Current Projects


Exploratory Development of a Tool to Measure Learners’ Knowledge Structure in Online Learning Courses: Formative Structural Assessment

Funding: Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL)

Principle Investigator: Kyung Kim

The existing automatic writing evaluation (AWE) tools are typically used for summative purposes, based on linguistic assessment, and/or implemented for a single language text analysis.


This project will develop a formative structural AWE tool applicable to any language by integrating two standalone offline software tools from different research traditions, and will pilot how it is received by students and instructors, and whether this software positively influences both online students’ learning and instructors’ practice. The fully developed software, called GISK (Graphical Interface of Structural Knowledge), will be able to immediately convert students’ writings into “knowledge structure (KS)” network graphs to indicate specific areas of their current knowledge strengths and weaknesses, regardless of which language is used.


We believe that our GISK system can promote online students’ active engagement in the development of their KS during learning online by providing individualized KS feedback, and also benefit instructor’s understanding of students’ KS and thinking, which may lead to using improved pedagogy and individualized instructional strategies.


Providing Touchable Knowledge Structure Graphic Feedback for Blind Online Learners: Tablet-Based Haptic Feedback and Paper-Based Tactile Feedback

Funding: Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL)

Principle Investigator: Kyung Kim

On-going assistive technology research has yielded a number of promising techniques to help blind learners’ access online learning content, but little has been done to promote their reading comprehension and writing skills although reading, writing, and learning are closely related.


This project aims to extend the accessibility of our GISK system to blind learners. Thus, this project focuses on helping blind online learners access and explore the visually represented KS graphs. Using haptic technology with a Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) language, the fully developed system can automatically convert viewable KS graphs to touchable KS graphs so that the blind can haptically (vibratory) feel their current KS derived from their own writing (and from the writing of others including expert versions of the essay) on the touchscreen or tactually on swell touch paper.


Given that blind learners have traditionally relied on audio/textual descriptions, guidance from others, and even trial and error when reading, writing, and learning online, we believe that our software and approach could positively impact their reading comprehension and writing skills.