WebFolio: A TOOL FOR VISUALIZING LEARNERS’ BEHAVIORS

http://www.formatex.org/jdc/219.pdf

From the latest Journal of Digital Contents in its Special issue on “Digital Learning-Teaching Environments and Contents” comes this fascinating article on a tool developed in Japan. “Webfolio’s” purpose is to “collect, store and visualize learners’ behaviors in Web-based learning.” In the myriad debates about the effects (and effectiveness) of various media on learning, I am surprised by how often aspect of computers/web-based learning is overlooked. To me one of the critical attributes that differentiates it as a medium is the fact that every action within that environment can be recorded (tracked/played back) as it is performed, providing a vast store of data on which people can base future design decisions or in fact which can serve as data for the system to alter its own course. To me, it’s this kind of use that actually starts to employ computers for what they are good at instead of using them as hugely expensive textbooks or lecture rooms. Adding visualization of this data is a natural – if you have ever looked at the usage stats produced by most course management systems, you’ll know that they are fairly limited in use, and typically fall far below what even a low end web stats analysis package can provide concerning generic website usage. It’s not that the data’s not there, its just not a feature that has been much capitalized on. Which is maybe not surprising – even in the world of ‘enterprise’ web site development, there seems to me to be a surprising reluctance to dig deeply into what usage analysis tells us about how people are using the materials and how it correlates (if at all) with desired behaviours. And that’s in cases where there is often a tangible financial incentive and ability to do so. – SWL

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WebFolio: A TOOL FOR VISUALIZING LEARNERS’ BEHAVIORS

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