C. STELLARnet Theme Teams

STELLARnet will support a targeted team building programme to produce a set of Grand Challenge focused, short-term new team interactions instigated by mid-career researchers. These teams will be established to collaboratively explore and analyse emerging research topics that have been identified by the Grand Challenge framework. The idea of supporting and bringing out this group of researchers reflects a serious European capacity problem in the middle tier of research staff.

STELLARnet Theme Team is a network of mid-career researchers from different institutions, whose aim is to  explore and analyze collaboratively emerging research topics in the field of TEL. A Team may be a completely new network created around a specific topic of common interest, or composed of researchers who have already worked together on a certain issue (e.g. at a workshop or within a longer project). 

The mission of a Theme Team is to share and integrate competences, methodologies and ideas already developed. The Teams are a means to integrate European research units in the field of TEL, but also competences coming from entreprises and institutions not included in the STELLAR network.

Within STELLAR two Calls for proposals were launched (December 2009 and December 2010 ) -> join the TELeurope Group to see more details about the Calls.
Within the First Call, 5 Thems were selected and funded, while within the  Second Call, 4 Temas were selected.

Theme Teams selected from the First Call

The following Teams started their activities .in April 2010 and closed in October 2011.

SRLinTELEs - Self-regulated learning in technology enhanced learning environments

Theme Team Leader: Karl Steffens (University of Köln, DE)

Digital literacy and self-regulated learning have been listed as key competencies for the 21st century. We believe that STELLAR’s three Grand Challenges are aimed at fostering these competencies. In the Theme Team on self-regulated learning (SRL) in technology enhanced learning environments (TELEs) our goal was to explore the role of TELEs in supporting SRL; this is a topic particularly relevant to Grand Challenge 2 – Orchestrating learning, but it also touches on the other two Grand Challenges – Connecting learners and Contextualising virtual learning environments. We therefore organised an international conference on this topic which took place at the Universitat de Barcelona on Oct. 1st, 2010. In 23 contributions from 43 authors coming from nine European countries, the US and Canada, theoretical issues and empirical findings were presented to and discussed with the conference participants – researchers and educators. The results of the conference are presented in the Proceedings of the Barcelona Conference, edited by Anontio Bartolomé, Per Bergamin, Donatella Persico, Karl Steffens and Jean Underwood and published by Shaker publishers in Aachen, Germany (ISBN  978-8440-0195-2). The team members intend to continue to work together on the topic of SRL in TELEs in their targeted cooperative network (http://www.taconet.org).

TELeurope Group

MUPEMURE - Multiple Perspectives on Multiple Representations

Theme Team Leader: Armin Weinberger (Saarland University, DE)

Learners’ technical capabilities to not only navigate, research, and receive, but also to create, share and discuss multiple representations have been drastically expanded. MUltiple PErspectives on MUltiple REpresentations (MUPEMURE) sets out to combine CSCL and Multimedia Learning research for advancing an integrated framework for deriving understandings of how learners generate, share, and navigate multiple representations in TEL environments.
We establish a new focus in different TEL research communities disseminating our work in arenas such as the EARLI (SIG 2), CSCL (symposium and workshop), or the Alpine Rendez-Vous to researchers and practitioners alike. In addition to STELLAR funding we have attained additional funding for partaking in these conferences. We develop and investigate different forms of instructional support for learners applying approaches such as scripts, awareness, and productive failure. We have established a website where we combine multiple ways to foster frequent collaboration within the team through a shared workspace + video conferencing as well as link different social media for dissemination of MUPEMURE work, namely Twitter and TELeurope.org. 

TELeurope Group

NTEL - Neuroscience, Technology and the Enhancement of Learning

Theme Team Leader: Paul Howard-Jones, University of Bristol, UK

Burgeoning insights from the sciences of mind and brain are generating fresh perspectives on education. Their impact may be greatest where another force for change, technology, is already transforming how we learn.
However, to date, little work has focused specifically on the potential of the neurosciences to inform the design and use of technology enhanced learning (TEL). The NTEL theme team reviewed the insights of most relevance to TEL, and discussed how neurobiological concepts might be included in TEL theory and practice.
Their report can be found here.


Orchestrating Technology-Enhanced Learning in Future Learning Spaces

Theme Team Leader: Michael A. Evans (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA)

Do we really need the orchestration metaphor to describe, analyze and change educational research and practice? In the light of the existence of a range of alternative terms like “managing learning” or “instructional design”, and given the fact that what orchestration actually is still seems to be unclear, this question is not at all trivial. During the course of discussions in the Theme Team, it became clear that applying the metaphor to classrooms and informal learning situations bears an enormous potential to inspire educational research and practice as well as the development of educational technology. For example, imagining the teacher as the conductor of an orchestra who keeps individual and collaborative learning processes together leads to the question, what kinds of technologies she needs to do so. Also, having the orchestration metaphor in mind when thinking about formal and informal education leads to the question, whom the orchestra (i.e., the classroom) is playing for – also here, digital technologies can be used to develop innovative learning experiences that make the classroom look and feel more like an orchestra than traditional classroom practices. However, there clearly is a need for conceptual clarification of the term. When “orchestration” is understood as the “real-time management of multiple activities and multiple con-straints” (Dillenbourg, 2011, p. 2), this only seems to focus on the enactment of TEL (e.g., in a classroom), but apparently leaves out the design phase that preceded the development of the TEL environment as well as the adaptation process that needs to happen when a teacher decides to use such an environment in her classroom. Expanding the meaning of orchestration to also cover the processes that precede the actual reification of a TEL experience in a classroom and comparing the complete process from developing a TEL environment, adapting it and using it with the process of how a musical piece is created, arranged and performed is highly promising to lead to a number of interesting research questions (e.g., How much freedom should teachers have to adapt existing TEL environments to their classrooms? What digital tools do teachers need to successfully manage multiple activities and multiple constraints in real time? etc.). Thus, despite its conceptual vagueness, the potential that lies in viewing classrooms and informal learning settings as orchestras, seems to be enormous and thus, keeping and further exploring the value of the metaphor is warranted.

DATATEL - A Data Set Framework for Recommender Systems in Technology Enhanced Learning

Theme Team Leader: Heindrik Drachsler (Open University of the Netherlands, NL)

The work of the dataTEL Theme Team has resulted in several important outcomes. An initial format for the collection of TEL datasets has been reported in (Drachsler et al. 2010). This format was used to collect an initial collection of datasets that capture learner interactions with tools and resources in real-life settings. These datasets were collected by the first dataTEL Challenge, launched as part of the workshop on Recommender Systems for TEL, jointly organized by the 4th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems and the 5th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning in September 2010. In this call, research groups were invited to submit existing datasets from TEL applications. Several datasets have been collected and first evaluation experiments with these datasets have been reported in (Verbert et al. 2011). As a follow up activity, the “dataTEL - Datasets for Technology Enhanced Learning” workshop was organized at the Second STELLAR Alpine Rendez-Vous in March 2011. During this workshop, researchers discussed related initiatives that are collecting educational datasets, additional datasets that are relevant for LAK research, as well as challenges related to privacy and data protection and research on evaluation methodologies. An analysis of related initiatives, dataset formats and available datasets has been reported in (Verbert et al. 2011a). The outcomes of the dataTEL workshop are going to be combined in a Special Issue at the IJTEL journal that will be publicly available in 2012.
In order to continue the work on dataTEL research topics the SIG dataTEL was created under the umbrella of the European Association of Technology-Enhanced Learning (EATEL). The SIG dataTEL will continue the existing dataTEL group on TELeurope and organize an annual dataTEL workshop at leading conferences in the field.

TELeurope Group

Theme Teams selected from the Second Call

These Teams have started their activities in April 2011 and are still in progress.

LDG (The Learning Design Grid: Empowering educational practitioners as techno-pedagogical designers)

Theme Team Leader: Yishay Mor, UKOU

The Learning Design Grid theme team was set up to promote the consolidation and systematic articulation of existing frameworks for eliciting and representing design knowledge in TEL in a manner which will make them accessible both to researches and to practitioners. Design knowledge is the experts’ tacit understanding of how to get things done in their domain of practice. It is the basis for practitioners’ ability to identify challenges, characterise the context in which they are situates, and devise informed, effective and efficient solutions. Recent years have witnessed a growing acknowledgement of the importance of design perspectives in TEL research and practice, and with it a flourishing of innovation in tools, representations, and methods. There is an urgent need to map this terrain and consolidate it, to flesh out the links and the gaps between existing works, and propose an agenda for research and development for the next few years.

To this effect, we have conducted an integrative workshop in October 2011, in which experts offered their perspectives and engaged in synergetic discussions, within and across several themes. The outcomes of this workshop are available as open resources on the project website, and are in the process of being refined for publication. Additionally, we have constructed a knowledge base of tools, representations, methods, readings, and other resources, which is also available on the website. We are currently in the process of developing a practitioner guide to learning design, based on these materials.

SoMobNet (Social Mobile Network to Enhance Community Building for Adults’ Informal Learning),

Theme TeamLeader: Maria Ranieri, Università degli Studi di Firenze.

The Theme Team on “Social Mobile Networking for Informal Learning” (SoMobNet, http://www.somobnet.eu) aimed at exploring the potential of mobile devices and social networks in the mediation process of meaning-making allowing people to construct and negotiate knowledge in and across specific sites or contexts of learning. In particular, the Theme Team focused on the following issues:

  1. Mobile and networked communities of practice with a special focus on the use and the role of mobile technologies and social networks in supporting community building (Issue n.1 – Connecting people);
  2. Evaluation issues and approaches in mobile and informal learning with a special focus on possible methodological and technological tools (Issue related to “Orchestrating learning”);
  3. User-generated context and social networking with a special focus on the way in which mobile and digital devices are mediating access to knowledge and cultural resources across different contexts of life, formal and informal situations, virtual and real interactions (Issue related to “Contextualizing learning”).

To tackle the issues mentioned above the Theme Team undertook several work streams such as:

Currently the Theme Team is editing a Special Issue on “Social Networking and Mobile Learning” to be published by the British Journal of Educational Technology. The SI focuses on the following issues:

MuSuCoL (Multiple Surfaces for Collaborative Learning)

Theme TeamLeader: Jochen Rick, Universität des Saarlandes.
The MuSuCoL (Multiple Surfaces for Collaborative Learning) Theme Team has distributed the call for participation for the surfacelearning.org workshop to occur from the 18th to the 20th of March in Bristol, UK (http://surfacelearning.org/workshop). Submissions are sought on the topics of interactive surfaces and learning; special considerations will be given to submissions addressing multiple surfaces and collaborative learning. During the workshop, theme team members will share their insights and establish a stronger research community on promoting learning with interactive surfaces (handhelds, tablets, tabletops, and whiteboards). Simultaneously, the group has launched the surfacelearning.org website as a platform to organize that community and to share resources. Based on wiki technology, the site is expected to grow over time to accommodate a variety of perspectives. Thanks to STELLAR funding, the site is funded for the next few years.

GEL (Games Enhanced Learning)

Theme Team Leader: Michela Ott, Istituto Tecnologie Didattiche - CNR.

GEL’s mission is to explore the educational potential of Serious Games (SG) in diverse contexts, including both formal and informal learning, as well as collaborative learning environments. The ultimate objective is to provide fresh insight and practical support for game design and game deployment, so that the potential can be harnessed more effectively.
GEL is pursuing these aims through a set of sub-activities which are being addressed by separate working groups, each led by a different GEL partner. The groups are currently working on:

These activities are taking place on the GEL group space on teleurope.eu. All those interested are warmly invited to come and visit, join in and follow developments - including news of the final GEL workshop to be held later in the year.

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