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Educational Informatics Lab

University of Ontario Institute of Technology

UOIT delivers a leading-edge learning environment that uniquely combines academic knowledge, research opportunities, hands-on skills and a vibrant student life. More than 8,400 undergraduate and graduate students are taught by world-class professors who are experts in their field. Ontario's first laptop-based university, UOIT offers a diverse array of challenging undergraduate and graduate degree programs through the faculties of Business and Information Technology; Education; Energy Systems and Nuclear Science; Engineering and Applied Science; Health Sciences; Science; and Social Science and Humanities. UOIT's commitment to research excellence and innovation has resulted in millions of dollars in grants and awards, including five prestigious Canada Research Chairs, with another four in development, and six industrial research chairs.

The Faculty of Education is in the process of completing the EILab, which is specifically designed to examine interactions in a learning relationship when it happens through any form of digital interface.  The facility allows the multifaceted observation and recording of these interactions in a real-time, “real-life”, distance, distributed, social online learning. It also allows for the development of systems and affordances to foster “controllable” authentic replication of these types of learning contexts.  Usability analysis involves the development of usability techniques, the large-scale studies and observation of the developed learning contexts using a variety of techniques such as observation via an “observation room” with one-way mirrors, and electronic monitoring equipment (video cameras, audio-recording devices, facial expression recognition) as well as investigating new appliances to address physical disabilities including haptics.  The research will study questions such as “how do users of Internet-based collaborative technologies interact?”  Studies will also examine the accommodation of learning objectives and strategies to make the best use possible of technical opportunities for a wide range of devices for learning.  It also includes examining interactions to ensure any developed affordances will work on small and large devices, across operating systems (PC s and Apples) and on a variety of emerging Internet appliances and be accessible simultaneously on multiple devices.  Finally, some investigations are already looking at the use of the developed learning contexts on devices such as PDAs, Blackberrys and iPhones.  Such portable equipment could be widely used for a number of learning applications in homes, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. As investigation and development of new ways to design emerge to assist the elderly and disabled, the requirements for learning among these fragile populations require new approaches to technology-enhanced learning.

Above: The interior of the EILab

As part of the IDI group, the EILAB at UOIT will undertake research in four major directions:

  1. The study of current and upcoming mobile technologies and their underlying technical architectures to address accessibility. Specifically, research will be conducted to compare handheld devices and the accessibility development tools for developing accessible e-learning resources that are delivered across multiple devices and in multiple manners.
  2. In order to support this first area of study, the EILAB with it’s particular data collection affordances will allow for the development of new ideas and evaluation methods for use by others in academia and industry.
  3. Investigation of online storage through repositories to ensure compatibility of e-learning content to ensure accessibility by learners. UOIT will act as a test bed for accessibility evaluation and testing. This will be done through the creation and testing of a a cloud-based repository of accessible e-learning resources for use on mobile devices to ensure compatibility and accessibility.
  4. Testing of solutions arising in/from ubiquitous e-learning environments using handhelds as well as standard laptop technologies. Development of strategies and workflows for ubiquitous e-learning environments using technology standards developed by ÆGIS that address both mobility (handhelds), e-learning (learning management systems, and institutional content repositories).