Learning Styles: Examples

Example 1


Following the general idea to give students a choice of learning styles, themes and stylesheets, this example uses a variety of technologies and standards as detailed below.

Please remember that these are not intended as pedagogically sound examples, nor as a tour de force of graphic design. However, other concerns such as ease of maintenance and separation of concerns have been considered. This means that it should be possible for different people with different skillsets to work on different parts of the solution.

The structure of the learning content

Here we have a single web page with areas for navigation, control and learning content area. The navigation need not concern us here.

The control section allows users to choose from a limited range of learning styles, themes and stylesheets. Web browsers which support the W3C CSS recommendations should also allow the selection of the alternate stylesheet from their menu system. JavaScript is required to make the demo work, although it would be possible to substitute server-side code.

The content is based on sociological questions.

How the sociology questions work

These questions were based on examples written by a social science lecturer, Rosemary Richey, in order for them to be properly representative. However, the content has been specifically created for this example.

The questions follow a highly regular pattern, asking "Is X a value, norm or role?".

We are concerned here about both theming the question content, and meeting a basic requirement for choice of visual or textual representation.

For holding the variable question and answer content, a simple ontology (a representation of knowledge) was created. Altova SemanticWorks was used. This is not a demonstration of best practice, but a suggestion of how semantic web technology might offer some advantages in rule-based access to subject knowledge.

The ontology defines three classes: Value, Norm and Role. It defines another class for Theme. Two instances of Theme are created, Football and Horses, which we'll be using for this example. Then, a number of instances of Value, Norm and Role are created. Each of these is associated with one of the Themes.

The ontology is saved in the RDF language, bound in XML.

Now, we can automatically generate, via a query language or XSLT, sets of themed questions of the above pattern, and also their correct answers.

Technical Notes

The hosting web page itself uses Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 server technology, and Visual Basic.NET; the code could be ported to other server technologies which support XML/XSLT. It may be possible to move all the code to the client end with ECMAscript. This would let the page run as part of a standard, portable learning object, although it would need a modern browser with XML processing to run it.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland License.


Zipped archive of all Learning Styles Example 1 files.