Research Topics for the STELLAR Mobility programme

3 Grand Challenges for TEL research are outlined by STELLAR (extracts from Deliverable 1.1):

1. Connecting learners

On the Web, we can see that self-directed, self-managed and self-maintained communities create successful new forms of collaboration. A wide range of tools is used by these communities for knowledge sharing and building, communication, collaboration and networking. Knowledge sharing and building is facilitated by open and closed forums, Wiki pages and personal or shared blogs. Multimedia material is shared using popular tools such as FlickR and YouTube. Communication takes place using forums, annotation, tagging, chat rooms, instant messaging and video conferences. Collaboration is facilitated by shared media repositories, version management systems and collaborative text editing systems such as Google Docs. Networking portals, such as FaceBook and LinkedIn, allow professionals to find, contact and keep in touch with like-minded. In a Web 2.0 world new communities bring together self-directed, self-managed and self-maintained users and, thereby, create successful new forms of collaboration. These new communities are open to all learners at any point in their life of learning. Within successful communities, inherent incentive mechanisms to motivate and encourage participation exist. The heart of learning and knowledge consists of people. Replacing the current centralized, static technology-push models with new interactive models that reflect the continuous, social nature of learning requires a radical shift from a focus on knowing what to a focus on knowing how and knowing who. Within this theme key research questions are:

  1. What are the characteristics of a network for learning?
  2. What are key enabling and success factors for learner networks?
  3. What impact could web 2.0 technologies have on learning in educational institutions?
  4. What impact could web 2.0 technologies have on learning outside educational institutions?

2. Orchestrating learning

The development of digital technologies, their interfaces and association with communication technology, has opened up the possibility of accessing a large diversity of learning tools and all kinds of resources, as well as new infrastructures to support interactions and communications among learners and teachers or trainers -- or in more general terms, among learners and knowledgeable others. This evolution is supported by the emergence of theoretical frameworks which provide new means to understand learning and to design more efficient and more relevant environments to support it. Situated cognitiion and situated learning theories, collaborative learning, exploratory learning as well as mobile learning theories are stimulating new approaches to learning, pedagogy, didactics and assessment.

The multiplicity of the resources, the multiplicity of the devices, the multiplicity of the agents (co-learners, teachers or trainers, artificial or human agents) contributing to a learning process is the modern mark of TEL. Its practical impact is the requirement for more and new collaborative competence for using, generating and exchanging knowledge in a peer-to-peer manner and participating in communities of learning. To face the emergence of this richer and more complex than ever world of learning resources, the new challenge is to find methods and principles, as well as concepts and tools, to engineer learning situations and/or learning environments.

Within this theme key research questions include:

  1. What is the role of the teacher/more knowledgeable other in orchestrating learning and how does this relate to collaboration and the knowledge of students?
  2. What is the role of assessment and evaluation in learning and how can technology play a role
  3. From the point of view of the learner what is the relationship between higher-order skills and learning of a particular knowledge domain and what is the role of technology in this respect?
  4. How can we identify the current learning trajectory or a person? Would it be beneficial to make them aware of trajectory switches?

3. Contextualising virtual learning environments and instrumentalising learning contexts

As learning has become an integrative part of our life, and as it takes place in different learner communities, so the tools, resources and systems that are used need to be contextualized. The learning context is the "setting", in a broad sense, in which the learning occurs (see discussion page). It is continually created by people in interaction with others, with physical and digital objects, with their surroundings and with everyday tools. Complementarily, the interplay between formal and informal learning in formal and informal contexts has to be instrumentalized through the use of physical artefacts, mobile devices and the configuration of physical and virtual space, in order to create learning opportunities beyond the traditional institutional boundaries. Technologies for learning must be designed for culturally mediated settings, which include the co-design of technology and pedagogy for situated learning, simulated environments and support for mobility. Traditional classroom learning is founded on an illusion of context stability, by setting up a fixed location with common resources, a single teacher, and an agreed curriculum, which allows a semblance of common ground. But if these are removed, a fundamental challenge is how to form islands of temporarily stable context to enable meaning making from the flow of everyday activity.

Within this theme key research questions include:

  1. How can new forms of technology-enhanced learning enable novel experiences for learners and for development of human competences and capabilities
  2. How can the mobility of the learner in distributed and multi environment learning settings be supported, to include the transition between a) real and virtual contexts b) informal and formal learning contexts
  3. Which standards are needed to achieve interoperability and reusability of learning resources in this field? How can we harmonise the existing learning standards