Paving the Way for Lifelong Learning: Facilitating competence development through a learning path specification

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisThesis 1: fully internal

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    Efficient and effective lifelong learning requires that learners can make well informed decisions regarding the selection of a learning path, i.e. a set of learning actions that help attain particular learning goals. In recent decades a strong emphasis on lifelong learning has led educational provision to expand and to become more varied and flexible. Besides, the role of informal learning has become increasingly acknowledged. In light of these developments this thesis addresses the question: How to support learners in finding their way through all available options and selecting a learning path that best fit their needs? The thesis describes two different approaches regarding the provision of way finding support, which can be considered complementary. The first, inductive approach proposes to provide recommendations based on indirect social interaction: analysing the paths followed by other learners and feeding this information back as advice to learners facing navigational decisions. The second, prescriptive approach proposes to use a learning path specification to describe both the contents and the structure of any learning path in a formal and uniform way. This facilitates comparison and selection of learning paths across institutions and systems, but also enables automated provision of way finding support for a chosen learning path. Moreover, it facilitates automated personalisation of a learning path, i.e. adapting the learning path to the needs of a particular learner. Following the first approach a recommender system was developed and tested in an experimental setting. Results showed use of the system significantly enhanced effectiveness of learning. In line with the second approach a learning path specification was developed and validated in three successive evaluations. Firstly, an investigation of lifelong learners’ information needs. Secondly, an evaluation of the specification through a reference (sample) implementation: a tool to describe learning paths according to the specification. Finally, an evaluation of the use and purpose of this tool involving prospective end-users: study advisors and learning designers. Following the various evaluations the Learning Path Specification underwent some changes over time. Results described in this thesis show that the proposed approach of the Learning Path Specification and the reference implementation were well received by end-users.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Open Universiteit: faculties and services
    • Koper, Evert , Supervisor
    • Berlanga Flores, Adriana, Co-supervisor
    Award date17 Sept 2010
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2010


    • learning path specification
    • model quality
    • study advice
    • pragmatic quality
    • learning technology standards
    • navigational support
    • recommender system
    • thesis


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