Jim Greer’s 25-Year Influence on a Research Programme on Open Learner Models

Abstract

For the special issue of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education dedicated to the memory of Jim Greer, this paper highlights some of Jim’s extensive and always-timely contributions to the field: from his early AI-focussed research on intelligent tutoring systems, through a variety of applications deployed to support students in university courses, to learning analytics tools for instructional experts and university administrators. A substantial quantity of his work included some aspect of open learner modelling, and/or involved core issues that are also central to open learner modelling. Accordingly, this paper identifies Jim’s profound influence throughout an open learner model research programme.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In addition to Jim Greer: Gord McCalla and Julita Vassileva for, amongst much other work, their leading research on different aspects of the I-Help Project (e.g. Vassileva et al. 1999b) – the project that I joined.

  2. 2.

    An especially important foundation for my research was the extensive development work of Jeff Bowes and Lori Kettel on the I-Help Public and Private Discussions, respectively, around which many of my own contributions were centred (e.g. Bull et al. 2001b).

  3. 3.

    Information sources column edited to illustrate several sources of data within a small screen space (for Fig. 1).

  4. 4.

    Categories of interactive learner model maintenance, examples of systems using the various methods, results.

  5. 5.

    Note that this is an inexact sequence of project influences and commonalities rather than a timeline of projects, since publication dates do not necessarily reflect the timespan of the research they present. Some positionings are approximate, to fit the space. There are projects on both sides that are not included here, since influences and commonalities were less direct.

  6. 6.

    Of course, I also had two excellent supervisors, Paul Brna and Helen Pain, whose support, suggestions and critiques throughout my PhD were essential to my early development as a researcher (see e.g. Bull et al. 1993, 1995a, b).

  7. 7.

    Together with Peter Brusilovsky.

  8. 8.

    My contribution to the project OLM and recommendation design was shaped during a visit with Barbara Wasson.

  9. 9.

    https://teaching.usask.ca/about/staff/jim-greer.php (accessed 13 June 2020).

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Acknowledgements

I thank the following for providing images for this paper: Diego Zapata-Rivera (VisMod), Chris Brooks (sociogram visualisation), Gord McCalla (PHelpS), and Ryan Banow and Stephanie Frost (Ribbon Tool). Thanks especially to Jim Greer for his unending inspiration.

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Bull, S. Jim Greer’s 25-Year Influence on a Research Programme on Open Learner Models. Int J Artif Intell Educ (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40593-020-00233-z

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Keywords

  • Open learner models
  • Learning analytics
  • Learning visualisations
  • Jim Greer’s influence