The GTI member Jonathan Chacon defended his PhD Thesis yesterday, 2nd of February. His thesis title¬† was “Community platform management mechanisms to support integrated Learning Design”.
Congratulations to Jon!
Mir√≠adaX is the main Spanish MOOC provider, promoted by Telef√≥nica, Universia and Banco Santander. Mir√≠adaX offers MOOCs since 2013, most of them in Spanish, and few in Portuguese and English. In the context of the C√°tedra Telef√≥nica-UPF, we have analyzed Mir√≠adaX platform data till the end of 2014, including data form 144 courses and 191,608 participants.
Part of the analysis, focused on understanding the behaviour of university students‚Äô participation in MOOCs, will be presented at the eMOOCs conference in March 2016.
Alb√≥, L., Hern√°ndez-Leo, D., Oliver, M. (2016) Are higher education students registering and participating in MOOCs? The case of Mir√≠adaX. EMOOCs 2016 conference, Graz, Austria.
Abstract: Most MOOCs offer open learning opportunities at Higher Education (HE) level. However, it is still unclear how HE students are taking this type of course. This study focuses on the profile of HE students participating in MOOCs, their registration, preferred topics and completion patterns and how they compare to other types of participants. The paper presents a descriptive analysis of the Mir√≠adaX platform data up to the end of 2014, including an analysis of 144 courses and 191,608 participants. Results indicate that current HE students, who are mostly Latin American and Spanish males interested in technology subjects,register for and complete lower numbers of MOOCs than participants who have already completed their HE studies. HE students older than standard ages have a significant presence in MOOCs and have higher numbers of MOOC registrations and completions.
Conclusions of the study, in brief, include:
The majority of university students involved in Mir√≠adaX MOOCs are male (60.70%) in a range of 18-24. Interestingly enough, there is an important number of HE students participating in MOOCs with ages as from 24 (40%). Most HE students are from Latin American countries (57.5%) and Spain (41.01%).
One interpretation of results is that MOOCs are generally perceived as useful lifelong learning opportunities and not that much as a resource (comparable e.g. to books) that can support the HE curriculum. The particular result for the case of physics subject may be explained by a use of these MOOCs as remedial (level O) courses for freshmen at universities. The recent initiatives on the use of MOOCs to support blended educational approaches may influence the future evolution of the trends identified in this paper.
A more extensive study is presented in a C√°tedra Telef√≥nica-UPF report (in Spanish). The report covers multiple aspects and all types of participants but it does not include a deep focus on a particular profile of participants (as in the previous paper). It provides an analysis of the social profile of individuals registering in Mir√≠adaX courses, demand of courses by topic and an analysis of drop-out rates.
Oliver, M.; Hern√°ndez-Leo, D.; Alb√≥, L. (2015). MOOCs en Espa√Īa. An√°lisis de la demanda. Cuaderno de la C√°tedra Telef√≥nica-UPF ‚ÄúSocial Innovation in Education‚ÄĚ. Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Disponible online http://repositori.upf.edu/handle/10230/25400
The book “Efficient Quadrature Rules for Illumination Integrals“, co-autored by Ricardo Marques is finally published. It is a part of the series of Synthesis Lectures on Computer Graphics and Animation, from Morgan & Claypool Publishers.
The GTI group has been working in Project Kristina, a Horizon202 EC-funded project that involves real-time interaction of a relational agent with older adults. Recently, at a project meeting in Ulm, our design of an avatar that can be used for initial testings was presented. The design presented several challenges regarding both technical and aesthetic requirements. The character was intended to maintain a neutral aspect in terms of ethnicity, but it was important also to develop an agent who can be empathetic and yet have authority.
There has been an emphasis in the development of a head because the facial expression is such a fundamental part of the project. The head has been built with a low poly mesh so that it can be processed and react in real-time as required. For the facial expression, a facial rig is being built to allow the avatar to be animated through bones and complemented with blend shapes. The bones provide additional mobility while the blend shapes are necessary so that the avatar can assume the necessary positions to be expressive and respond to a systematic lipsync.
This avatar is designed for initial testings and can be renewed, modified and updated according to further more advanced stages of the project.
Before starting the character design, the GTI carried out an analysis of state of the art for automatic avatar creation tools. They explain different approaches for avatar creation and mention important concepts and parameters that should be taken into account such as: concept of relational agents, difficulties for the process, principles of relational agent design, dialog structure and variability in agent behavior.¬† They also point out the importance of non-verbal behaviour and the ability to build and maintain long-term emotional relationships with users. Also, a comparison between three main softwares that simplify processes in creation of avatars, animation, editing and playback was stablished. Motionbuilder, Poser and MakeHuman were the softwares that were analysed. This research has given a broader perspective of what the project means. It has been a starting point to find out which can be a good workflow and which tools could eventually provide simplicity and effectiveness during the process.
Right now, the avatar needs more flexibility and different parameters to change basic characteristics such as it‚Äôs gender, age and general appearance. Further designs need to be made in the future so that the variability within the avatars can be proven to work under different circumstances.
The paper, “Has research on collaborative learning technologies addressed massiveness? : A Literature Review” by Kalpani Manathunga and Davinia Hernandez-Leo has been published in the Journal of Educational technology & Society (Q2, 5 year IF = 1.376). This journal article is a part from initial work of Kalpani’s PhD dissertation and this survey looks into the insights of existing research (till 2013) around collaborative learning technologies for arguably large numbers of participants.
There is a growing interest in understanding to what extent innovative educational technologies can be used to support massive courses. Collaboration is one of the main desired elements in massive learning actions involving large communities of participants. Accumulated research in collaborative learning technologies has proposed and evaluated multiple models and implementation tools that engage learners in knowledge-intensive social interactions fostering fruitful learning. However, it is unclear to what extent these technologies have been designed to support large-scale learning scenarios involving arguably massive participation. This paper contributes with a literature review that aims at providing an answer to this question as well as offering insights about the context of use, characteristics of the technologies, and the types of activities and collaboration mechanisms supported. The main results point out that till 2013 the level of massiveness considered in top scientific journal papers on collaborative learning technologies was low, the scenarios studied were predominantly contextualized in co-located higher education settings using Learning Management Systems, the most common activities considered were open and structured discussion, followed by peer assessment and collaborative writing, and the most broadly used mechanism to foster fruitful collaboration was group formation following diverse policies.
Ref: Manatunga, K., Hern√°ndez-Leo, D.,¬†(2015)¬†Has research on collaborative learning technologies addressed massiveness?,¬†Educational Technology & Society,¬†18(4),¬†357-370.