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Customised hyper text as an individualised
learning environment

JKay and R J Kummerfeld
Department of Computer Science
University of Sydney


This paper describes a mechanism for providing hypertext documents that accommodate individual learner'sdifferent needs. The customisation of the text can takeaccount of a variety of factors, including the learner'sbackground, interests and preferred learning style.

Central to the customisation is the user model that represents the learner'spreferences and knowledge. Wedescribe the way that it is used to create individualised hypertext spaces for the learner and the issues involved in eliciting and acquiring the user modelling knowledge.

We describe the way we have implemented this and applied it to customising a hypertext course for the C programming language.

1. Introduction

An important use for hypertext is in the delivery of teaching material. Manycomputer aided learning systems use hypertext in one form or another allowing the learner to pick their own path through the material, request further elaboration or descriptions of terms (glossaries). In general, however, there is only one description of each point and only one explanation of each term. If these don'tsuit the learner,for reasons of background, preknowledge or learning style, then the hypertext will not be as effective asitcould be.

Current hypertext systems can give considerable support for individual learner'sneeds. Forexample, the provision of a glossary enables those unfamiliar with terms to followthe links to the glossary explanations. Howeve r, theyrequire the hypertext author to decide on a typical learner audience and then to write the text of the glossary so that it is a reasonable match to the needs of the expected audience, with differences accommodated by allowing the learner to select the links to hypertext pages that interest them.

Much of the appeal of hypertext is in the fact that it allows the learner ?exibility in what theychoose to explore and read in the hyperspace. However, inahypertext that allows complexforms of customisation this is inadequate. Forexample, in a hypertext that