Affiliations: Hampshire College School of Cognitive Science.
Abstract: MetaLinks, an authoring tool and web server for adaptive hyperbooks,
is described. MetaLinks hyperbooks provide textbook-like content in a flexible
manner that supports opportunistic processes of active reading and learning.
Through adaptive methods a single on-line artifact can address the diverse
needs of a variety of user goals and backgrounds. The system is designed to
support inquiry, exploratory, or curiosity-driven learning in richly
interconnected material and to ameliorate a number of usability issues that
arise in such open ended learning environments. Chief among the usability
issues addressed are the potential for discontinuous conceptual and narrative
flow as users navigate flexibly and idiosyncratically through hyperbook
content. Our goals are addressed through a number of interface features and
adaptive methods including narrative smoothing, custom depth control, and
thematic links. In this paper we describe the MetaLinks system, discuss a
number of hyperbook design issues, and give the results of two formative
evaluations of a MetaLinks Hyperbook.