Adaptive educational hypermedia

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Adaptive educational hypermedia is one of the first and most popular kinds of adaptive hypermedia. It applies adaptive hypermedia to the domain of education. Example systems of adaptive educational hypermedia are ELM-ART by Gerhard Weber et al., InterBook by Peter Brusilovsky et al., Personal Reader by Nicola Henze et al., AHA! by Paul de Bra et al., etc.

In contrast to traditional e-learning/electronic learning (and face-to-face education) systems, whereby all learners are offered or even directed a standard series of hyperlinks, adaptive educational hypermedia tailors what the learner sees to that learner's goals, abilities, needs, interests, and knowledge of the subject, by providing hyperlinks that are most relevant to the user. Essentially, the teaching tools "adapt" to the learner. Of course, this requires the system to be able to effectively infer the learner's needs and desires.

Many fields of research including human-computer interaction, educational technology, cognitive science, intelligent tutoring systems and computer engineering are contributing to the development of adaptive hypermedia. Unlike intelligent tutoring systems, however, adaptive educational hypermedia doesn't target stand-alone systems, but hypermedia systems. Moreover, the use of adaptive hypermedia is not limited to formal (or informal) education or training endeavours. Such systems can, e.g., increase profits by adapting to consumers' searches (sometimes unconscious) for goods, services, and experiences. Thus, systems like Amazon are also examples of adaptive hypermedia, recommending books based on user preferences and prior history. Other application fields of adaptive hypermedia, beside of adaptive e-learning and adaptive e-commerce applications can be adaptive e-government applications. Generally speaking, adaptive hypermedia systems can be useful anywhere where hypertext and hypermedia is used. The most popular adaptive hypermedia systems are web-based systems.

An interesting aspect of adaptive hypermedia is that it makes distinction between adaptation (system-driven personalisation and modifications) and adaptability (user-driven personalisation and modifications). One way of looking at it is that adaptation is automatic, whereas adaptability is not. From an epistemic point of view, adaptation can be described as analytic, a-priori, whereas adaptability is synthetic, a-posteriori. In other words, any adaptable system, as it 'contains' a human, is by default 'intelligent', whereas an adaptive system that presents 'intelligence' is more surprising and thus more interesting. This conforms with the general preference of the adaptive hypermedia research community, which considers adaptation more interesting. However, the truth of adaptive hypermedia systems is somewhere in the middle, combining and balancing adaptation and adaptability.

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