Semantic learning webs

Stutt, Arthur and Motta, Enrico (2004). Semantic learning webs. Journal of Interactive Media in Education(1)



By 2020, microprocessors will likely be as cheap and plentiful as scrap paper,scattered by the millions into the environment, allowing us to place intelligent systems everywhere. This will change everything around us, including the nature of commerce, the wealth of nations, and the way we communicate, work, play, and live. This will give us smart homes, cars, TVs , jewellery, and money. We will speak to our appliances, and they will speak back. Scientists also expect the Internet will wire up the entire planet and evolve into a membrane consisting of millions of computer networks, creating an “intelligent planet.” The Internet will eventually become a “Magic Mirror” that appears in fairy tales, able to speak with the wisdom of the human race.
Michio Kaku, Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the Twenty - First Century, 1998

If the semantic web needed a symbol, a good one to use would be a Navaho dream-catcher: a small web, lovingly hand-crafted, [easy] to look at, and rumored to catch dreams; but really more of a symbol than a reality.
Pat Hayes, Catching the Dreams, 2002

Though it is almost impossible to envisage what the Web will be like by the end of the next decade, we can say with some certainty that it will have continued its seemingly unstoppable growth. Given the investment of time and money in the Semantic Web (Berners-Lee et al., 2001), we can also be sure that some form of semanticization will have taken place. This might be superficial - accomplished simply through the addition of loose forms of meta-data mark-up, or more principled – grounded in ontologies and formalised by means of emerging semantic web standards, such as RDF (Lassila and Swick, 1999) or OWL (Mc Guinness and van Harmelen, 2003). Whatever the case, the addition of semantic mark-up will make at least part of the Web more readily accessible to humans and their software agents and will facilitate agent interoperability.
If current research is successful there will also be a plethora of e-learning platforms making use of a varied menu of reusable educational material or learning objects. For the learner, the semanticized Web will, in addition, offer rich seams of diverse learning resources over and above the course materials (or learning objects) specified by course designers. For instance, the annotation registries, which provide access to marked up resources, will enable more focussed, ontologically-guided (or semantic) search. This much is already in development. But we can go much further. Semantic technologies make it possible not only to reason about the Web as if it is one extended knowledge base but also to provide a range of additional educational semantic web services such as summarization, interpretation or sense-making, structure-visualization, and support for argumentation.

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