What made this year special? Is it possible to reduce this year to just a few essential words? With all the people in our group, the many projects we worked on, the many publications we have written, and the events we have participated in, a lot has happened in 2023. Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights:
Projects and Conferences
At EduTec.science, just like every year, we’re committed to enhancing our understanding of education and exploring the potential impact of technology interventions. Our primary focus is on executing research projects, collecting solid data sets, conducting rigorous analysis of the effects of technology on learning and teaching, and publishing our results in accordance with the highest quality standards.
The significant advancements in generative AI and the transformative potential of large language models marked the year 2023. Our team strategically positioned ourselves to harness these technologies in our projects and research efforts. Over the course of 2023, we developed a comprehensive plan to exploit these AI breakthroughs in our 2024 projects effectively. Crucially, we envision our Learning Design method – (FoLA) – to play a substantial role in steering the application of generative AI interventions within an educational context. Integrating AI with FoLA promises to yield personalised learning experiences, and we are confident that this innovative approach will considerably enhance our research outcomes.
Jane Yau took over the project lead for the EU project GREAT project (Games Realising Effective and Affective Transformation), which started in February and had a kick-off event in early March. Anong GREAT also kept up her responsibilities as a project lead within the HIKOF project, where EduTec team members like Joshua Weidlich, Sebastian Gombert, Ioana Jivet and Lukas Menzel contributed to the 2nd analysis of the HIKOF data gained from randomised-control-trials (RCT) in 2022. Also, rich datasets from RCTs are waiting to be analysed and reported in high-impact research papers.
Dana Kube did a fantastic job by contributing the first use case to the GREAT project from her involvement in the city of Frankfurt. Among her contributions to the GREAT project, she represented the EduTec team in the projects IMPACT & ALI project on ethical and legal affairs towards AI in higher education and set up the first Master’s programme on AI-driven instructional design that will start in September 2024.
Jan Schneider, Fernando Hernandez and Gianluca Romano further advanced the research within the Milki-Psy project and conducted studies of sensors and VR applications for psychomotor training in sports. We have gained super envisioning VR applications that show new ways to train mental models for sports and a framework to incorporate sensors and VR into psychomotor skills training.
Daniele Di Mitri and his HyTea AI team, consisting of Nina Mouhammad and Stefan Hummel, further advanced the psychomotor training for presentation skills with qualitative studies and first prototypes to make the presentation trainer a learning activity that can become part of Everzdaz teaching and learning at the university in the Moodle environment. It will be an exciting 2024 when the new presentation trainer is applied in the semester of 2024 within authentic situations.
Nina Seidenberg and Ioana Jivet have done a remarkable job in advancing the IMPACT project. In April, we had our first mid-term review, and we proudly announce that the IMPACT project is not only on track but also accelerating beyond the project plan. This is largely due to Nina’s significant management skills and Ioana’s superior expertise in designing Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) with psychometric measures in authentic situations. Ioana doesn’t just operate at the meta-level; she also delves into the nitty-gritty details to provide personalised feedback to students. Thanks to Nina and Ioana’s efforts, IMPACT is a top-notch project that allows numerous PhD students to gather vast amounts of data from RCTs. Currently, we even have more data than our team can process. Additionally, we contribute to legal reports on adopting AI in higher education. Therefore, look forward to a magnificent conference about legal matters of AI adoption in Germany’s higher education system.
Sebastian Wollny and Atezaz Ahmad have both made significant advancements in their respective projects, ML2MT and IWWB+. Both projects utilize chatbots to assist stakeholders in the education sector. Not only are they the technical backbone of the projects, but Sebastian and Atezaz have also made substantial progress with their PhD studies. This is particularly impressive given that they are pursuing other research interests simultaneously, such as exploring student engagement with Learning Analytics and creating an inventory of Learning Analytics indicators for educational purposes.
Joshua Weidlich and Nina Seidenberg further contributed to the LAMASS project that gained a unique data set on study success and drop-out of students in distance education in Germany. Stay tuned for a unique study presented in early March, a reference report on study success in distance education in Germany. Joshua Weidlich acted as a joker team member all over the year 2023, supporting various PhDs in their studies and designing data-enriched learning activities for HIKOF and IMPACT, but he also follows his own postdoctoral research agenda on social presents, causal reasoning in learning analytics, and feedback literacy where he enables the team to realise the most robust psychometric measurement for feedback literacy.
Onur Karademir and Sebastian Gombert form another exemplary team in the AFLEK and ALICE projects where we apply AI to provide feedback on productive learning trajectories in school sectors. The EduTec.science team is steadfast in its goal to make tangible changes in educational settings and support school teachers in spending more quality time with their pupils in class. Onur orchestrated, coordinated, and analysed an exceptional RCT experiment involving a series of AI-supported and data-enriched learning activities alongside a co-designed learning analytics dashboard. Few comparable projects in Germany and beyond are as advanced as the study that Onur conducted in close collaboration with teams led by Nikol Rummel (RUB) and Knut Neumann (IPN). Meanwhile, Sebastian was a constant source of support and used the rich data to advance the field of open short answer items using the latest Sebastian G(om)BERT models ;). Our efforts showcase the perfect blend of innovation, collaboration, and commitment towards educational growth also in the school sector.
In September, the CORE project (Critical Online Reasoning in Higher Education) officially began and met for a kick-off meeting with the DFG research group in December. It was impressive to see how Gianluca Romano became the natural CO8 project manager while Sebastian Gombert and George Cirodas Hertel invented the most advanced analytic assessment software on AZURE clouds in just three months. I am particularly proud of Ginaluca, Sebastian, and George as they have seamlessly and collaboratively taken all the challenges, formed a super-effective team, and become the heroes and the backbone of the DFG CORE research group. This team spirit is what makes working at edutec.science a privilege and fun.
Finally, we are so grateful to have Heather Wehner with us, that edutec.science works like a freshly oiled machine, is to large parts thanks to Heather. Who always has an open ear and is a genius in providing us with the infrastructure that this diverse team of experts needs, or like Heather would phrase it:
Without the list, everything would be complicated; with it, everything is simple.
H. Wehner, Mainz, 12.12.2023.
Over the course of the year, we celebrated many personal and individual ones that came throughout the year (weddings, the birth of children, anniversaries, birthdays). In May, we celebrated with Hendrik Drachsler as he gave his inaugural speech at the main campus of the Open University of the Netherlands with the release of the Highly Informative Learning Analytics (HILA) research program in close collaboration with DIPF.
In December came another hard-earned milestone from Daniel Biedermann, who successfully defended his PhD thesis on technological responses to distracting media multitasking in digital learning environments. Congratulations again to Hendrik and Daniel!
We also had the honour of enriching our personal and academic lives by having guests from around the world visit our team.
In April, we had Prof. Oleksandra (Sasha) Poquet from TUM Munich as a visitor at DIPF, presenting a fresh best paper award from LAK23. In May, we welcomed guest researchers from 5 universities in Brazil: Rafael Ferreira Mello, Diego Dermeval, Elaine Harada Teixeira de Oliveira, Rafael Dias Araújo and Isabela Gasparini. In June and Juli Alejandro Ortega-Arranz visited us from the Universidad de Valladolid, and in July and September, Eyal Rabin from the Open University of Israel stayed and collaborated with us at DIPF.
2023 has also brought a full year of conferences attended by our group, such as the LAK, where Ioana Jivet received a Best Short Paper Award Nomination, EC-TEL where Lukas Menzel was nominated for the Best Full Paper Award, and the JTEL Summer School, with 12 workshops and a keynote from our team members. Our team also took an active role in the LASI, EARLI, ECTEL, DeGEval and DELFI conferences, in PhDIPF Academy and at the eLearning Netzwerktag. Many of these were face-to-face events, and it was great to have the opportunity to network in person again.
Publications and presentations
In addition to conference activities, our team was active in 4 keynotes, 4 workshops, 7 invite talks, 1 podium discussion, 1 podcast and 1 TED talk. So far this year, we have had 26 publications issued: 1 book, 1 report, 4 conference papers, 16 journal articles and 4 book chapters.
2023 in a Nutshell
The year 2023 has been a year of gradual progress, made possible by a team of dedicated individuals who have been working hard to further our understanding of educational technology research. Though each member has contributed uniquely, the collective goal remains the same: to move forward, one step at a time. So, how can we sum up 2023 in just a few essential words? 2023 in a nutshell:
A year of unbridled discovery, innovation, and collaboration, and a little help of AI.
We wish you and your family peaceful and healthy holidays and a Happy New Year!