Improving learning outcomes through the Utilization of next generation e-learning Technologies
von Itzstein, G. Stewart
Koronios, Andy P.
Müller, Roman J.
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Educational practice has in recent times been experiencing significant transitions. The ‘sage on a stage’ models of learning are slowly shifting to those of learning facilitation; that is the ‘guide on the side’ paradigm. The traditional model required students to record notes and then undertake exercises to demonstrate their understanding. More recently with the advent of new e-learning technologies the paradigm hasn't changed. The present state of the art has all the disadvantages of the new technology with very few of the advantages: The ‘Sage’ has been replaced with some form of online material; Exercises are still undertaken and sent in for assessment; Pin boards for messages have been replaced with discussion boards; and Students frequently resort to using emails to ask questions that could have been answered class-wide within lectures. This leads to the thought that online learning is a secondary and inferior method of learning. It need not be. This paper addresses some of the advantages that are possible with computer-based learning in order to improve real outcomes for students. It reports on a research project that involved the development and deployment of a next-generation intelligent tutor support system. This system, (Tutor Connect), takes the age-old concept of a bulletin board and leverages available technologies in order to aid students. The Tutor Connect system incorporates the concepts of trust, relevance searching (a'la Google) for answers, ontological intelligence when dealing with student queries, and automatic FAQ generation. The Tutor Connect system makes use of technologies to move away from the sage on the stage to a more student-driven system of study. The queries that are proposed to the Tutor Connect system are filtered and attempts are made to understand them and provide immediate answers. References to existing and external material are suggested. This paper will also report on the testing and evaluation strategy for the system developed by the authors.