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Find out how to sort your way through the major instrument for research funding by the European Union: IST Programme.
EU-funded research to improve technologies for learning
Learning technologies tailored to individual needs
The key to success of the information society is the empowerment of all individuals with the competencies and skills to exploit the opportunities it offers. Empowerment means educating people, equipping them with the information, knowledge and skills necessary to live, work and communicate in the digital age. This creates challenges for ICT-based learning.
For learning, the challenge is to develop e-learning solutions that understand and support individual learners, whether they are learning on their own or collaboratively with others. We need solutions that motivate people to learn, including, or even especially adressing those learners who are often excluded from more traditional educational settings; and solutions that are affordable. And these solutions must address the needs of different user groups, matching specific needs, experiences, circumstances and profiles.
Today's technologies, such as those coming from the computing science domains of artificial intelligence and knowledge management, are providing the enabling conditions to support individualised learning. We are moving away from generalised systems, focusing on the delivery of distance learning and training, to customised solutions putting the demand side, the learner, in the centre. This is creating a dynamic which is different from preceding e-learning systems.
This calls upon educational institutions to develop new models in support of more ubiquitous and lifelong learning, and to integrate formal and informal learning environments. Making e-learning systems more relevant to different needs and contexts will help underpin widespread adoption and turn into a benefit for the society. Providing better learning opportunities to individuals and organisations can improve competitiveness, productiveness and well being.
On-going research work
EU-funded research on technology-enhanced learning is part of the IST programme
Technology enhanced-learning research aims at improving our knowledge of how we learn when using information and communication technologies for learning. It focuses on the development of the next generation of user-centred learning solutions, on the improvement of the learning process and the efficiency of learning for individuals and organisations.
Advances in technology, especially in intelligent and cognitive systems, and in neuroscience are providing a new baseline from which to re-examine past models of ICT enabled learning, but going beyond a purely technology-based approach. Research in this area is increasingly interdisciplinary and involves engineers as well as researchers from the humanities and social sciences.
The first FP6 funded research projects in technology-enhanced learning started work at the beginning of 2004. They address topics like:
• personalisation and adaptive learning for individuals and groups
• dynamic mentoring (e.g. through intelligent agents)
• collaborative learning, supported by high performance distributed computing infrastructures (such as GRID)
• experience based learning in the classroom
• new methods and new approaches to learning with ICT
• innovative learning resources for professional training
• promoting interoperability and standards for learning objects and systems.
The range of project participants covers both suppliers and users of technologies for learning: universities, training centres, multimedia publishers, research centres and industry, including SMEs. Participants come from about 30 countries in- and outside Europe.
This portfolio will be reinforced by the projects selected under the last call, which focused on
• the interactions between the learning of the individual and that of the organisation in order to improve how current or emerging ICT can mutually enhance the learning processes for the individual and for the organisation.
• new understandings of learning processes by exploring the links between human learning, cognition and technologies.
On-going research is based on expertise and knowledge built up by EU research into educational technology and multimedia since 1988. Under FP5 (1998-2002)
The application areas targeted by the research work were (virtual) universities, schools, professional training and lifelong learning.
One strand of projects developed electronic platforms and brokerage systems for exchanging and trading multimedia components for learning, the so called ‘learning objects’. Technology in conjunction with interoperability standards allows teachers and learners authoring themselves courses and other material by accessing, tailoring and combining digital learning resources from large public and private repositories of educational content.
Other projects created collaborative learning environments for seamless access of teachers and learners to learning resources such as modeling software and remote laboratories. The projects developed demonstrators in science areas as diverse as water management, climate control, bioinformatics, medicine, astronomy, seismology, space science and robotics.
Under the so-called 'School of Tomorrow' action line of the programme, several projects have worked on new approaches to the use of technology in various teaching and learning situations occurring in the traditional classroom setting. Their developments support, for instance, more practical, more interactive and more collaborative learning experiences.
For learning at the workplace, novel tools and systems were designed in order to support management training and human resources development. Some projects resulted in virtual and blended learning spaces for technical domains like aeronautics or mechatronics.More information on projects, the programme and calls for proposals is available from the TeLearn website of the European Commission, Directorate-General 'Information Society and Media', unit 'Learning and Cultural Heritage'.