Learning theory


Architecture layer


Outcome of a PhD research

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Learning Trees of Knowledge

When students engage in learning community processes, they create, appropriate, share and construct knowledge within a specific group. With co-working, students can break some barriers and minimise the learning difficulties. Therefore, social evolvement reinforces learning.


A tool where teachers and students can complement their class work by building bridges of knowledge


-Trees of knowledge : structures visualizes and shares knowledge
- Semantic social network: uses tags to categorize user’s content

L-Tree is a web learning system for structuring knowledge, with visual representation and navigation, where students and teachers actively interact towards wisdom.

Learning theory behind L-tree

This tool has the premises that students learn effectively if they have substantial control over the way in which they organize or control their pace; and learning is a socially constructed activity among student’s peers and teacher coaching. It is based on the theory of Connectivism (George Siemens 2005), which asserts the learning of knowledge in a distributive manner, based on a network of connections formed from experience and interactions with a knowing community



In learning environments, from the student’s point of view, motivation is a key issue and despite social phenomena being crucial, each student has his or her own learning rhythm.
On the student’s side, the freedom of choice and not being tied or to the curricula or teacher’s perspective is very important.
On the teachers’ side, being able to synthesise all the learning content and having some feedback on the student’s level of achievement is crucial.
Both perspectives have led me to the finding of a solution for an e-learning network environment, where both actors interact.

However learning environments, where students have no guidance, does not result in effective knowledge. In fact, pure discovery learning, without any guidance does not result in knowledge acquisition. Therefore, guidance in the form of scaffolds is a solution for these environments.

A web system must provide a structure, support for the student investigation, keep students on the right path, while seeking "the truth" about whatever issue.

The idea is, on a button up approach, build a formal Knowledge platform through a representation map, with semantic social networks, where people can dynamically be connected and interact online.


Architecture layer

The teacher has the ability to construct the knowledge tree  and populate it with content. The student can navigate through the KT and more important than that, he can make a collection of subjects (different resources: doc, ppt, pdf, url, podcasts, quizzes, and others), enabling the teacher to become aware of this collection. A third layer, the social layer, where both actors: teacher and students will interact in an argumentation visualization system: Forum. In this layer, the student can have some system information about the learning content and discuss the matters with other students or even the teacher.



The system gets the teacher closer to students work within group activities, namely in scientific reports.
Different usage levels, from individual assignments, to group class, or even at a higher dimension at a community level

The teacher builds a dynamical structured topic tree with different resources (doc, ppt, pdf, url, podcasts, quizzes, and others). The students can navigate through this knowledge tree (KT), but also personalize it with their own learning content.

Different web resources can be referenced with free keywords, which might help to catalogue them.

Students with argumentation methods in discussion processes, or even with inquiry approaches, students actively learn how to support their claims, as well as use the discourse scientific methodology.
Teachers will be ale to monitor the student’s research tasks and group discussions, giving support contributions.
Another aspect is the social involvement of the students, where they will get involved by seeing their peer’s contributions.

It could be used as an assessment for measuring the student’s activities (collecting and discussion). In addition, it enables students to continue their class assignments to other places, which breaks the classroom walls.



Outcome of a PhD research

Current PhD Research Fields

Currently I am interested in web based learning environments with collaborative support and semantic social networks. Especially the instructional design in order to optimize learning gains in knowledge and performance with a b-learning approach. Therefore knowledge communities, social networts and semantic web, namely tagging are also my current research topics. Last but not least I am also involved in using argumentative maps to visualize discussions around a particular topic in order to promote on students a scientific methodology and coherent approach to backing their claims.

Research Questions

1.- People can use computers in collaborative learning environments, while constructing knowledge.
 a) How web systems might improve the computer’s usability in learning processes?
 b) How do students interact with the learning community to develop knowledge?

2.- How can a system that organizes structures and navigates through web content, reinforces the collaborative learning?


Silva, J. and F. Restivo (2006a). Building a distributed system for dynamic information search, organization and classification for educational purposes [Scientific presentation]. CoMIC'06, Porto-Portugal.
Silva, J. and F. Restivo (2006b). Web-based Knowledge Portal for Educational Purposes [Poster]. XATA2006 — XML Aplicações e Tecnologias Associadas, Portalegre Portugal.
Silva, J. and F. Restivo (2006c). Combining Ontologies, Social Networks and Argumentation into a Dynamic Learning Portal [Scientific presentation]. ICL 2006, Villach-Austria.


Additional information:




I am conscious this platform will have an increased proposal of value in the form of interaction between people. I am sure that joining efforts of the users in a collaborative environment will have best results on learning in an integrating manner.