This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Ben K. DANIEL1, Gordon I. McCALLA1, Richard A. SCHWIER2 ARIES Research Laboratory1 Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan Educational Communication and Technology2, University of Saskatchewan 3 Campus Drive, S7N 5A4, Saskatoon, Canada
Abstract. This paper describes the use of content analysis and Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) techniques aimed at modelling social capital (SC) in virtual learning communities (VLCs). An initial BBN model of online SC based on previous work is presented. Transcripts drawn from two VLCs were analysed and inferences were drawn to build scenarios to train and update the model. The paper presents three main contributions. First, it extends the understanding of SC to VLCs. Second; it offers a methodology for studying SC in VLCs. Third the paper presents a computational model of SC that can be used in the future to understand various social issues critical to effective interactions in VLCs.
1. Introduction Social capital (SC) has recently emerged as an important interdisciplinary research area. SC is frequently used as a framework for understanding various social networking issues in physical communities and distributed groups. Researchers in the social sciences and humanities have used SC to understand trust, shared understanding, reciprocal relationships, social network structures, etc. Despite such research, little has been done to investigate SC in virtual learning communities (VLCs). SC in VLCs can be defined as a web of positive or negative relationships within a group. Research into SC in physical communities shows that SC allows people to cooperate and resolve shared problems more easily . Putnam  has pointed out that SC greases the wheel that allows communities to advance smoothly. Prusak and Cohen  have further suggested that when people preserve continuous interaction, they can sustain SC which can in turn enable them to develop trusting relationships. Further, in VLCs, SC can enable people to make connections with other individuals in other communities . SC also helps individuals manage and filter relevant information and can enable people in a community to effectively communicate with each other and share knowledge .
This paper describes the use of content analysis and Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) techniques to develop a model of SC in VLCs. An initial BBN model for SC based on previous work  is presented. Transcripts of interaction drawn from two VLCs were used to train and validate the model. Changes in the model were observed and results are discussed. 2. Content Analysis The goal of content analysis is to determine the presence of words, concepts, and patterns within a large body of text or sets of texts . Content analysis involves the application of systematic and replicable techniques for compressing a large body of text into few categories based on explicit rules of coding  . Researchers have used content analysis to understand data generated from interaction in computermediated collaborative learning environments   . Themes, sentences, paragraphs, messages, and propositions are normally used for categorizing texts and they are treated as the basic units of analysis . In addition, the various units of analysis can serve as coding schemes enabling researchers to break down dialogues into meaningful concepts that can be further studied. The variations in coding schemes and levels of analysis often create reliability and validity problems. Furthermore, content analysis approaches are generally cumbersome and labour intensive. However, a combination of content analysis and machine learning techniques can help to model dependency relationships and causal relationships among data. 2.1. Using Bayesian Belief Networks to Build Models In artificial intelligence in education (AIED) models are used for diagnosing learners to enable the building of tools to support learning . Models can also be used to represent various educational systems. Barker  summarized three uses of models within AIED: models as scientific tools for understanding learning problems; models as components of educational systems; and models as educational artefacts. A Bayesian Belief Networks (BBN) is one of the techniques for building models. BBNs are directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) composed of nodes and directed arrows . Nodes in BBNs represent random variables and the directed edges (arrows) between pairs of nodes indicate relationships among the variables. BBNs can be used for making qualitative inferences without the computational inefficiencies of traditional joint probability determinations . Researchers have used BBN techniques for various purposes. For example BBNs have been used for student modelling  and user modelling . We have begun to investigate how BBNs can model SC in virtual communities .
3. Modelling Social Capital in Virtual Learning Communities The procedure for examining SC in VLC first involved synthesis of previous and current research on SC in physical communities, singling out the most important variables and establishing logical relationships among the variables. The main variables include: the type of community, attitudes, interaction, shared understanding, demographic cultural awareness, professional cultural awareness, task knowledge awareness, and individual capability awareness, norms, and trust. We represented various degrees of influence by the letters S (strong), M (medium), and W (weak). The signs + and - represent positive and negative relationships. The relationships among the variables were mapped into a BBN for SC (see figure 1).
Table 1. presents the key variables of SC and their definitions Variable Name Interaction Variable Definition A mutual or reciprocal action between two or more agents determined by the number of messages sent and received Individuals' general perception about each other and others' actions The type of environment, tools, goals, and tasks that define the group A mutual agreement/consensus between two or more agents about the meaning of an object Knowledge of people, tasks, or environment and or all of the above Knowledge of an individual: country of origin, language and location Knowledge of people’s background training, affiliation etc. Knowledge about an individual’s capabilities, competencies, and skills Knowledge of people’s competences and skills in regards to performing a particular task The mutually agreed upon, acceptable and unacceptable ways of behaviour in a community Variable States Present/Absent
Virtual learning community (VLC) and Distributed community of practice (DCoP) High/Low
Shared Understanding Awareness
Demographic Awareness Professional Cultural Awareness Competence Awareness Capability Awareness
A particular level of certainty or confidence with which an agent use to assess the action of another agent.
Figure 1. The Initial Model of Social Capital in Virtual Learning Communities 
3.1. Computing the Initial Probability Values The probability values were obtained through adding weights to the values of the variables depending on the number of parents and the strength of the relationship between particular parents and children. For example, if there are positive relationships between two variables, the weights associated with each degree of influence are determined by establishing a threshold value associated with each degree of influence. The threshold values correspond to the highest probability value that a child could reach under a certain degree of influence from parents. For instance if Attitudes and Interactions have positive and strong (S+) relationships with Knowledge Awareness, the evidence of positive interactions and positive attitudes will produce a conditional probability value for Knowledge Awareness of 0.98 (threshold value for strong = 0.98). The weights were obtained by subtracting a base value (1 / number of parents, 0.5 in this case) from the threshold value associated to the degree of influence and dividing the result by the number of parents (i.e. (0.98 - 0.5) / 2 = 0.48 / 2 = 0.24). Table 2 shows the threshold values and weights used in this example. Since it is more likely that a certain degree of uncertainty can exist, a value of α = 0.02 leaves some room for uncertainty when considering evidence coming from positive and strong relationships.
Table 2. Threshold values and weights with two parents Degree of influence Strong Medium Weak Thresholds 1-α = 1 - 0.02 = 0.98 0.8 0.6 Weights (0.98-0.5) / 2 = 0.48 / 2 = 0.24 (0.8-0.5) / 2 =0.3 / 2 = 0.15 (0.6-0.5) / 2 =0.1 / 2 = 0.05
3.2. Testing the Bayesian Belief Network Model In order to experiment with the model developed in , further scenarios were developed based on results obtained from studying two different virtual communities. One community, see you see me (CUCME), involved a group of individuals who regularly interacted on various issues using textual and visual technologies (video-cams). In the CUCME community there were no explicit goals but instead individuals were drawn together on a regular basis to interact socially. Themes that emerged from the analysis of the transcripts included economics, social issues, politics, food, religion, and technology etc. Table 3 shows the number of messages in each category found in the transcripts, their percentage of the whole, and the mean.
Table 3. Frequency of messages observed in relation to each variable in the CUCME VC Variable Name Demographic Awareness Economic Food Information Exchange Social Technology Community Language Hospitality Use of Simile Interaction Total Frequency 17 14 12 7 45 7 50 33 21 406 612 Percentage 2.77 2.28 1.96 1.14 7.35 1.14 8.16 5.39 3.43 66.33 99.95
The second community we studied consisted of graduate students learning theories and philosophies of educational technology. Unlike the first community, students in this community occasionally met face-to-face and they had explicit learning goals (complete course requirements) and
protocols (set by the instructor of the course) of interactions. Bulletin boards and email were also used for interaction. The results of the analysis of the transcripts of this community’s interactions were broken down into themes and are summarised in table 4.
Table 4. Frequency of messages observed in relation to each variable in the VLC Variable Name Interaction Professional Awareness Knowledge Awareness Sociocultural Awareness Technology Hospitality Shared Understanding Information exchange Social Protocols Total Frequency 100 15 8 14 15 59 117 656 112 1096 Percentage 9.12 1.36 0.72 1.27 1.36 5.38 10.67 59.85 10.21 99.94
4. Results and Discussion The various themes that emerged from the analysis of the transcripts taken from interawere used to develop a number of scenarios which in turn were used to tweak the probability values in the model. A scenario refers to a written synopsis of inferences drawn from the results of the transcripts. A scenario was developed from the CUCME findings based on the following observations: high of interaction, high value of demographic awareness. The values of interaction, demographic awareness were tweaked in the initial model to reflect positive state and present state respectively. Our goal was to observe the level of shared understanding in the BBN model using the scenario described above. After tweaking the variables based on the scenario, the model was updated. The results showed an increase in the posterior probability values of shared understanding i.e. P (shared understanding) = 0.915. And since shared understanding is also a parent of trust and SC, the probabilities of trust and SC have correspondingly increased P (trust) = 0.92 and P (SC) = 0.75. Similarly, evidence of negative interaction and negative attitudes in the CUCME community decreased the probabilities of P (shared understanding) = 0.639, P (trust) = 0.548 and P (SC) = 0.311. The results demonstrate dependency between the three variables. In the second VLC (the graduate course) only five variables that were dominant in the BBN model (interaction, professional awareness, knowledge awareness, shared understanding and social protocols) were inferred from the results, and scenarios were developed around those variables. For example we want to examine the level of SC in a
community with a high level of interaction (meaning that interaction is positive), and where individuals are exposed to each other well enough to know who knows what and works where, but are not aware of the demographic backgrounds of participants (various forms of awareness). Setting these variables in the model, we obtained, P (shared understanding) = 0.758, P (trust) = 0.899 and P (SC) = 0.717. The increase in the probabilities of shared understanding, trust and SC in this community given various kinds of awareness, but not demographic awareness, can be explained by the fact that this community has explicit learning goals, and that individuals are able to develop trusting relationship based on the information about what individuals know and are capable of doing rather than demographic information (where an individual is from etc.). 5. Conclusion Using content analysis and BBN techniques, we have demonstrated how to model SC in VLCs. We have also shown how to update the model using scenarios that can be developed from the results obtained from natural interactions in virtual communities. Inferences from the posterior probabilities obtained from the scenaros suggest that within a specific type of virtual community, the level of SC can vary according to the level of shared understanding. Further, different forms of awareness seem to have different degrees of influence on SC. For example, in the CUCME demographic awareness seems to be an influential factor in the variation of SC. Moreover, in the graduate course VLC, where there are explicit goals and limited time to achieve those goals, members can be motivated to participate and engage in knowledge sharing activities and so demographic awareness can have a little influence on SC. The Bayesian model presented in this paper adequately represented the scenarios developed from the results obtained from the two data sets. We are continuing to analyse interaction patterns in other VLCs, and will develop more scenarios to refine our model. Acknowledgement
We would like to thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERCC) as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) for their financial support for this research.
 M. Baker (2000). The roles of models in Artificial Intelligence and Education research: A prospective view. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education (11),123-143.  B. Barros & F. Verdejo (2000). Analysing students interaction processes in order to improve collaboration. The DEGREE approach. International Journal of artificial inteligence in education, (11), pp. 221-241
 B.K. Daniel, R.A. Schwier & G. I. McCalla (2003). Social capital in virtual learning communities and distributed communities of practice. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 29(3), 113-139.  B.K. Daniel, D. J. Zapata-Rivera & G. I. McCalla (2003). A Bayesian computational model of social capital in virtual communities. In, M. Huysman, E.Wenger and V. Wulf Communities and Technologies, pp.287-305. London: Kluwer Publishers.  Freeman, L. C. (2000), Visualizing social networks, Journal of Social Structure, Available: [http://zeeb.library.cmu.edu: 7850/JoSS/article.html]  K. Krippendorf (1980). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.  C. Lacave and F. J. Diez (2002). Explanation for causal Bayesian networks in Elvira. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Intelligent Data Analysis in Medicine and Pharmacology (IDAMAP-2002), Lyon, France.  K. Laskey and S. Mahoney (1997). Network Fragments: Representing Knowledge for Constructing Probabilistic Models, Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Conference.  G. I. McCalla (2000). The fragmentation of culture, learning, teaching and technology: Implications for artificial intelligence in education research. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 11(2), 177-196.  J. Nahapiet & S. Ghoshal (1998). Social capital, intellectual capital and the organizational advantage. Academy of Management Review, (23)(2) 242- 266.  D. Niedermayer (1998) An Introduction to Bayesian Networks and their Contemporary Applications. Retrieved May, 6th 2004 from: : [http://www.niedermayer.ca/papers/bayesian/bayes.html]  J. Pearl (1988) Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems: Networks of Plausible Inference, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Mateo, CA.  L. Prusak & D. Cohen (2001). In good company: How social capital makes organizations work. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.  R. Putnam (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon Schuster.  A. Ravenscroft & R. Pilkington (2000). Investigation by design: developing dialogues models to support support reasoning and conceptual change. International journal of artificial intellignece in education, 11-273-298.  L. Rourke T. Anderson, D.R. Garrison. and W. Archer (2001). Methodological issues in the analysis of computer conference transcripts. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, (12) 8-22.  S. Stemler (2001). An overview of content analysis. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(17). Retrieved October 19, 2003 from [http://edresearch.org/pare/getvn.asp?v=7&n=17].  A. Soller and A. Lesgold (2003). A computational approach to analyzing Online knowledge sharing interaction. Proceedings of Artificial Intelligence in Education pp. 253-260., Sydney, Australia.  World Bank (1999). Social capital research group. Retrieved May 29, 2003, from http://www.worldbank.org/poverty/scapital/.  J.D. Zapata-Rivera (2002) cbCPT: Knowledge Engineering Support for CPTs in Bayesian Networks. Canadian Conference on AI 2002: 368-370  I. Zukerman, D. W., Albreacht and A.E. Nelson (1999). Predictiing users’ requests on the WWW. In UM 1999, Proceedings of the 7th international conference on user modelling, Banf, Canada, pp, 275-284.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.