The increasing use of technology to enhance learning means both disabled students and higher education institutions face the challenge of adapting technology to meet the educational and special needs of students. As most e-learning systems are not designed to meet special needs, it is imperative to look for newer ways of designing e-learning systems to ensure that they are disability-aware and meet their assistive technology needs. In this light, this paper summarizes the result of research to seek better ways of enhancing learning for disabled students. Here, the resultant ONTODAPS system is introduced, including the methodology developed to design the system, its architecture and evaluation by 30 disabled students. The results of the usability evaluation are presented and discussed. It is hoped that researchers, instructional designers and developers of e-learning systems would look to this paper to gain insight into the design and development of disability-aware e-learning systems that will ensure that they are both accessible and usable to disabled students.
Nganji, J.T. and Brayshaw, M. (2014). Designing and reflecting on disability-aware e-learning systems: the case of ONTODAPS. The 14th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies- ICALT2014, July 7-9, Athens, Greece, pp.571-575.[Link to article] [Link to PDF]
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]
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]