domain model (DM) for a course, consisting of concepts with properties, and semantic relationships. (The domain model is comparable to an ontology.) Pedagogical relationships between concepts, such as prerequisites, can be defined (as concept relationship types) and used to define a conceptual adaptation model (CAM). In GRAPPLE a course (or parts of a course) can be created in different ways (which we will all try out):
    • An author can define page templates with placeholders for different information fragments or objects. Each concept has properties defining the content for these information fragments (either defining text or specifying the URI of a file containing the information). Courses created this way have a uniform structure, (or a number of presentation structures) but the fragments may be conditionally included (or excluded) depending on the needs of the learner.
    • An author can write entire pages and associate them to concepts. This allows every page to be differently structured (or unstructured). Pages can contain conditionally included fragments or objects.
  2. In GRAPPLE courses are presented as hypermedia, which means that learning objects or information pages are connected through links. These links are adaptively annotated depending on their suitability for the learner. As an author you can define how the link annotation works and how it is presented to the learner. You can also define an overall layout, adding automatically generated parts such as an (accordion) navigation menu.
  3. Besides creating the conceptual and pedagogical structure of a course in this tutorial we also learn how to serve the course through some of the supported LMSs. The GRAPPLE adaptation engine GALE works with the open source LMSs Moodle, Sakai and Claroline (and with some commercial systems not shown during the tutorial). Learning performed within GALE is visible within the LMS and activities within the LMS (like taking a test or getting grades for an assignment) can influence the adaptation that happens in GALE. We learn how to set up the User Model Framework GUMF to define the communication between the LMS and GALE in terms of data transformations that may be needed.

About the Tutor: Prof. dr. Paul De Bra

Paul De Bra is full professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology (Eindhoven, the Netherlands). He has initiated research in adaptive hypermedia leading up to the most referenced AHAM reference model for adaptive hypermedia and the most widely used open source AHA! adaptive hypermedia system. He is also the initiator and coordinator of the GRAPPLE project. He has many years of experience in teaching about adaptive systems and in training authors of adaptive courses (formerly using AHA!, but as of now using the GRAPPLE environment).

Vital information for attendees

Attendees of this tutorial must register through the EC-TEL conference website. In order to participate actively in the hands-on parts of the tutorial the attendees should bring their own (laptop) computer. The GRAPPLE software can be installed and used on Windows, MacOS X and different flavors of Unix/Linux. Attendees will receive detailed handouts and access to on-line adaptive training material.