by Vassilis Katsouros (Athena Research and Innovation Centre) and Martin Hachet (Inria)

This special theme addresses the state of the art in educational technologies, “EdTech”, illustrating the range of scientific fields and challenges faced by the research community when it comes to integrating tools and systems that apply to real-life learning situations.
Education, either formal or informal, is a key driver for the future of our societies; it fosters personal fulfilment and development, social inclusion and active citizenship, as well as generating innovation and economic activities. Right now, digital tools are opening up promising new opportunities to take education to the next level.

by Achilles Dougalis and Dimitris Plexousakis (ICS-FORTH)

In science fiction, artificial agents are portrayed as being capable of interacting with and helping humans. This aid could take the form of holding intelligent conversations and even acting as teachers and coaches. Some progress has been made in this direction in real life. Indeed, systems utilising intelligent agents, such as duolingo™, have proven capable of acting as personal tutors. These “intelligent tutoring systems” (ITS) emulate a human tutor by using AI techniques to adapt instructions and teaching according to each individual learner’s background and progress but also guide the learner through an exercise by providing hints and feedback.

by Boban Vesin (University of South-Eastern Norway), Katerina Mangaroska and Michail Giannakos (NTNU)

Programming Tutoring System (ProTuS) is an adaptive learning system developed to support introductory programming. ProTuS utilises a cross-platform architecture that aggregates and harmonises learner analytics coming from different systems and quantifies learners’ performance through a set of indicators. ProTuS has been successfully used within universities to support teaching and learning.

by Christopher Krauss and Manfred Hauswirth (Fraunhofer FOKUS)

What should a course provider do if all course content, which is stored in Moodle, needs to be migrated to a new learning management system? How could a provider easily use advanced technologies like learning analytics, learning recommender systems or virtual learning to create a compelling learning experience? How can a provider incorporate the content of another provider into an existing course? To address such questions, we developed the Common Learning Middleware in a joint project with several Fraunhofer institutes trying to solve these typical challenges facing educational institutions.

by Thorsten Leimbach (Fraunhofer IAIS), Daria Tomala (Fraunhofer IAIS)

Technology now pervades all areas of our lives, including our home life, education and work. As society becomes increasingly digitalised, digital skills such as “computational thinking” are becoming more important – this applies to children in school, adults in the workforce and senior citizens alike.

by Benoît Choffin (LRI), Fabrice Popineau (LRI) and Yolaine Bourda (LRI)

Current adaptive and personalised spacing algorithms can help improve students’ long-term memory retention for simple pieces of knowledge, such as vocabulary in a foreign language. In real-world educational settings, however, students often need to apply a set of underlying and abstract skills for a long period. At the French Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique (LRI), we developed a new student learning and forgetting statistical model to build an adaptive and personalised skill practice scheduler for human learners.

by Fabrice Jouanot (Univ. Grenoble Alpes), Olivier Palombi (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CHU de Grenoble) and Marie-Christine Rousset (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, IUF)

Through SIDES 3.0, we are developing an ontology-based e-learning platform in medicine to make learning analytics transparent and explainable to end-users (learners and teachers). In this project, the educational content, the traces of students' activities and the correction of exams are linked and related to items of an official reference program in a unified data model. As a result, an integrated access to useful information is provided for student progress monitoring and equipped with a powerful query language allowing users to express their specific needs relating to data exploration and analysis.

by Wolfgang Prinz, Sabine Kolvenbach and Rudolf Ruland (Fraunhofer FIT)

Certificates are important to document educational attainments, and educational documentation is required when it comes to job-seeking and career advancement. It is therefore vital that these records are stored in long-term available and tamper-proof ledgers. The Blockchain for Education platform is a secure and intuitive solution for issuing, sharing, and validating of certificates.

by Dimitrios Arampatzis (FORTH-ICS), Maria Doulgeraki (FORTH-ICS), Michail Giannoulis (Univ. of Crete), Evropi Stefanidi (FORTH-ICS), and Theodore Patkos (FORTH-ICS)

EduBAI (Educational Basketball playing using Artificial Intelligence) is an educational platform that helps users familiarise themselves with the main tenets of common-sense reasoning in dynamic, causal domains, by means of an interactive entertaining environment. This article discusses the design and features of the platform, along with the rationale of sample game tactics of diverse modelling complexity.


by Pedro Cardoso (FEUP/ FBAUP and INESC TEC), Leonel Morgado (Universidade Aberta and INESC TEC), and António Coelho (FEUP and INESC TEC)

The great ambition of using games as the cornerstone of education is hindered by its associated teaching workload. The BEACONING project developed a framework based on an authoring tool for gamified lesson paths, which has been rolled-out in large scale across Europe. It includes stages for planning game-based educational activities, plus their deployment, monitoring, and assessment.

by Arzu Guneysu Ozgur, Barbara Bruno, Thibault Asselborn and Pierre Dillenbourg, (EPFL)

A large body of research suggests that  robots could indeed be useful for supporting children in learning handwriting. However, few studies have investigated the role and use of tangible robots in teaching handwriting to children with attention and/or visuo-motor coordination difficulties. Over the course of multiple iterations, globally involving 17 typically developed children and 12 children with attention and visio-motor coordination issues within one school and two different therapy centres, we have designed a robotic activity to teach the grapheme (shape) and the ductus (the way to draw) of cursive letters.

by Jauwairia Nasir, Utku Norman, Barbara Bruno and Pierre Dillenbourg (EPFL)

The Project JUSThink has a double goal: (i), to help train the Computational Thinking skills of children with a collaborative, robot-mediated activity, (ii), to acquire insights about how children detect and solve misunderstandings, and what keeps them engaged with a task, the partner or a robot. The result? An abstract reasoning task with a few pedagogical tricks and a basic “robot CEO” that can keep 100 ten-year-olds engaged, and, in turns, frustrated and jubilant!

by Dimitra Anastasiou and Eric Ras (Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology)

2D gestures have been extensively examined on surface and interactive tabletop computing, both in the context of training of predefined datasets and “in the wild”. The same cannot be said for 3D gestures, however. The current literature does not address what is happening above the tabletop interfaces, nor does it address the semantics.

by Valérie Maquil and Christian Moll (Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology)

The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) has developed Kniwwelino, a microcontroller-based development platform that uses a visual programming interface to help children discover programming and electronics in a creative and hands-on approach.

by Thomas Luiz, Dieter Lerner, Dominik Schnier (Fraunhofer IESE)

Virtual Realities (VR) are increasingly used as a simulation technology in emergency medicine education and training. In the project EPICSAVE, a highly immersive room-scaled multi-user 3D virtual simulation environment was developed for medical training scenarios. This enables a realistic and sustainable training experience.

by Ralf Klamma (RWTH Aachen University), István Koren (RWTH Aachen University) and Matthias Jarke (Fraunhofer FIT and RWTH Aachen University)

The Horizon 2020 project WEKIT has created an industrial training platform, combining sensor technologies, artificial intelligence and mixed reality. The platform creates training materials on the fly and delivers them in a standardised manner.

by Aris S. Lalos (ISI, ATHENA R.C.), Chairi Kiourt (ILSP, ATHENA R.C.), Dimitrios Kalles (Hellenic Open University)
and Athanasios Kalogeras (ISI, ATHENA R.C.)

XR-LAB envisages developing a highly innovative & interactive extended reality (XR) platform that will empower users, including educators and trainees, to create easily accessible and sustainable edutainment experiences. This will be achieved using holographic interfaces and gamified elements that will develop gradually as familiarity with interactive features is gained. The proposed approach is expected to create convenient, safe, economic, rapid, flexible and user-friendly spaced educational tools that challenge, engage and prepare students for their real scientific experiment in remote STEM education laboratories.

by Maximos Kaliakatsos-Papakostas, Kosmas Kritsis, Vassilis Katsouros (Institute for Language and Speech Processing, Athena Research and Innovation Centre)

Combining Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) into a unified pedagogical framework, enables students to directly identify connections between abstract concepts and elements of the real-world. The iMuSciCA project has made the first steps towards developing tools, methods and lesson plans for stimulating creativity in learning and providing the basis for deeper learning. This is achieved with cross-disciplinary lesson plans implemented through the iMuSciCA workbench: an innovative suite of web-based software tools around STEAM.

by Katerina El Raheb and Yannis Ioannidis (“Athena” Research and Innovation Center and National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

WhoLoDancE (Whole-body Interaction Learning for Dance Education), a three-year EU funded project, has developed innovative technologies for dance practice, creation and education, focusing on four dance genres: ballet, contemporary, flamenco, and Greek folk.

by Asterios Leonidis, Maria Korozi, Margherita Antona and Constantine Stephanidis (FORTH-ICS)

The ICS-FORTH Ambient Intelligence (AmI) Programme is a long-term horizontal interdisciplinary RTD Programme aiming to develop pioneering human-centric intelligent technologies and environments that seamlessly support everyday human activities and enhance well-being through human-technology symbiosis.

by Brigitta Szilágyi (Budapest University of Technology and Economics), Szabolcs Berezvai (Budapest University of Technology and Economics) and Daniel Horvath (EduBase Online Ltd.)

The Educational platform EduBase ensures continuous testing opportunities and analyses the learning behaviour and performance of undergraduate engineering students in a mathematics course. Compared to the conventional method, students using EduBase were found to be more motivated to practice consistently throughout the semester and acquire deeper level of knowledge.

by Margarida Romero, Saint-Clair Lefèvre (UCA, INSPE, LINE) and Thierry Viéville (Inria)

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. How do we best achieve this? Part of the answer may lie in SmartEdTech, a Master of Science (MSc) program specialising in digital education.

by Mikhail Fominykh and Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland (NTNU)

The Doctoral Education for Technology-Enhanced Learning (DE-TEL) project is developing high quality resources and an internationally recognised program to train PhD students in the area of educational technology. The interdisciplinary expertise that this program will foster is essential for an efficient and effective digitalisation of education in Europe.

by Romain Laurent (Univ. Grenoble Alpes/LaRAC), Dominique Vaufreydaz (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Inria, Grenoble INP, LIG), and Philippe Dessus (Univ. Grenoble Alpes/LaRAC)

Should Big Teacher be watching you? The Teaching Lab project at Grenoble Alpes University proposes recommendations for designing smart classrooms with ethical considerations taken into account.

Next issue: April 2021
Special theme:
"Brain-Inspired Computing"
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