15 Nov 2012

The Open University receives €759k from EU for learning technologies



The Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) has been awarded two grants of €408,000 (£323k) and €351,000 (£285k) from the European Commission for two projects which build bridges between innovation and education, both in the classroom and in the manufacturing workplace.

The grants are specifically for its Technology Enhanced Learning Livinglab for Manufacturing Environments (TELLME), which is launching today in Milan, and Working Environment with Social, Personal and Open Technologies (weSPOT) projects.

The two new grants to KMi will allow The Open University to explore diverse contexts for technology enhanced learning bridging the school classroom and the manufacturing workplace. The bridge between the enquiring student in the school classroom, and the enquiring SME worker is one that is not immediately obvious - but many of the learning topics and technologies are surprisingly similar.

These two new grants have been awarded to the New Media research team, led by KMi Director Professor Peter Scott, who said: "These new grants will explore diverse contexts for technology enhanced learning in a social, tangible world; WeSPOT will lower the threshold for linking everyday life inquiry with science teaching in schools all over Europe, while TellMe will explore social learning and the use of multimedia learning objects within business ecosystems".

The WeSPOT project started in October 2012, and is being led by Dr Ale Okada and Dr Alexander Mikroyannidis. It aims at propagating scientific inquiry as the approach for science learning and teaching in combination with today’s curricula and teaching practices. WeSPOT will support the meaningful contextualization of scientific concepts by relating them to personal curiosity, experiences, and reasoning.

Students will be enabled to develop their inquiry-based learning skills by taking on the role of an explorer and will be motivated by their personal curiosity, guided by self-reflection, and develop knowledge personal and collaborative sense-making and reasoning. The project will involve providing a European reference model for inquiry; a diagnostic instrument; support tools and make use of social media for integration and viral marketing.

The TellMe project, which started this month, is led by Fridolin Wild, and will bring Technology Enhanced Learning to a new area: SME-driven human-centric and service-oriented manufacturing workplaces. Here KMi will be extending its learning research programme into support for learners in diverse companies: from the manufacture of helicopters, furniture to basic textiles.

Both grants are from the EU’s €8.1 billion Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), designed to fund research and innovation within the trading bloc. To date, KMi has raised £2.52 million in grants for its various projects.


About KMi

Innovation at The Open University is led by research excellence, and is embodied by institutes within the University. For example, The Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) is an interdisciplinary innovations research centre founded at The Open University in 1995. It is widely acknowledged to be at the leading edge of research and development, particularly in semantic web technologies, multimedia and information systems, knowledge modelling and management, new media for learning and sense making.

KMi is part of the OU’s Centre for Research in Computing, ranked as one of the top 20 research centres in the UK RAE 2008.

The style, impact and content of KMi can be seen at:

About The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has more than 250,000 current students, including over 15,000 overseas.

The OU came top for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey this year, and has been in the top three universities every year since the survey began in 2005. In 2011/12 it had a 93 per cent satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 23 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 56 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.

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