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Distance learning

  • Abstract

    The exploration of social artifacts for the disabled is an important and timely issue. The affordances of new technologies like the Semantic Web allow more intelligent handling of educational learning resources that open up the potential of personalisation of services to individuals. Contemporary legislation calls for “reasonable adjustments” and “reasonable accommodation” to be made to services in order to accommodate the needs of disabled people. Here, the authors examine, from a design perspective, how this might be done in the context of higher education. Specifically, they advocate a design based upon an ontology-based personalisation of learning resources to deliver to students’ real needs. To this end, so far little effort has been directed towards disabled students in higher education. The authors note some of the problems and issues with online assistive/adaptive technologies and propose a methodological fix. Here, they propose an ontology-based methodology for a Semantic Web community of agents that personalises learning resources to disabled students in higher education, specifically highlighting a disability-aware Semantic Web agency development methodology. The authors also present the results of usability evaluation of the implemented visual interface with some disabled and non-disabled students.


    Nganji, J.T. and Brayshaw, M. (2013). Designing Personalised Learning Resources for Disabled Students Using an Ontology-Driven Community of Agents. In P. Isaias, & M. Baptista Nunes (Eds.), Information Systems Research and Exploring Social Artifacts: Approaches and Methodologies (pp. 81-102). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-2491-7.ch00. [Link to Book Chapter]

  • Abstract

    Existing virtual learning environments (VLEs) in educational institutions are not designed with the expectation that students with disabilities will use them. Consequently, retrieving relevant information by some students with disabilities is a challenging task. The focus of this study was to propose the design of VLEs to incorporate ontologies that facilitate information retrieval by students with disabilities in their learning, thus serving as a semantic web-based assistive technology in education. An Ontology-Driven Disability-Aware Personalised E-Learning System (ONTODAPS) was designed and then used to recommend specific learning materials to learners based on their learning goal and disability type. Preliminary results of the evaluation of ONTODAPS, by 30 students with disabilities, indicate that 70% of the participants found ONTODAPS to offer a better personalisation, better access to learning materials (68%) and is easier to use (63%) in retrieving learning materials than Sakai. Thus ONTODAPS serves as an assistive tool in their education through retrieval of relevant learning materials in a suitable format which is compatible with their disability.


    Nganji, J.T., Brayshaw, M. (2015). Facilitating Learning Resource Retrieval for Students with Disabilities through an Ontology- Driven and Disability-Aware Virtual Learning Environment. International Journal of Information Retrieval Research (IJIRR), Volume 5, Issue 3, pp. 75-98. [Link to Article]

  • Abstract

    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to show how personalisation of learning resources and services can be achieved for students with and without disabilities, particularly responding to the needs of those with multiple disabilities in e-learning systems. The paper aims to introduce the ONTODAPS e-learning system which has the mechanism for such personalisation.

    Design/methodology/approach - This paper reviews current e-learning systems that provide personalisation for students, including their strengths and weaknesses. The paper presents personalisation and its techniques and then presents ONTODAPS which is an ontology-driven and disability-aware e-learning system which personalises learning resources and services to students. Three case studies are considered to show how personalisation is achieved using ONTODAPS.

    Findings - This paper shows that it is possible to use automated ontology-based agents intercommunicating to provide an effective personalisation for disabled students. The results reveal that ONTODAPS is flexible enough to provide enough control and freedom to drive their learning. The results also suggest that ONTODAPS has the ability to provide appropriate levels of learner control by allowing them to self-direct learning through personalising learning resources and then allowing them to choose which resources they wish to access. This thus gives them a sense of ownership and control.

    Research limitations/implications - This research reveals that it is possible for e-learning systems to personalise learning for users with multiple disabilities. Thus, by considering the needs of such users and consulting them in the design and development process, developers of e-learning systems can produce systems that are both accessible and usable to students with disabilities.


    Nganji, J.T., Brayshaw, M. and Tompsett, B. (2013). Ontology-Driven Disability-Aware E-Learning Personalisation with ONTODAPS. Campus Wide Information Systems, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp. 17-34. [Link to article] [Link to PDF]

Julius T. Nganji's Profile


Julius T. Nganji, PhD

Researcher, passionate about digital accessibility & usability and improving user experience.

Adjunct Lecturer

Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto



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