It has been a pleasure for me to chair this morning a very interesting session on the impact of MOOCs. I summarised five papers contributed by five teams of authors. Papers address the challenges around MOOCs and propose some solutions. This was followed by a debate by the authors with contributions by the audience.

Main topics included: challenges for educators and the institution; assessing the quality and impact of MOOCs; basic technological skills of educators and learners; and blended learning using MOOCs.

Some days ago Lori Lockyer, from Maquarie University (Sydney, Australia) visited us. We discuss with her our current research and she also shared with us outcomes from her projects, all around bringing learning design and analytic thinking together.




Together with MJ Rodríguez-Triana (EPFL), Y. Mor (PAU Education), P. Salvador (Carnegie Mellon), S. Warburton (U. of Surrey), B. Rienties (OU UK), L.P. Prieto (EPFL) and P. Scupelli (Carnegie Mellon), we’re co-organizing a workshop, to be held at EC-TEL 2016 in September in Lyon on “Connecting Learning Analytics with Learning Design“.

The workshop aims to open up the dialogue between the learning design (LD) and learning analytics (LA) communities, acknowledging the potential benefits for both fields from a productive synergy. As such, we expect participants from both of these communities, who have a deep understanding of one domain, and at least a keen interest in the other. We also welcome participants from other domains where the synergy of LD and LA could offer valuable opportunities.

Submissions are due in mid/end June. All the details in the workshop website: http://clad2016.ld-grid.org/#clad16 and the hashtag #clad16 !

We could have called it the “Learning Analytics Research Week” at DTIC. It was my pleasure to host several activities around learning analytics research last week. 

Dr. Roberto Martínez-Maldonado from the Connected Intelligence Centre (CIC) at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has been the first visiting academic with an Erasmus+ International Mobility Grant (Erasmus+ KA107) at UPF. Within the activities of his visit, he instructed seminars devoted to PhD students. They included a hands-on workshop on multidimensional activity data visualization. The workshop engaged participants in crafting participatory data stories through the development of rapid low fidelity prototypes of collaborative work data. The workshop briefly introduced a series of concepts (such as multimodal data visualisation, learning analytics, HCI interaction data capture and visual metaphors). Then, the workshop focused on analysing a multi-user, multi-modal dataset that imposes particular challenges for visualisation design. The purpose for the attendees was to generate out-of-the-box ideas for visualising this particular Learning Analytics dataset, aimed at telling a story about collaborative group processes.

roberto_martinez-maldonado_DTIC-UPFRoberto Martínez-Maldonado also gave a DTIC Research Seminar titled “Multi-modal sequence mining and analytics of face-to-face collaborative learning”, where he introduced his work aimed at analysing aspects of students’ activity when learning collaboratively using digital ecologies enriched with sensors for identifying users, and also at multi-display settings. This strand of research is seeking out to automatically distinguish, discover and distil salient common patterns of interaction within groups, by mining the logs of students’ actions, detected speech, changes in group’s artefacts, etc. The talk showcased a number of group situations where multiple people are engaged in creative tasks that require design thinking and sense making. Multiple data mining techniques have been used in these scenarios to generate understanding of collaborative group processes including: classification, sequence pattern mining, process mining and clustering techniques.

abelardo-pardo_DTIC_UPF.pngDr. Abelardo Pardo, Senior Lecturer at the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, The University of Sydney, also visited the DTIC last week. He gave a DTIC Research Seminar with the title “Feedback at scale with a little help from my algorithms”. In his talk, Abelardo Pardo explained that despite the importance of formative feedback to improve educational experiences, providing adequate feedback in the right form, at the right time, at the right level is still challenging and risky. Academics in higher education institutions are increasingly under pressure to solve the tension between larger student cohorts in active learning scenarios and the quality of feedback given to students. The increasing amount of tasks that are mediated by technology offers the possibility to obtain a detailed digital footprint of the students. The talk explored some ideas about how to combine educational technology, data collection and prediction algorithms with current tasks carried out by instructors to amplify their effect in active learning scenarios.

These activities are connected with the strategic research program on Data Science associated to the Maria de Maetzu” distinction awarded to the DTIC. Learning Analytics research partly funded by this program was also presented at the 6th International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference (LAK’16) recently held in Edinburgh.

I’ve enjoyed very much participating in the 6th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK’16) this year! I co-organized a workshop on learning analytics across-spaces, where also presented work on the alignment of learning design with analytics as a means to better interpret data coming from diverse spaces. This research is partly funded by RESET project and the Maria de Maeztu Units of Excellence Program awarded to our ICT department at UPF.
All workshop contributions were highly interesting and available online!


Other partner members of the RESET project (Alejandra Martínez-Monés, Universidad de Valladolid, and Pedro Muñoz Merino and José A. Ruipérez-Valiente, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) also contributed to the workshop and the main conference.

Related publications:

FutureLearn MOOC platform held its partners conference at our university (Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona) last 11 and 12 April. I participated in a panel discussion on “How to get the best out of social learning: a discussion on how to engage learners and provoke conversation” where I shared our experience running the 3D Graphics for Web Developers around the use of FutureLearn social learning mechanisms and our “PyramidApp”, an on-going research initiative in the context of RESET project aimed at investigating how to scale up active pedagogies.


Kickoff, CoT project


Our new research project “CoT” has just started! The project has received funding from RecerCaixa (see related UPF news item, RecerCaixa press). The kickoff meeting, with the members of the research team, was held yestarday at the Campus de Poblenou UPF (29/2/2016). The project will last until February 2019 (three years). Website will be ready soon and we will use the twitter hashtag #CoTprojectRC. Below the abstract of the project (també en català, y en español).


CoT: Communities of teaching as a data‐informed design science and contextualized practice

Abstract of the project: The research field of technologies for learning design deals with supporting teachers’ fundamental role of devising good arrangements for their students to learn. Sharing and collaboration around learning design practices between teachers, especially in the context of their educational centers, becomes a relevant mechanism for collectively improving teaching quality. The ultimate aim of the project is to empower teachers and educational centers as communities of teaching in which their members share the concern of being able to design the best possible learning activities for their students, learning from each other practices and considering the singularities of their context. To contribute towards this aim, the objective of the project focuses on providing teachers with a platform for data-informed learning design and studying the role that data analytics can play to support learning design processes in the context of educational communities. Data will include metrics of design activity within communities and metrics of engagement and achievement of learners when experiencing a learning design.

CAT Resum del projecte: La recerca que es farà en el projecte CoT, “comunitats d’ensenyament com a ciència de disseny informada amb dades i pràctica contextualitzada” persegueix millorar la manera en què els professors treballen amb altres professors, dissenyen les millors activitats possibles perquè els seus estudiants aprenguin i les implementen fent servir tecnologies de la informació i les comunicacions. Per aconseguir aquest objectiu, el projecte contribuirà amb tecnologies que permetin als centres educatius treballar en comunitat, fer servir sistemàticament processos de disseny per a la creació d’activitats innovadores, documentar la pràctica docent i reflexionar sobre el seu impacte per a millorar-la. Especial èmfasi de la recerca recaurà en entendre el paper d’analítiques de dades per recolzar els processes de disseny, incloent-hi dades d’accions de disseny per part dels professors i d’impacte en els estudiants.

ES Resumen del proyecto: La investigación que se hará en el proyecto CoT “comunidades de docencia como ciencia de diseño informada con datos y práctica contextualizada” persigue mejorar la manera en que los profesores trabajan con otros profesores, diseñan las mejores actividades posibles para que sus estudiantes aprendan y las implementen utilizando tecnologías de la información y las comunicaciones. Para conseguir este objetivo, el proyecto contribuirá con tecnologías que permitan a los centros educativos trabajar en comunidad, utilizando sistemáticamente procesos de diseño para la creación de actividades innovadoras, documentando la práctica docente y reflexionando sobre su impacto hacia la mejora. La investigación hará especial énfasis en estudiar el papel de las analíticas de aprendizaje para apoyar los procesos de diseño, incluyendo datos de acciones de diseño por parte de los profesores y de impacto con sus estudiantes.


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