Purpose– Institutional repositories (IR) are usually used to archive and manage digital collections including research results, educational material, etc. Learning management systems (LMS) form a popular basis for e-learning and blended learning. This paper aims to study how to integrate IR and LMS to support accessibility of disabled students and students with learning difficulties (dyslexic students) in higher education. Customised ontologies focusing on disabled students can be used to facilitate indexing, and access of items in the repository. Design/methodology/approach– The authors propose a simple methodological approach to establish an integrating system for supporting accessibility. First, the authors review research works related to adaptive learning environments (ALEs) and blended learning, and discuss issues of the interoperability of IR and LMS. Then, based on the review, the authors discuss the use of an integrated ALE for supporting disabled students in the domain of higher technological education. The integrated system is based on IR, LMS and assistive and adaptive technology. The open source software platform DSpace is used to build up the repository applications Use of the web ontology language (OWL) ontologies is also proposed for indexing and accessing the various, heterogeneous items stored in the repository. Various open source LMS (e.g. openeclass) could be used to build up the integrated system. Finally, the authors describe experimentation with a prototype implemented to provide the mentioned capabilities. Findings– The technology is mature enough for building up integrated systems, combining capabilities of IR and LMS, for supporting disabled students. The use of ontologies focused on disabled students could facilitate the use of such integrated systems. Customisation and operation of a platform, for the selection and use of portions of OWL ontologies, could be based on the open source software Protégé. Such a platform forms a basis to create an appropriate ontology suitable for specific domains, e.g. the domain of technological education. Finally, the authors argue that the combined use of the OWL platform and the DSpace repository with open source LMS platforms could support domain experts for creating customised ontologies and facilitating searching. Originality/value– A new perception of the term integrated system for supporting disabled students in the higher education context is presented. This perception tries to combine the IR technology that supports the self-archiving approach of information, open LMS technology and the user-centred approach to support students and manage the “life of information”.
Library Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 4, 2016
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