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Social tags complement the learning resource metadata, a Finnish researcher finds out

05 November 2009 Open Universiteit Nederland

‘How to find the educational resources you need in the millions available’ is still one of the challenges in formal and informal online learning. Riina Vuorikari demonstrates that social tagging can be a great help. Social tagging means that users add free, non-hierarchical keywords to the digital learning materials in learning resources portals. Vuorikari studied this social tagging of learning resources in a multilingual context. On 13th of November she defends her PhD-thesis at the Open Universiteit Nederland in Heerlen.

European Schoolnet

The choice of the topic is related to Ms. Vuorikari’s work in European Schoolnet, where sharing and reusing learning resources between different European Ministries of Education and other Educational authorities (e.g. Kennisnet) has been the focus since early 2000. She chose to do her research at the Open Universiteit Nederland. More specifically the Centre for learning Sciences and Technologies, and especially its Learning Networks programme, provide natural bedrock for her studies as it is linked to self-organisation and using the underlying networks to support lifelong learning.


Vuorikari’s research shows that a learning resource portal with a social tagging tool leads to self-organisation, flexibility and robustness. She proves that, thanks to the triple (user, item, tag), there are more cross-references between content from heterogeneous repositories. This can increase the discoverability of learning resources across different contexts (e.g. language, country, curriculum, repository). Implications of this work is that future applications for learning resources can better rely on social recommendation systems that function in a context of multiple languages, an issue that is less studied, but especially relevant to Europe.

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