(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 10, No.

9, September 2012

Contextual Ontology for Delivering Learning Material in an Adaptive E-learning System
Kalla. Madhu Sudhana Dr V. Cyril Raj
Head, Dept of Computer Science Dr M.G.R University Chennai, India hod-cse@drmgrdu.ac.in

Research Scholar, Dept of Computer Science
St. Peter’s University Chennai, India kallamadhu1@yahoo.com

Abstract— The rapid growth of internet technology and the explosion of learning material in educational domain are leading to the next generation E-learning applications that exploit user contextual information to provide a richer experience. One of the activities to perform during the development of these contextaware E-learning applications is to define a model to represent and manage context information. In this work, the model for Context-aware and adaptive learning system has been proposed and introduces context ontology, to model context-related knowledge that allows the system to deliver learning material by adapting learner context in an adaptive learning system.

the appropriate presentation method along with the user preferences. Here we discuss the general notion of context as well as how it can be specified and modeled in E-learning domain. The architecture of context-aware and adaptive learning system is discussed along with the context ontology to model contextrelated knowledge. This article is organized as follows. In the second and third sections, we study the background concepts and related works to his paper. In section four the need for the proposed system is mentioned. In sections five and six, we describe the architecture of proposed adaptive learning system and the ontology based context model for adaptive delivery of learning material. II. BACKGROUND

Keywords-component; Context aware e-learning; Adaptive Delivery of learning material; Ontology based context model



The explosion of learning material in educational domain are leading to develop E-learning applications, services, agents and recommender systems appeared to improve the quality of E-learning. Such systems were used in learning systems to provide the facilities during the learning process and help learners with a more accurate learning. These forces any Elearning application developed under the ambient intelligence paradigm to be aware of contextual information and to be able to automatically adapt to learner context. The development of context-aware E-learning applications should be supported by adequate context modeling and reasoning techniques [1]. Modeling context knowledge is a crucial task to support the delivery of the right information at each moment. The context of the learner and learning environment should be extracted for adaptation, personalization and anticipation of learning material that is suitable for learner. Current E-Learning solutions are not sufficiently aware of the context of the learner, that is the individual’s characteristics and the organizational context such as the work processes and tasks. The traditional E-Learning systems provide adaption based only on user preference, to improve performance, it is required to incorporate learning environmental context information such as the device or network context to determine

A. Context Context is a multifaceted concept that has been studied in multiple disciplines, each discipline tends to take its own idiosyncratic view that is somewhat different from other disciplines and is more specific than the standard generic dictionary definition of context as “conditions or circumstances which affect something” [2]. B. Learning Context The term learning context is used to describe the current situation of a learner related to a learning activity. In addition to attributes relying on the physical world model, like time and location, a variety of attributes described implicitly or explicitly might be added to the context. When using an appropriate context-modeling technique, the current situation might be compared with the requirements of any specific learning activity. C. Ontology According to Semantic Web led by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), ontology is a way to describe knowledge systematically; a typical and explicit specification about concepts and conceptualization, that is, it also defines concepts


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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 10, No. 9, September 2012

and relations required to describe meaning and information [3], [4].

D. Contextual Ontology Ontologies are one of the most functional means for representing contextual data. They map three basic concepts in a context model (classes, relationships and attributes) to the existing things in a domain [5]. The formalism of choice in ontology-based models of context information is typically OWL-DL [6] or some of its variations, since it is becoming a de-facto standard in various application domains, and it is supported by a number of reasoning services. By means of OWL-DL it is possible to model a particular domain by defining classes, properties and relations between individuals. III. RELATED WORKS

IV. NEED FOR THE PROPOSED SYSTEM The contextually aware environment aims to aid in this task, presenting the right information to the user. In order to achieve this, a system must have a thorough understanding of its environment, the preferences and devices that exist within it, the system must be able to identify where, and under what context each person is working. Our approach heavily relies on semantic modeling of the learner’s environment. For this purpose, we make use of ontology for modeling contextual knowledge of the learning environment to use them during the context aware adaption process. The Protégé 4.1 is used to create ontology for modeling contextual knowledge of the learner’s environment. V. PROPOSED SYSTEM

Particularly in mobile and pervasive environments there are different heterogeneous and distributed entities that must interact for exchanging users’ context information in order to provide adaptive services. To this end, various OWL ontologies have been proposed for representing shared descriptions of context data. Among the most prominent proposals are the SOUPA [7] ontology for modelling context in pervasive environments, and the CONON [8] ontology for smart home environments. Schmidt and Winterhalter [9] are using context to retrieve relevant learning object for a given user. The matching service computes a similarity measure between the current user context abstraction and the ontological metadata of each learning object and then can present a ranked list of relevant learning objects. It is a kind of active use of context intending to reconfigure available services (learning objects). Bomsdorf [10] developed a system prototype by allowing learning materials to be selected depending on a given situation – this takes into account learner profiles such as their location, time available for learning, concentration level and frequency of disruptions. Bouzeghoub et al. [11] proposed a situation-aware framework/mechanism which takes into account time, place, user knowledge, user activity, user environment and device capacity for adaptation to user. Lee et al. [12] developed a Java Learning Object Ontology for an adaptive learning tool to facilitate different learning strategies/paths for students, which can be chosen dynamically. Jane Yau and Mike Joy [13] described the architecture of Context-aware and Adaptive Learning Schedule (CALS) tool. This tool is able to automatically determine the contextual features such as the location and available time. The appropriate learning materials are selected for the students according to, firstly, the learner preferences, and secondly the contextual features.

The proposed context-aware and adaptive delivery system can be more usefully constructed in a fashion that is tailored specifically to academic e-learning environment for adaptive delivery of learning material. This may be achieved through integration of different contextual situations of academic elearning environment. The context aggregator collects all contextual information supplied by different context sources and provides an aggregated knowledge view. The representation and reasoning of contextual information in knowledge base is performed by means of Ontology represented in OWL format. The knowledge acquired from the ontological reasoner enables the system to suggest appropriate learning material to be delivered to the learner. In the proposed system the basic elements of context-aware and adaptive delivery process is made of three-steps as shown in “Fig. 1”.

Figure 1. Basic elements of context-aware and adaptive delivery process

A. Context Acquisition Before modeling the user context model, the most important point in context-aware applications is the acquisition of context information. There is no single way of determining a user’s context in E-learning. This mainly depends on the three strategies that we considered in the proposed system, such as details of learning device used by learner, what are the basic


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details of learner? And what are the personal preferences of learner? Therefore, in the proposed system context information acquisition includes three approaches that allows for plugging in different context sources as shown in diagram “Fig. 2”. These context perspectives are then integrated into a single context abstraction. Context sources could be:

context model is also a system of concepts (entities) and relations, so that the ontology is a possible mean for context modeling to specify the representation of contextual knowledge. An ontology is “formally defined”, is useful for a computer to interpret it, e.g. for reasoning purposes, and then the Rules can be used to implement context reasoning. In the proposed system ontology is formally represented in the OWL format.

Learner profile: First category is the information obtained from the learner’s profile such as location, qualification, organization etc. These factors require the learners to fill in before they participate in the course. Context detection service: the information obtained through device context detection service provides the details about the device being used by learner. User interface: In E-learning domain different users may prefer different orientation of learning, learning mode and subject area and so on, once the basic material provided to the learner the user interface provides environment to obtain the personal preferences of the user based on which the system will deliver the preferred material.

C. Adaptation Mechanism In E-Learning environments, we may provide Learning contents not only adaptive to learner, but also adaptive to learning environment. The learning environment may vary based on learning device, domain, Learner-Preference etc, so by incorporating the contextual knowledge in adaptive mechanism of E-Learning systems will make it more effective. The adaptive process based on context creates suitable content for learners according to contextual and situational data. Secondly, content adaptation process recodes original content into adapted contents according to the adaptive suggestion, from adaptive process. The proposed Contextaware adaptive content delivery model is as shown in “Fig. 3”.

Figure 2. “Context Adaptive System






B. Context Modeling In general, the context data may be from learner, learning environment, educational strategy and so on. The specification of all Contextual entities and relations between these entities are needed to describe the context as a whole. A

Figure 3. Proposed context ontology based Learning content delivery model


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We used an ontology-based context model for context representation. This model adopts OWL as the representation language to enable expressive context description and data interoperability with third-party services and applications and it is a W3C recommendation that employs web standards for information representation such as RDF and XML Schema. Because context ontologies have explicit representations of semantics, they can be reasoned by the available logic inference engines. Systems with the ability to reason about context can detect and resolve inconsistent context knowledge that often results from imperfect sensing. Here, we consider three categories of contextual information for the proposed system that are mentioned below, are mainly important and especially concerned to an adaptive E-learning systems based on which the proposed system can deliver the concerned learning material to the learner. Our ontology context model, which is a context aware learning environment made by OWL. It consists of three toplevel classes and twelve sub-classes, and contains fifteen main properties which describe the relations between individuals in top level class and its sub classes. “Fig. 4” shows that we comply with XML, RDF Schema and OWL as a part of the context model and give a definition of three top level classes. <rdf:RDF xmlns:owl ="http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#" xmlns:rdf ="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#" xmlns:rdfs="http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#" xmlns:xsd ="http://www.w3.org/2001/XLMSchema#"> <owl:Ontology rdf:about=""> <rdfs:comment>Learner OWL ontology</rdfs:comment> <rdfs:label>Learner Context Ontology</rdfs:label> </owl:Ontology> <owl:Class rdf:ID="Personal"> <rdfs:subClassOf rdf:resource="#Learner-Context"/> </owl:Class> <owl:Class rdf:ID="Device"> <rdfs:subClassOf rdf:resource="#Learner-Context"/> </owl:Class> <owl:Class rdf:ID="Preference"> <rdfs:subClassOf rdf:resource="#Learner-Context"/> </owl:Class> ------------------------------------</rdf:RDF>
Figure 4. A part of ontology expressions in context model

A. Learner-Context class This context class is the super class for all the contexts in Context Aware Learning environment. Any instance of the context class represents a conceptual context. Different contexts can be indexed hierarchically based on class hierarchy, such as Personal, Device and Preference as shown in “Fig. 5”.

Figure 5. Classes and subclasses relationships in context ontology

OWL defines the vocabulary of context model. It provides a mechanism to define adaptive -specific properties and classes of context to which those properties can be applied, using a set of basic modeling primitives (class, subclass, properties, domain, range, type). The context model can be specified using OWL encoding, Fig. 6(a) and, Fig. 6(b) shows that each statement is essentially a relation between an object (a class), an attribute (a property), and a value (a resource or free text).


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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 10, No. 9, September 2012

Fig. 6(c) shows an example OWL coding part for small part of our proposed ontology.
Classes Identity Personal Learner-Context (a) Object Property hasPersonalInfo hasIdentity Data type Property ID Username Password Value Type Xsd: string

<owl:DatatypeProperty rdf:about="ID"> <rdfs:domain rdf:resource="#Identity"/> <rdfs:range rdf:resource="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#string"/> </owl:DatatypeProperty> <owl:DatatypeProperty rdf:about="UserName"> <rdfs:domain rdf:resource="#Identity"/> <rdfs:range rdf:resource="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#string"/> </owl:DatatypeProperty> <owl:DatatypeProperty rdf:about="Password"> <rdfs:domain rdf:resource="#Identity"/> <rdfs:range rdf:resource="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#string"/> </owl:DatatypeProperty> </rdf:RDF>

Figure 6. (a) Few specifications of model, (b) The equivalent directed semantic graph, and (c) An example of OWL code. (b)

<rdf:RDF xmlns:owl ="http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#" xmlns:rdf ="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#" xmlns:rdfs="http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#" xmlns:xsd ="http://www.w3.org/2001/XLMSchema#"> <owl:Ontology rdf:about=""> <rdfs:comment>Learner OWL ontology</rdfs:comment> <rdfs:label>Learner Context Ontology</rdfs:label> </owl:Ontology> <owl:Class rdf:ID="Identity"> <rdfs:subClassOf rdf:resource="#Personal"/> </owl:Class> <owl:Class rdf:ID="Personal"> <rdfs:subClassOf rdf:resource="#Learner-Context"/> </owl:Class> <owl:ObjectProperty rdf:ID="hasIdentity"> <rdfs:domain rdf:resource="#Personal"/> <rdfs:range rdf:resource="#Identity"/> </owl:ObjectProperty> <owl:ObjectProperty rdf:ID="hasPersonalInfo"> <rdfs:domain rdf:resource="#Learner-Context"/> <rdfs:range rdf:resource="#Personal"/> </owl:ObjectProperty>

Personal: This ontology classes contains a wide categorization details provided by the learner in Learner Profile. It was created in order to facilitate the extraction of the user personal information. The user is requested to register and fill information in few forms with personal information.

1. Identity (e.g.: ID, Name or Registration-Number) 2.Organization(e.g.: Technical Institute, University or Research Organization) 3. Location (e.g.: City, State or Country name) 4. Role (e.g.: Student, Lecturer or Professor) 5. Goal (e.g.: Research, Survey, Quick Reference, Basic Introduction or Seminar) 6. Grade (e.g.: Beginner, Practitioner or Expert) 7. Qualification (e.g.: Bachelor, Master or Researcher) 8. Domain (e.g.: Computer Science, Agriculture etc) • Device: To be able to cover the device and software heterogeneities in a learning environment, we have included device context along with its sub-classes such as Hardware, Software and Network-Connectivity. It models knowledge about the different devices that are being used by learner.

1. Hardware (e.g.: Mobile, PC, Laptop or PDA) 2. Software (e.g.: Operating system, browser or audio and video encoding software) 3. Network-Connectivity (e.g.: Wired or Wireless) • Preference: In e-learning environment the category of learning material is an important context based on


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needs and interests under the context of personalization. The Preferences of learner is useful to select and deliver the suitable type of material based on Subject-Area, Mode-of-Learning (material format) and Learning Orientation. The user is requested to enter this information while interacting for learning material. 1. Subject-Area (e.g.: Data-Structure, Embedded Systems, neurology or Dental) 2. Mode-of-Learning (e.g.: Video, audio, textual or animation) 3. Orientation-of-Learning (e.g.: Case-Study, Example Oriented, problem-oriented or conceptual)






Schmidt A., C. Winterhalter (2004) “User Context Aware Delivery of ELearning Material: Approach and Architecture”, Journal of Universal Computer Science (JUCS), Vol. 10(1) pp. 28-36. Bomsdorf, B. (2005) Adaptation of Learning Spaces: Supporting Ubiquitous Learning in Higher Distance Education, Dagstuhl Seminar Proceedings 05181: Mobile Computing and Ambient Intelligence: The Challenge of Multimedia. Bouzeghoub, A.Do, K. and Lecocq, C. (2007) Contextual Adaptation of Learning Resources, IADIS International Conference Mobile Learning, pp. 41-48. Lee, M., Ye, D. and Wang, T. (2005) Java Learning Object Ontology, International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, pp. 538542. Jane Yau and Mike Joy. (ICALT 2007) Architecture of a Context-aware and Adaptive Learning Schedule for Learning Java. AUTHORS PROFILE

VII. CONCLUSION AND FUTURE WORK We have described our proposed model for Context-aware and Adaptive Learning system and introduced context ontology for E-Learning, to deliver learning material by adapting learner context and we are currently designing the system prototype which will be implemented and evaluated. To evaluate the system a small number of students will be employed to work with the system and to provide us with qualitative results. We believe that the primary advantages of our otologybased context model, contains a hierarchical content structure and semantic relationships between concepts. It can provide related and useful semantic based context information for searching learning material in context-based e-learning environment. VIII. REFERENCES
[1] [2] [3] [4] M Poveda-Villalon, M C Suárez-Figueroa, R García-Castro. (2010) A Context Ontology for Mobile Environments- oa.upm.es-2010. Webster, N., (1980) Webster’s new twentieth century dictionary of the English language. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. T. Berners-Lee, J. Hendler, and O. Lassila, (2001) “The Semantic Web,” Scientific American, May:17 2001, pp. 28-37. T. Gruber, (1995) “Toward Principals for the Design of Ontologies Used for Knowledge Sharing,” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Vol. 43. De Almeida, et al. (2006) Using Ontologies in Context-Aware Applications. Proc. of Database and Expert Systems, Poland. Horrocks, P. F. Patel-Schneider, F. van Harmelen. (2003) From SHIQ and RDF to OWL: The making of a web ontology language, Journal of Web Semantics 1 (1) 7–26. H. Chen, F. Perich, T. W. Finin, A. Joshi. (2004) SOUPA: Standard Ontology for Ubiquitous and Pervasive Applications, in: 1st Annual International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Systems, IEEE Computer Society, 2004. D. Zhang, T. Gu, X.Wang. (2005) Enabling Context-aware Smart Home with Semantic Technology, International Journal of Human-friendly Welfare Robotic Systems 6 (4), pp. 12–20.

Dr. V. Cyril Raj received Bachelor degree in Electronics and Communication, Master degree in Computer Science and Engineering and PhD from Jadavpur University. He is currently Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Dr. MGR University, Chennai, India. He has published number of papers in national and international conferences, seminars and journals and author of many text books. At present many members are doing research work under his guidance in different areas. His research interests include Bioinformatics, SemanticWeb, Computer Networks and Data Mining.

[5] [6]



Kalla.Madhu Sudhana received Bachelor degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University, Bangalore and Master degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Dr. MGR University, Chennai. He worked as Assistant Professor in many Engineering Colleges. Currently he is a research scholar in Department of Computer Science and Engineering, St. Peter's University, Chennai, India. His research interests are Ontology, Semantic-Web and E-learning.


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