IFeL projects

The Institute for Research in Open, Distance and eLearning (IFeL) deals primarily with topics from the areas of emotions, reading and learning, personalized and adaptive instruction design, as well as the use of Virtual Reality, eye tracking and face reading as measuring instruments.

MOOC – Technology Based Adaptive Learning

Our MOOC on adaptive learning aims to give an overview on the topic.

Every week is dedicated to a different aspect spanning from the structure of adaptive learning systems, over learning analytics to didactical questions. The MOOC is part of the UNESCO Chair in personalised and adaptive distance education and part of the push to open education and make it more accessible to everyone.

We carry out this project in cooperation with the Zurich-based company Taskbase and corresponding lecturers.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Per Bergamin

Duration of the project: 2019 - 2022

Collaborative Learning in Virtual Environments

The aim of project CLIVE (Collaborative Learning in Virtual Environments) is to design and evaluate a learning environment in virtual reality, which could be implemented in blended learning courses. The environment can enable social skills training in a multi-user virtual environment with high practical relevance.

Dietitians play a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of nutritional diseases. Their profession requires highly developed conversational skills.
Virtual reality (VR) offers the simulation of social situations, which would not be possible with classical teaching methods, or could only be achieved with considerable effort. Basic research suggests that VR can be successfully used for social skills training
and the training of health-care professionals. In a feasibility study, we design and evaluate a multi-user VR environment that enables dietetics students to practice professional conversations in a virtual hospital room.

Contact: Dr. Ivan Moser
Duration of the project: 2020 - 2021

Learning in Adaptive, Self-directed, Scaffolded and Inquiry-based Environments (LASSIE)

Inquiry-based learning (IBL) has proven to be a successful instructional strategy that enhances learning across disciplines especially in science curricula. One of the reasons for its success is how electronic learning environments support its integration by motivating learners to generate their own answers from their research.

This project aims to develop an adaptive questioning and scaffolding system in the inquiry learning process and enable a more personalised experience to enhance self-directed learning. Inquiry-based learning infused into an adaptive learning environment may mutually support and enhance benefits offered by both the adaptive system and self-directed learning. Following this approach, adaptive learning aims to empower students to set their own research questions and take responsibility for their own learning.

Collaboration with Dr. Donnavan Kruger of the North-West University South Africa.

Contact: Dr. Egon Werlen, Donnavan Kruger

Duration of the project: 2020 – 2022

ProcraSSS (procrastination, self-directed learning and self-efficacy in sports)

ProcraSSS stands for procrastination, self-directed learning and self-efficacy in sports. This project revolves around the prediction of dilatory behaviour in online studies. Dilatory behaviour can be either positive or negative. The negative form is known as procrastination and manifests as the irrational delaying of important tasks. Positive dilatory behaviour is a deliberately used planning strategy for learning.

In a preliminary study at the FFHS, we investigated whether such predictions could be made based on a mixture of subjective and objective factors. The subjective factors were self-efficacy, self-directed learning, procrastination, and purposeful delay. The objective predictors were click-based and temporal log data extracted from Moodle, i.e. the number of clicks per assignment, the number of clicks on relevant course activities, and the interval between the first click on an assignment and its submission. The results show that objective factors can predict dilatory behaviour, i.e. meeting the deadline, better than those with subjective factors. This highlights the importance of log data in detecting dilatory tendencies. The accuracy of the prediction is as high as 75%.

In a follow-up study, we intend to replicate the results with students in physical education at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, and extend them with interview data.

Contact: Christof Imhof

Projekt duration: 2019 -2021

Adaptive learning with Moodle - Artificially intelligent!

Based on our experience with the development and design of rule-based adaptive instructional designs (see project adaptive learning with Moodle), we want to enable adaptive feedback based on artificial intelligence.

For this pilot project - ALMoo KI for short - we have selected two modules at FFHS:

On the one hand, online calculation tasks of various modules of the "Accounting and Finance" department are to provide feedback on the corresponding misconceptions in the event of errors.

On the other hand, a health psychology module will automatically correct answers to open online questions.

The algorithm (the neural network) will be trained on the basis of manually entered categorizations and error corrections of answers by the lecturers. This should enable the algorithm to classify the students' answers correctly and incorrectly in real time and, if necessary, to recognize the underlying misconcept and make learning recommendations.

In addition to the feasibility of this automatic feedback, research questions here also include the effects on learning behaviour and acceptance by students.

We carry out this project in cooperation with the Zurich-based company Taskbase and corresponding lecturers.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Per Bergamin

Duration of the project: 2019 - 2022

Delphi Studies on Technology-Based Learning

In the context of the UNESCO chair on Personalised and Adaptive Learning, we conduct Delphi studies at different organisations and help to develop effective strategies in the field of technology-based learning. 

The Delphi method is a research method, which aims at collecting expert opinions and their justifications on a specific topic. It allows approaching systematically a complex and ill-defined issue in a collaborative and iterative way. The Delphi method is used e.g. for future forecasting, decision making or for determining strategies. Currently, a Delphi study is conducted at the North West University of South Africa and Swiss Distance University of Applied Sciences for defining research strategies to foster the implementation of personalized and adaptive learning in both organizations and to develop further a research strategy of the UNESCO chair for joint research activities. 

Contact: Victoria Mirata

Duration: from 2017 

Ambiente in Ascolto (AmAs)

In the project Ambiente in Ascolto (AmAs) - Listening the Environment - the  Teacher School of the SUPSI, together with IFeL / UNESCO Chair on Personalised and Adaptive Distance Learning, is developing an adaptive course for teacher candidates and teachers in Switzerland (SUPSI) and Brazil (University of Caxias do Sul).

The course is offered in a blended learning approach online and face-to-face and includes adaptive assignments. Adaptive in this context means that, for example, the task difficulty adapts to the learners' competences. The course will be delivered in Italian and Portuguese and will take into account the culture of each country. The aim is to promote "ambient reading skills" among the participants.

At IFel, the adaptive instructional design will be created and the course evaluated on the basis of a design-based research approach. Special attention will be paid to an interactive map with sound recordings and the emotions that the corresponding stimuli trigger in the context of learning. The background of the project is to bring together the subject disciplines of natural sciences, history, geography, music and visual arts. The interactive map with sound recordings serves as working material and for the dissemination of the project. The project is supported by Movetia.

FFHS: Dr. Egon Werlen / SUPSI: Prof. Dr. Lorena Rocca

Duration of the project: 2019-2022 (August)


Our students regularly write essays,  answer questions and assignments in writing. With SpeeTex (Speech to Text), we aim to investigate for which tasks and for which students it is advantageous to speak instead of write texts. We work together with the Valais-based company recapp IT AG (https://recapp.ch).

The spoken texts are automatically translated into text. Students can read the transcribed voice recordings and correct them if necessary. In a preliminary study, we investigate the technological feasibility and the students' reactions to this new type of task. We measure the acceptance of the Speech-to-Text tasks by students and lecturers as well as the usability and predictive power on performance. In a later phase, we will analyze cognitions and emotions in the automatically transcribed texts.

Cooperation with recapp IT AG in Visp

Contact: Dr. Egon Werlen

Duration of the project: 2020 – 2022