Learning Web Materials

The learning web is a model for human knowledge processes and their support through communications media and information technologies.

This page provides links to articles on the learning web and teaching materials using the learning web approach and tools.

Access to Learning Web Materials

Computer Science Course Materials

Education Articles

Foundational Articles


Background to Learning Web

The learning web is a systemic approach to the modeling and support of knowledge processes in a learning society. The knowledge processes are modeled from a collective stance which views the human species as a single organism recursively partitioned in space and time into agents that are similar to the whole. It models the formation of expertise in society as a positive feedback process in which agents allocate resources for action to other agents on the basis of those latter agents past performance leading to functional differentiation of individual learning agents. It models various aspects of education as a means of disseminating expertise to create continuing and large-scale resources from short-lived and limited-capacity individual agents. The role of information technology is modeled as one of providing knowledge support systems that expedite the processes of knowledge formation and dissemination. The learning curves of information technology are themselves modeled to provide insights into the present convergence of telecommunication and computer technologies to provide the so-called 'information highway' that makes it possible to implement the learning web on a large scale.

The learning web approach can be introduced into existing undergraduate courses and doing so provides the basis for its implementation on a larger scale transcending institutional boundaries. However, an essential prerequisite is the restructuring of existing pedagogical approaches, de-emphasizing received wisdom and authority of the instructor, and emphasizing collaborative learning and meta- reflection on all aspects of the learning process itself. The instructor becomes a facilitator of students learning to learn, and eventually that process of learning to learn must itself become an overt topic for discussion by students fully participating in its management. In the same way that in the current educational system the home prepares for the school and the school prepares for the university, the university must come to see itself as preparing students for a role in a learning society in which they have come to understand and manage their own processes of lifelong learning.

Mediator is an agent-oriented network supporting knowledge access, collaboration and simulation, in order to provide a widely accessible learning environment. It provides an open architecture integration of heterogeneous subsystems supporting a natural symbiosis between human and computer agents. Mediator has been implemented on the World Wide Web with the web itself providing access to linked multimedia resources, and a number of special purpose tools and servers providing access to interactive knowledge modeling tools such as concept maps and repertory grids.

The learning web approach and tools have been used in a number of undergraduate and graduate courses in Computer Science. They have also been used to support research communities coordinated through the Internet. The results of this experience has been described in a number of papers.

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gaines@cpsc.ucalgary.ca 6-Dec-96