Send us your feedback

Thank you for your feedback. An email has been sent to the ESRC support team.

An error occured whilst sending your feedback. Please review the problems below.

The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Semantic Technologies for the Enhancement of Case-Based Learning

Grant reference: RES-139-25-0403-A

« View grant details

Impact Report details

Impact Report: Ensemble - Semantic Technologies for the Enhancement of Case Based Learning
Impact Report

Primary contributor

Author Patrick Carmichael

Additional contributors

Contributor Edwards Richard
Contributor Rob Walker
Contributor Louise Corti
Contributor David Bolton
Contributor Lawrence Solkin
Contributor Uma Patel
Contributor Keith Johnstone


The project has contributed to scientific understandings in education, computer science and interdisciplinary and participatory approaches to technology design. In the area of educational technologies in particular, it has responded to calls for theoretical development by developing frameworks which illuminate the work of the project and contribute to wider debates about the development, deployment and evaluation of learning technologies. We have extended knowledge about generic case methods and have documented case pedagogies in areas from sciences to performing arts. This has developed understandings of the critical role of mediating pedagogies used in teaching and learning with cases in different disciplines, and about the ways that cases are structured and bounded. This represents an important contribution to debates about curriculum design, technology deployment and assessment and the ways in which disciplinary knowledges and practices can be incorporated into learning. It is timely as Higher Education institutions reevaluate their roles in relation to professional activities, patterns of employment and lifelong learning. Work has highlighted the opportunities of semantic web and linked data technologies to enhance teaching and learning environments and stimulate pedagogical innovation. This is a significant contribution as most prior work has been speculative or has focused not on pedagogy but on infrastructures and administration systems. The project has produced a range of novel web technology tools and materials to support their deployment and further development. The project has also contributed new models and theorisations of teacher and student particpation in design, development and evaluation of learning technologies and pedagogical innovation. It has opened new avenues for research through theoretical innovation in relation to computer code and the hidden curriculum and the use of spatial theories for framing educational practices.

The outputs which have contributed to the scientific knowledge outlined above are a series of articles (listed as project outcomes) and aimed at the academic and practitioner audiences in education, learning technology and computer and information sciences. The need for rich pedagogical examples of the applications of semantic web technologies is presented in Carmichael and Jordan's introduction to a special issue of Technology, Pedagogy and Education (2012) which also contains case studies of how the project worked and transformed practice in several of its research settings. These case studies are summarised in a review article which sets out a research and development agenda for semantic web technologies in education (Martinez-Garcia et al, 2012); this is a nominated output. Findings and development work around the pedagogical potential of semantic markup for online video content - particularly when linked to other resources, ontologies and visualisation tools - has been particularly significant, with uptake beyond our original research settings, in other institutions, as a focus for further funded research (notably the JISC OER and NESTA-AHRC projects listed in the outcomes list). Key theoretical work includes papers on the nature of cases in learning and the implication this has for technology design (e.g. Carmichael & Tscholl, 2012; Edwards et al, 2011) - the latter is a nominated output) and on the challenges of interdisciplinary working (Carmichael, 2011; Tracy and Carmichael, 2010). The project website complements these articles and other outputs and represents a signficant output and contribution to impact in its own right. It contains downloads and information about the new technology tools (for data conversion, semantic markup, authoring and digital archiving) that have contributed to impact within and beyond the institutions in which the project has been based and enabled the pedagogical developments described above and in other project publications.

Impact has been achieved through the publication of academic articles and other publications. We have directed project outputs to different audiences, with articles being submitted to journals where the audience will be primarily interested in technology-related findings; learning technologists; and subject specialist journals, edited collections and websites aimed primarily at professional and practitioner audiences. The distinctive research methods, ethical issues and interdisciplinary working has been documented in methods journals and those concerned with theorising social and educational enquiry. The project has presented its work at conferences, seminars and workshops selected to reach audiences beyond higher education research and development, including those with a focus on social theory, philosophy of education, computer and information sciences, and digital archiving. The project has organised symposia and workshops with unconventional designs in order to allow participants to engage in discussion and agenda-setting, and offering hands-on experience of using project software tools rather than simply hearing about project findings or seeing technological outputs demonstrated. The release of software 'open source', the provision of case studies, technical demonstrators, prototypes and documentation, and hands-on workshops and dissemination events, have promoted the adoption of project technologies, approaches and findings not only in higher education settings but amongst other academic and non-academic users of semantic web and linked data technologies. The project website has been developed to provide this combination of support, with examples of technology prototypes linked both to the software used to generate them, and accounts of their pedagogical applications. Subsequent funding applications have also been pursued and designed in order to engage with new audiences and locate the work of the project in broader research and development agendas.

Participation in the project and engagement with its findings has had demonstrable impact upon: * Teachers and learners in our research settings, who have benefited from the implementation of new pedagogical approaches, richer learning environmnents and participation in supported professional enquiry. Several have gone on to be accredited, present and publish accounts of their work, or secure further funding for technology and curriculum development work. * Learning Technologists have benefited from enhanced semantic web tools which are easier to use and support and which are supported by high quality examples, documentation and training materials. This group, and the teachers and learners they support, will benefit further with the publication of a book to be published in 2013 (see below). * The Semantic Web Development Community, particularly those working on lightweight linked data tools, have benefited from the extension of the SIMILE Exhibit web application framework; from detailed educational use cases based on project examples; and from validation of existing commitments offer easy-to-use semantic web tools supporting local and domain-specific ontologies * The Digital Archive Community, particularly those working on the Data Documentation Initiative, have benefited from the projects' provision of educational and social science research use cases, models and new archiving tools. * Educational Researchers, particularly those interested in technology enhanced learning, interdisciplinary working and participatory approaches, have both the rich accounts of the work of the project on which to draw and an extended theoretical repertoire drawing on spatial, actor-network theory and assemblage theories. * Members of the extended project 'community of enquiry', particular early career researchers and the students employed as research associates, have had work published, have secured follow-on funding and have taken the work of the project into new areas.

Continued development work, follow-on projects, and the publication of a project book aimed at practitioners have the potential to lead to further impacts. With increasing interest in 'open government data' and 'linked data' more generally, the work of the project (technology tools, research and development approaches, case studies, theoretical frameworks) will provide invaluable support for those seeking to develop these in educational settings. Project outputs are part of a proposal for a series of workshops for the ESRC Scottish Doctoral Training Centre, and staff based at the ESDS have incorporated project outputs into a recent proposal for further funding on data management, analysis and visualisation. Our links with JISC OER developments, initiatives such as the continuing SIMILE community and the Open Knowledge Foundation's 'School of Data', and other networks within the UK and internationally will allow us to continue to develop not only technologies but also training and support materials. We will continue to monitor the dissemination of project outputs and products through these different networks. We will also work with adopters of project technologies to evaluate their reach and impact in relation to their target audiences - for example, the use of 'enhanced' ESDS archive content in teaching and further research. We have maintained contact with many of the participants in project settings who are now sharing their practice in using technologies through professional networks and specialist subject publications (e.g. in Plant Sciences, Dance and Environmental Education, as well as learning technologists). These continuing developments, building on the foundations of the Ensemble project, have the potential to deliver societal and economic impacts as well as scientific ones - based on improved teacher productivity; reuse of learning resources (e.g. 'linked data OERs') and increased public engagement with data and the discourses that surround them.

The project originally proposed to concentrate its efforts on settings in higher education, but it has had scientific impacts, and has the potential to realise societal impacts in areas beyond HE. It has secured funding to enable further exploration of impact pathways in areas including: * Schools - for example, Teaching Agency funding has been secured to support training of ITE students and secondary school science teachers to learn how to integrate linked data and use visualisation tools into their practice. * Digital Content Providers interested in improving public engagement with online content - for example, The Economic and Social Data Service adopting project approaches and technologies to enhance their public collections * Research Consortia - for example, the EU-wide BrainAble consortium and their partners using project materials, technologies and video annotation tools to manage research data and develop training materials. The significance of the role of video content, and the opportunities that semantic web and linked data approaches offered for reflective and collaborative video-based teaching, learning and research was underestimated in the original proposal. This has proved to be one of areas of greatest interest to project participants and potential beneficiaries beyond the project; has been a major focus of software development; and has led to further funding from Liverpool John Moores University, JISC and as part of an AHRC-NESTA project (see 'further funding' details. At the time of the proposal, we did not anticipate the rapid increase in interest in open educational resources (OERs), and the potential to use linked data approaches with work on OERs represents a significant area of impact already (leading to the further funding by JISC to prototype a linked data OER authoring tool) and to potential future impact beyond the original scope of the project.

Cite this outcome


Carmichael, Patrick et al. Semantic Technologies for the Enhancement of Case-Based Learning: ESRC Impact Report, RES-139-25-0403-A. Swindon: ESRC


Carmichael Patrick et al. Semantic Technologies for the Enhancement of Case-Based Learning: ESRC Impact Report, RES-139-25-0403-A. Swindon: ESRC.