Completed Research Projects

SupportHub2015 - 2016

This EXIST project aimed at creating an online platform where IT experts offer computer tips and services. A key element of the platform is the intelligent matchmaking of queries and problems to experts in order to maximize the chance of receiving helpful support for customers.

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Learn As You Are2015 - 2016

The LAYA (Learn As You Are) project was conducted in cooperation with KOPF, HAND + FUSS. The goal of this project was to create an inclusive educational technology framework that can be used in multiple contexts. Following a universal design approach, requirements of different user groups (including teachers as well as students with different disabilities such as blind, deaf or learning-disabled students) for such a system were elicited. Next, an interaction design concept considering these inclusion aspects was developed, implemented and pilot tested.

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IED2011 - 2016

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Field activities and collaborative learning are prominent educational approaches. Various devices can be used to implement these approaches. For example, mobile devices have been excellently employed to facilitate outdoor learning, as desktops and laptops have been for indoor collaborative learning. But the use of laptops and desktops for group activities has some limitations like the support for only a limited number of learners who can use a device at a time. Also interactive multi-touch tables with shareable interfaces and large displays have reached the market. Given that technology has provided the means to augmented both indoor and outdoor learning activities and communication infrastructure, this project focused on developing a general framework for learning that incorporates all these devices to provide an integrated learning environment which supports learning processes both in and out of classrooms.

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Usability of eLearning Authoring Environments2015

Authoring components with a high usability are crucial for the practical success of eLearning platforms. Particularly in the professional field, designing eLearing authoring systems with a focus on allowing for efficient interactions of the author is important. In this project, conducted several case studies in order to analyze an existing eLearning platform for the usability of its authoring component. We made suggestions how, based on HCI literature and the case study results, the system interface and interaction design could be improved.

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Exercises in Online Learning Evironments with WebST2014 - 2015

Online learning courses can often have very large numbers of students. Therefore, exercises in those environments are often limited to closed formats like multiple choice that can easily be evaluated automatically. While more open formats are generally regarded as more challenging and more engaging for students, they often require manual evaluation and thus lead to immense overhead on the side of the tutor. This project was concerned with the theoretical design and practical implementation of online exercises that are both creative and engaging for students, while still allowing for automatic validation.

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FIT2011 - 2015

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Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) have been getting more and more popular. The applicability of ITSs is typically restricted to well-defined domains where a domain formalization is easily possible. For ill-defined domains, human tutors still by far outperform the performance of ITSs, or the latter are not applicable at all. The goal of the FIT project was to develop novel ITS methods which extend the applicability of ITS systems to ill-defined domains by means of machine learning techniques which can autonomously infer structures and feedback options from given data (e.g., student solutions). For this purpose, prototype based machine learning methods and recent developments for general non-vectorial data structures were extended such that they allow to simultaneously structure solution spaces, learn metrics for structures, align student solutions with clusters of other solutions, and infer appropriate feedback based thereon. In this project which was part of the DFG priority programme "Autonomous Learning", the CSES group cooperated with the research group of Prof. Dr. Barbara Hammer which is located at the Faculty of Technology at Bielefeld University.

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LASAD2008 - 2013

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The aim of the DFG funded project "Learning to Argue: Generalized Support Across domains" was to create and test a generalized framework and methodology for the construction of argumentation support systems to help students learn argumentation in different domains. The realization of this goal involved the research of a reusable ontology of argumentation learning objects, a large set of visual, analytic, and pedagogic components that can be combined in different fashions to create different domain-specific argumentation tutoring systems, and the research of an interoperable software system architecture, not specific to a particular domain, that allows the flexible integration of the different researched methods and components. Dr. Bruce McLaren (Saarbrücken) and Prof. Pinkwart were the PIs of this project.

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FLINTH2012 - 2013

The aim of the NTH (Niedersachsen Institutes of Technology) funded research project "Forschungs-und Kollaborationsinfrastruktur für die NTH" FLINTH was to improve the research infrastructure of the NTH. The Universities of Braunschweig, Clausthal and Hannover took part in this project. It was split up into tree major areas. A cooperation platform was set upv to achieve efficient workflows within large scaled distributed research project of the NTH. A compute cloud was provided to allow the flexible use of computation resources even for small problems. And finally a storage cloud was established to share large amounts of data across distributed parts of NTH research projects. Our research group was active in building up a cooperation platform including multiple asynchronous and synchronous channels.

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Virtual Worlds as CSCW Tools2007 - 2013

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Collaborative virtual environments (CVEs) such as the popular Second Life can be very helpful as tools for Computer Supported Cooperative Work, in particular because they support social bonds between co-workers - which in turn can have known positive effects on group productivity. In our research group, we investigated how the interaction design (user - avatar - virtual world) influences the group interaction and collaboration processes in CVEs, and how effective team support in CVEs can be designed.

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Mobile2Learn2010 - 2012

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The aim of this project, conducted within the nifbe (Lower Saxony Institute for Early Childhood Education and Development) framework, was to support parents of young children. Often, these parents do not have the knowledge about the activities and games that may be beneficial for their children - but at the same time, they do often not have enough spare time to inform themselves and do not know where they could do this if they wanted to. In the project, which was conducted by the group of Prof. Pinkwart together with the research group of Prof. Jörg Müller at TU Clausthal and the KVHS Goslar, we designed, implemented and evaluated a combination of a web-based community platform with mobile phone access and field activities. We showed that these two forms of interaction have synergy effects in that use of the web information system may lead to increased participation in presence activities, and vice versa.

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IT Ecosystems2010 - 2012

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Classical approaches of computer science do not scale well for todays large and complex software-intensive systems. Software systems cannot be considered in isolation, since they are connected among each other and interact massively. Instead, they are to be designed as parts of a larger IT Ecosystem. In analogy to biological ecosystems, IT Ecosystems are based on the balance between individuals (autonomy) and sets of rules (control) defining equilibria within an IT Ecosystem. Maintaining and continuously evolving IT Ecosystems requires deep understanding of this balance. The research topic IT Ecosystems cuts across several research areas, including the emergence of system functions, extending classical engineering approaches, adaptive infrastructures, control of semantic diversity, and enhanced human-environment-machine interaction. These core areas were addressed by the NTH focused Research School for IT Ecosystems, a cooperation of the Universities of Braunschweig, Clausthal, and Hannover.

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N2E22010 - 2012

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The amount of assesments and exams at universities is increasing significantly. Technologically, eAssessments and eExams are feasible, reducing manual tutor effort through automatic grading techniques. Studies have shown that the use of eAssessments and eExams can indeed lead to quality improvements in university teaching scenarios. In N2E2, a network of universities cooperated in order to investigate the use of electronic exam technologies in meaningful contexts and to contribute to a wider acceptance and use of these technologies.

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Weighted Constraint Based Intelligent Tutoring Systems for Logic Programming2010 - 2011

The goal of Intelligent Tutoring Systems is to provide intelligent, one-on-one, computer-based support to students as they learn to solve problems. The basic rationale underlying most ITS systems is that by comparing student's problem solutions to formalized domain models, it is possible to adapt instruction to the needs of specific students and thereby effectively support their learning. Constraint-based tutors are one of the most prominent and successful ITS approaches. These rely on checking student solutions for the fulfillment of certain correctness constraints (and give feedback, should these be violated). Yet, a restriction of constraint-based tutors is that they cannot easily accommodate multiple correct solution variants to tasks. For the domain of logic programming, we have shown in this project that weighted constraint-based ITS systems have potential to address this issue.

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PARCOURS2010 - 2011

Today, typical classrooms are still equipped with blackboards, chalk and sometimes overhead projectors. Technology-enriched rooms can often only be found in school libraries or computer pools where students can research topics on the WWW or use other specific computer applications. In this project, we designed an educational game called Parcours, developed for the interactive SMART table. This cooperative design game, installed on a tabletop that is located within a classroom, was intended to teach primary school children collaboration and coordination skills as well as logical thinking. This project was conducted in cooperation with the SSE group at Clausthal University of Technology.

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VESSE2010 - 2011

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Virtual environments have been around for quite some time. Only in recent years they have gained much popularity due to their widespread usage as social platforms - yet, some potential user groups that could benefit from social platforms, such as the elderly, have received little attention. From 2010 to 2011, we conducted some initial investigations related to the use of virtual environments to provide social support for the elderly.

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GATE2009 - 2011

In this project, we designed and implemented a system that is able to help with the process of exercise management and assessment for large programming classes at university level. The implemented system can be configured to allow for self-assessments of students and can check solutions submitted by studens for plagiarism.

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Virtual Sales Agents2009 - 2010

In our group, we designed and implemented a virtual agent capable of providing customers in a 3D online shop with advice. Based on a product knowledge base, a conversation model and a model of the shop, the agent communicated with the customer through text based dialogues and lead the customer through the virtual world, using gestures to show products. A controlled empirical evaluation study showed that customers in this shop generally followed the counseling of the agent and bought more suitable products. Also, a considerable number of the participants in the study expressed that they liked the principle of sales agents in virtual 3D online shops and considered our agent helpful.

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Engaging students in learning argumentation through intelligent collaboration technologies2009

Within this DAAD funded project in 2009, Prof. Pinkwart and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University (Dr. Vincent Aleven) and at the University of Pittsburgh (Prof. Kevin Ashley, Collin Lynch) extended the intelligent tutoring system for legal argumentation "LARGO" so that it engages students more actively. The new software increased student engagement by allowing them to interactively make arguments and discuss these via peer collaboration.

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Collaborative filtering in eLearning applications2008 - 2009

Collaborative information filtering techniques play a key role in many Web 2.0 applications but are mainly used for business purposes such as product recommendation. In this project, we developed a collaborative filtering approach which is specifically designed for eLearning applications. A controlled lab study with the system confirmed that the underlying algorithm is suitable as a diagnostic tool, and field studies substantiated the educational effectiveness.

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CoChemEx2007

This project was conducted in 2007 together with colleagues at Universities of Freiburg (Dr. Nikol Rummel) and Eichstädt (Prof. Andreas Harrer), and the DFKI (Dr. Bruce McLaren). It was funded from the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center. We tested the hypothesis that a computer-supported collaborative learning system can help students improve their conceptual understanding of chemistry. Our goal was to help students actively process the material they encounter, moving them away from the mechanical, algorithmic approach taken by many chemistry students.

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