The University of Technology Sydney (UTS), with support of Acer and Intel, is set to tackle these challenges and revolutionise the traditional curriculum with their new pilot program, The UTS x Acer Learner Attention Analytics Pilot Program. Through advanced research into learner attention, educators will be able to boost student engagement, improve learning efficiency, encourage lifelong learning and foster positive learning environments. Additionally, they can streamline classroom management by supporting students in real-time and identifying personalised learning behaviours that will identify where students need additional classroom support.

The program uses laptops to collect data on the eye gaze, mouse, keyboard and digital pen movements of students to better understand how much attention a student is paying to their learning device. It does this in a passive way rather than creating another point of distraction. The data will then be analysed using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to determine behaviour patterns and the linkage to learning outcomes.

It is currently being piloted with 200 Data Science students in the Faculty of Engineering and IT at UTS. A number of secondary schools in Australia have also expressed interest in signing up to be part of the pilot program.

Professor Fang Chen, Executive Director of Data Science and Distinguished Professor (FEIT), UTS, is leading the program and hopes it will create an industry blueprint that can further develop personalised learning methods inside and outside classrooms of the future. She also said that the role of advanced technologies was integral to this process.

“Using learners’ behaviour as a fundamental indicator of attention and analysing this with AI and machine learning technologies will enable the education sector to optimise the pace and learning materials for the needs of different learners,” said Professor Chen.

The pilot program will develop a simple and subtle tool that can communicate to overworked educators where their class lessons could be improved to be more engaging. UTS also said that the data and analysis can suggest to educators when a student might be facing external challenges, such as family difficulties or bullying, which can impact their learning abilities within the classroom.

Acer is also playing a significant role in supporting the program. Darren Simmons, Managing Director, Oceania, Acer said that the company is thrilled to support the UTS Data Science Team led by Professor Chen and to be part of a pilot program that will transform the education sector and be crucial in preparing students for the future.

“In addition to education, it will also assist technology providers, such as Acer, to develop new computers and software applications and behaviour-aware computer technology to better facilitate the changing needs of the education sector,” said Darren Simmons.

As schools and universities across Australia use a range of different technologies in the classroom, Darren also added that the proof of concept platform being developed as part of the pilot program is a “platform for education,” that will be agnostic across operating-systems (OS). This will accommodate for the popularity of various devices and operating systems used in the education system.

Both Professor Chen and Darren Simmons stressed that privacy and security is a core element of the program, and that researchers are taking all the required steps to make sure that school and legal regulations are complied with.

As the program is only focused on the tracking of students’ eye-gaze, the webcam does not track or store images of students’ faces. At the secondary school level, parental permission is required for students to participate in the program, and at University level, students themselves can either opt in or out of the program. Additionally, students who are part of the program will be identifiable by their teachers so that they can better provide them with personalised learning material and better engagement, however when this information is shared with researchers, the students will be assigned a random number which will be the only identifying information about that students’ behaviour.

The project will also have the potential to be further extended to detect learner frustration and hesitation. Determining when and why this occurs is an essential step towards customised teaching and learning and will be integral in improving the student experience and wellbeing.

 

For more information on The UTS x Acer Learner Attention Analytics Pilot Program or to express interest in your school participating in the program, please contact 1300 308 056 or education.aca@acer.com