University of Twente Student Theses


Learning together : enhancements of social interaction in physical learning environments

Lam, Wai Cheung (Wesley) (2021) Learning together : enhancements of social interaction in physical learning environments.

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Abstract:The education landscape is slowly starting to change as the world is rapidly changing due to the high speed of technological advances in all aspects of life. Some have started reimagining what education can look like in the future. The rise of e-learning has taken center stage in this reimagination, especially accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Suddenly, education was forced to change and move (partly) online. As many have experienced by now, learning solely behind a screen at home neglects large aspects of the promise of education to prepare you for the future. While the advancement of e-learning raises the accessibility of courses from the best educators from anywhere in the world, the quality of the learning experience is not as good as face-to-face. Practical skills, such as engineering skills obtained through hands-on activities are difficult to obtain when taught over a distance, and the entire social aspect of learning is reduced to its online form. This removes us even further from genuine human connection. The (e-)learning experience is reduced to a limited form for social aspects such as learning from peers, learning how to communicate, and learning how to collaborate on common projects. In this transitional phase of reimagining the future of education, 100ideas believes in the combination of virtual and physical learning experiences. They position themselves to increase the quality of education in physical face-to-face settings. Their vision of a better learning experience includes the strengthening of connection among peers and their connection to local learning environments. In these communities, learners themselves are a wealthy source of knowledge who contribute to the quality of the education experience for everyone else. However, merely creating a dedicated space for learning where individuals are put together, does not improve the learning experience. More can and should be done. New opportunities arise in attempting to improve the face-to-face learning experience. The internship at 100ideas had two concrete objectives: 1. Create a concept that improves the learning experience for learners in physical learning environments 2. Speculate about the potential of the concept in terms of the further development of the company’s Learning Analytics in a physical environment In this paper, we present the Virtual Companion Space (VCS), an avatar-based online platform where people interact and find each other, based on the project people work on, where each displayed avatar is a real person presently located in a Physical Learning Environment (PLE) - a makerspace-like environment, where learners go to for studying or (group) project work, where optionally the space have equipment typically found in makerspaces (e.g. laser cutter, 3d printers). In this paper we zoom in on the Design Lab at University of Twente as an example of a PLE. The VCS design concept is created through a design process and backed by collected qualitative data. Chapter 2 walks through the conducted design process, and chapter 3 presents the qualitative findings during this process. Chapter 4 provides an elaborate account of the VCS concept and how its components are connected. In chapter 5, we analyze the VCS using a data-centered lens to see its potential for the further development of the company’s Learning Analytics in PLEs. This follows up with a discussion in Chapter 6 on how the VCS can contribute to 100ideas’ mission to improve face-to-face education.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Programme:Interaction Technology MSc (60030)
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