Ontology‐driven disability‐aware e‐learning personalisation with ONTODAPS

Julius T. Nganji (Department of Computer Science, University of Hull, Hull, UK)
Mike Brayshaw (Department of Computer Science, University of Hull, Hull, UK)
Brian Tompsett (Department of Computer Science, University of Hull, Hull, UK)

Campus-Wide Information Systems

ISSN: 1065-0741

Publication date: 1 January 2013



The purpose of this paper is to show how personalisation of learning resources and services can be achieved for students with and without disabilities, particularly responding to the needs of those with multiple disabilities in e‐learning systems. The paper aims to introduce ONTODAPS, the Ontology‐Driven Disability‐Aware Personalised E‐Learning System, which has the mechanism for such personalisation.


This paper reviews current e‐learning systems that provide personalisation for students, including their strengths and weaknesses. The paper presents personalisation and its techniques and then presents ONTODAPS, which personalises learning resources and services to students. In total, three case studies are considered to show how personalisation is achieved using ONTODAPS.


This paper shows that it is possible to use automated ontology‐based agents intercommunicating to provide an effective personalisation for disabled students. The results reveal that ONTODAPS is flexible enough to provide enough control and freedom to drive their learning. The results also suggest that ONTODAPS has the ability to provide appropriate levels of learner control by allowing them to self‐direct learning through personalising learning resources and then allowing them to choose which resources they wish to access. This thus gives them a sense of ownership and control.

Research limitations/implications

This research reveals that it is possible for e‐learning systems to personalise learning for users with multiple disabilities. Thus, by considering the needs of such users and consulting them in the design and development process, developers of e‐learning systems can produce systems that are both accessible and usable by students with disabilities.

Practical implications

The inclusion of multiple formats of learning resources and personalisation of their presentation to students means students will have increased access to such resources, with the potential of consuming and assimilating the information. This also has the potential of improving understanding and hence and improvement in results.

Social implications

This research shows that ONTODAPS is a medium where disabled students can have equivalent learning experience with their non‐disabled peers. This could potentially increase access to learning for disabled students and possibly help improve their results due to an increase in accessibility of learning resources and usability of the system. This system thus complies with contemporary legislation which requires “reasonable adjustments” or “reasonable accommodations” to be made to meet the needs of disabled people.


Although personalisation has been applied in e‐commerce systems, making them very successful, such personalisation is still a wish for e‐learning systems which struggle to catch up. This research proposes a solution in the e‐learning domain and its novelty is in its application to disabled students, including those with multiple disabilities.



Nganji, J., Brayshaw, M. and Tompsett, B. (2013), "Ontology‐driven disability‐aware e‐learning personalisation with ONTODAPS", Campus-Wide Information Systems, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 17-34. https://doi.org/10.1108/10650741311288797

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