Gardening with the living textbook: navigation via learning pathways and a concept map

P.W.M. Augustijn*, M.J. Verkroost, I. Oliveira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherAcademic

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This workshop introduces the Living Textbook (LTB), an ontology-based textbook, developed by the ITC Faculty of the University of Twente. The LTB shows a combination of a concept map and a wiki with additional learning functionalities. Students can study the learning material by browsing the concept map, clicking on the concept of interest, and read the text related to the concept. Additionally, learning pathways are defined by the teacher that linearly connect several concepts. A third way to go through the material is by clicking on hyperlinks to specific concepts offered in the learning management system used in the course.
In their minds, teachers often see a concept map of the topic they are teaching. This concept map is constructed of concepts and relationships between these concepts. It usually contains hierarchies (higher-order versus lower-order concepts). It would be useful to share this concept map with students, yet this is rarely done. Seeing the concept map and understanding the relationships between different concepts can lead to deeper learning (Davies, 2011). Concept maps are often difficult to teach with, as Davies (2011) states: “The main disadvantages of concept mapping are that they require some expertise to learn”. Students more often do not have this expertise.
We present content to our students in textbooks that are often sequentially structured. These textbooks have the advantage of easy navigation but do not allow to see the links between topics that are presented in different chapters. Knowing that a visual representation can help us to reach a higher level of understanding, this is a missed opportunity. The LTB offers the possibility to study non-linearly.
Participants in this workshop will explore the LTB functionalities, including the learning pathways, concept map, and the learning analytics dashboard. The main focus of this workshop will be on different navigation methods using either a concept map or sequential learning pathway. Participants will follow different navigation strategies. Via the chat functionality, participants will be asked to open the LTB during this workshop.
The workshop will start with a short presentation about the Living Textbook project and will provide an overview of the different courses in which the tool has been implemented so far. We will introduce the main concepts and structure of the LTB. A short (live) demo will be given to show the participants how to log into the LTB software, to find a study area, and to the different navigation methods. Then the participants can work hands-on with the LTB. They will be placed in the role of a student and will be provided with a number of questions that will require navigation via both the Sequential learning Pathways and the free Concept map exploration. The workshop will end with a review of the learning analytics dashboard (live demo) and a discussion on the current implementation and possible further work. A specific topic during this discussion will be the usability and extensibility of the system from an academic's perspective. A true concern about the implementation of the LTB is the expected amount of work involved in implementing such a system. We like to hear suggestions from workshop participants on this point. Participants will be asked to fill out a questionnaire at the end of the workshop to describe their experiences and will be invited to test the software further.
This workshop is linked to a paper on learning Analytics using the LTB presented during the SEFI conference.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event48th SEFI Annual Conference on Engineering Education, SEFI 2020 - Online, Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 20 Sept 202024 Sept 2020
Conference number: 48


Conference48th SEFI Annual Conference on Engineering Education, SEFI 2020
Abbreviated titleSEFI 2020
Internet address


  • Engineering education
  • Study choice
  • Secondary schools
  • Gender


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