Research projects

The Computers and Learning Research Group (CALRG) is the formal home for the research carried out in IET, leading research in the design, innovation and evaluation of technologies in education. We have an international reputation for research in mobile learning, open learning, science innovation, and learning design. Our current projects are supported by a wide range of agencies including the European Commission, UK Research Councils, foundations and companies.

The group engages in a range of research activities across six broad themes:

  1. Computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL)
  2. Understanding learners’ interactions and experiences
  3. Mobile learning
  4. Effective designing for learning and learner experiences
  5. Citizen science and public engagement
  6. Learning analytics

Many of our projects are mentioned here – and several of them cut across one or more themes.

Computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL)

Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) is a strong focus of interest in the CALRG. A number of interrelated CALRG projects share the aim of describing how technology can support learners to have productive experiences of collaborative learning. Recent projects include:

  • Juxtalearn
  • Out There, In Here (OTIH)
  • nQuire

Researchers: Anne Adams, Canan Blake, Gill Clough, Tim Coughlan, Ann Grand, Christothea Herodotou, Ann Jones, Daisy Mwanza-Simwami, Eileen Scanlon, Mike Sharples.

Understanding learners’ interactions and experiences

This theme encompasses a broad range of research. The use of ICT can be divisive as well as enabling. Researchers are interested in the role ICT plays in the creation of social and economic capital for individuals and groups with a focus on particular relations of disadvantage or difference: gender; age, access to economic resources, geographic isolation, immigration and issues of cultural conflict.

Recent projects include:

  • MASELTOV
  • SALSA
  • Mobile Pedagogy for English Language Teaching (ELT)

Researchers: Chetz Colwell, Martyn Cooper, Mark Gaved, Anne Jelfs, Ann Jones, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Eileen Scanlon.

Mobile learning

The use of mobile technologies for learning is an active area in the group and researchers are investigating how mobile devices can support learning in a range of settings including for adults and in informal contexts.

Recent projects include:

  • nQuire
  • Situ8
  • Mobile Pedagogy for English Language Teaching (ELT)
  • MASELTOV
  • SALSA

Researchers: Canan Blake, Gill Clough, Liz FitzGerald, Mark Gaved, Christothea Herodotou, Ann Jones, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Eileen Scanlon, Mike Sharples.

Effective designing for learning

Practitioners have many learning theories that guide the development of learning activities and a rich variety of ICT tools to support the design and delivery of learning. Despite this, the actual range of learning activities that demonstrate specific pedagogic approaches (e.g. constructivism, dialogic learning, case-or problem-based scenarios) and the innovative use of ICT tools is limited. Practitioners lack the skills to make informed choices about how to use these theories and tools and are confused by the plethora of choices. So there is a gap between the potential of technologies and how they can be used to support learning and the reality of how they are actually being used.

CALRG members are investigating how Open Educational Resources (OERs) can be effective and how they can contribute to the further development of e-learning as well as exploring sustainable and scaleable models of using OERs. CALRG researchers are also interested in why and how adult learners use media technologies in their home and work contexts. Investigating the realities of learning with media technologies can help inform the pedagogic design of courses to support learning from the student’s perspective. A number of studies are therefore focusing on the learner experience.

Recent projects include:

  • OER research hub
  • Juxtalearn

Researchers: Anne Adams, Gill Clough, Ann Grand, Simon Cross, Beck Pitt, Martin Weller, Bea de los Arcos, Patrick McAndrew, Doug Clow and Andrew Brasher

Citizen science and public engagement

The Open University has a long history of public engagement and IET is proud of its track record in this area, in particular the way in which we have been able to contribute to citizen science projects and research. Recent projects include:

  • OpenScience Lab
  • iSpot
  • Situ8
  • nQuire
  • Catalyst
  • DISCOVER

Researchers: Anne Adams, Canan Blake, Liz FitzGerald, Ann Grand, Christothea Herodotou, Ann Jones, Eileen Scanlon, Mike Sharples, John Richardson

Learning Analytics

Learning Analytics (LA) is about  the ”measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs” (Ref: Call for papers for the first Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference 2011). CALRG researchers are interested in the ways learning analytics augments the understanding of learning processes on the part of different stakeholders, including researchers, teachers, students and educational managers. Learning analytics is based on quantitative measures to analyse and report data about the learner performance and CALRG is well positioned to analyse data related to our students. LA can support and promote evidence-based practices that include assessing student progress, identifying successful learning patterns, detecting indicators of failure, or evaluating appropriateness of learning materials among others.

Recent projects include:

  • SAFeSEA
  • LACE

Researchers: Doug Clow, Rebecca Ferguson, Bart Rienties, Denise Whitelock.