Adaptivity through the Use of Mobile Agents in Web-based Student Modelling
Kinshuk Kinshuk, Hong Hong, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand ; Ashok Patel, De Montfort University, Leicester
International Journal on E-Learning Volume 1, Number 3, ISSN 1537-2456 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA
Web-based learning environments are becoming part of mainstream education. The research in web-based, individualized instruction has evolved quite a bit. Additionally, there are many prototype systems available that incorporate student models to provide individualised course contents and study guidance and, therefore, attempt to help students with different backgrounds and knowledge levels. These systems transfer information about students' action patterns to the centralized server on the Internet, and the server provides adaptivity information based on stereotyping process on multiple student profiles. Most prototypes in this direction have not been able to ensure an adequate learning process. This is because they suffer from a number of common deficiencies within Internet-based systems, such as slow access, bandwidth limitations and so forth. Such systems fail, particularly, when the access is required from distant parts of the world. This article describes a solution to this problem by incorporating a novel, two-fold modelling approach with the latest developments in agent technology, namely mobile agents. This two-fold student model makes it easy to provide adaptivity in the short term, reduces the amount of data to be transferred to the server and allows better monitoring of students' actions at the system level. The use of mobile agent technology in the student model's data transfer mechanism ensures reliable communication between the student's machine and the server. Additionally, it also provides a unique benefit over other types of models by allowing the extension of a student modelling mechanism at both the server and student sides by being able to execute raw code and, therefore, changing the actual functionality of the system. The mobile agents-based, two-fold student modelling approach has been developed as part of the Technology Integrated Learning Environments (TILE) project. The New Zealand government, under the New Economy Research Fund (NERF), funds this project. It aims to provide an adaptive, integrated learning system for the management, authoring, delivery and monitoring of education at a distance. This article will begin with a brief overview of existing research in the areas and limitations of existing systems. We will then describe the advantages of mobile agents technology. The two-fold student modelling approach over mobile agents-based communication will then be discussed for its comparative benefits. We will then provide details of the implementation of the adaptivity mechanism. Finally, we will finish with discussion on the benefits this research has provided for web-based learning environments.
Kinshuk, K., Hong, H. & Patel, A. (2002). Adaptivity through the Use of Mobile Agents in Web-based Student Modelling. International Journal on E-Learning, 1(3), 55-64. Norfolk, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).
© 2002 Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)
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