Special Issue "Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Applied Industrial Technologies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Carlos Alario-Hoyos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Telematic Engineering, Univ Carlos III Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Interests: technology-enhanced learning; CSCL; virtual learning environments; MOOCs
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

The rapid changes in today’s society and in the labor market require workers to undergo constant retraining in order to update and adapt their knowledge and skills throughout their lives. These new education needs occur at a time of transformation of face-to-face education and expansion of blended and online education. Regarding face-to-face education, for example, mobile technologies and sensors are being introduced more and more in the classroom with the aim to encourage technology-driven interaction between students and teachers and also to be able to collect much more information of what happens in the classroom in real time. Regarding online education, for example, new models such as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) emerged in the last decade as a way to offer quality structured open educational resources to learners worldwide, and at the same time fostering the digital transformation of many universities. In addition, the opportunities to collect and analyze many more data of learners’ behavior and performance in face-to-face, blended, and online education, together with the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, has allowed a fast development of the field of learning analytics in order to support instructors in the redesign and adaptation of their contents and classes, and learners in increasing their awareness on their progress, and in the development of their self-regulated learning skills, among others.

Dr. Carlos Alario-Hoyos
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
  • Smart Learning Enviroments (SLEs)
  • Augmented, virtual, and mixed realities (AR/VR/MR) for education
  • Learning Analytics (LA)
  • Visualization dashboards for education
  • Self-regulated learning (SRL) and self-directed learning (SDL)
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence applied to education
  • Gamification, game-based, and simulation-based learning
  • Mobile and wearable technologies for education
  • Remote and virtual labs in education

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
Towards a New Learning Experience through a Mobile Application with Augmented Reality in Engineering Education
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 4921; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11114921 - 27 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1607
Abstract
With the rise of information technology and digitization, education has been faced with the need to adopt new learning models using technology to create innovative educational methodologies. In addition, due to pandemic restrictions and in order to help contain the spread of the [...] Read more.
With the rise of information technology and digitization, education has been faced with the need to adopt new learning models using technology to create innovative educational methodologies. In addition, due to pandemic restrictions and in order to help contain the spread of the virus (COVID-19), all educational institutions have been forced to switch immediately to online education. The application of augmented reality (AR) in education provides important benefits, such as increased engagement and interactivity, and can help to minimize the negative effects of the disruption of face-to-face education. Therefore, this paper focuses on describing the effect of an augmented reality mobile application (NetAR) that was developed for engineering students as a complement to traditional education. To achieve this objective, an experimental group and a control group were established to work with the application for three weeks for three hours a day. Moreover, there are a number of usability issues with AR that may impact learning effectiveness and motivation. Therefore, the usability of the application was evaluated with the IBM Computer System Usability Questionnaire (CSUQ) tool. The usability results show that users are satisfied with NetAR, and the statistical data from the control group indicate that the application positively affects learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Article
Backpack Process Model (BPPM): A Process Mining Approach for Curricular Analytics
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 4265; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11094265 - 08 May 2021
Viewed by 619
Abstract
Curricular analytics is the area of learning analytics that looks for insights and evidence on the relationship between curricular elements and the degree of achievement of curricular outcomes. For higher education institutions, curricular analytics can be useful for identifying the strengths and weaknesses [...] Read more.
Curricular analytics is the area of learning analytics that looks for insights and evidence on the relationship between curricular elements and the degree of achievement of curricular outcomes. For higher education institutions, curricular analytics can be useful for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the curricula and for justifying changes in learning pathways for students. This work presents the study of curricular trajectories as processes (i.e., sequence of events) using process mining techniques. Specifically, the Backpack Process Model (BPPM) is defined as a novel model to unveil student trajectories, not by the courses that they take, but according to the courses that they have failed and have yet to pass. The usefulness of the proposed model is validated through the analysis of the curricular trajectories of N = 4466 engineering students considering the first courses in their program. We found differences between backpack trajectories that resulted in retention or in dropout; specific courses in the backpack and a larger initial backpack sizes were associated with a higher proportion of dropout. BPPM can contribute to understanding how students handle failed courses they must retake, providing information that could contribute to designing and implementing timely interventions in higher education institutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Article
Lifelong Learning Courses Recommendation System to Improve Professional Skills Using Ontology and Machine Learning
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 3839; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11093839 - 23 Apr 2021
Viewed by 620
Abstract
Lifelong learning enables professionals to update their skills to face challenges in their changing work environments. In view of the wide range of courses on offer, it is important for professionals to have recommendation systems that can link them to suitable courses. Based [...] Read more.
Lifelong learning enables professionals to update their skills to face challenges in their changing work environments. In view of the wide range of courses on offer, it is important for professionals to have recommendation systems that can link them to suitable courses. Based on this premise and on our previous research, this paper proposes the use of ontology to model job sectors and areas of knowledge, and to represent professional skills that can be automatically updated using the profiled data and machine learning for clustering entities. A three-stage hybrid system is proposed for the recommendation process: semantic filtering, content filtering and heuristics. The proposed system was evaluated with a set of more than 100 user profiles that were used in a previous version of the proposed recommendation system, which allowed the two systems to be compared. The proposed recommender showed 15% improvement when using ontology and clustering with DBSCAN in recall and serendipity metrics, and a six-point increase in harmonic mean over the stored data-based recommender system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Article
Spectral Analysis of Electroencephalographic Data in Serious Games
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(6), 2480; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11062480 - 10 Mar 2021
Viewed by 587
Abstract
In this paper, we describe an investigation of brain activity while playing a serious game (SG). A SG is focused on improving logical thinking, specifically on cognitive training of students in the field of basic logic gates, and we summarize SG description, design, [...] Read more.
In this paper, we describe an investigation of brain activity while playing a serious game (SG). A SG is focused on improving logical thinking, specifically on cognitive training of students in the field of basic logic gates, and we summarize SG description, design, and development. A method based on various signal processing techniques for evaluating electroencephalographic (EEG) data was implemented in the MATLAB. This assessment was based on the analysis of the spectrogram of particular brain activity. Changes in brain activity power at a characteristic frequency band during the gameplay were calculated from the spectrogram. The EEG of 21 respondents was measured. Based on the results, the respondents can be divided into three groups according to specific EEG activity changes during the gameplay compared to a relaxed state. The beta/alpha ratio, an indicator of brain employment to a mental task, was increased during gameplay in 18 of the 21 subjects. Our results reflected the sex of respondents, time of the game and the indicator, and whether the game was successfully completed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Article
Curricular Analytics to Characterize Educational Trajectories in High-Failure Rate Courses That Lead to Late Dropout
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 1436; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11041436 - 05 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 955
Abstract
Late dropout is one of the most pressing challenges currently facing higher education, and the process that each student follows to arrive at that decision usually involves several academic periods. This work presents a curricular analytics approach at the program level, to analyze [...] Read more.
Late dropout is one of the most pressing challenges currently facing higher education, and the process that each student follows to arrive at that decision usually involves several academic periods. This work presents a curricular analytics approach at the program level, to analyze how educational trajectories of undergraduate students in high-failure rate courses help to describe the process that leads to late dropout. Educational trajectories (n = 10,969) of high-failure rate courses are created using Process Mining techniques, and the results are discussed based on established theoretical frameworks. Late dropout was more frequent among students who took a stopout while having high-failure rate courses they must retake. Furthermore, students who ended in late dropout with high-failure rate courses they must retake had educational trajectories that were on average shorter and less satisfactory. On the other hand, the educational trajectories of students who ended in late dropout without high-failure rate courses they must retake were more similar to those of students who graduated late. Moreover, some differences found among ISCED fields are also described. The proposed approach can be replicated in any other university to understand the educational trajectories of late dropout students from a longitudinal perspective, generating new knowledge about the dynamic behavior of the students. This knowledge can trigger improvements to the curriculum and in the follow-up mechanisms used to increase student retention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Article
The Efficacy of MOOC to Support Students in Pedagogical Research
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(1), 328; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11010328 - 31 Dec 2020
Viewed by 676
Abstract
The article deals with methods and methodology of pedagogical research in the didactics of informatics in the environment of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) based on the principles of connectivism, which offers open, non-formal, and community education. The MOOC was created as [...] Read more.
The article deals with methods and methodology of pedagogical research in the didactics of informatics in the environment of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) based on the principles of connectivism, which offers open, non-formal, and community education. The MOOC was created as a support for the implementation of pedagogical research (primarily for final theses), specifically for solving a causal research problem, which is the most challenging research issue in pedagogical research. We found that the created MOOC is didactically effective for all study degrees. We also identified the parts of the course (which correspond to the stages of processing the experiment) causing the participants the biggest problems. The surprising finding was that the data understanding (data exploration phase) causes the problem the most. Its importance was underestimated when designing the MOOC. Although this phase is the least computationally demanding, it is very important since it is subsequently related to the correct determination of the null statistical hypotheses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Article
An Algorithm and a Tool for the Automatic Grading of MOOC Learners from Their Contributions in the Discussion Forum
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(1), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11010095 - 24 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 695
Abstract
MOOCs (massive open online courses) have a built-in forum where learners can share experiences as well as ask questions and get answers. Nevertheless, the work of the learners in the MOOC forum is usually not taken into account when calculating their grade in [...] Read more.
MOOCs (massive open online courses) have a built-in forum where learners can share experiences as well as ask questions and get answers. Nevertheless, the work of the learners in the MOOC forum is usually not taken into account when calculating their grade in the course, due to the difficulty of automating the calculation of that grade in a context with a very large number of learners. In some situations, discussion forums might even be the only available evidence to grade learners. In other situations, forum interactions could serve as a complement for calculating the grade in addition to traditional summative assessment activities. This paper proposes an algorithm to automatically calculate learners’ grades in the MOOC forum, considering both the quantitative dimension and the relevance in their contributions. In addition, the algorithm has been implemented within a web application, providing instructors with a visual and a numerical representation of the grade for each learner. An exploratory analysis is carried out to assess the algorithm and the tool with a MOOC on programming, obtaining a moderate positive correlation between the forum grades provided by the algorithm and the grades obtained through the summative assessment activities. Nevertheless, the complementary analysis conducted indicates that this correlation may not be enough to use the forum grades as predictors of the grades obtained through summative assessment activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Article
Usability Evaluation for the Integration of Library Data Analysis and an Interactive Artwork by Sensing Technology
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(21), 7499; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217499 - 25 Oct 2020
Viewed by 732
Abstract
In this research, we propose innovative ideas for digital art combined with educational applications for the library. It also presents the library’s information services to be more humane and interesting. By taking interactive devices as the basis, this research integrates college library borrowing [...] Read more.
In this research, we propose innovative ideas for digital art combined with educational applications for the library. It also presents the library’s information services to be more humane and interesting. By taking interactive devices as the basis, this research integrates college library borrowing data and an interactive artwork in order to perform an information visualization service for a user in the library by using their own smart phone. This research uses an instant data operation to carry out the information inquiry applications to present three years of library borrowing data, from 2013 to 2015, obtained from the Hsih Shin University library Data Access Protocol. Finally, a usability evaluation for the interactive art is conducted. To testify that this interactive art design meets the principle of user acceptance, a questionnaire survey is used for the statistical verification. The research findings show that a positive explanation value was achieved for user acceptance. The research model proposed by this research acts as a usability evaluation of the integrated application of an interactive artwork and library information service. The research model also corresponded to the user’s emotional feedback in the HCI research field. The value of this research is that we provide usability-verified models for cross-domain applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Article
Augmented Reality to Facilitate Learning of the Acoustic Guitar
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(7), 2425; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10072425 - 02 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1408
Abstract
Many people wishing to learn a musical instrument opt to learn using alternative or informal methods instead of the traditional Master–Apprentice model that requires a greater cognitive load. This paper presents an augmented reality (AR)-based application designed to teach and train guitar chords, [...] Read more.
Many people wishing to learn a musical instrument opt to learn using alternative or informal methods instead of the traditional Master–Apprentice model that requires a greater cognitive load. This paper presents an augmented reality (AR)-based application designed to teach and train guitar chords, with the novelty that it is also used to teach short melodies consisting of four chord transitions so that users have to change hand and finger positions. The app uses high-quality 3D models of an acoustic guitar and animated hand to indicate correct finger positions and the movements required when changing from one chord to another. To follow the animated instructions, the learner overlaps the 3D model onto the neck of the physical guitar and his or her own hand. A system usability scale (SUS) questionnaire was used to measure the usability of the application. A score of 82.0 was obtained, which is higher than the average of 68 points that indicates the application is good from a user experience perspective, thus satisfying the purpose for which it was created. Having analysed the data for both groups—individuals with no prior experience of playing a musical instrument versus individuals with prior experience—it was concluded that the application provided a useful learning approach for all participants involved in the study, regardless of experience. That said, those possessing prior experience of playing an instrument learnt faster. It should be noted that the research revealed significant difference in learning by gender, with male participants learning faster than female participants. Similar results have been detected in other research performed in the field of music, as well as in other fields. As this study required spatial reasoning when viewing the 3D model, the differences identified this case may well have arisen as a consequence of differences in men and women’s spatial awareness, thereby leaving open an alternative line of research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Review

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Review
Mobile Learning Technologies for Education: Benefits and Pending Issues
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 4111; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11094111 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1562
Abstract
Today’s world demands more efficient learning models that allow students to play a more active role in their education. Technology is having an impact on how instruction is delivered and how information is found and share. Until very recently, the educational models encouraged [...] Read more.
Today’s world demands more efficient learning models that allow students to play a more active role in their education. Technology is having an impact on how instruction is delivered and how information is found and share. Until very recently, the educational models encouraged memorization as an essential learning skill. These days, technologies have changed the educational model and access to information. Knowledge is available online, mostly free, and easily accessible. Reading, sharing, listening and, doing are currently necessary skills for education. Mobile devices have become a complete set of applications, support, and help for educational organizations. By conducting an analysis of the behavior and use of mobile devices on current students, efficient educational applications can be developed. Although there are several initiatives for the use of mobile learning in education, there are also issues linked to this technology that must be addressed. In this work, we present the results of a literature review of mobile learning; the findings described are the result of the analysis of several articles obtained in three scientific repositories. This work also lists certain issues that, if properly addressed, can avoid possible complications to the implementation of this technology in education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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Other

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Technical Note
HearIt: Auditory-Cue-Based Audio Playback Control to Facilitate Information Browsing in Lecture Audio
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 3803; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11093803 - 22 Apr 2021
Viewed by 454
Abstract
Students often utilize audio media during online or offline courses. However, lecture audio data are mostly unstructured and extensive, so they are more challenging in information browsing (i.e., chaining, linking, extraction, and evaluation of relevant information). Conventional time-level skip control is limited in [...] Read more.
Students often utilize audio media during online or offline courses. However, lecture audio data are mostly unstructured and extensive, so they are more challenging in information browsing (i.e., chaining, linking, extraction, and evaluation of relevant information). Conventional time-level skip control is limited in auditory information browsing because it is hard to identify the current position and context. This paper presents HearIt, which provides semantic-level skip control with auditory cues for auditory information browsing. With HearIt, users can efficiently change the playback position in the paragraph-level. Furthermore, two auditory cues (positional cue and topical cue) help grasp the current playback and its context without additional visual support. We conducted a pilot study with the prototype of HearIt, and the results show its feasibility and design implications for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Lifelong Learning)
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