Kwizie – passive video watching bye bye

The Interactive Journey with Kwizie

In an era where digital innovation is at the forefront of educational transformation, Kwizie emerges as a pioneering platform that redefines the way we engage with video content for learning. This platform has seamlessly bridged the gap between passive viewing and active, gamified learning experiences, marking a milestone in the digital education landscape. Here’s a quick look at how Kwizie is reshaping educational engagement through its innovative features and user-centric approach.

Transforming Passive Videos into Interactive Learning Experiences

Kwizie isn’t just another educational tool; it’s a gateway to making learning more dynamic and interactive. By converting any video into a comprehensive quiz, it introduces a novel way to learn, catering to diverse subjects and languages. This flexibility is a testament to Kwizie’s commitment to making learning accessible and engaging.

Who is it for? Obviously teachers will benefit from this handy and user-friendly tool. In as little as 8 mouse clicks you can prepare an Instant Quiz – just like that. It takes some more clicks if you want to customise the quiz and have more control over the number of chapters and questions.

But a life long learner just as well can benefit from this tool. Say you have a concept you always wanted to learn properly. In my case it was the internal combustion engine, how does it work? I never really cared about this, but think it is part of general knowledge. Now with Kwizie I learn this in minutes. Care to test it yourself? For this purpose I chose a different topic, in the true spirit of sustainability – Global campus’ main theme: How does composting works? Have a go!

Kwizie live tab
Kwizie, live tab

Core Features Unveiled:

  • Multilingual and Multifaceted: With support for numerous languages, Kwizie ensures that learners can access content in their preferred language, breaking down barriers to education.
  • Optimised for Mobile Learning: Recognising the importance of mobile accessibility, Kwizie delivers a pleasant experience across devices, ensuring learners can engage anytime, anywhere.
  • Customisation at Your Fingertips: The platform offers a variety of customisation options, allowing educators (the Quiz Master) to tailor quizzes to their audience’s age and learning objectives, providing a personalised learning experience.
  • Effortless Sharing Mechanisms: Sharing knowledge has never been easier, Kwizie’s uses  QR codes for quiz distribution, fostering a collaborative learning environment.

 

Kwizie – How to, phase 1
Kwizie – How to, phase 2
Kwizie – How to, phase 3
Kwizie – How to, phase 4

Uncovering Kwizie’s Potential

To truly understand Kwizie’s impact, I embarked on a comprehensive testing journey, exploring its capabilities across a spectrum of videos and subjects. From environmental science to theoretical physics, the platform’s versatility was put to the test, revealing insightful nuances about its functionality and user experience. Here are my takeaways:

Insights from the Field:

  • Ease of Use: Creating quizzes is a breeze, thanks to Kwizie’s user-friendly interface that guides you through the process, from video selection to finalising quiz questions.
  • Interactive Learning: The platform’s use of timers adds an element of excitement to quizzes, though the option to pause between questions would enhance user control.
  • Educational Value: Kwizie excels in reinforcing learning objectives, with automated chapter summaries and key concepts highlighting its utility as a robust educational tool.

Reflections on Kwizie’s Educational Impact

Through testing, Kwizie’s role as an innovative educational platform became evident. Its  LMS integration (via API) and the ability for learners to contest answers exemplify its potential to not just educate but to also engage learners in meaningful ways. The call for a broader array of question types and improved accessibility features presents an opportunity for Kwizie to further refine its offerings.

Envisioning the Future of Digital Education with Kwizie

As we look towards the future, Kwizie stands out in digital learning, offering a platform that not only enhances the learning experience but also empowers educators and learners alike. Its ongoing evolution and adaptation to user feedback will undoubtedly continue to shape the landscape of digital education.

Wrapping Up: Kwizie as a Catalyst for Educational Evolution

In the quest for more interactive and engaging learning experiences, Kwizie has set a new standard for digital education platforms. Its ability to transform video content into interactive quizzes represents a leap forward in educational technology, offering new pathways for learning that are both engaging and accessible. As digital education continues to evolve, platforms like Kwizie will play a central role in shaping the future of learning, making it more dynamic, inclusive, and effective for everyone involved.

A short walk through

Finally I recorded the making of one quiz, so you can see how easy it really is.

Do you want to take this quiz too? No problem, here is the quiz about sauna in English.

 

Pushing the boundaries

Imaginative landscape from Abbott's Flatlands. Image generated in Midjourney

When an intriguing call for papers appeared exploring AI co-creation, I felt compelled to test boundaries despite having slim to none academic publishing credentials. The concept resonated instantly, though self-doubt crept in studying full details. Could conversational technology collaborate on speculative scholarly work? Curiosity won out over uncertainty’s paralysis. If nothing else, illuminating ethical application merits investigation.

It was a Special Issue Call by the Irish Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning (IJTEL) with the title: The Games People Play: Exploring Technology Enhanced Learning Scholarship & Generative Artificial Intelligence.

I chose Claude, an AI assistant from Anthropic, entering an intensive weekend iteration. There were three options to choose from 1. Position Paper, 2. Short Report or 3. Book Review. I went with the book review. I fed Claude an 1884 novel called Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott. Claude rapidly generated an abstract and book review excerpt about Flatland’s dimensional metaphors. However, hurried passes produced explanations minus critical analysis to create cohesion. Through clear prompting, I pushed Claude to incorporate additional theories, doubling the length of certain passages. It relied completely on my explicit redirects to shape fragments into cogent framing. After ten iterations I felt confident we had a useful book review.

Our accepted article examined generative AI’s promise and pitfalls, affirming Claude’s usefulness accelerating drafting under firm direction. But truly comprehending nuance and context without significant human oversight appears premature. Still, well-defined augmentation roles provide productivity upside versus total autonomy today. In other words, the current sweet spot for AI writing tools involves utilising their ability to rapidly generate content under a researcher’s close direction and oversight, rather than granting them high levels of autonomy to complete complex tasks alone start to finish.

More pressingly, this collaboration underscored ethical questions arising as generative models gain sophistication. If AI meaningfully impacts literature reviews, translation works or even initial thesis drafting one day, how can scholars utilise those productivity benefits responsibly? Tools excelling at prose introduce complex attribution and usage monitoring challenges threatening integrity.

Rather than reactively restricting technology based on risks, proactive pedagogical probes enlighten wise integration guardrails. Insights from transparent experiments clarifying current versus aspirational capabilities inform ethical development ahead.

Imaginative landscape from Abbott's Flatlands. Image generated in Midjourney.
Imaginative landscape from Abbott’s Flatlands. Image generated in Midjourney.

Forward-thinking educators can guide this age of invention toward positive ends by spearheading ethical explorations today. Our thoughtful efforts now, probing human-AI collaboration’s realities versus ambitions, construct vital foundations upholding academic integrity as new tools progress from speculative potential to educational reality.

We have the power to shape what comes through asking tough questions in times of uncertainty. As educators we shoulder the responsibility to model how inquiry protects core values even amidst rapid change. And through ethical leadership, we just might uncover new sustainable and inclusive ways to progress.

Want further reading on this topic?

Ethics of Artificial Intelligence – UNESCO

Ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI – by the EU

Ethics of AI – a MOOC by the University of Helsinki

If you are interested in reading my more personal account about this project you can do so here.

Aiming to support creative work of students: The ChatGPT application as part of a Master’s level online course

Computer on the table with beautiful scenery seen in the window

This blog post is written by professor Kalle Juuti and university lecturer Vilhelmiina Harju from the Faculty of Educational Sciences.

Currently, in the field of education, the hot topic is the applications of generative AI and how they impact learning and teaching. During the rapid technological changes, it needs to be discussed, how we understand new generative AI applications, their possibilities and potential drawbacks in education. Further, it is important to consider learning and studying with these tools. For example, do we understand new applications as tools for producing essays and other learning assignments, or do we see them as an opportunity to ideate and develop our own thinking? Do we use these tools in a way that actually excludes ourselves from a learning process or can we use them in a way that in which we actively seek to develop our understanding and self-regulate our learning process? In higher education, where students have traditionally written a lot of texts to prove what they’ve learned, the development of generative AI tools means we need to rethink what and how we teach, as well as how we evaluate students’ learning. In particular, it is important to develop pedagogical approaches that exploit new tools in a way that support students’ new creative work and development of understanding.

In this blog post, we describe, how ChatGPT3.5 application “CurreChat”, operated by the University of Helsinki, was used in a Master’s level education online course in spring 2023. One aim was to integrate the use of a generative AI application into course assignments in a pedagogically meaningful way. ChatGPT was considered as a tool to support students’ creative work. Another aim was to practice reporting on the use of the AI application according to university guidelines.

In the course, students were asked to construct a solution concept to a problem they had identified in the field of education. Weekly course assignments were linked to different phases of concept construction process, and finally the whole working was documented and reflected in a portfolio. Students were given an opportunity to use the AI application in doing the assignments (e.g., identifying problems, ideating solutions, getting feedback on ideas, and reflecting on impact). For each assignment, students were given tips on how to use the tool in a way that would support their work. Students were also asked to write a short description each week on how they used the tool. The main principle was that a student were asked first to send text to ChatGPT and then to human to read.

The university’s own interface “CurreChat” connected to OpenAI’s ChatGPT3.5. The use of university’s own interface was seen as important because it was not wanted that students would have to log in to the services with university’s external IDs. In addition, the interface ensured more secure connection to language model. The assumption was that the material students entered into the application would not be reused elsewhere.

Students reported that they used the tools in a variety of ways as part of their course assignments. Some tried the application in a wide range of ways while others were more cautious. Some reported that they benefited from using the generative AI tool at different phases of their work, while others found it rather useless in their work. A key observation we made from the teaching experiment is that joint practicing and instruction in the use of generative AI tool is important for the tool to best support students’ creative work and learning.

Vilhelmiina Harju, University Lecturer, Faculty of Educational Sciences

Kalle Juuti, Professor, Title of Docent (pedagogy of science), Faculty of Educational Sciences

Introducing the Visual Consistent Character Creator: A New Era with GPT Builder

Introduction

Welcome to an exciting exploration of the innovative new GPT Builder tool (by OpenAI) and my ambitious first project with it — the Visual Consistent Character Creator, an attempt to unlock the holy grail of the text to image sphere. This pioneering tool represents a major leap forward in AI-assisted creativity, combining GPT Builder’s capabilities with the user’s unique imagination.

What exactly does it do? The GPT Builder assists you in creating your own personal AI assistant tailored to your needs – in a nut shell.

In this case, my aim was not just to create a character generator, but to come up with a tool that allows me to construct aesthetically pleasing and above all consistent looking AI-generated characters. As a cherry on top I had the GPT Builder formulate the prompt in a Midjourney readable syntax.

John, a fictional character generated using a tailored GPT with OpenAI’s GPT Builder. The initial generation of John by DALL-E.

The Innovative Process: Enabling Detail and Consistency

My Visual Consistent Character Creator enables this through three key capabilities:

  1. Comprehensive trait selection — this allows for diverse and highly customised characters.
  2. Sequential, step-by-step trait selection — this ensures (or at least strives to achieve) coherence and precision in line with GPT Builder’s innovative approach.
  3. Quality check through AI-enhanced portraits using DALL-E — as a first step to ensure some level of consistency has been achieved before moving to Midjourney (or other text to image generators).

By combining these strengths, my tool can cater to a wide spectrum of creative needs while maintaining visual consistency and artistic flair. Let’s have a look at the process.

The Innovative Process: Detail and Consistency

1. Comprehensive Trait Selection At the outset, I focused on defining a wide array of character traits, mainly physical attributes (and some secret ingredients I am not revealing). I created a template for this, a matrix of sorts. This was done keeping in mind the need to match the high standards of character portrayal as seen in Midjourney. Every trait was carefully chosen to ensure that my GPT Builder could cater to diverse creative needs while maintaining a high level of detail and visual consistency.

2. Sequential Interactivity for Enhanced Precision A standout feature of the Visual Consistent Character Creator is its methodical, step-by-step trait definition process. Reflecting the innovative approach of the GPT Builder, this process ensures that each character trait is not only distinct but also contributes to a coherent overall portrait. This phase was somewhat tricky as the GPT Builder, although always complying, not always “remembered” my instructions and occasionnally would show signs of hallucinations.

3. AI-Enhanced Portrait Prompt Meeting Midjourney Syntax In the final step, after the Visual Consistent Character Creator has summarised the character’s traits and the user has confirmed them I instructed the tool to generate two types of portraits — a detailed close-up and a full-body image with DALL-E which conveniently sits in this workflow as it is part of OpenAI’s ecoystem, so the user never has to leave the browser window. At the very end the Visual Consistent Character Creator creates a prompt the user can copy&paste into Midjourney.

After some testing however, I have to say that the consistency of the characters is quite impressive, but only when generating with DALL-E. When exporting the prompts to Midjourney, the consistency is less evident. A major advantage of integrated DALL-E in ChatGPT is the possibility to discuss the result with GPT and ask for modifications on the generated image. This is huge!

John, a fictional character generated using a tailored GPT with OpenAI’s GPT Builder. The initial generation of John by DALL-E.

John, a fictional character generated using a tailored GPT with OpenAI’s GPT Builder. The initial generation of John by DALL-E.

The Potential Impacts: Opportunities and Challenges

By significantly enhancing the character design process, a visual character designer assistant like I just build with GPT Builder could revolutionise creative sectors like gaming, animation and graphic novels. The ability to quickly generate consistently looking, detailed and high-quality characters could greatly accelerate production and encourage more experimentation.

However, this also risks reducing human input in creative roles. As AI becomes increasingly capable of mimicking human artistry, important questions around originality and authenticity arise. While AI art tools offer exciting new opportunities, maintaining a balanced perspective regarding their applications will be vital so that we can benefit from their potential while responsibly managing their risks.

Overall, as an innovative new frontier in AI-assisted creativity, this tool promises to take character design into an exciting new era. By harnessing its capabilities thoughtfully, we can unlock immense creative potential.

Screenshot of ChatGPT interface creating iterations of John, a fictional character generated using my tailored GPT with OpenAI’s GPT Builder. Generated by DALL-E.

Serendip – an Immersive Sustainability Learning Adventure

Launching Serendip project on November 9, 2023!

When we started the Global campus project in 2022, we were given the freedom to experiment the limits of online learning. We were expected to do really bold, even risky EdTech experiments. So, we thought very carefully how we could use our time wisely. We wanted to know what this university wants or needs? What could be something bold that would benefit all the members of the university community regardless of the faculty and beyond?

One of the strategic goals for the University of Helsinki is to advance ecological sustainability and responsibility. The University is dedicated to integrate the themes of sustainability into all education programmes.

Well-designed digital and physical environments for work, teaching and learning will enhance ecological sustainability and promote encounters with others, support creativity, renew forms of collaboration and improve accessibility.

(University of Helsinki Strategy 2021-2023)

Following this mission, sustainability became a topic that would be the glue of our work. In the design process, we asked from teachers and students what they are missing regarding sustainability education. We learned that a virtual space where students would gather together around the world to solve the sustainability challenges would be the secret wish of the sustainability teachers.

Students, on the other hand, wanted to travel in 3D worlds and learn how to influence stakeholders. They wished to improve their skills in finding the intervention points in decision-making processes. Students also desired to see hope and use their all senses. We knew we wanted to do this. And this was the foundation for a bold EdTech experiment, the project called Serendip*.

Based on our pedagogical framework, we believe that learning should be engaging and fun but also at the same time personalized and efficient. By offering students a visually appealing virtual reality learning environment with diverse multi-disciplinary learning content and a chance to actually train the sustainability competencies, we can help students to become the change agents this world needs.

The learning content has been developed together with researchers, teachers and students from different disciplines. The research-based content together with state-of-the-art technologies make an engaging learning experience. In virtual reality we could make impossible possible, travel in time and place and practice empathy.

Also, we identified that by taking the AI tools to the next level, we could increase the interaction between a student and the learning content. Therefore, we designed virtual AI-powered characters for different pedagogical purposes for the game. Each discussion is different and personalized, based on the student´s own interests.

The first game episode, the Boreal Forest, one of the tipping elements in earth´s climate system, is an adventure through snow and woods. It combines forest economy, forest ecology and well-being with Indigenous studies. It helps the students to practice their systems-thinking, values-thinking and intrapersonal skills.

We see that you have a role to play in sustainability, so we are happy to invite you to participate as a teacher, a student or a subject-matter expert and co-create with us the further episodes. Learn more on serendip.fi and join the adventure by sharing us how you would like to take part by filling in the form. Can a learning environment for the sustainability education look like this?

* Serendip = The word serendipity, originating from an old Persian fairytale “the Three Princes of Serendip”, means unplanned fortunate discoveries. The Serendip Learning Adventure is based on serendipitous learning approach where, through exploration, learners might discover unexpected and interesting connections among phenomena which can lead to meaningful learning. Serendipity, as valuable unexplored sources for learning, can be fostered through engagement and interaction. We see that sustainability challenges need innovations which can be results of serendipitous events. 

AWEXR 2023, Vienna

AWEXR 2023 - Vienna

 

Yesterday and today (24. and 25.10. 2023) I attended the AWE XR Europe in Vienna. As usual when I travel, I chose to walk as much as possible and avoid public transportation. This time too, I took the train from the airport to Wiener Mitte and from there I made my way to the event venue, a distance of about 6km. Walking allows me to truly experience a city – its beat, vibe, smells, and soundscape. It’s the best way to get a feel for the local culture.  Exploring on foot ensures at least a minimum of movement during conferences and fairs –  and take in the sensory experience of a new place. Ironically, after deliberately immersing myself in the sights, sounds and smells of Vienna, I then spent the much of the event dealing with virtual and augmented worlds.

AWEXR 2023 - Vienna AWEXR 2023 - Vienna

The exhibition area at AWE XR Europe had a different feel compared to Laval VR earlier this year, with fewer exhibitors overall. I felt at AWEXR the focus was primarily on technical and engineering XR applications. There were exceptions like for instance hixr’s Time Travel Berlin and Chronopolis.

AWEXR 2023 - Vienna

Some notable observations

The playground area featured different XR experiences like Artivive and Nettle VR. Interesting exhibitors included Copresence app for virtual collaboration, Cognitive 3D for 3D modeling and Ikarus 3D’s 3D modeling software and product visualisation in general.

For me the one of the standout exhibits at AWE XR Europe was Time Travel Berlin’s, an immersive XR experience that virtually transports users back in time to 1920s Berlin. Unlike most other exhibits focused on technical demonstrations, both Time Travel Berlin and Chronopolis highlighted the humanities applications of XR through an incredibly detailed historical recreation in the case of Time travel Berlin.
Participants are immersed in a vivid simulation of the vibrant Pariser Platz outside the Brandenburg Gate, populated with period vehicles, hotels, and pedestrian crowds. The meticulous attention to accuracy and human-centered storytelling made it feel like walking through history. It showed that while XR enables engineering feats like 3D modeling, it can also profoundly enhance fields like education, heritage preservation, and narrative experiences. This innovative humanities-focused use of immersive technology was a refreshing change from the predominant tech demos. As one of the few exhibits bridging STEM and the humanities, it was undoubtedly a highlight of AWE XR Europe.

Another interesting exhibitor was Holonet, a Croatian startup offering a VR collaboration platform using realistic hologram avatars based on user photos. Their system supports see-through capabilities on glasses that have the feature. This creates a much more immersive experience than conventional VR avatars.

Delta Reality, another Croatian company, focused on delivering exceptional, meticulously crafted XR experiences. Their talented team brings together experts across technology, design and creativity to push the boundaries of immersive content.

AWEXR 2023 - Vienna

Overall, AWE XR Europe provided a great opportunity to see the latest innovations in XR from both startups and established players. The perceived smaller size enabled more intimate networking and discovery compared to other larger events. I was able to connect with key players in the European XR ecosystem and bring back valuable insights for our team. A highlight was reconnecting with James Mifsud of ArborXR, whom I had met earlier this year at Laval XR. It was great to catch up with James and attend the afterparty together. The impromptu dinner with other attendees especially the ones from Croatia was especially enjoyable and inspirational. Events like AWEXR enable these valuable personal connections within the close-knit XR community.

AWEXR 2023 - Vienna AWEXR 2023 - Vienna

AWEXR 2023 - Vienna AWEXR 2023 - Vienna

UniPID collaboration

Empowering Education through Artificial Intelligence

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of conducting an online workshop on the use of artificial intelligence (AI). The event, organised by UniPID, is in line with the broader vision of Global Campus to harness the power of AI and bring it to professionals in higher education.

I introduced the attendees to innovative tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney. ChatGPT, for instance, offers a conversational approach that can assist teachers in course design, from creating exercises and tasks to developing syllabi. On the other hand, Midjourney stands out with its unique ability to generate images that closely represent real-life objects, enabling teachers to bring their imaginative ideas to life in visual formats.

We delved into the potential of AI in creating personalised learning experiences, ensuring that students from diverse backgrounds can receive quality education tailored to their needs. Furthermore, we touched on the ethical implications of the use of AI in education. Global Campus emphasises the importance of responsible AI use, and it was enlightening to engage with educators and stakeholders on this critical topic.

This workshop was a reminder of the incredible impact we can achieve when we collaborate, share knowledge, and drive innovation.

In conclusion, my experience at the workshop was both enlightening and inspiring. We’re not just envisioning the future of education; we’re actively shaping it through workshops like this. I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.

Read UniPID’s take on the workshop: Teachers’ workshop: the use of Artificial Intelligence in virtual education.

Uncover Finnish Education MOOC

The University of Helsinki’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the topic of education is now available for local and global audiences. Uncover Finnish Education MOOC is presenting the current situation of the Finnish education from a systemic perspective. Designed based on the students’ interests and needs, the course covers topics such as underlying values, educational ecosystem, administration aspects, curriculum development, quality enhancement, teacher education and current challenges. The content is presented in a wide variety of formats such as text, podcasts, videos, and VR resources.  

The course has been developed by the Faculty of Educational Sciences in collaboration with the Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning (GINTL), a Ministry of Education and Culture-funded network of 20 Finnish higher education institutions (universities and universities of applied sciences). The vision of the development team was to create a course which is captivating, meets the needs of the learners, promotes personalized learning, brings creative approaches to online environments, has a modern and stylish UI and is available for everyone. Sharing a similar vision for online learning, Global Campus joined this course as a development partner. Interested in experimenting with VR tools in online environments, Global Campus supported the design of several features for the Uncover Finnish Education MOOC, as seen below. 

AI videos 

The course includes two AI videos. One is presenting the structure of the Finnish education system and it is based on an infographic from the resource library of the Ministry of Education and Culture. The second video presents the learning experiences of Ella Kämper, a student at the University of Helsinki. Ella wrote the script and provided the photos and videos. The process of creating the videos was very smooth, faster and with less effort than it would have been to record videos in a studio. The editing of the videos was done in Premier Pro. You can see Ella as an avatar in the video below.  

Simulations 

At the suggestion of the Global Campus team, we developed two simulation exercises for the course.  And I must confess that it has been one of the best choices we have made for this course. Shortly into the design process of the simulations, I understood the high value these types of exercises can have in supporting the students’ learning. Being able to immerse yourself in a specific situation, practice different skills, and make decisions, is an opportunity that cannot be usually provided during courses.  

To develop the simulations, we worked with two experts from 3DBear, a company which provides service solutions for AR and VR learning. Both experts had a pedagogical background, which was very useful when developing educational content. With them and a couple of course content authors, we developed one simulation about outdoor learning, which can be also used as a professional development tool and another video simulation, where the course students can experience being a Finnish teacher in a teacher- students- guardian meeting. You can spot the simulations in the Chapters 4 and 5 of the course.  

Immersive content 

We knew early in the course design that we would like to include immersive and interactive content. We wanted to create possibilities for the students to learn by discovery and by doing. Therefore, under the advice of the Global Campus team, we have used Thinglink to develop several interactive resources. Thinglink proved to be a very handy and versatile tool, which catered very well to our need for immersive content. We have created interactive resources using 360 ° photos and infographics. 

Due to the intervention of Global Campus in this course, the variety of the content formats has increased considerably. Including AI and VR resources in online learning environments can make a difference on the students’ learning. We are hoping that Uncover Finnish Education MOOC will bring a holistic learning experience to everyone studying it. Take the course and let us know what do you think about the use of emerging technologies in online learning environments.  

Mihaela Nyyssönen

Uncover Finnish Education MOOC project planner/Faculty of Educational Sciences

E-Learning Designer/ Global Campus

University of Helsinki

Online Learning and Global Trends: Insights from Edu Conferences and EdTech Events

The field of Educational Technology is rapidly evolving and the trends and advancements in online/digital learning are ever-changing with a fast pace.  Online learning has been on the rise globally, particularly with a further acceleration during and after COVID-19 pandemic as a need for a shift from traditional education to remote learning. This shift has been driven by factors such as accessibility, flexibility, and the need for continuous learning. With an increasing impact of digitalization on education and a demand for digital transformation, educational opportunities are becoming more accessible and more flexible. Education sector has to prepare and adapt itself to ensure that all students can benefit from these advancements.

During the past six months, in addition to a number of local and small events and seminars on different topics in education, I attended a few major global conferences on online learning and digital education as well as the biggest EdTech event in Europe in which I was able to participate in many keynotes, workshops, presentations, and discussions. Here, I present a reflection on my observations and takeaways of these events .

  • Online Educa Berlin (OEB): a global leading cross-sector conference and exhibition on technology supported learning and training that brings participants from higher education, workplace and government sectors to discuss how technology opportunities and challenges are transforming the world of learning.  
  • bett London: one of the biggest EdTech exhibitions in the world and a global meeting place for the educators, change-makers, startups and major companies in the field to present and discuss cutting-edge EdTech solutions.
  • EATEL Summer School : a major European event on technology enhanced learning held by the European Association of Technology Enhanced Learning which brings together researchers, doctoral students, and professors from a range of disciplines (computer science, educational science, phycology, social sciences ,and IT) to share and discuss their latest projects.
  •  EDEN Digital Learning Europe:  Europe’s leading network for advancing digital education Digital and a community to foster knowledge exchange and enhance understanding among professionals in distance and e-learning, and to promote best practices and policies throughout Europe and beyond.

As a professional in the field with hands on development who is closely following latest developments and advancements in education and EdTech sector, I can summarize the key trends and directions in online/ digital learning as follows:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and generative AI in education:
Image: https://www.leaderedutech.com/artificial-intelligence-in-education/

Artificial intelligence and its associated technologies have been a major point of discussion in the past few years. Lately, this has been particularly augmented by the emergence of generative AI such as ChatGPT. As a hype, it has triggered very heated debates on their applications, risks, and challenges from technical, pedagogical, social, and ethical perspectives (see UNESCO’s recommendation on the ethics of AI). On a broader level, it has got the attention of all stakeholders not only on micro levels but also macro and global change/decision makers. While there are extreme viewpoints of both proponents and opponents on the impact of AI on human being, society, businesses, and future jobs, for us educators and EdTech innovators, what is most important is the educational applications of AI. Whereas AI technologies are increasingly being used for various purposes in education such as intelligent tutoring systems, AI-powered simulations and immersive experiences, automated assessments, personalized guidance, and virtual assistants to offer immediate support to students, it will be still a big challenge in education and learning that how AI-powered tools can be implemented in a pedagogical and ethically sound way in educational settings. As such, in our Global Campus project we strive to explore the potential of generative AI as an assistive tool and content creation in online learning, e.g., Creating Videos with Artificial Intelligence. Another bigger question for educational institutions’ decision makers is how to deal with use of ChatGPT and AI-powered tools by students as it increases the risk of plagiarism and cheating.

  • Micro-learning, bite-sized contents and stackable credentials:
Image: https://iite.unesco.org/highlights/open-badges-new-opportunities-to-recognize-and-validate-achievements-digitally/

With the rise of digital learning in various formats, micro-credentials are becoming more prevalent in higher education. Micro-credentials involves delivering contents in small, flexible, focused units and bite-sized formats that learners can access on their convenience with a possibility of combining them together to accomplish wider learning topics. While micro-credentials are emerging and being developed across education sector, numerous global initiatives seek to support the development, implementation and recognition of micro-credentials across institutions, businesses, and sectors. Such examples include: European Council recommendation on micro-credentials, UNESCO’s definition of micro-credentials, and OECD’s education policy perspectives, and a cross-university initiative is the Micro-credential in Sustainability by Una Europa which the University of Helsinki is part of. Combining micro-learning modules together can create stackable credentials to build up higher-level qualifications as a flexible pathway to up-skilling, re-skilling and lifelong learning. A natural result of digital transformation and micro-credentials is the development of a kind of non-degree education structure of online credentialing and digital badges. Many online learning platforms are partnering with universities and industry organizations to offer recognized credentials, such as certificates and digital badges. These micro-credentials provide learners with evidence of specific skills and achievements which can enhance their employability. While learning outside the formal education systems through online/digital formats is increasingly growing, a big challenge that faces the global education ecosystem is to find the ways to accredit alternative learning pathways. Thus, certification and accreditation of online learning is still an issue. To address this, there have been a number of initiatives to provide both technical and organizational infrastructures to promote the recognition of digital badges and online credentials. For instance, MIT DCC Digital Credentials Consortium. Another standard for verifying and issuing badges is Open Badges which is the world’s leading format for digital badges.

  • Mixed reality (XR), immersive learning and game-based learning:

Gamification as a learning and training method has been around for many years. In the recent years, however, new generations of immersive experiences have emerged and been implemented in education and learning. Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) are being incorporated into digital learning to combine physical and virtual worlds to create interactive learning environments enabling learners to interact with digital contents and virtual objects in simulated real-world contexts.

Image: https://www.spheregen.com/augmented-virtual-and-mixed-reality-employee-training/

Applying appropriate pedagogical principles of entertainment, adventure, problem solving and exploration, virtual reality can create realistic simulations of complex environments such as historical settings, medical procedures, and science laboratories allowing learners to practice and experiment in a safe and controlled environment. The applications of XR in all its forms in education and learning are various. For example, they can cover a range of purposes such as skill development and training, collaborative learning and teamwork, storytelling and narrative-based learning, cultural interaction, art and design, and language learning. Apart from the many EdTech startups and SMEs developing their solutions on different aspects of XR, big enterprises such as ACER and Microsoft are also trying to provide tools and resources of the educational applications of these technologies. One of the main product development goals in our Global Campus project is to implement different types of XR technologies in our experiments of which we are currently focused on creating a a VR learning adventure for sustainability.

  • Data Analytics and Learning Analytics (LA)

The grow of online learning in very many formats and the emergence of massive (open) online learning environments such as MOOCs has resulted methods and tools for data mining and learning analytics. LA is both methods and tools used to collect, analyze and report data about learners, their interaction and behavior, and the contexts and harnessing the power of data to understand and optimize learning and the environments in which it occurs.

Image: https://digitallearning.northwestern.edu/learning-analytics

Data analytics and learning analytics play important roles in the field of education. A well-developed area of research in education in the past decade, LA has gained the attention of course developers, learning designers and educational institutions to implement different methods of LA in online and digital learning environments to gain actionable insights and make data-driven decisions to enhance learner performance, engagement, motivation, learning outcomes and to personalize instruction. In recent years, efforts to combine LA and learning design have been developed across universities to apply and translate these approaches into online learning development.

  • Upskilling, digital skills and the future skills:

With the ever-changing nature of the society impacted by digital transformation, the skills needed for the present and the future citizens are evolving in a very fast pace. Not only the workforce of tomorrow will need new sets of skills but also today’s workforce needs to continually learn new skills and adapt as new jobs emerge. This digital surge requires a skills revolution in Europe, as well as globally. Today’s learners need to develop both multidisciplinary competencies, soft-skills, and digital skills to be equipped with the demands of the society and the future job market. As such, Future Skills are currently being developed all over the world in various shapes and forms, and the focal point is the changing nature of  social conditions for work, education and life and the importance of the skills for workers in a digitized world (a). Digital learning is increasingly recognized as a means to upskill and reskill individuals in a rapidly evolving job market. This calls for alternative forms of learning that the stakeholders should respond to. For instance, the European Commission calls to provide high-quality, inclusive and accessible digital education and training to develop the digital skills of the citizens. Part of the Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027), European Commission launched European Digital Education Hub to reinforce cooperation between stakeholders to promote digitalization agendas. An effective approach of lifelong learning is key to ensure that everyone has the knowledge, skills and competences needed to thrive in personal and professional lives. Defining skills for citizens, Mckinsey & Company has identified 65 fundamental skills that will help citizens thrive in the future.

Image: https://www.iberdrola.com/innovation/digital-skills

  • Blockchain in education:

Alternative formats of education such as digital credentials, micro-learning and badges require appropriate standards and protocols for verification, certification, accreditation, transferability and security. One way of applying blockchain in education is to use it as a  Credentialing Ecosystem to create portable, interoperable, user-controlled digital credentials. While the use of blockchain technology in education is still in its infancy, in recent years blockchain has been a debated topic to explore what are the promises and challenges of Blockchain in education. Here are a few ways and purposes that blockchain can be applied to educational contexts:

  • issuing, sharing, and verifying educational qualifications
  • issuing badges e.g., Open Badge Passport 
  • verifying academic credentials
  • authenticating users on logging and verifying data
  • recording academic transcripts and transferring the credentials
  • storing students’ data and personal information in a secure way
  • grading, assessment and recording the exam results
  • automating secure payments and financial transactions of students

Image: https://procsee.eu/good-practice/use-of-blockchain-in-education/

Blockchain can help educational institutions for a better security, anti-fraud protection and optimization as well as students to have their personal lifelong learning passport stored on Blockchain for use as part of their future career. While blockchain holds significant promises, implementing it in education requires cautious consideration of technical, regulatory, and organizational factors.

  • OER/OEP and open education:

The notion of open education is not new, however, and it goes a few decades back when there were efforts to change institutional practices to eliminate barriers and expand access to learning (b). Open education in its wider definition includes open educational resources (OER), open educational practices (OEP) encompassing a range of concepts and strategies that promote the accessibility, sharing, and collaboration of educational resources and practices. They are characterized as learning opportunities which are informal, personalized and distributed largely outside the boundaries of established educational institutions. MOOCs as the results of OEP and OER are the main formats of opening up learning possibilities to all that have been increasingly expanded in the past ten years and still are the major form of open online courses developed globally covering a wide range of topics.

There are numerous examples of the implementation of OER/OEP: OER Commons, Open Educational Resources (OER) toolkit, ENCORE+: European Network for Catalyzing Open Resources in Education.  Open access, open publishing, open licensing and Creative Commons have been encouraged and implemented in the realm of research and publishing as the results of openness movement in education. The adaption of OER and OEP requires fundamental transformations in policy, pedagogy, institutional structure, technical infrastructure, and cooperation.  

  • Mobile learning and learning on the go:

With the widespread use of smartphones, tablets, and handheld devices, mobile learning has become prevalent in recent years. Learning platforms and educational apps are optimized for mobile devices enabling learners to access learning resources anytime, anywhere.  Still, mobile learning is remaining a relevant solution to be more explored and adapted in the future of digital learning as a solution to address accessibility and equity in education. With the increasing development of mobile apps for various purposes, mobile learning is becoming even more prevailing in the future to empower learners on the go and with bit-sized digital learning materials, as mentioned above. More recent kinds of wearable technologies such as smartwatches, eyewear, AR/VR headsets are being implements and researched for their learning potential such as in-situ and real-time learning, immersive and interactive learning, and learning anytime/anywhere.  

Image: https://www.learndash.com/7-random-mobile-learning-facts/

References:

a. Future Skills – Future Learning and Future Higher Education. https://nextskills.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Future-Skills-The-Future-of-learning-and-higher-education.pdf

b. A NEW ECOLOGY FOR LEARNING: An Online Ethnographic Study of Learners’ Participation and Experience in Connectivist MOOCs. https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/184138/saadatmand.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

Creating videos with artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) provides us with new opportunities for creating videos. The variety of different types of video applications and features is rapidly increasing. One of the easiest ways of producing lectures or other video learning material is by generating virtual instructors, avatars, to present the content.

Is it sometimes inconvenient to make a video? Does it feel awkward to show up with your own face and voice? Instead of escaping and having an assistant to do the job, you can recruit an avatar. Or in fact create one with AI-based software like Colossyan, Synthesia, or D-ID. They may slightly differ in features, but all of them let you generate a realistic-looking virtual actor to give a talk with a preferred accent and tone. With some of the applications, it is also possible to make more fantasy-like characters or to customise an avatar with your own face and voice.

What is the video production experience like in practice? You can first look at the video below where the process is described, or sign up directly for a trial, type in a script, customise a character and background, add media, and generate an edited video. With a purchased plan you can tell a story through several scenes.  

If you are struggling with visuals or even the script, you can ask AI to help you with templates, ideas, or a draft based on a set of parameters like context, goal of the video, audience, presenter, and tone of the presentation. This type of prompt-to-video feature may speed up your work and still let you customise everything.  We asked Colossyan to create a video about the features of the text-to-video generators, and here is the result (unedited):  

How do learners regard avatars as teachers? A lot more research will be needed, but some studies have already indicated positive impact. For example, it was found in MIT that a virtual instructor can increase students’ motivation towards learning, cultivate positive emotions, and boost their appraisal of the AI-generated instructor. Since a student’s relationship with the instructor can have a significant impact on attitudes, motivation, and even learning results, an avatar resembling a person that a student likes or admires – or maybe a favourite cartoon or movie character – may inspire and even improve performance. (Pataranutaporn et al, 2022.)  – After all, wouldn’t you like to be taught by Einstein or Bill Gates? 😊 Well, of course we must respect everyone’s privacy and ask for consent to appear as an avatar.  

References:

Pataranutaporn, P., Leong, J., Danry, V., Lawson, A.P., Maes, P., Sra, M. (2022). AI-Generated Virtual Instructors Based on Liked or Admired People Can Improve Motivation and Foster Positive Emotions for Learning. Published in 2022 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, pp. 1-9.