The Project

The main priority tackled in the colMOOC project identifies that there is a need to make MOOCs more collaborative to support teachers and engage and motivate students

Conversational pedagogical agents guide and support student dialogue using natural language both in individual and collaborative settings. Conversational agents have been produced to meet a wide variety of applications and studies exploring the usage of such agents have led to positive results. Integrating this type of conversational

agents into MOOCs to trigger peer interaction in discussion groups is expected to considerably increase the engagement and the commitment of online students (and, consequently, reduce MOOCs dropout rate).

With the usage of learning analytics more meaningful assessment may be achieved, since educators can evaluate the work’s progress during each step and adapt the following steps accordingly. This also enables learners to reflect on each specific step and ensure they have obtained the necessary knowledge to progress effectively.

Aims and Objectives

The colMOOC project aims to deliver a highly innovative and beyond the current state-of-the-art MOOC model and implementation with the integration of services based on conversational agents and learning analytics. Especially for the CAs, it is emphasized that the latest studies systematically indicate that agent interventions during peer interaction (i.e. online discussions) trigger task relevant cognitive activity that leads to improved learning outcomes at many levels The agent interventions are modeled according to what is known as "Academically Productive Talk" (APT) framework, which essentially refers to modeling the experienced teacher’s “moves” (interventions) during students’ dialogue to make students elaborate in the domain.

The learning experience that this type of agent provides to students is similar to having one more partner in their group trying to respond to this partner’s prompts.

The strategic goal of the project is to make a significant contribution towards European universities in their development towards knowledge service providers to the economy and society at large and to target the now transversal competencies of programming, computational and design thinking as well as concrete application of new technologies for teaching.

While the EU universities jointly offer a high level of education, they trail behind in offering novel and transversal competencies as well as in developing joint and novel approaches to MOOC education.

Ultimately, the project aims to provide novel methods for teaching and learning to address the problem of attrition in online learning. These goals will be achieved by pursuing the following objectives:

Develop new learning and teaching methods for MOOCs

building on novel technologies in collaborative learning like conversational agents for MOOCs that are capable of analysing learner interaction, facilitate learners’ self-regulation and –assessment, and that can be integrated in a MOOC platform.

Promote innovative solutions to current and future challenges

and for sustainable impact on Europe’s education and training systems by granting open access to the conversational agents built within the project.

Demonstrate and validate the built capacity for innovative

teaching and learning methods and mainstreaming them to the existing education and training systems, by the design, execution and assessment of several pilots that orchestrate individual and collaborative learning activities.

Spread the best practice pilots built in the project to all participating universities

and other economic and societal stakeholders (educational authorities and civil society organizations for further training for the unemployed, businesses for further training of the workforce) as well as granting access to the MOOCs on European and national providers for free, openly accessible MOOCs, e.g., platform.europeanmoocs.eu.

The application of the results in multiple countries and large number of users will collect and analyze substantive evidence on our approaches. The usage of a well-established pedagogical model and the gathering, processing and analysis of the generated data with novel LA tools will provide informative evidence that can set the foundations for future concrete methodologies.

These methodologies will foster participatory learning in a structured environment where learners will be able to develop transversal as well as domain-specific skills, becoming equipped for their future employability.Finally, the colMOOC project will enforce market stakeholders in educational technology sector with new tools and methods.

Project Structure

The project will be divided into three major phases:

  • Analysis & Design: During the Analysis & Design, the partnership will identify all the possible user requirements.
  • Implementation: The Implementation phase regards the preparation and practical application of the designed results in real world settings and large number of end-users to test their validity and ability to enhance the quality of education and training.
  • Evidence-based Policy Formation: This phase includes the accumulation, study and analysis of the evaluation results after the trials and the corresponding design of policy recommendations. These recommendations will be concrete and in accordance to the policy making lifecycle.

The strategic goal of the project is to make a significant contribution towards European universities in their development towards knowledge service providers to the economy and society at large and to target the now transversal competencies of programming, computational and design thinking as well as concrete application of new technologies for teaching.

While the EU universities jointly offer a high level of education, they trail behind in offering novel and transversal competencies as well as in developing joint and novel approaches to MOOC education.

Ultimately, the project aims to provide novel methods for teaching and learning to address the problem of attrition in online learning. These goals will be achieved by pursuing the following objectives:

Fig. 1. colMOOC project main activities

Expected Results

The results of the colMOOC project are expected to benefit the higher education institutions in different ways:

  • Enhanced MOOC courses: the project will provide prototype MOOC courses and services that will increase students’ online engagement in conditions of productive dialogue and thus deeper learning. This, in turn, is expected to increase students’ motivation and interest to follow the course. Moreover, university teachers will be able to use new and innovative pedagogical approaches such as collaborative learning supported by conversational agents to produce similar MOOCs for a diverse, larger audience
  • Minimize the dropout rate by integrating learning analytics based students’ assessment and the cost of accreditation.
  • As a marketing tool, increase the student enrolment by offering short MOOCs of different disciplines to potential students of formal academic programs, where they can see, try and understand the university pedagogical model and technological advances before the formal enrolment.
  • New research opportunities.

Moreover, enterprises are also going to be benefitted from the project outcomes in two main ways:

  • Enforce their market strategy with new tools and methods.
  • Minimize the dropout rate by integrating learning analytics based students’ assessment and the cost of accreditation.
  • New market areas for not educational technology ICT companies

These results cannot be achieved without cooperation at national, regional or local level for the following reasons:

  • The pilots will be implemented in four different countries (Greece, Spain, Germany, Denmark)
  • In order to provide a more holistic approach that will be available to the market, the proposed solution should be able to be applied in different educational domains and approaches
  • The consortium includes experts in all fields (experts in pedagogy, MOOCs, conversational agents, learning analytics and educational scenarios).

Pilots

The main motivation of the project is to develop MOOCs that would capture the interest of different target groups and develop transversal digital competencies in specific fields of burning, immediate needs for digital literacy. The consortium will develop three pilot MOOCs. They will be available in three well-known worldwide MOOC platforms, explore the impact of the proposed smart tools on all stakeholders and advance a "smart learning technologies" agenda in MOOCs to account for more productive teachers and more satisfied and engaged learners:

1.Programming for Non-Programmers Programming: skills are not only a major asset for getting hired for developing software but also allow to better understand and co-design with a development team. Programming skills are required to use, build, and maintain digital infrastructures for managing and compiling data. Participating universities: ARISTOTLE UNIVERSITY OF THESSALONIKI (AUTh), Centre for Research & Technology, Hellas (CERTH) Platform: Open eClass and Open Delos Multimedia Platform of GUNET (Greek Universities Network)

2. Computational Thinking is a systematic and creative approach to problem-solving. This involves analysis and formalization of complex problems, understanding and developing feasible, technical solutions, as well as divergent and convergent ways of thinking. Participating universities: SAARLAND UNIVERSITY (SU), AARHUS UNIVERSITY (AU) Platform: Learnworlds of Learnworlds

3. Educational Technologies in the Classroom: new technologies enhance learning through dynamic, interactive, multi-media formats in simulations, web-videos, and games. Advanced technologies enable new forms to aggregate and visualize data for feedback to students and teachers. Participating universities: UNIVERSITY OF VALLADOLID (UVa), OPEN UNIVERSITY OF CATALUNIA (UOC) Platform: Miríadax of Telefonica Educación Digital.

A minimum of 400 students and 50 employees is expected to be involved in each one of the pilots.