EC-TEL 2016 @Lyon, France

I’ve been these two last days at the EC-TEL conference in Lyon, France. The main general chair was Tomaž Klobucar, and the program chairs were Mike Sharples and Katrien Verbert. I would like congratulate them all and the rest of the organizers for the great conference!

It has been, as always, very interesting to participate in a so high quality conference.  It is always surprising to see what people are doing in the field of technology-enhanced learning to using ICT to transform and innovate our teaching and learning experiences. It was also a great surprise to find there some of my colleagues in the area. I met there old friends such as Carlos Delgado Kloos, Jeremy Rochelle :), Mike Sharples, Chus and Luis Pablo Prieto, but also meeting new ones such as Daniel Davis!. It was so nice meeting you there and share our current projects.

Recommendations and thoughts about the conference

Recommended papers

I will start inviting you to read the papers that were awarded. The first one is the paper by Rodríguez-Triana et al (2016) called “Examining the effects of social media in co-located classrooms: A case study based on SpeakUp.” This paper presents really interesting results about how using SpeakUp (an app that allows people to make anonymous comments and interventions during the classroom) can motivate students to participate more in the classroom.

The best student paper award was for Davis et al by the paper “Retrieval Practice and Study Planning in MOOCs: Exploring Classroom-Based Self-Regulated Learning Strategies at Scale.” This paper presents great results about the type of interventions that could help students in MOOCs better self-regulate themselves to become better learners. Taken as reference the paper in which we examine whether a set of recommendations on self-regulated strategies  have an impact on students’ behaviour in a MOOC (Kizilcec et al, 2016), they discovered that making students’ reflect about their study plans have a positive impact on their course performance. I’m looking forward future collaboration with René and Dan to see how we can advance on the study of SRL in MOOCs :)!

Other of the papers that I would also recommend you to read are the following:

  • “Keep your eyes on ’em all!: A mobile eye-tracking analysis of teachers’ sensitivity to students” by Dessus et al (2016). Nice piece of work of how to make sense of the teachers’ eyes gaze to understand what is happening in the classroom.
  • “How to Attract Students’ visual Attention” by Araya et al (2016). Another paper that uses gaze but from the students’ perspective.
  • “MoodlePeers: Factors relevant in learning group formation for improved learning outcomes, satisfaction and commitment in E-Leanring scenarios using GroupAL” by Knoert et al (2016)
  • “PyramidApp: scalable method enabling collaboration in the classroom” by Manathunga & Hernández-Leo (2016). A nice app that uses the potential of mobile devices to support collaboration in large-scale classrooms.

Key note about Computational Education by Dillenbourg

It is always a pleasure to attend to a talk by Pierre Dillenbourg. He has always very provocative ideas that help you reflect about what could be the future of our field. This time Pierre talked about Computational Education.

He made a great presentation about how can we start using the potential of computer science (including artificial intelligence techniques, data mining and other related topics) to design models for better understanding how we teach and learn and how can we predict our best practices.

He made a reflection based on the research that has been conducted in this lab in which are the variables inferred from experiments that can help predicting, for example, good collaboration. Some of these variables are (among others that I had not time to catch):

  • Gaze recurrence: a variable that helps you understand whether two people are collaborating through their gaze on a screen collected through eye tracking technologies.
  • With-me-ness: Also a variable extracted from the analysis of students’ gaze over the teacher explanation on a ppt that can understand whether the student is paying attention to the right feature.

He stated the the following:  if we can identify what are the variables that matters from the data we can currently capture with the technology  that is now available, we could be able to model what is happening in the classroom and make better interventions. This statement provoked some reactions: (1) Having all these variables available, could we run simulations about what happens if we change some of this variables?; and (2) once we know what are the important variables, what is the type of information we can provide to the teachers to take informed decisions about how to change their practices?

Of course, there still a long way to explore and investigate on how to model the diversity of situations we can find in our classrooms, but I think this perspective is a step forward transforming the way we have been doing research in education.

About our paper

There I had the opportunity to present our study on what are the effects of using MOOCs for remedial courses in terms of adoption and learning outcomes. Here I leave you the reference to the paper as well as my presentation.  I hope you enjoy it!

This paper presents the results of a pilot study about students’ adoption and learning outcomes of 4 MOOCs proposed as a complementary resource for traditional remedial courses on calculus. While the MOOCs were not mandatory, traditional remedial courses were required for those freshmen failing a diagnostic exam. The effects on 589 freshmen students were investigated. The data analysis shows that up to 16 % of the students were active in the MOOCs under study, mostly during the days before taking the diagnostic exam that preceded the traditional face-to-face remedial courses. Trace data about learner actions within the platform were collected as well as the students’ scores. According to a statistical comparison of the students’ exam scores and their interaction behavior with the MOOCs, we observe that active students had more chances of passing the diagnostic exam and skipping the required remedial courses. However, we found no significant differences on the remedial course exam scores between the students that were active in the MOOCs and those that were not. These findings suggest that MOOCs are a good solution to strengthening skills and reviewing concepts, but that more guidance is needed when used as a complement to traditional f2f courses.

Here you have the slides!


Araya, R., Farsani, D., & Hernández, J. (2016, September). How to Attract Students’ Visual Attention. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 30-41). Springer International Publishing.

Davis, D., Chen, G., van der Zee, T., Hauff, C., & Houben, G. J. (2016, September). Retrieval Practice and Study Planning in MOOCs: Exploring Classroom-Based Self-regulated Learning Strategies at Scale. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 57-71). Springer International Publishing.

Dessus, P., Cosnefroy, O., & Luengo, V. (2016, September). “Keep Your Eyes on’em all!”: A Mobile Eye-Tracking Analysis of Teachers’ Sensitivity to Students. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 72-84). Springer International Publishing.

Kizilcec, R. F., Pérez-Sanagustín, M., & Maldonado, J. J. (2016, April). Recommending Self-Regulated Learning Strategies Does Not Improve Performance in a MOOC. In Proceedings of the Third (2016) ACM Conference on Learning@ Scale (pp. 101-104). ACM.

Konert, J., Bellhäuser, H., Röpke, R., Gallwas, E., & Zucik, A. (2016, September). MoodlePeers: Factors Relevant in Learning Group Formation for Improved Learning Outcomes, Satisfaction and Commitment in E-Learning Scenarios Using GroupAL. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 390-396). Springer International Publishing.

Pérez-Sanagustín, M., Hernández-Correa, J., Gelmi, C., Hilliger, I., & Rodriguez, M. F. (2016, September). Does Taking a MOOC as a Complement for Remedial Courses Have an Effect on My Learning Outcomes? A Pilot Study on Calculus. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 221-233). Springer International Publishing.

Rodríguez-Triana, M. J., Holzer, A., Prieto, L. P., & Gillet, D. (2016, September). Examining the Effects of Social Media in Co-located Classrooms: A Case Study Based on SpeakUp. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 247-262). Springer International Publishing.