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Immersive Education Lab (iEL)

The Immersive Education Lab (iEL) carries out research into the use of virtual and mixed-reality systems for teaching and learning. Immersive Education is moving beyond just the use of virtual worlds to become more embedded into the physical world around us. The lab has a particular focus on the interface between real and virtual worlds and the emergence of inter-reality applications where virtual reality systems are coupled with real-world objects. A key concept for the lab is the notion of Immersivity, which spans the multiple dimensions of technology, pedagogy and cognition. This is becoming particularly important with the use of augmented and mixed reality technologies, where the technology is also often the context for learning.

iEL Directors:

iEL researchers:

iEL Projects

  • iClassroom
Imagen 9The iClassroom follows on from the iSpace and is the second purpose build Intelligent Environment in the University of Essex. Built with the aim to aid research into supplementing education with intelligent environments. The iClassroom is the main research testbed used by the iEL. This is a flexible intelligent environment that can be deployed to support a range of teaching and learning scenarios. This includes distance and remote education, formalised lectures and tutorials, and also more collaborative problem-solving learning activities. The iClassroom (which is a sister to the iSpace used by the wider iEG) provides a smart environment in which learning can take place. It includes a pervasive computing technology infrastructure coupled with state of the art learning equipment and resources.
  • The BReal Lab

Imagen 1The ‘BReal Lab’ proposes an innovative approach to enabling geographically distributed learners to collaborate around physical engineering laboratory activities, such as building robots. It facilitates combining software and hardware components, created by different students in different parts of the world, into a single working system.  The BReal Lab has been successfully tested using groups of dispersed learners from Leon Institute of Technology (Mexico), San Diego State University (USA) and Shijiazhuang University (China), Anglia Ruskin University (UK) and Essex University (UK)  to build an intelligent home prototype. Preliminary results showed a positive learner’s experience opening up new opportunities for online education. The project was a collaboration with King Abdulaziz University (KSA).

  • Pedagogical Virtual Machine

Imagen 2The ‘Pedagogical Virtual Machine’ is a mechanism that translates student driven computer activity into learning outcomes. Like the Java virtual machine, it responds to messages but, rather than returning computational states, returns information relating to pedagogical achievement. Being a virtual entity, it can run on diverse platforms while offering a common interface and language to students and teachers. For example, it can interpret low sequences of sensor-actions to signal the attainment of a higher level pedagogical goal, such as constructing a working control system. By making such abstract information visible it augments reality, thereby providing a means to supplement student learning by making hitherto invisible computer processes, and pedagogical activities visible to the student (and teacher) advancing both educational technology and augmented reality.

  • MiRTLE+

Imagen 3The MiRTLE+ project is a marriage between ideas drawn from virtual presence and augmented reality that explores new ways for bringing dispersed remote learners into shared collaborative spaces in the physical world. It is inspired by the idea of holographic projection but using tablets and glasses to mix the presence of local real and remote virtual students (and teachers) in a single real space. The picture shows an example of the UNO card game being used as the teaching and learning vehicle given card games are commonly learnt by practising with experts rather than reading from books or manuals.


Imagen 4Multiperspective Multimodal Dialogue Ð dialogue systems with metacognitive abilities. The goal of Metalogue is to produce a multimodal dialogue system that is able to implement an interactive behaviour that seems natural to users and is flexible enough to exploit the full potential of multimodal interaction. It will be achieved by understanding, controlling and manipulating the system’s own and users’ cognitive processes.

Funded by the EU Seventh Framework programme ICT 2013.10. Project runs from 1/11/2013 until 31/10/16. See http://www.metalogue.eu