IFeL projects

The Institute for Open, Distance and eLearning Research (IFeL) is active in four research areas: personalised and adaptive learning, emotions in reading and learning, VR educational approaches and learning analytics. We methodically focus on the use of design-based research, artificial intelligence and machine learning, classical statistical approaches and the use of different measurement tools, such as log-file analysis, eye tracking, face reading, and so on.

Current projects

ALMoo-KI: Adaptive Learning with Moodle – Artificially Intelligent!

Based on our experience with the development and design of rule-based adaptive instructions, we aim to provide students with automatic and individually tailored (adaptive) feedback based on artificial intelligence technology.

For this purpose, a neural network from the company Taskbase is trained with tasks from two FFHS modules (Finance and Accounting, and Introduction to Health Psychology). The effects of the feedback on learning performance and learning behaviour are investigated.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Per Bergamin

Duration of the project: 2019 – 2023

AIDA: Analysis and Intervention in the Context of a Dropout Alerts

Academic failure can be prevented if the potential dropouts of course quizzes in online and adaptive learning could be detected as early as possible.

In the AIDA project, we employ machine learning to predict quiz dropout during the semester for students taking adaptive courses at the FFHS. To train the algorithm, log files of students interacting with the FFHS learning management system are collected over more than ten semesters. The trained algorithm will make accurate predictions and timely fine-grained alerts to prevent students from dropping out.

Contact: Dr. Behnam ParsaeifardDr. Ioan-Sorin Comsa

Duration of the project: 2019 – 2023

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

Inquiry-based learning has been proven to be a successful teaching strategy. Students are motivated to generate their own answers from their research.

The project aims to develop an adaptive questioning and scaffolding system to promote self-directed learning. This type of adaptive learning aims to empower students to pose their own research questions and take responsibility for their own learning.

Collaboration with Dr. Donnavan Kruger from the NWU of South Africa.

Contact: Dr. Egon Werlen, Dr. Donnavan Kruger (NWU)

Duration of the project: 2020 – 2022

LEA – Learning Environments for Analytics

Learning environments generate a lot of data that can be used for the analysis of teaching and learning behaviour and the support of learners and teachers.

LEA is a pseudo-learning management system developed at the IFeL to implement advanced analysis functions using additional sensors with the help of machine learning algorithms and to use them for experimental and field investigations. The aim is to use LEA together with existing LMSs to obtain very accurate and precise data on teaching and learning behaviours.

Contact: Dr. Tansu Pancar, Prof. Dr. Per Bergamin

Duration of the project: 2022 – 2024

SpeeTex – Speech to Text

In SpeeTex, we are investigating the usability, acceptance and advantages and disadvantages of tasks with spoken answers, especially for open questions. Furthermore, we want to know for which students spoken answers are advantageous.

In addition, we analyse emotional and cognitive states in the (spoken) answers. With the findings, we can improve and develop tasks that promote student learning.

We are working together with the Valais-based company recapp IT AG in Visp

Contact: Dr. Egon Werlen

Duration of the project: 2020 – 2023

Delphi Studies on the Future of Technology-Based Learning at the OUT

The OUT Delphi study aims to identify the critical factors needed for the successful implementation of technology-based learning at the Open University of Tanzania (OUT).

It also provides first insights into the potential of adaptive learning at OUT in the future. Practical recommendations will be developed to help policymakers and university managers to exploit the potential of technology-based learning in distance education. The study is funded by the UNESCO Chair PADE.

Contact: Victoria Mirata, Ernest Godson (OUT)

Duration of the project: 2020 – 2022

ProcraSSS (Procrastination, Self-directed Learning and Self-efficacy in Sports)

This project is centred on the prediction of dilatory behaviour in online studies, be it positive or negative.

The negative form is known as procrastination and manifests as the irrational delaying of tasks. Positive dilatory behaviour is a deliberate planning strategy for learning. In a preliminary study, we investigated whether such predictions could be made based on a mixture of factors. The results show that models with objective factors outperform subjective ones, which highlights the importance of log data in detecting dilatory tendencies.

Contact: Christof ImhofProf. Dr. Per Bergamin

Duration of the project: 2019 – 2023


The data warehouse project will create a platform, connecting all the data sources relevant to student learning in one storage.

The objective of the project is to enable faster iterations for researchers who want to access data in a meaningful way and, as such, speed up the research pipeline. Moreover, the project will showcase the possibilities of the platform on a selected case study analysing the existing FFHS courses.

Contact: Dr. Martin HlostaProf. Dr. Per Bergamin

Duration of the project: 2021 – 2022


Recent research has produced mixed results regarding the effectiveness of learning in virtual reality (VR).

If not designed properly, the rich, multisensory input of VR applications may induce cognitive overload that impedes the learning process. Therefore, it is crucial to gather robust measures of the cognitive load to optimise the instructional design for each student. In project CoLoR VR, we investigate whether motion-tracking data of VR headsets could serve as a convenient, unobtrusive alternative to cognitive load questionnaires.

Contact: Dr. Ivan Moser

Duration of the project: 2021 – 2024

P8 – DigiBasics: Basic Digital Competencies for Students in a Digital Society

In a cooperative project of pedagogical universities PHGR, PHSH, PHTG, PHZH, SUPSI and the University of Teacher Education in Special Needs, an online learning offer is being developed to promote basic digital competencies of students.

The FFHS is leading the development of a self-reflection tool that measures learners' prior experience and interest towards digital competencies and makes personalised recommendations about learning modules. The project is funded by the swissuniversities funding programme «P-8 Strengthening Digital Skills in Teaching».

The first phase of the P-8 Strengthening Digital Skills Program - Phase 1 (2019-2021) is now completed.

Contact: Victoria Mirata

Duration of the project: 2021 – 2024

Ambiente in Ascolto (AmAs)

In the project Ambiente in Ascolto (AmAs) – the environment in the ear – SUPSI, together with the IFeL or UNESCO Chair, is developing an adaptive course for teacher candidates and teachers in Switzerland 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.

At IFel, the adaptive instructional design will be created, and the course evaluated based on a design-based research approach. The project is supported by Movetia.

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

Duration of the project: 2019 – 2022 (August)