Ontology for the User-Learner Profile Personalizes the Search Analysis of Online Learning Resources

The Case of Thematic Digital Universities





Information uses and practices, information analysis, digital profile, ontology, open educational resources, user modeling system


We hope to contribute to the field of research in information technology and digital libraries by analyzing the connections between Thematic Digital Universities and digital user-learner profiles. Thematic Digital Universities are similar to digital libraries, and focus on creating and indexing open educational resources, as well as improving learning in the information age. The digital user profile relates to the digital representation of a person’s identity and characteristics. In this paper we present the design of an ontology for the digital User-Learner Profile (OntoULP) and its application program. OntoULP is used to structure a user-learner’s digital profile. The application provides each user-learner with tailor-made analyses based on informational behaviors, needs, and preferences. We rely on an exploratory research approach and on methods of ontologies, user modeling, and semantic matching to design the OntoULP and its application program. Any user-learner could use the OntoULP and its application program.


Ahu Sieg, Bamshad Mobasher, and Robin Burke, “Web Search Personalization with Ontological User Profiles,” in Proceedings of the sixteenth ACM conference on Conference on information and knowledge management (2007): 525–34, https://doi.org/10.1145/1321440.1321515.

Anne Boyer, “Thematic Digital Universities: Report,” Sciences et Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication pour l'Éducation et la Formation 18, no. 1 (2011): 39–52.

Arthur Allison, James Currall, Michael Moss, and Susan Stuart, “Digital Identity Matters,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 56, no. 4 (2005): 364–72, https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.20112.

Asim Ullah, Shah Khusro, and Irfan Ullah, “Bibliographic Classification in the Digital Age: Current Trends & Future Directions,” Information Technology and Libraries 36, no. 3 (2017): 48–77, https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v36i3.8930

Benjamin S. Bloom, David R. Krathwohl, and Bertram B. Masia, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals (New York: Longman, 1984).

Birger Hjørland, “Theories are Knowledge Organizing Systems (KOS).” Knowledge Organization 42, no. 2 (2017): 113–28, https://doi.org/10.5771/0943-7444-2015-2-113.

Camille Thomas, Kimberly Vardeman, and Jingjing Wu, “User Experience Testing in the Open Textbook Adaptation Workflow,” Information Technology and Libraries Journal 40, no. 1 (2021): 1–18, https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v40i1.12039.

“Cape Town Open Education Declaration: Unlocking the Promise of Open Educational Resources,” 2007, http://www.capetowndeclaration.org/read-the-declaration.

Charles Lang, George Siemens, Alyssa Wise, and Dragan Gasevic, eds., Handbook of Learning Analytics (Society for Learning Analytics and Research, 2017), https://doi.org/10.18608/hla17.

Colin Smythe, Frank Tansey, and Robby Robson, “IMS Learner Information Package. Best Practice & Implementation Guide,” IMS Global Learning Consortium, 2001.

David Beer, “Envisioning the Power of Data Analytics,” Information, Communication & Society 21, no. 3 (2018): 465–79, https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1289232.

Deborah Arnold, “The French Thematic Digital Universities – A 360° Perspective on Open and Digital Learning,” in European Distance and E-Learning Network Conference Proceedings, no. 1 (2018): 370–78.

Diane Kelly and Nicholas J. Belkin, “A User Modeling System for Personalized Interaction and Tailored Retrieval in Interactive IR,” Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 39, no. 1 (2002): 316–25, https://doi.org/10.1002/meet.1450390135.

Digital University Association, “Open Educational Resources for All,” accessed April 5, 2022, https://univ-numerique.fr.

Digital University Engineering and Technology, “Open Educational Resources for Engineering and Technology,” accessed April 5, 2022, https://unit.eu.

Director of the Virtual University of Environment and Sustainable Development messaged author, January 6, 2021.

French Standardization Association, “Description Standard for the Field of Education in France –– Part 1: Description of Learning Resources (NoDEfr-1), NF Z76-041,” 2019.

General Secretary of the Open University of the Humanities messaged author, May 1, 2021.

Gerhard Fischer, “User Modeling in Human–Computer Interaction,” User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction 11, no. 1 (2001): 65–86, https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011145532042.

Gilbert Paquette, “Ontology-Based Educational Modelling-Making IMS-LD Visual,” Technology, Instruction, Cognition & Learning 7, no. 3–4 (2010): 263–93.

Gregory M. Shreve, and Marcia Lei Zeng, “Integrating Resource Metadata and Domain Markup in an NSDL Collection,” in International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications (2003): 223–29.

Hamid Saeed and Abdus Sattar Chaudhry, “Using Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme (DDC) for Building Taxonomies for Knowledge Organisation,” Journal of Documentation 58, no. 5 (2002): 575–83.

IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee, “Learning Object Metadata, Final Draft Standard, 1484.12.1-2002,” http://ltsc.ieee.org/wg12.

IMS Global Learning Consortium, “IMS Learner Information Package Accessibility for LIP Best Practice and Implementation Guide,” para. 2.

“IMS Learner Information Package Accessibility for LIP Best Practice and Implementation Guide,” IMS Global Learning Consortium, last revised June 18, 2003, https://www.imsglobal.org/accessibility/acclipv1p0/imsacclip_bestv1p0.html.

Jean Delpech de Saint Guilhem, Sonia Dubourg-Lavroff, and Jean-Yves de Longueau, “Thematic Digital Universities,” General Inspectorate of the National Education and Research Administration, 2016, https://www.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/cid104387/www.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/cid104387/les-universites-numeriques-thematiques.html.

Joan S. Mitchell, “DDC 22: Dewey in the World, the World in Dewey,” Advances in Knowledge Organization 9 (2004): 139–45.

John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler, “Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0,” Educause Review 43, no. 1 (2008): 16–20.

Joris Klerkx, Katrien Verbert, and Erik Duval, “Learning Analytics Dashboards,” in Handbook of Learning Analytics, ed. Charles Lang, George Siemens, Alyssa Wise, and Dragan Gasevic, (Society for Learning Analytics and Research, 2017), https://doi.org/10.18608/hla17, 143–50.

Judy Kay, “Learner Know Thyself: Student Models To Give Learner Control and Responsibility,” in Proceedings of International Conference on Computers in Education (1997): 17–24.

Katalin Feher, “Digital Identity and the Online Self: Footprint Strategies – An Exploratory and Comparative Research Study.” Journal of Information Science 47, no. 2 (2021): 192–205. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165551519879702.

Katrien Verbert, Erik Duval, Joris Klerkx, Sten Govaerts, and José Luis Santos, “Learning Analytics Dashboard Applications,” American Behavioral Scientist 57, no. 10 (2013): 1500–1509, https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764213479363.

Laecio Araujo Costa, Leandro Manuel Pereira Sanches, Ricardo José Rocha Amorim, Laís do Nascimento Salvador, and Marlo Vieira dos Santos Souza, “Monitoring Academic Performance Based on Learning Analytics and Ontology: A Systematic Review,” Informatics in Education 19, no. 3 (2020): 361–97.

Lorin W. Anderson, David R. Krathwohl, Peter W. Airiasian, Kathleen A. Cruikshank, Richard E. Mayer, Paul R. Pintrich, James Raths, and Merlin C. Wittrock. A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (New York: Longman Publishing Group, 2001).

Marilou Kordahi, “Information Literacy: Ontology Structures User-Learner Profile in Online Learning Environment,” in Seventh European Conference on Information Literacy, (2021): 130, http://ecil2021.ilconf.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2021/09/ECIL2021_Book_of_Abstracts_FINAL_v3.pdf#page=149.

Marilou Kordahi, «Le Changement de l’Apprentissage, l’Ontologie du Profil de l’Utilisateur-Apprenant, » Management des Technologies Organisationnelles, 10 (2020): 73–88.

Melvil Dewey, Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index, ed. Joan S. Mitchell, Julianne Beall, Giles Martin, and Winton E. Matthews, 22nd ed., (Dublin, Ohio: OCLC, 2003).

Núria Ferran, Enric Mor, and Julià Minguillón, “Towards Personalization in Digital Libraries through Ontologies,” Library Management 26, no. 4/5 (2005): 206–17. https://doi.org/10.1108/01435120510596062.

Open University of the Humanities, “How To Write and Publish a Scientific Article,” accessed on April 5, 2022, https://uoh.fr/front/noticefr/?uuid=6a063dd7-3a02-482a-9857-934501f7c82d.

Peter Dolog and Wolfgang Nejdl, “Challenges and Benefits of the Semantic Web for User Modelling,” in Proceedings of the Workshop on Adaptive Hypermedia and Adaptive Web-Based Systems (AH2003) at 12th International World Wide Web Conference (2003).

Peter Ingwersen, “Search Procedures in the Library – Analysed from the Cognitive Point of View,” Journal of Documentation 38, no. 3 (1982): 165–97, https://doi.org/10.1108/eb026727.

Rebecca Green and Michael Panzer, “The Interplay of Big Data, WorldCat, and Dewey,” Advances in Classification Research Online 24, no. 1 (2013): 51–58.

Rebecca Green and Michael Panzer, “The Ontological Character of Classes in the Dewey Decimal Classification,” The library, (2009), https://www.ergon-verlag.de/isko_ko/downloads/aiko_vol_12_2010_25.pdf

Rob Koper and Colin Tattersall, eds., Learning Design: A Handbook on Modelling and Delivering Networked Education and Training (Heidelberg: Springer Science and Business Media, 2005).

Robyn Caplan and Danah Boyd, “Who Controls the Public Sphere in an Era of Algorithms,” Mediation, Automation, Power (2016), https://www.datasociety.net/pubs/ap/MediationAutomationPower_2016.pdf.

Roger Clarke, “Persona Missing, Feared Drowned: the Digital Persona Concept, Two Decades Later,” Information Technology & People 27, no. 2 (2014): 182–207, https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-04-2013-0073.

Roger Clarke, “The Digital Persona and Its Application to Data Surveillance,” The Information Society 10, no. 2 (1994): 77–92, https://doi.org/10.1080/01972243.1994.9960160.

Sihem Zghidi and Mokhtar Ben Henda, “Open Educational Resources and Open Archives in the Open Access Movement: An Educational Engineering and Scientific Research Crossed Analysis,” Distances and Mediations of Knowledge 31 (2020), https://doi.org/10.4000/dms.5347.

Susan Bull, “Supporting Learning with Open Learner Models,” in Proceedings of 4th Hellenic Conference with International Participation Information and Communication Technologies in Education (2004): 47–61.

Tefko Saracevic, Amanda Spink, and Mei-Mei Wu, “Users and Intermediaries in Information Retrieval: What Are They Talking About?” in User Modeling: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference (Vienna: Springer, 1997): 43–54.

Thomas R. Gruber, “A Translation Approach to Portable Ontology Specifications,” Knowledge Acquisition 5, no. 2 (1993): 199–220, https://doi.org/10.1006/knac.1993.1008.

Tom Gruber, “Collective Knowledge Systems: Where the Social Web Meets the Semantic Web,” Web Semantics: Science, Services and Agents on the World Wide Web 6 no. 1 (2008): 4–13, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.websem.2007.11.011.

UNESCO, “2012 Paris OER Declaration,” 2012, http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/WPFD2009/English_Declaration.html.

UNESCO, “Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries,” (2002): 24, http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001285/128515e.pdf.

Walter Moreira and Daniel Martínez-Ávila, “Concept Relationships in Knowledge Organization Systems: Elements for Analysis and Common Research Among Fields,” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 56, no. 1 (2018): 19–39, https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2017.1357157.

Wayne A. Wiegand, “The ‘Amherst Method’: The Origins of the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme.” Libraries & Culture 33, no. 2 (1998): 175–94.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, “Open Education,” accessed April 5, 2022, https://hewlett.org/strategy/open-education.

Yannia Kalfoglou and Marco Schorlemmer, “Ontology Mapping: The State of the Art,” The Knowledge Engineering Review 18, no. 1 (2003): 1–31, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0269888903000651.




How to Cite

Kordahi, M. (2022). Ontology for the User-Learner Profile Personalizes the Search Analysis of Online Learning Resources: The Case of Thematic Digital Universities. Information Technology and Libraries, 41(2). https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v41i2.13601