Title: Case study: recommending course reading materials in a small virtual learning community

Authors: Juha Leino

Addresses: Unit for Computer-Human Interaction, School of Information Sciences, University of Tampere, Kanslerinrinne 1, 33014 Tampereen yliopisto, Finland

Abstract: Recommender systems, long used in e-commerce to help users find salient items, also offer tools for virtual learning communities to let the community determine what items are most pertinent to its members. However, due to differences in numbers and goals, learning environments cannot simply copy e-commerce approaches to recommenders. This article discusses design issues related to using recommenders in learning environments and student perceptions of using rating and commenting to allow students to winnow additional reading materials in a university course website. Positive student perceptions show that recommenders can enhance virtual learning community experience. The rating feature in particular was viewed positively and perceived to influence selecting behaviour, while commenting, although also perceived positively, was seen as underused and less influential. In addition, the design of the system is evaluated in the light of the student feedback and potential improvements are discussed.

Keywords: recommenders; ratings; user perceptions; course reading materials; e-commerce; electronic commerce; learning environments; commenting; comments; university students; universities; websites; higher education; student perceptions; selecting behaviour; student feedback; user-centred design; Finland; University of Tampere; UCD; recommender systems; e-communities; electronic communities; internet; world wide web; virtual communities; web based communities; online communities; virtual learning communities.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2012.048053

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2012 Vol.8 No.3, pp.285 - 301

Published online: 20 Aug 2014 *

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