I’m pleased that our  paper about social learning spaces for MOOCs, with an analysis of a case in FutureLearn, has been accepted for presentation in the Research track of EMOOCs 2017 Conference!

Manathunga, K., Hernández-Leo, D., Sharples, M., (2017) A Social Learning Space Grid for MOOCs: Exploring a FutureLearn Case, Proceedings of the 5th European MOOCs Stakeholders Summit, EMOOCs 2017, Springer LNCS, Madrid, Spain. https://repositori.upf.edu/handle/10230/28273

Abstract. Collaborative and social engagement promote active learning through knowledge intensive interactions. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are dynamic and diversified learning spaces with varying factors like flexible time frames, student count, demographics requiring higher engagement and motivation to continue learning and for designers to implement novel pedagogies including collaborative learning activities. This paper looks into available and potential collaborative and social learning spaces within MOOCs and proposes a social learning space grid that can aid MOOC designers to implement such spaces, considering the related requirements. Furthermore, it describes a MOOC case study incorporating three collaborative and social learning spaces and discusses challenges faced. Interesting lessons learned from the case give an insight on which spaces to be implemented and the scenarios and factors to be considered.

We also presented this work, link to slides, in the FLAN meeting (Barcelona, January 2017)

Martinez-Maldonado, R., Goodyear, P., Carvalho, L., Thompson, K., Hernandez-Leo, D., Dimitriadis, Y., Prieto, L. P., and Wardak, D. (2017). Supporting Collaborative Design Activity in a Multi-User Digital Design Ecology. Computers in Human Behaviour, CHB, 71(June 2017), 327-342.
Open access: https://repositori.upf.edu/handle/10230/28165


Across a broad range of design professions, there has been extensive research on design practices and considerable progress in creating new computer-based systems that support design work. Our research is focused on educational/instructional design for students’ learning. In this sub-field, progress has been more limited. In particular, neither research nor systems development have paid much attention to the fact that design is becoming a more collaborative endeavor. This paper reports the latest research outcomes from R&D in the Educational Design Studio (EDS), a facility developed iteratively over four years to support and understand collaborative, real-time, co-present design work. The EDS serves to (i) enhance our scientific understanding of design processes and design cognition and (ii) provide insights into how designers’ work can be improved through appropriate technological support. In the study presented here, we introduced a complex, multi-user, digital design tool into the existing ecology of tools and resources available in the EDS. We analysed the activity of four pairs of ‘teacher-designers’ during a design task. We identified different behaviors – in reconfiguring the task, the working methods and toolset usage. Our data provide new insights about the affordances of different digital and analogue design surfaces used in the Studio.

Special issue on
“Connecting Learning Design and Learning Analytics”

to be published at the
Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal (IxD&A)
CFP: http://ixdea.uniroma2.it/inevent/events/idea2010/index.php?s=102&link=call33
Guest Editors:
• Davinia Hernández-Leo, Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona
• María Jesús Rodríguez-Triana, École Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne
• Yishay Mor, independent consultant
• Paul Salvador Inventado, Carnegie Mellon University

Important dates:
• Deadline: May 20, 2017
• Notification to the authors: June 30, 2017
• Camera ready paper: July 30, 2017
• Publication of the special issue: end of September, 2017

Learning Design (LD) and Learning Analytics (LA) are both domains of research and action that aim to improve learning effectiveness.

Learning Design or, Design for Learning, is an emerging field of educational research and practice. Its practitioners are interested in understanding how the intuitive processes undertaken by teachers and trainers can be made visible, shared, exposed to scrutiny, and consequently made more effective and efficient. Arguably, most of the work in the field of LD has focused on the creative processes, on practices, tools and representations to support it, and on mechanisms for sharing its outputs between practitioners. Very little has been done in terms of the practices, tools and representations used for evaluating the effects of the designs. Several approaches emphasise top-down quality enhancement, which help designers to base their work on sound pedagogical principles. What is missing is the trajectory that would complete the feedback loop: the built-in evaluation of designs to see whether they achieved the expected outcomes.

Learning Analytics are about collecting and reporting data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning environments. LA typically employ large datasets to provide real-time or retrospective insights about the effect and effectiveness of various elements and features of learning environments. Learning analytics are rooted in data science, artificial intelligence, and practices of recommender systems, online marketing and business intelligence. The tools and techniques developed in these domains make it possible to identify trends and patterns, and then benchmark individuals or groups against these trends. LA can help to identify at-risk learners and provide interventions, transform pedagogical approaches, and help students gain insight into their own learning.

How Learning Design may help Learning Analytics? According to situational approaches, one of the prerequisites to obtain relevant outputs is not to isolate the analysis of educational data from the context in which it is embedded. This tandem between LD and LA offers the opportunity to better understand student behaviour and provide pedagogical recommendations when deviations from the original pedagogical intention emerge addressing one of the challenges posed by LA.

How Learning Analytics may support Learning Design? Reciprocally, well-formulated learning analytics can be helpful to inform teachers on the success and outcomes of their learning designs. Learning analytics can provide evidences of the impact of a design in one or several learning situations in aspects such as engagement patterns in the activities proposed by the learning design, learning paths followed by the students, time consumed to complete the activities, etc.

To sum up, LD offers LA a domain vocabulary, representing the elements of a learning system to which analytics can be applied. LA in turn, offers LD a higher degree of rigor by validating or refuting assumptions about the effects of various designs in diverse contexts. There is a natural and synergistic relationship between both domains, which has led to a growing interest and some initial effort in bringing them together. However, making these links operational and coherent is still an open challenge.

Topics of Interest
This special issue solicits original research papers framing connecting learning design with learning analytics.
The main topics of interest are:

● Practical examples of synergies between LD and LA.
● Methods and tools for developing data-enriched learning design and / or design-aware learning analytics.
● Application domains for integrated LD-LA approaches, such as teacher inquiry, learning at scale, and self-determined learning.
● Theoretical and conceptual foundations, opportunities and challenges for synergies between LD and LA.
● Meta-models and mediating frameworks for connecting and correlating LD and LA.
● Utilising Design Patterns as such meta-models, and as boundary objects for all of the above.

Submission guidelines and procedure
All submissions (abstracts and later final manuscripts) must be original and may not be under review by another publication.
The manuscripts should be submitted either in .doc or in .rtf format.
All papers will be blindly peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers.
Authors are invited to submit 8-20 pages paper (including authors’ information, abstract, all tables, figures, references, etc.).
The paper should be written according to the IxD&A authors’ guidelines

Authors’ guidelines

Link to the paper submission page:
(Please upload all submissions using the Submission page. When submitting the paper, please, choose Domain Subjects under:
“IxD&A special issue on: ‘Connecting Learning Design with Learning Analytics’)

More information on the submission procedure and on the characteristics
of the paper format can be found on the website of the IxD&A Journal
where information on the copyright policy and responsibility of authors,
publication ethics and malpractice are published.

For scientific advice and queries, please contact any of the guest-editors below and mark the subject as:
IxD&A special issue on: Connecting Learning Design with Learning Analytics.

• davinia [dot] hernandez [at] upf [dot] edu
• maria [dot] rodrigueztriana [at] epfl [dot] ch
• yishaym [at] gmail [dot] com
• pinventado [at] cmu [dot] edu

We were delighted to host yesterday in UPF Barcelona the FutureLearn Academic Network meeting, with the theme “The Educator Experience”.  The meeting was co-organized by FutureLearn, the UPF Center for Learning Innovation & Knowledge (CLIK, directed by Manel Jiménez) and the Learning Technologies research team that I coordinate within the Interactive Technologies group at the UPF ICT Department.

flan-12The event started with an inspiring keynote by Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal & Vice-Chancellor, University of Edinburgh, who explained Edinburgh’s developing MOOC strategy, including producing 64 online Masters courses.

foto2.pngDr. Lisa Harris and Nic Fair explained how they are integrating MOOCs intoUniversity of Southampton practice from a perspective of education and research. foto3.png

Dr. Rebecca Ferguson, from The Open University, presented an very interesting analysis about what the research of FutureLearn’s UK partners tell us.


PhD Students from the Open University (ShiMing Chua,Tina Papathoma) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Kalpani Manathunga,Ishari Amarasinghe, Kostas Michos) presented their ongoing research around analyzing and enhancing social learning in MOOCs and how educators learn how to teach in MOOCs.

And Manel and I gave an overview of the MOOC research carried out at UPF essentially in the context of the RESET project and the DTIC Maria de Maetzu strategic program on Data-Driven Knowledge Extraction.

foto5There was also a Skype discussion with the participation of Ester Oliveras (UPF), Sarah Cornelius (University of Aberdeen), Sarah Speight (Nottingham), Pierre Binetruy (Paris Diderot) moderated by Mike Sharples about what have been the experiences of educators on FutureLearn courses, and how can these be improved.

All in all it was an enriching event, with interesting ideas and discussions about the role of MOOCs to achieve educational impact, to accelerate the educational technologies strategy within the institution, for educational research, and as research methodology. See #BarcelonaFLAN in twitter! And pictures in Flickr!

Open PhD Fellowships at the DTIC, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
within the INPhINIT “la Caixa” Marie Curie Fellowships Programme.

The DTIC as a “Maria de Maeztu Centre of Excellence” is a hosting institution within the INPhINIT “la Caixa” Fellowships Programme. One of the proposed topics for the fellowships is:

Connecting Learning Analytics with Learning Design


The learning design field has produced computer tools to assist teachers in the creation of pedagogically-sound learning environments, for instance by providing patterns of good educational practices or by supporting sharing and co-creation within teaching communities. This project will advance the state of the art in this domain by researching how data can play a key role in a new generation of tools for evidence-based learning design. During recent years, analytics and data mining techniques have been used to extract actionable information from large data quantities in a variety of scientific fields. The areas of learning analytics and educational data science have emerged to explore how this data can be used to increase the understanding and quality of learning experiences. The learning analytics field has undergone a fast expansion and the use of data is now being considered for assisting in aspects such as students’ retention. Recent reflections of the use of data in learning environments shows an increasingly complex landscape influenced by multiple disciplines and fields, including learning design. Connecting learning analytics and learning design amounts to assuming the existence of comprehensive data capturing and analysis mechanisms at various levels to inform and influence the learning experience, the design process, and the community of authors that create these designs.

This research project will be supervised by Dr. Hernández-Leo, a permanent faculty member in the Group of Interactive Technologies (GTI) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. The GTI , focuses on human aspects and technology and has a lab focused on technologies for education. The educational technologies lab, led by Dr. Hernández-Leo, has currently ten members and their research lies at the intersection of network and computer applications, human-computer interaction and learning sciences. They have extensive experience in learning design technologies (e.g., Collage, LdShake, ILDE) and are currently involved in learning analytics projects.

The PhD position is offered to a highly motivated researcher, to join our team in interdisciplinary learning technologies research. The successful candidate should have an excellent undergraduate and master academic record. Candidates should have a strong desire to see their technological work applied in solving impactful problems in the context of education. The successful candidate should also have the ability to work both independently and as part of a team. Evidence of good programming and data analysis skills as well as excellent interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills are desirable. Please contact Davinia Hernández-Leo at davinia.hernandez@upf.edu for any question or further information needed.


  • 3-year contract
  • €34,800 gross annual salary + €3,564 annual additional funding
  • Award of €7,500 for the PhD fellow in case he/she presented the thesis within a period of 3.5 years
  • Additional training in transversal skills: technology transfer, entrepreneurship, professional development.
  • Research stays in academia and industry.   
  • Participation in networking and outreach activities.
  • Deadline for incorporation of candidates: September/October 2017..


Fellowship eligibility:

  • Be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date. Short stays such as holidays will not be taken into account.
  • Have a demonstrable level of English (B2 or higher).

PhD program admission

  • Accredited undergraduate degree (Bachelor degree or recognised equivalent degree from an accredited Higher Education Institution).  
  • Accredited graduate/master’s degree (equivalent to a Spanish Master Universitario/Oficial, Master’s of Research…. ) which enables them to access a Phd programme in their home country.
  • Total of 300 ECTS credits, 60 of those have to correspond to an official graduate, research oriented, master’s programme.

Selection criteria


  • Academic records and CV (50%).
  • Motivation and goals declaration (30%): originality, innovation, impact and link with the selected Research Centre.
  • Recommendation letters (20%).


  • Potential (40%), motivation and impact (20%), CV (30%).

Important dates

  • Website open for applications: November 7th, 2016.
  • Application deadline: February 2nd, 2017.


How to apply

Applications are managed through the program website, More information about the procedure: www.inphinitlacaixa.org

For additional information on the PhD program: phd.dtic@upf.edu

For additional information on the topic: davinia.hernandez@upf.edu


The UPF DTIC PhD program offers advanced training in a broad range of topics in the field of Information and Communication Technologies.

This is an innovative program, unique in Catalonia and Spain in terms of its content, which aims to provide a bridge between various disciplines in this field. The DTIC PhD program has been growing steadily and currently hosts about 130 PhD students and 40 faculty and tenure-track professors who can supervise a PhD thesis. The program received a Mention of Excellence award from the Ministry of Science and Innovation in 2011.

The DTIC department consistently ranks among the top computer science departments in Spain (e.g. the only computer science department from an Spanish university that has even been included in the top 100 of the Shanghai Ranking). The DTIC’s research activities are organized around 15 groups pursuing a wide range of topics that include networking, wireless communications, multimedia, image and music processing, medical imaging, interactive technologies, learning technologies, artificial intelligence, data mining, and computational neuroscience, among others.

The UPF university was awarded in 2010 the distinction of International Excellence Campus by the Spanish Ministry of Education and it is widely considered to be one of the best universities in Spain (e.g. is the top Spanish university according to 2013 Times Higher Education Ranking).

The UPF is located in Barcelona. Its excellent location on the shores of the Mediterranean, its gentle climate, its open, cosmopolitan character, its gastronomy and architecture make Barcelona an extraordinary place to live. The DTIC is sited in UPF’s Communication Campus, which was opened in 2009 and is located within the vibrant 22@ technological district of Barcelona.

ChangeMakers project

The kick-off of our new project, ChangeMakers: Nurturing the design thinking mindset of children through coordinated gaming, was held last 19-20 Dec. Info at the UPF website (and DTIC, and ACUP) website, and some impact in media.

Website: www.changemkrs.eu

Facebook: www.facebook.com/changemk/


Cross-LAK 2017: 2nd International Workshop on Learning Analytics Across Physical and Digital Spaces

*Call for Papers*



In conjunction with LAK 2017 at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada | March 13-17, 2017 http://lak17.solaresearch.org/

Important Dates

Submission Deadline: Jan. 10, 2017
Notification to Authors: Feb 10, 2017
Camera-Ready Papers: March 1, 2017
Workshop: April 13 or 14, 2017

Workshop Theme

Student’s learning happens where the learner is rather than being constrained to a single physical or digital environment. Educational research has revealed the pedagogical benefits of letting students experience different types of content, “real world” challenges, and physical and social interactions with educators or other learners. Students commonly work outside the boundaries of the institutional learning system(s). They may interact face-to-face, use other educational tools or even use tools that were not specifically designed to serve in learning contexts. Teachers may want students to use not only the tools offered by the institution, but also other tools that are more suitable to the context and subject matter.

Pervasive and mobile technologies can be used to allow learners to get remote access to educational resources from different physical spaces (e.g. ubiquitous/mobile learning support) or to enrich their learning experiences in the classroom in ways that were not previously possible (e.g. face-to-face/blended learning support). This is creating new possibilities for learning analytics to provide continued support or a more holistic view about learning, moving beyond desktop-based learning resources. An overarching concern is how to integrate analytics across these different spaces and tools in a coordinated way. In short, there is an increasing interest in providing support for students’ learning across physical and digital spaces, and the means to achieve this are more readily available.

We invite invite contributions to the Workshop on Learning Analytics Across Physical and Digital Spaces Research. Contributions should relate to the design and study of learning analytics innovations and solutions, including but not limited to any of the following themes:

    >>>Support Across Multiple Digital Spaces: Studies of novel analytics approaches and systems that span across multiple digital learning tools (including mining, modelling or visualising datasets that integrate logs from multiple learning tools);

    >>>Bridging the Physical and Digital Realms: Design and study of learning situations that include collocated settings and/or the use of online (remote access) tools  (e.g. including ‘everyday’ settings, collocated collaboration situations, multi-device ecologies or blended learning cases);

    >>>Data Integration of Heterogeneous Learning Data Sources: Discussion of methodologies and theoretical approaches, and their technical solutions, to integrate learning activity logs from multiple sources of learner’s data (including technical but also non-technical issues such as ethics, orchestration or data management).


Submissions; we welcome papers under two categories:

    >>>Short papers (5 pages). Short papers consist of authors describing their research in the area of learning analytics across physical and digital spaces, aligned to at least one of the four themes of the workshop. Authors of successful submissions will give a brief firehose presentation and present a poster at the poster session during the workshop.

    >>>Position papers (2-5 pages). Position papers explain a unique perspective on the field that the author would like to contribute, aligned to one or all the themes of the workshop. Authors of successful submissions will participate in one of panel to be held during the workshop.

Participation Requirements: All workshop participants are encouraged to submit at least one paper under any of these two categories. There is no restriction on the number of papers submitted by the same author. The submission of a paper is not compulsory.

Formatting: Contributions must be submitted through the EasyChair submission system. Please use the formatting instructions and the template provided in the workshop website.


The expected outcomes of the workshop are the following:  

    >>>Consolidating the Cross-LAK Community. This workshop will build on the design space and guidelines formulated in the first edition of Cross-LAK [8] in order to consolidate the synergy between researchers and propose further steps as a community.

    >>>Provide a forum to ignite collaboration. The workshop will bring together the sub-communities within the learning sciences, educational technology, and LAK with the goal of contributing with their expertise in identifying the major issues to be tackled in the area, generating new ideas for future research and sparking on each other in ways that can lead to future collaboration within the LAK community.

    >>>Work towards a special issue on Cross-LAK themes. Proceedings of research papers which will be produced and selected papers will be invited to be submitted in full to a special issue (SI) on Cross-LAK in an indexed journal so other members of the LAK community can benefit and further contribute to the design space.

Organising Committee

Roberto Martinez-Maldonado (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
Davinia Hernandez-Leo (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain)
Abelardo Pardo (The University of Sydney, Australia)
Hiroaki Ogata (Kyushu University, Japan)

If you have any further questions, we encourage you to contact the organisers at <roberto.martinez-maldonado [at] uts.edu.au, davinia.hernandez [at] upf.edu>.