A Fuzzy Tree Matching-Based Personalized E-Learning Recommender System

Publication Type:
Journal Article
IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems, 2015, 23 (6), pp. 2412 - 2426
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© 1993-2012 IEEE. The rapid development of e-learning systems provides learners with great opportunities to access learning activities online, and this greatly supports and enhances the learning practices. However, an issue reduces the success of application of e-learning systems; too many learning activities (such as various leaning materials, subjects, and learning resources) are emerging in an e-learning system, making it difficult for individual learners to select proper activities for their particular situations/requirements because there is no personalized service function. Recommender systems, which aim to provide personalized recommendations for products or services, can be used to solve this issue. However, e-learning systems need to be able to handle certain special requirements: 1) leaning activities and learners' profiles often present tree structures; 2) learning activities contain vague and uncertain data, such as the uncertain categories that the learning activities belong to; 3) there are pedagogical issues, such as the precedence relations between learning activities. To deal with the three requirements, this study first proposes a fuzzy tree-structured learning activity model, and a learner profile model to comprehensively describe the complex learning activities and learner profiles. In the two models, fuzzy category trees and related similarity measures are presented to infer the semantic relations between learning activities or learner requirements. Since it is impossible to have two completely same trees, in practice, a fuzzy tree matching method is carefully discussed. A fuzzy tree matching-based hybrid learning activity recommendation approach is then developed. This approach takes advantage of both the knowledge-based and collaborative filtering-based recommendation approaches, and considers both the semantic and collaborative filtering similarities between learners. Finally, an e-learning recommender system prototype is well designed and developed based on the proposed models and recommendation approach. Experiments are done to evaluate the proposed recommendation approach, and the experimental results demonstrate the good accuracy performance of the proposed approach. A comprehensive case study about learning activity recommendation further demonstrates the effectiveness of the fuzzy tree matching-based personalized e-learning recommender system in practice.
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