NEWTON - Networked labs for training in sciences and technologies

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NEWTON is a large-scale project, funded by the Horizon 2020 framework of the European Union for research and innovation. The project’s aim is to design, develop and deploy innovative solutions in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). Content in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is stored on the project’s management platform (NEWTELP) and validated across Europe at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

The NEWTON project, which is funded by the Horizon 2020 framework of the European Union for research and innovation, is composed by thirteen partners from seven countries in Europe, led by Dublin City University. The project’s aim is to design, develop and deploy innovative solutions in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), such as adaptive multimedia and multi-sensorial content delivery mechanisms, personalisation and gamification solutions, Virtual Labs and Fabrication Labs, Augmented and Virtual Reality, as well as innovative pedagogical approaches, including problem-based, game-based and flipped-classroom-based learning.

Those solutions, developed as part of the NEWTON project, are employed on the project’s technology enhanced learning platform NEWTELP. This platform is used by teachers for creating course content and both knowledge and qualitative assessment. Students use the platform primarily to learn from the course materials and to complete various knowledge tests and questionnaires.

NEWTELP is based on a multi-tier client-server architecture that separates business logic, client access technology and centrally held data into discrete layers, which nevertheless communicate with one another through open interfaces. This supports both the platform’s scalability and the sharing of recent innovations, such as components for novel gamification, adaptation and personalisation of learning processes.

Those innovative technologies and the NEWTELP platform contribute significantly to the sub-objectives of the NEWTON project. These sub-objectives are:

  1. Adaptive and personalised multimedia and mulsemedia-based learning.
  2. Augmented and virtual-reality-enhanced learning, including support for learners with special educational needs.
  3. Remote teaching and learning using virtual teaching and learning labs and fabrication labs.
  4. Teaching and learning using innovative pedagogical approaches including self-directed and problem-based approaches and gamification and game-oriented methods.
  5. Innovative learning using a novel technologies-enhanced learning management platform.

The innovative technologies of the NEWTON project and the NEWTELP innovative learning management platform are fundamental in order to reach the project’s goal and improve its users’ learning experiences and satisfaction during learning processes, while maintaining and potentially enhancing students’ learning outcomes. This improvement of learning quality experiences can make subjects in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) more attractive to students, including learners with special educational needs, and increase students’ interest in STEM subjects and associated careers.

Basic information

Country: Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, United Kingdom

Coordinator: Dublin City University, Ireland, https://www.eeng.dcu.ie/~pel/

Programme: Horizon 2020

Project Acronym:

Target groups: college students, primary school students, secondary school students, teachers, university students, university lecturers, vocational school students

Topic: Astronomy, Biology, Computer science, Earth science, Engineering, Maths, Physics, Technology, Education

Start year: 2016

End year: 2019

Url: http://www.newtonproject.eu/

Contact person: Diana Bogusevschi, Email diana.bogusevschi (at) dcu.ie

The NEWTON project, which is funded by the Horizon 2020 framework of the European Union for research and innovation, validates its innovative solutions by carrying out small and large-scale educational pilot activities at primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary institutions, including learners with special educational needs, across Europe, in Ireland, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the Czech Republic.

The small-scale pilot activities of the NEWTON project are carried out in individual sessions that employ all of the project’s innovative solutions. Those include:

  • Adaptive multimedia and multi-sensorial content delivery mechanisms;
  • Personalisation and gamification solutions;
  • Virtual Labs and Fabrication Labs;
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality, and;
  • Innovative pedagogical approaches, such as problem-based, game-based, and flipped-classroom-based learning processes.

The large-scale pilot activities of the NEWTON project are carried out over a longer period and employ a combination of the project’s technologies. Those include:

  • Programming,
  • GAM-LAB, and
  • Earth Course.

The Pedagogical Assessment Committee (PAC) of the NEWTON project has designed an assessment procedure for all leaders of these pilot activities. This assessment is done to support a cross-analysis of all the pilot activities, which helps to identify the benefits of each technology in relation to various factors. This assessment procedure focuses on the learners’ motivation, affective state, usability of NEWTON’s technology and its benefits in knowledge acquisition. Questionnaires and guidelines are provided for focus groups and interviews conducted with learners and teachers.

Each pilot session of the NEWTON project employs various applications that are designed by the consortium’s partners. These include:

  • Serious games for the Programming Pilot Session;
  • Virtual Reality applications on Wildlife and Sea-life for the Earth Course Pilot Session;
  • 3D remote printing for the GAM LAB Pilot Session;
  • Multimedia and multisensorial media applications;
  • Virtual Labs in Chemistry on Atom Structure;
  • Virtual Labs in Physics on Density and Water Cycle in Nature; and
  • Virtual Reality application in Electrophysics and game-based learning using an application focused on Astronomy and the Solar System.

Each pilot session is usually split into a few different stages. These stages and associated questions for each stage are provided in a toolkit by the project’s Pedagocial Assessment Committee (PAC). This varies for each application, with the exception of the knowledge stages. These stages include:

  • Demographics;
  • A Motivation and Affective State pre-pilot;
  • A pre-test on knowledge;
  • The employment of NEWTON’s approach;
  • A Motivation and Affective State post-pilot;
  • An usability post-pilot;
  • A post-test on knowledge.

In the large-scale pilot activities, which are carried out over an extended time, some stages are provided only once, such as the “Demographics” and the “Motivation and Affective State pre-pilot” stages. Reduced versions of the “Motivation and Affective State post-pilot” stage is provided following each large-scale pilot session, with an extended version of this stage provided after all sessions are finalised. In addition, following the finalisation of these pilot activities, interviews and focus groups are carried out with participating learners and teachers, based on the guidelines of the PAC Assessment Toolkit, to obtain additional feedback on NEWTON’s learning approaches.

All project applications of NEWTON and its assessment knowledge tests and questionnaires, as well as the answers provided by each learner, are stored on the project’s learning management platform NEWTELP. Those assessments can be exported and further analysed.

 

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