The new Web—what some people are referring to as the Semantic Web—offers a promising solution for the obstacles businesses face when implementing new eLearning methods. In a Semantic Web, content will be made consumable for both machines and humans, allowing “automated agents” (p. 2 ) as Stojanovic, Staab, & Studer (2001) refer to them, to decipher web content and react to unpredictable scenarios just as people do.
According to Stojanovic et al (2001), in order for this objective to be realized, four main layers of representational structures are required including the XML layer (representing data structure), the RDF layer (representing meaning), the Ontology layer (representing a consensus of the meaning), and the Logic layer (which allows for reasoning). While technologies for the first two layers already exist, the latter two have yet to be fully developed.
The benefits of the Semantic Web will lie in its ability to be shaped by the automated agent into relevant, just-in-time learning experiences for users on an as-needed basis. In essence, an employee who needs to solve a problem or complete a task could create a course of study or training module in seconds simply by typing in a semantic query related to the topic.
Stojanovic et al (2001) argue that in order for such a scenario to be realized, eLearning systems must use ontology-based metadata (i.e. a standardized system of tags by which to organize web data). Furthermore, this system must describe not only the content of web resources, but also their context and structure. A Semantic Web based on this ontology foundation would allow for better communication between machines and humans, making dynamic, real-time learning a distinct possibility.
Stojanović, L., Staab, S., & Studer, R. (2001). eLearning based on the Semantic Web. Paper presented at the World Conference on the Web and Internet, October 23-27, 2003, Orlando, Florida, USA.