Engineering e-learning in Porto

Porto river front

I returned from ECEL 2010 in Porto on Monday after a fantastic few days in sunny Portugal. This was my first time attending this conference and I was really impressed with the organisation. The university were also really hospitable and the beautiful sunshine made it a welcome break from rainy old London! The conference seems to attract a real mix of people, from all around Europe, but also from many different fields including academics, but also educational developers and e-learning professionals. ECEL was held at ISEP which is the faculty of engineering at the polytechnic in Porto, so the conference chair and one of the keynotes were engineers. They have a research and development group called GILT (Graphic, Interaction and learning technologies) with over 25 researchers. We were also treated to evening entertainment by students from the faculty who sang, danced and played music after the conference dinner at Taylor’s port house – so engineers are certainly multi-talented! Official photos from the event are available on Picasa.

I attended some sessions on topics that were quite new to me such as intelligent tutoring systems and creating simulations, but also topics that were more familiar including using web 2.0 tools, and tools for feedback and assessment. Quite a number of colleagues from the UK were attending the conference. Highlights for me was the Thursday morning parallel on e-assessment and feedback with presentations from Trevor Barker at the University of Hertfordshire, Hugo Ribeiro and Amaral Margarida from the Universidade do Porto and Nick Lund from Manchester Metropolitan University. I picked up lots of useful tips about automated ways of giving feedback to large cohorts of students which could be useful for LSE100. I also enjoyed chairing Hugo Ferreira’s session on designing an online environment to teach students about robotic line simulation. It’s integrated with Moodle and the simulation led to many more students deciding to study robotics in their subsequent years. Monika Andergassen from Leeds Metropolitan talked about her PhD research with student bloggers at the University of Vienna and how blogs are part of the informal learning process. Finally Geraldine Jones from the University of Bath talked about using web 2.0 tools for peer assessment using the Voice Thread tool to create digital stories. I also enjoyed Jeppe Bundsgaard’s presentation from Aarhus University on how digital platforms support the teaching and learning process. They have created a platform called Future City for primary school children.

I’ll write up some more notes from other sessions later in the week. Our paper on undergraduate attitudes towards learning technology went well, although we were slightly disappointed not to have more people in our session. But we got some good feedback and hope to build on our research when the full cohort of students are taking LSE100 later this year. Next year’s ECEL conference will be at the University of Brighton.


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