3D virtual collaborative learning environments

This is a brief executive summary of my PhD thesis on 3D virtual collaborative learning environments. For more information, feel free to contact me through here.

The thesis was constructed around three fundamental research questions:

  • How can 3D virtual collaborative learning environments efficiently support traditional face to face collaborative learning techniques from a distance?
  • What are the design specifications for a suitable evaluation framework exclusively for 3D virtual collaborative learning environments?
  • How does user representation through avatars influence the collaboration and performance of the collaborating teams?

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Learning Analytics Summer Institute 2014

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Learning Analytics Summer Institute which took place at Harvard in Cambridge, MA. The three keynote speakers were:  Pierre Dillenbourg (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne), Phil Winne (Simon Fraser University), and Tiffany Barnes (North Carolina State University).  Continue reading

Seeing Double: the iPad Telepresence Robot

Double in Sydney controlled from London

Double in Sydney controlled from London (by courtesy of Prof Eeva Leinonen, University of Wollongong)

Videoconferencing has been around for several decades, but it has never been as mobile as the iPad Double robotic device. Imagine an iPad on Segway wheels that is remotely controlled with Skype-like capabilities that transports you to any Double robot anywhere in the world…now that’s mobile telepresence! See it working here.

I first saw this simple robotic device when visiting the University of Wollongong in Sydney, earlier this year. Continue reading

Examining TEL theses: the ‘holy grail’ of original contribution to knowledge

Some thoughts I would like to share on what constitutes original contribution to knowledge, in a contested discipline like “eLearning” (I usually avoid this term and tend to use the more intricate and useful ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’; a term which we also use in CTEL related activities.

In the last three months I was involved in examining two theses as an external examiner. Both made important claims about the significance of using technologies to support our students’ learning in HE. I must say I have had some very enjoyable discussions, interacting with the candidates (probably less enjoyable for the candidates themselves, under the stress of their oral examination experience!), during the vivas but also with the other members of the panels before and after.

In both cases I was asked to consider whether the candidate had investigated critically and evaluated an approved topic resulting in an independent and original contribution to scholarship, worthy of publication. This led me to question my expectations of a TEL thesis within the context of these specifications.
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The Eye of the Beholder

The student experience in healthcare education can be the enhanced by maximising their visual perception skills – particularly in the diagnosis and management of patients (Naghshineh et al, 2008). If students can most effectively interface with the rich multimedia opportunities of computerisation, the essential skill of visual literacy can be boosted. Visual literacy is also important for the softer humanistic skills that are so often forgotten and are central to good communication.  Body language and facial expressions are critical to understanding the needs of the patient and the student.

New ways of understanding visual thinking using TEL have been part of discussions in the past week between academic artists (Jen Wright, University of the Arts, London), (Prof Paola Ferroni, Curtin University, Australia, and Oslo University, Norway) and academic educationalist Dr Gila Levi-Atzmon, Director and Senior lecturer of the ICT and Learning Programme, College of Academic Studies, Or Yehuda, Israel. Gila has written her Master’s thesis with distinction on ‘visual literacy in healthcare education’ and has worked with us at King’s on previous TEL projects in dentistry.

The Eye of the Beholder

By Kind permission of Ziv Koren, 2010

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