SMILI☺: A Framework for Interfaces to Learning Data in Open Learner Models, Learning Analytics and Related Fields

Susan Bull, Judy Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


The SMILI☺ (Student Models that Invite the Learner In) Open Learner Model Framework was created to provide a coherent picture of the many and diverse forms of Open Learner Models (OLMs). The aim was for SMILI☺ to provide researchers with a systematic way to describe, compare and critique OLMs. We expected it to highlight those areas where there had been considerable OLM work, as well as those that had been neglected. However, we observed that SMILI☺ was not used in these ways. We now reflect on the reasons for this, and conclude that it has actually served a broader role in defining the notion of OLM and informing OLM design. Since the initial SMILI☺ paper, much has changed in technology-enhanced learning. Notably, learning technology has become far more pervasive, both in formal and lifelong learning. This provides huge, and still growing amounts of learning data. The fields of Learning Analytics (LA), Learning at Scale (L@S), Educational Data Mining (EDM) and Quantified Self (QS) have emerged. This paper argues that there has also been an important shift in the nature and role of learner models even within Artificial Intelligence in Education and Intelligent Tutoring Systems research. In light of these trends, and reflecting on the use of SMILI☺, this paper presents a revised and simpler version of SMILI☺ alongside the original version. In both cases there are additional categories to encompass new trends, which can be applied, omitted or substituted as required. We now offer this as a guide for designers of interfaces for OLMs, learning analytics and related fields, and we highlight the areas where there is need for more research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-331
JournalInternational Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education
Early online date12 Jan 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jan 2016


  • learner model
  • student model
  • open learner model
  • learning analytics
  • visual learning analytics


Dive into the research topics of 'SMILI☺: A Framework for Interfaces to Learning Data in Open Learner Models, Learning Analytics and Related Fields'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this