A trailblazer in French EdTech, the Learning Lab at the French Institute for Computer Science and Applied Mathematics (Inria) views itself as a support center for e-education research teams. The government-funded lab works to break new ground in the field through data-driven projects.
According to lab director Jean-Marc Hasenfratz, "In general, there is interesting sociological research on online education. But in comparison, there is no much mathematical model of learner".
Do students take online courses in chronological or sequential order? How long of a break do students take between classes? Which machine learning tools should be used to adapt individual exercises and makeup classes to the answers given? MOOC designers are turning to mathematical models of e-classrooms for answers. Yet Hasenfratz warns that the modeling solution isn’t perfect.
Rather than provide ready-made solutions, the Learning Lab offers French universities and research organizations data sets that can help them develop their own mathematical models. Hasenfratz notes, "Students leave behind a digital record when they view MOOCs. When the data is correctly analyzed, it can help customize content the way teachers do in class."
The Learning Lab’s interest in MOOCs is no coincidence. Starting in 2013, the lab worked to develop the online education platform France Digital University (FUN). In July 2015, a group of French universities took over the FUN reigns from the French government. That way, participating universities and research groups can charge clients, including private companies, for access to their MOOCs.
The Learning Lab, which neither produces nor markets MOOC content, is on the board of the governing group. Hasenfratz reflects, "We’re glad we didn’t miss the boat on MOOCs. Our goal now is to avoid missing the next one too."
Guillaume Mollaret, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le - Mis à jour le