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Semantic web technologies

Researchers from LJMU’s Centre for Educational Research have proven the potential for using ‘semantic web’ technology and web based tools to support teaching and learning in undergraduate and postgraduate settings and across a wide range of disciplines from biosciences to contemporary dance.

The research project ‘Ensemble’, challenged conventional approaches to the design of educational software applications and platforms. Funded under the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Technology Enhanced Learning Programme (2009-2011), it was unique at that time in that it involved teachers and students in the design and development of the software which supported activities that were personally important or significant within disciplinary and professional communities.

Although the research focussed initially on educational settings, it was extended to include professional learning (accounting and finance professionals, curators and archivists), public engagement (Liverpool, City of Radicals project) and social scientists analysing complex data. The project resources were released as open source software to a range of audiences beyond the academic community. The software included the provision of case studies, technical demonstrations, prototypes and documentation. The project team delivered a number of symposia, hands-on workshops and dissemination events to accompany the release of the project software and promote use of the new technologies. The website and blog set up to accompany the software release attracted over 3,500 visits.

The Ensemble software was adopted by the UK Data Service, which is an ESRC funded resource to support researchers, teachers and policy makers.

The UK Data Service used the new approaches and technologies to improve public engagement and online content, enhancing their public collections and pioneer pages.

The team assisted the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (154,000 members and 432,000 students over 170 countries) and the International Association for Accounting Education to develop automated e-assessment software to improve the consistency of marking assessments and examination papers.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the organisation who define web standards, used an LJMU case study as an exemplar of semantic web technologies in practical use and was shared with readers of Semantic Web Activity News.

The software was also used in a range of other activities, including a JISC funded project called Open Education Research, which created a user friendly tool for creating semantic web pages. The resulting software is called Autokitty and is available through the project website:

Find out more about the research within the Centre for Educational Research.

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