Semantic Technologies and e-Learning: towards an entity-centric approach for Learning Management Systems
In the past, the application of semantic technologies to educational settings attracted a lot of attention, in particular regarding those approaches and software tools able to enrich, categorize and retrieve learning objects. In this paper we present a different perspective, specifically the evolution of a traditionally engineered learning platform into a semantic-enabled application. The semantic enrichment addresses two issues: a) the unique identification of entities inside the contents and b) adding new features to the platform without refactoring it through the usage of semantic representation of information. We believe that these two modifications are missing elements for semantic learning, and in order to apply these changes, we integrated our Virtual communities platform with the entity-centric tools developed in the Okkam EU-funded project. Okkam tools provide a solution to uniquely identifying entities inside data and contents, specifically using the Entity Name System (ENS), which supplies a persistent identifier, called OKKAMid, to any entity included in the dataset and advanced entity matching methods for detecting the occurrence of the same entity in different contexts. This allows a deeper connection between entities’ information available inside content, inside the platform and outside the platform. Once the entity in the LMS has been profiled, it is possible to connect any content where the different occurrences of the same entity have been used, and also to connect any other content outside the learning platform where that entity has been identified, for example web pages or social networks. Furthermore, we extended a domain ontology (SIOC) for the conceptual representation needs of the application, and created an RDF graph mapped onto the database in order to add new functionalities to our virtual community platform, taking advantage of the inference processes available through a reasoner and substituting some parts of the business logic of the application.