Ontologies for the Human Experience of Learning

In this research cycle, the Stanford community was challenged to inform ontological models that can provide a standardized system for representing human learning experiences. Such ontologies will enable diverse academic and industry researchers to align on ground truths, measurements, and data interpretation from a variety of activities and experiences.

Three innovative projects with great potential for long-lasting impact on learning sciences leveraged multi-disciplinary perspectives and used data from individual human behavior. Their results inform critical aspects of the human learning experience: attention and engagement, thinking and choosing, and practice and physical skills. They provided proofs of concept for new research methods and build trajectories of inquiry for future research. Importantly, these projects provide educational opportunities for the next generation of world-class researchers.

The research also generated new questions, validated the need to refine tools and measurement capabilities, and ignited the researchers’ desire to continue pursuits inspired by this Research Theme. While we marked the completion of a year of research on Ontologies for the Human Experience of Learning, there are still significant opportunities for continued research; and we look forward to learning from the developments that grow out of each of these projects.

As a new addition to the mediaX Research Theme Process, mediaX also launched a new approach to reviewing the results, while celebrating the progress made in a year of research. Given that each research project, often as part of a larger research agenda, both builds upon previous research as well as forges new pathways for inquiry, mediaX invited entrepreneurial thought leaders to provide input regarding stand-out opportunities that might evolve from the current research. This provided insights to those involved in the research theme, from both industry and academic perspectives, to consider how they might apply the thinking models and broad insights that derive from this academic research in an industry or corporate setting.

Note: An ontology is different from a taxonomy. Taxonomies are often hierarchical, such as the Dewey Decimal System. The limitation of such a hierarchy in the interactive world of mixed media is that it is possible for the same entity, actor or action to have more than one categorization, depending on context and other factors.

Research Initiatives

Carla Pugh: Creating an Ontology for Human Motion and Psychomotor Performance: A Look at Surgical Skill as a Use Case

Thomas Robinson, Nilam Ram, Byron Reeves: Screenomics: A Venue for Developing an Ontology of Informal Learning through Everyday Digital Media 

Daniel Schwartz: An Ontology of Choice-Based Learning