The UOC - Open University of Catalonia’s eLearn Center Welcomes the First International Researchers

The UOC's eLearn Center, the first e-learning research and innovation centre in Spain and one of the few in Europe, is already welcoming its first international researchers. Inaugurated last February, the centre now has around one hundred members, including university faculty, researchers and management personnel. Seven research groups also form part of the centre: Net2learn, Capacitació digital (Digital Literacy), EDUS, EduL@b, Laboratori del Nou Turisme (New Tourism Lab), LabTM and Museia.

Barcelona, Spain, September 24, 2009 --( The eLearn Center is to host, from now until June 2010, four visiting researchers from different international universities and research centres. The four researchers, who are linked to institutions working in the area of e-learning in their home country, are renowned figures in their field.

Dr Agostino Marengo from the University of Bari, Italy, is to contribute to the research in technological resources for learning; Dr Lalita Rajasingham, from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and Dr Frank Owarish, from the International Institute for Strategic Research and Training (IISRT), USA, are to work in the field of educational management and organization. Finally, Dr Jakko van der Pol, from the Research Center Learning in Interaction, Utrecht University, Holland, is to focus his research on learning and teaching processes. Professor Marengo arrived at the centre at the end of last month. The rest of the researchers will do so gradually during August and September.

For a minimum of three months and a maximum of one academic year, these researchers will work on a range of projects being run by the University’s research groups. Each visiting researcher will have a mentor, a faculty member or researcher at the centre to act as their guide during their time here. The mentors assigned to Marengo, Rajasingham, van der Pol and Owarish are Julià Minguillón, Assistant Director of the Office of the Vice President of Research; Albert Sangrà, Academic Director at the eLearn Center; Teresa Guasch, Director of the Educational Psychology programme, and Enric Serradell, lecturer in the Economics and Business Studies department, respectively.

The eLearn Center’s research and innovation projects

Research and innovation are key factors at the centre in terms of its focus on three areas for basic research into e-learning: learning and teaching processes; educational policies, management and organization, and technological resources to support learning.

Specifically, the eLearn Center’s innovation projects look to:

> Develop technological tools to support collaborative knowledge building processes.

> Develop and analyze the use of technological resources to annotate web-based learning materials.

> Implant multimedia simulation systems linked to the contents and process in different subjects.

> Create virtual community of practice support environments based on 2.0 tools.

> Assign digital educational content aimed at different educational levels from an interdisciplinary perspective.

> Analyze and model videogames for their application as a learning resource.

With respect to the research projects developed as part of the Time in E-Learning research programme, the main aims are to:

> Drive personalization of technological tools for teaching and learning so as to improve the quality of the process in terms of motivation and academic performance.

> Build knowledge around those virtual learning environments that incorporate educational aids (teaching, technological, etc.) that contribute to improved learning.

> Identify the most appropriate contexts, methodologies and technological tools to promote collaborative work in virtual learning environments.

> Based on the current e-learning management and organisation models and taking into account the context and policies, identify the trends for coming years, in the university sector in particular.

UOC - Open University of Catalonia
Daniela Silva