Category Archives: News & Events

Making learning more intuitive

A research project that I have been working on is the Intuitive Learning Resources (ILR) project.

ILR researches the creation and application of visual learning objects where content remains the focus, not the interface. The project was born from previous research highlighting the positive results found when student are provided access to intuitive learning objects at a time, place and pace to suit their individual learning needs.

We have now created a web page to house the various resources created. Click here to view the various resources currently been used by students.


How technology can be used to support informal learning in the workplace

Professor John Cook and Dr Patricia Santos are hosting a workshop to discuss how technology can be used to support informal learning in the workplace – mainly focused on Higher Education, Creative Industries and Healthcare sector.  

 The project team is pleased to discuss with you whether the tools and applications we have developed might be useful in your work and learning context. The workshop takes place on June 20th from 10am to 5pm at Armada House in Bristol. Entry is free but places are limited so please register by following the link below if you wish to attend. Coffee and a buffet lunch will be provided, with an informal reception and drinks following the workshop.

University of West England Vice Deputy Chancellor Prof. Jane Harrington will open the event.

To book your place, please go to

Augmented Reality at UWE

Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality

In 2013, the Horizon Report produced by Educause featured six educational technologies to watch in the coming years. One of these was wearable technology that would enable Augmented Reality (AR) to reach its potential and seamlessly integrating digital content into the education ecosystem. Three years on and we have seen a significant increase in wearable technology entering the consumer market and companies such as Apple and Nike taking full advantage of this new sales potential. But what about AR?

Firstly, what is AR, what are the potential benefits to education, and how can you get involved here at UWE?

AR is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world. You may remember Google Glass a project that used a specific pair of glasses to display information to the wearer, and although the project stopped it has already been reported that a new version will be released aimed at the business market. AR has made most of its impact via the use of smartphones and tablets. Publishers have been harnessing the power of AR on Magazines to engage their audience with rich media content that is lifted off the page and displayed on the screen of the readers smartphone or tablet.

What are the potential benefits to education?
In the UK, smart devices are becoming more commonplace, and the numbers of students owning these devices are starting to mirror US ownership figures wherein 2015 92% of students owned a smart device – exceeding laptop ownership of 91% for the first time (Educause, 2015).

This ubiquity has lowered the barriers to access for AR and educators can now start to harness the power of AR,  developing content that is richer and more engaging than some traditional methods. To date, research has found the use of AR in the classroom provided improvements in students memorability and engagement, both key to effective learning.

Examples of AR in education
UWE has already been using AR. The UWEMobile app allows a student to navigate their way around the campuses, and find key locations such as the Library or Cribbs B. Outside of UWE, other examples of AR in education include treasure trails where students use AR to discover information and links about relevant subjects. Within the classroom, research by Cuendet and Sébastien (2013) utilised AR to guide learning and help students learn the principles of organising a warehouse. Participants need to learn and understand the trade-offs between how fast goods can be stored and the storage capacity of the warehouse. Researchers developed a device called a TinkerKey. The device would augment information (fig 1) onto activity sheets. The sheets allowed students to physically move objects such blocks and cards into positions on the sheet, representing their own warehouse designs. By using special markers on the blocks and cards, AR was triggered to change the state of a block or perform a specific action such display a step-by-step 3D animation of the process.

Article: Designing augmented reality for the classroom
Article: Designing augmented reality for the classroom Author: Cuendet, Sébastien Journal: Computers and education ISSN: 0360-1315

Fig 1

During the project, the system was used to teach carpentry students the Rabattement technique (fig2). A technique that transforms paper-based designs (2D) into full 3D objects. Using the TinkerKey, student were able to visualise how the process works and via a series of activities, students would gradually move through more complex activities, with visual support from the TinkerKey.

Article: Designing augmented reality for the classroom Author: Cuendet, Sébastien Journal: Computers and education ISSN: 0360-1315
Article: Designing augmented reality for the classroom
Author: Cuendet, Sébastien
Journal: Computers and education
ISSN: 0360-1315

Fig 2

This use of AR in the classroom afforded flexible management of the classroom. The academic was able to walk between each table and place specific cards onto each student’s activity sheet. These cards triggered an action, such as allowing the student to move to the next activity or display (via AR) an alternative approach the student had not yet discovered. It also allowed the academic to manage high-performing groups by enabling them to run multiple simulations, but still keep control and provide additional information to the lower-performing groups.

How can you get involved here at UWE?
We are already working with academic colleagues on AR projects that will enhance the student experience in a number of different ways. Furthermore, we are in discussions with partners in professional services about how AR can help their roles.

If you would like to know more and get involved in a pilot within your department or program, contact us and arrange a chat with the EIC team.


Virtual Reality

The recent rapid expansion in devices that enable immersive experiences in virtual reality (VR) has led to a real upsurge in interest, not just amongst gamers, but across a wide range of users of VR in industry and education. The Virtual Reality World Congress will be held in Bristol on 12th April – a great opportunity to interact with the developers of exciting new technologies, and the technologies themselves. We’ll definitely be there! We write about VR a lot on this blog, as it’s a significant area of research and development interest for UWE. The University has some great examples of using virtual education techniques in health sciences,  law, finance, psychology, architecture and forensics, just as examples.

Crime scene image 1_001The forensics virtual crime scene, developed by Dr Carolyn Morton, Maddie Edwards, Manuel Frutos-Perez and me, is one example of augmenting learning through using virtual technologies that demonstrates their potential. At UWE we have a full, physical crime scene house, where students can undertake simulated forensic investigations of crimes; a really great way for them to learn. But the physical crime scene takes time to set up and change, so the virtual simulations are an added opportunity for more practical experience that can be used at any time to help the students to hone their investigation skills.  Below is a short video where Carolyn takes us on a walk-through of one of the virtual simulations, from the scene of the crime to the courtroom.

There are 2 more simulations for the students to choose from; Carolyn works closely with police and forensics services and the crime scene simulations are based upon similar real cases.

My latest project is a virtual reconstruction of the Neolithic stone circle of Avebury Henge in Wiltshire, U.K., as it is likely to have appeared circa 2,300 BCE. I’ll be working with history and heritage students at UWE later this year to explore how these kinds of reconstructions might enable us to experience these ancient sites in a way that is impossible in the modern-day physical world. At the moment I’m ditch-digging (without hurting my back!) and the video below is a brief demonstration of how that is done in a virtual environment. The unfolding story of this project will be told on my blog “Ancient and Virtual” so please feel free to take a look.

So, I can’t wait to go to the VR conference on the 12th April to see all the new developments in VR devices!