Fields of research
Our research activities are centred around research and development of forward-thinking applications in e-learning.
Emotions, reading and learning
In the ‘emotions, reading and learning’ field of research, the most important question is how emotions can be applied in reading and learning to increase the absorption and integration of information. We investigate emotions which arise during analogue and digital reading and learning as well as how emotions can be influenced by texts and learning materials and how emotions can be integrated into texts and learning materials so as to boost performance. One important part of this work is to develop measurement methods which do not disturb or interrupt the reading and learning processes and the combination of different measurement processes e.g. eye tracking with emotion recognition using facial expressions. These measurement methods should be applied in the form of sensors in personalised and adaptive learning. The findings on the influence and impact of emotions in relation to reading and learning will be used in personalised and adaptive learning applications.
Personalised and adaptive instructional design
The individuality of the learner and his/her requirements form the focus of attention in personalised adaptive learning. Based on the analysis of learning-related variables (level of knowledge, behaviour in past stages of learning, interest and emotions), presentation of learning content is adapted either automatically or in the form of recommendations.
The learning content (e.g. difficulty), learning instructions (e.g. learning tips) and forms of presentation (e.g. text vs video) vary the most. Learners are therefore provided with a learning process that has been adapted to their individual requirements.
Our research and pilot projects explore how to design and measure the learning impact of adaptive learning environments and their didactic details.
This section provides an overview of our activities and our research and service projects in this field.
Online Prompting in Adaptive Learning
With OPaL (Online Prompting in Adaptive Learning) we develop and test adaptive online courses with content whose task solutions are not expressed in numbers and are therefore more difficult to measure. We use prompting tasks, a form of task in which learners compare their solution with an example solution. This sensor makes it possible to estimate the accuracy of each task and make recommendations for the following tasks.
Duration of project: 2018 - 2020
Neuro-Physiological Activity during Learning (NePAL)
The long term aim of this project is to use neurophysiological measurements, such as electrodermal activity and heart rate, collected with a wristband, as sensor for adaptive learning systems.
In a first phase we aim to develop and validate the E4 wristband as a so-called non-intrusive sensor by comparing different measurement methods in the context of learning – subjective ratings (questionnaires), automated facial action coding (FACS) and neurophysiological data (wristband) registering emotional valence and intensity or arousal. From these results we will define the usefulness of neurophysiological measures in detecting emotions and emotional changes in different learning contexts (learning on the screen, in the classroom etc.). In a later phase we aim to use such data to construct individual and adaptive educational interventions.
Duration: Start 2018
Adaptive learning with Moodle
Students involved in the ALMOO II project undertake adaptive learning using Moodle. Adaptive online tasks are introduced in various models and are integrated into the regular learning platform for FFHS Moodle to prepare in-class lessons according to the Flipped Classroom concept.
The project is run internally and collaborates on an interdisciplinary level with the Learning Center, lecturers and the Laboratory for Web Science. The feasibility and effectiveness of various forms of implementation are empirically evaluated (in particular quantitatively).
Duration of project: October 2017 to April 2020 (second phase)
Virtual reality in distance learning
The VIRLA project focuses on the potential of virtual learning environments in (distance learning) lessons. We explore whether the use of VR generates any added value and if so, in which fields.
Using 3D glasses, it is possible to interact with other people in simulated environments and to work together on a (learning) task. Unlike with classic video conferencing, spatial interaction is possible in virtual reality (VR). Any distracting or disruptive influences can be controlled because the screen fills the whole field of vision. Big IT firms are therefore investing a lot of money into the further development of this technology. We are researching how learning with VR performs compared to video conferencing or ‘face-to-face’ situations.
Duration of project: November 2016 – December 2018 (phase one)
Short Usability Scale
The Short Usability Scale is a tool for assessing the usability of information technology systems.
The Short Usability Scale (SUS) consists of 10 questions. It measures the usability of information technology systems e.g. websites, learning systems and applications on a PC, tablet and smartphone. We have translated the questionnaire into German and checked its suitability for the field of e-learning. The German version of the SUS should then be improved and developed further.
Duration of project: 2015 - June 2018 (phase one)
Database of emotional texts
A multilingual database of short emotional texts is being created within the EU network COST Action E-READ.
We are compiling the database with international partners. The texts are being compiled in the relevant national language and according to the strength of emotion (positive, negative), level of emotional excitation (calm to excited) and comprehensibility. Automatic lexical analyses are also carried out. The findings from these analyses will be used at a later date in learning materials as part of the personalised and adaptive learning.
Duration of project: 2014 - June 2018
Cost-effective measurement methods for emotions and cognition
This benchmark study tests cost-effective tools in the field of eye tracking and emotion recognition using facial expressions.
The suitable cost-effective tools and software from LoCoTrack (Low Cost Tracking of eye gaze and facial emotions) for conducting research in the field should be put to use at a later date by several dozen students in field studies and in personalised and adaptive learning. The study is being carried out in collaboration with the North-West University in South Africa and the Technical University, Ankara.
Duration of project: 2016 – 2018
Lab for Technology-based Learning
The IFeL Lab for Technology-based Learning (TBL Lab) has tools for measuring eye movements (“eye tracker”), emotions in facial expressions (FACS) and psychophysiological data (e.g. heartbeat, skin conductance). The Eye Trackers can be used to establish where and for how long learners look (e.g. at a screen) and what they are concentrating on. The facial expressions enable conclusions to be drawn about emotions such as curiosity, interest, frustration or confusion.
In experiments and field tests, we combine the eye tracker with facial expression measurements. This enables us to identify what students are looking at as well as the emotional significance of this for them. This is of great significance in learning, improving learning materials and adapting learning content to the requirements of the students. The findings obtained will then be implemented in future learning offers.
- Articles in specialist magazines
- Conference contributions and proceedings
- Books and chapters of books
- Further publications
Networks & partnerships
We maintain a wide network of contacts with universities and public and private organisations.
- Middle East Technical University, Ankara
- North-West University of South-Africa
- Schweizerische Stiftung für audiovisuelle Bildungsangebote (SSAB)
- Fachhochschule Südschweiz (SUPSI)
- Uni Bern, Institut für Psychologie, Kognitive Psychologie, Wahrnehmung und Methodenlehre
- COST Action E-Read (Evolution of Reading in the Age of Digitalisation)