University of Tartu and Lithuanian start-up company are developing an open learner model to enhance e-learning effectiveness

The Institute of Education of the University of Tartu and the Lithuanian start-up company BitDegree have started a cooperation project that is expected to significantly increase the effectiveness of e-learning. To this end, they research and develop an open learner model.

According to Danielius Stasiulis, the founder and CEO of BitDegree, distance learning does not always work as expected. Unlike in classroom instruction, the teacher does not have direct control over the student, who can simply disconnect the session with a single click. For e-learning to work, students need good learning skills, including self-regulation skills. Self-regulation is known to be characterised through cognitive, metacognitive, motivational and emotional areas. So far, however, there is little scientific research on how to effectively support the latter two in online environments.

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The aim of the launched project is, within two years, to develop and test an open learner model that supports self-regulation at all areas of learning. An open learner model means that many the so-called digital traces of the learner’s behaviour in digital environments are collected and the interpretation of this data is made accessible to the learner. When learners see and understand how they learn, they can manage their entire learning process – including cognition, metacognition, motivation and emotions – more effectively. How exactly to do this is a big question for researchers and developers during the first year of the project.

BitDegree is an educational technology start-up founded in 2017. In March this year, BitDegree received high recognition in the category of learning and education at the World Summit Awards, the UN Global Competition for Innovative ICT Solutions. The team of the Institute of Education of the University of Tartu is a high-level international research group, whose fields of work range from teacher education to learning analytics and educational data mining. The team is led by Professor Margus Pedaste.

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“The fact that a start-up company is willing to create innovative solutions based on our research publications is a very positive phenomenon. Quite often, even in large companies, innovation is largely based on user experience and intuition, and the research base is rather weak. Partnership with the successful Lithuanian company BitDegree is a wonderful exception. Together, we hope to develop a tool that can be used by all major online learning environments to enable much more effective learning,” commented Margus Pedaste.

This year, the University of Tartu researchers published an article about the open learner model in the high impact journal Computers & Education.

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