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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Gilbert Paquette

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

My work in the field of technology-based education can be classified into three main related areas.

Knowledge and Competency Modeling Between 1992 and 1998, I have developed a knowledge representation technique that has been embedded in the MOT and MOT+ graphic editors. These editors enable enable the graphic representation of complex models such as taxonomies, component systems, iterative procedures, decision trees, theories, processes and methods. MOT+ adds functionalities to represent several linked domains, to reference knowledge elements with documents built using other tools, to build layered representations. The MOT representation technique has been extended to represent of generic intellectual skills acting on domain-specific knowledge. A new taxonomy of intellectual skills has been built where the skills can be explicitly diagrammed as generic processes and used to defined actual or target learner’s competency, to provide a basis of learning or work support scenario. We can now provide an operational definition of competency that could revolutionize the actual practice in defining competency profiles. Opinion like the following support this claim: « LICEF’S (my research center) work is truly world-leading and needs much more exposure. I was so impressed with their detailed models for knowledge engineering in telelearning systems. It was the first time in years that I thought someone had created a breakthrough” (Anne Forster, Autralia)

Instructional Engineering In the same direction, I have proposed a new approach to Instructional Design as: A method that integrates instructional design, software engineering and cognitive engineering concepts, processes and principles to support the analysis, the design and the delivery planning of a learning system (Paquette 2001a, 2002a). That approach has been implemented in four successive versions of the MISA method, from 1994 to 2001, as a result of knowledge engineering applied to the Instructional Design domain. The latest version of the method has been embedded in a distributed support system for instructional engineering called ADISA. The value of the method has been recognized by practitioners as well as researchers in a number of scientific journal, invited conferences or direct evaluation by instructional scientists. For example, the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction- (IBSTPI) has expressed this evaluation: “There was general agreement that the suite of integrated methods and tools (MOT, MISA, ADISA, Explor@) were world class in every respect. Any institution or organization about to embark on serious efforts in distance and distributed learning would do well to consider these methods and tools as the standard-makers.”

Distributed Learning Systems The Explor@-1 on-line learning delivery system, put in operation on the Web in 1999, had already a set of features that are still innovative in 2003: careful modeling of the activities, resources and actors interacting in a Virtual Campus; ability to support a variety of delivery models such as High-tech Distributed Classrooms, Web/MM self-training, Community of Practice or Performance Support Systems; learning object management and reusability focus; flexibility for the combination of any set of actors, each with their own resource environment; integration of existing Web courses enabling an organization to transform its training methods progressively with significantly reduced design and implementation time.

Explor@-2 now presents major improvements with new components to help manage a network of metadata repository grouping, to aggregate learning objects, and finally to index the instructional activities and the main resources with knowledge and competency elements based on an ontology. As a result my group has attained a leadership position in large Canadian projects such as eduSource and LORNET. Actually, I serve as LORNET Network scientific leader, a major Canadian five-year research program to develop Semantic Web technique for Learning and Knowledge Management applications. The Network groups 100 researchers from six leading Canadian research centers in the field.

Brief Biography

I hold a Ph.D from the Université du Maine (FRANCE) in Artificial Intelligence and Education. I am Research Director at the Center for Interuniversity Research on Telelearning Applications, (CIRTA-LICEF) that I have founded in 1992. I hold a Canada research chair in knowledge-based instructional engineering. I am also the Scientific Director of the LORNET Canadian research network, an important 5-year Canadian research network on Semantic Web application to eLearning and Knowledge Management. My recent publications (2002) include two books in French, one on Instructional Engineering for Network Environments and the other on Knowledge and Competency Modeling. A third one was published in the United States on the same subjects. I give invited conferences in many parts of the world and participate on the scientific committee for six Journals, three in France, one in the US and two in Canada. I have also founded two companies, Micro-Intel (1987-1991) and Cogigraph (1999-2004), and I have acted as Minister for Science and Technology in the Quebec Government (1982-1984).

Education, Mathematical Logic and Artificial Intelligence have in common a fascinating subject, the study of knowledge and cognitive processes and, most of all, the search for means to favor their acquisition and development. My profound interest in this field dates back to the seventies. Based on my initial training in Mathematical Logic and Artificial Intelligence, I published a first book for College students and got deeply involved in High School Teacher Training using computers for Mathematics Education. Rapidly, I had to recognize the limits of tutorial approaches, which were prevalent then and still largely are. The use of computers in Education appeared to me as a way to learn by programming instead of being programmed. LOGO programming by learners enabled them to get involved into very rich problem-based situations where they would learn by his/her own knowledge construction activity. I started the first distance learning program in Quebec in 1973 that started Télé-université, strongly influenced by this knowledge construction approach. At the end of 1976, half of the Quebec math teachers were enrolled in the program.

During the 80s, I started using text editors, spreadsheets and database software as training tools for problem solving. With a team of educators and computer scientists, we implemented learning units in different domains and finally built a design workshop called LOUTI. This workshop enabled a designer to choose knowledge types and corresponding tools suited for the learning domain, and to build a computer environment for the learner where he/she could represent the domain and use graphic tools for generic tasks such as building a classification, inducing scientific laws or constructing a set of rules.

In the nineties, my attention focused on virtual campuses support systems and Instructional design preoccupations. A first version of an Instructional Engineering method, MISA, was produced in 1994, embedded in a computerized design system, AGD, which integrated an intelligent advisor. Later on, we had extracted and rebuilt a tool for knowledge modeling (MOT), a central tool of the method. My research in Instructional Design methodology then led to 17 typologies of “learning objects” that were to be embedded in the actual MISA 4.0, built in coordination with a new web-based instructional engineering system: ADISA. In parallel, I initiated the development of a distributed delivery system called Explor@. The initial efforts focused on a Virtual Learning Center (VLC) model and architecture using software engineering methodology. In 1999, the Explor@-1 implementation of our VLC model was achieved and a number of distance learning courses were developed and delivered using it. In 2002, the Explor@-2 system was put in operation, embedding a new learning object management component.