Funding for special needs learning project



A project to improve educational opportunities for children and adults with learning difficulties, which involves academics from Heriot-Watt, has gained €5.9M from the European Commission's Horizon 2020 fund, with €465,000 coming to the University over three years.

We are using this knowledge to create better technologies for everyone. Dr Theodore Lim
Dr Theodore Lim

Dr Theodore Lim and his team in the Computational and Digital Engineering (CADE) group together with Dr Thusha Rajendran, from Department of Psychology, the School of Life Sciences, will create technologies for STEM subject learning for children and adults with mental or physical disabilities who undergo general education, lifelong learning or vocational training. Designed for anywhere, any place and any time learning, leading to a successful lifelong learning experience, supported by wearable technologies.

Their proposal, Breaking Educational Barriers with Contextualised, Pervasive and Gameful Learning (BEACONING), follows on from the work the team previously carried out on Game and Learning Alliance in the FP7 GaLA project.

Dr Lim said, “BEACONING represents a new frontier of technologies that are both wearable and focused (on STEM learning). By working with special groups, we are not only designing for them and with them, we are using this knowledge to create better technologies for everyone.”

Learning management systems

The Heriot-Watt team’s specific contribution will be in the area of gamification mechanics and its integration with learning management systems, that is: what exactly does all the data we generate mean for the learner and teacher, and how we can support them? This use of data is an important development in the emerging field of data science.

They will also create problem-based STEM learning virtual environments and data tracking and logging systems across the boundaries between the real and virtual environments, boundaries, which as humans in the digital age, we cross all the time.