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Conceiving and Implementing a language-oriented approach for the design of automated learning scenarios

Abstract : Aiming at developing learning applications, the e-learning communities have recently made a profound switch in their modus operandi. Instead of following prescriptive processes leading to turn-key applications reflecting an envisaged learning scenario, as in traditional ISD processes, learning designers now make use of Educational Modeling Languages (EML), provided by standard setting bodies along with the required tooling, so they can build their own applications. Being at close range to practitioners, learning designers will be able to build tailored applications in a fraction of the time required by traditional ISD and in a much more flexible approach - since no programming is needed.

However this flexibility is limited. EMLs present a fixed vocabulary, permitting its elements to be arranged to create an instance of a scenario, but disallowing the addition of new concepts - in case existing ones do not satisfy. Since EMLs, as epitomized by the IMS-LD specification, intend to capture all aspects of educational phenomena, they tend to become either too complex or too inexpressive - in the first case becoming unwieldy for tackling any particular scenario and in the second, failing to conveniently express any reasonably rich scenario. Furthermore, it is claimed on this thesis that any particular EML cannot represent but a single aspect of learning scenarios, which in real life are multi-dimensional and always open to diverse interpretations by different people.

So, this thesis sustains that the single EML approach is fundamentally flawed, and proposes an alternative one, called multi-EML, which empowers learning designers with the possibility of formulating the very conceptualization of their problems, by allowing them to create their own EML reflecting their specific requirements - as opposed to just rearrange the concepts of a fixed language. In sum, the Multi-EML approach enables:

1. capturing the knowledge of domain experts in informal notations (particularly using design patterns for education, or pedagogical patterns);
2. starting from these original descriptions, to build formal models (or EMLS) representing their specific requirements;
3. generating full-fledged applications driven by the formal models.

A prototype has been developed that implements these ideas. To permit automated scenarios to be as expressive as possible of real life learning experiments, the prototype enables those who best know their specific fields -i.e. the domain experts - to take part in the development efforts, by participating in any of the three steps above.

Particularly for the third step - which corresponds to developing software applications -, this can only be possible if we succeed in abstracting out all computer related idioms and in offering practitioners a programming environment that requires only the knowledge of their own domains, an idea that Martin Fowler calls "lay programming".

Taking all three steps, designers will be allowed to go from an informal description to an executable application, which will be automatically generated. This is only feasible thanks to recent developments in software engineering, and particularly to the Language Oriented Programming (or LOP), a new programming paradigm that counts technologies like OMG's Model Driven Architecture (MDA), the Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF) and Microsoft's Software Factories amongst its most famous implementations.

As the result of bringing the power of LOP into the world of learning application design, we expect a significant increase in the expressiveness of the scenarios and a reduction in the development life-cycle of learning applications. It is envisaged that the multi-EML approach will afford learning applications to be created as a direct extension of the user experience.
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Contributor : César Moura <>
Submitted on : Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 2:28:56 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, February 21, 2019 - 10:52:45 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-00156874, version 1



César Moura. Conceiving and Implementing a language-oriented approach for the design of automated learning scenarios. Génie logiciel [cs.SE]. Université des Sciences et Technologie de Lille - Lille I, 2007. Français. ⟨tel-00156874⟩



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