OC-21 Are individualised curricula the future of paediatric e-learning?

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In the history of supporting learning with computers (“e-Learning”) curricula individualisation may be done according to several paradigms: Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI), Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs), and Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL). In CAI learners get electronic versions of the course pages and they can read them sequentially. For passing from a part of the course to the following one they usually should complete some tests. Curriculum, in this case may be individualised, but only before learning starts. It cannot be easily adapted dynamically, depending, for example, on learner’s learning pace, or errors detected during verification tests. The elimination of this limitation was one of the main goals of ITSs, which build and maintain a model of learner’s knowledge and even of his cognitive, conative, and emotional features. ITSs are using symbolic, knowledge-based artificial intelligence techniques that allow reasoning and dinamically individualised curriculum generation and update. The third paradigm, CSCL is taking advantage of the facilities of WWW 2.0 (the so-called Social Web), such as instant messengers (chat), forums of discussions, wikis, blogs, and social networks. CSCL sees learning as social knowledge construction, in contrast to the individualised perspective of ITSs.

From the above discussion, it seems that ITSs are the best solution for the individualization of curricula. However, ITSs faces some some extremely difficult problems: they need comprehensive formal knowledge bases (e.g. ontologies), small learning objects associated with their concepts, and student models. Building and updating all these modules are extremely difficult. A solution is to use the so-called recommender systems, which can provide relevant documents for an individual learner, starting from his/her particularities and taking into account the activity of learners with similar interests, therefore combining ITSs with CSCL.

Medicine education and, in particular, paediatric education, has some obvious particularities, because practice is a very important part of curricula. Due to the globalisation, to the rapid spread of information appearance, and, meanwhile, geographic, cultural and other context features, generation of individualised curricula, tailored to particular features is expected to have a future, by the integration of features from ITSs and CSCL, as above mentioned. The presentation will consider as exemplification the particular case of education for early nutrition.

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