Honorary Research Fellow
School of Informatics
My research interests lie in how to improve learning in a wide range of formal and informal settings with the help of interactive technologies. I am especially interested in narrative and learning and the ways in which multiple representations can be used to aid individual and collaborative learning.
Brna, P., Baker, M., Stenning, K. and Tiberghien, A. (2002).
The Role of Communication in Learning to Model
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-8058-4064-8.
Using ideas from narrative theory in relation to film, games, theatre, literature and storytelling as well as notions of empathy and motivation to develop learning environments. This has included work with Judy Robertson, then a PhD student (i.e. Ghostwriter), and work with Isabel Machado on her plugin architecture for adding narrative structure to collaborative applications (i.e. SAGA).
The NIMIS project involved the development of an environment to support creative story writing (i.e T'riffic Tales). It also involved the design of a 'classroom of the future' in which to encourage learning through the development of high quality design work. The final prototype provided support for children's motivation and self esteem by seeking to express some notion of affirmation and approval through the use of personalised software agents (i.e. Louisa).
The development of a series of International Workshops has also been a feature of this work - starting with NILE (Narrative And Learning Environments) in 2000, NILE 2002, and NILE 2004 with the next event being NILE 2006, to be held in August 2006 in Edinburgh.
The EPSRC and AHRB have funded the "Drama and Performance for Pleasurable Personal Learning Environments (DAPPPLE)" Research Network. This ran from January 2005 until December 2006 (extended to June 2007) and featured support for workshops and NILE 2006.
A computational model of collaboration was developed with Mark Burton, then a PhD student (i.e. Clarissa). The environment was used for the exploration of different ways of organising collaborative work.
Work on the notion of negotiated collaborative assessment involves considering the computer as playing the role of a teacher collaborating with a learner to assess the learner's work. This work is related to the use of open, collaborative, student modelling as developed in Susan Bull's PhD and then within the EU funded LARFLAST project with Vania Dimitrova. Open student modelling makes the external representation of the system's 'understanding' of the student play a communicative role, as well as providing an opportunity for learner reflection. This work also relates to ongoing work with Susan Bull on the design of computer support for peer feedback (i.e. peerISM).
Some of my work on collaboration has involved developing Virtual Learning Environments. Work with Daniela Romano, then a PhD student, on a training context for firefighters and with Rob Aspin on a 3D environment for school physics (e.g. DEVRL, ACTIVE).
Now work on Collaboration is being carried out in conjunction with Nilubon Tongchai, a PhD student who is working on group open learner models. Her thesis demonstrates some significant learning effects from the use of a group open learner model.
Work on external representations touches on the value of transformations to a student's understanding that take place when 'internal' beliefs are transposed into a new modality (speech to natural language, natural language to logic, logic to tables etc), or an external representation from one into another.
Specifically, work with Richard Cox, then a PhD student, on switching between different representational systems to solve logical problems (i.e. switchER and switchER2), and with Andrew Harrop on the use of multiple linked external representations (i.e. ENCAL).
I have been interested in the ways people misunderstand things, and the different constructions students put on the meaning of concepts. In the early days this included work on misconceptions but it also includes work on student modelling and automated diagnosis (both model based and data driven).
Specifically, the construction of computer-based learning environments (Rocket, DYNLAB, ELAB) for dynamics and electricity allowing students to make their misconceptions explicit through building models of physical situations using specially designed modelling languages.
Also, errors and misconceptions relating to: simple electrical circuits (e.g. ELECTRICO); Prolog unification (e.g. PUBS); and Prolog control flow (e.g. BSM).
More recently, work on misconception detection within a framework designed to support open student modelling as part of Dimitrova's PhD thesis (i.e.STyLE-OLM). We also worked on misconceptions as part of the EU funded LeActiveMath project.
As part of work on the NIMIS project, we have been working on support for young children.
Specifically, to support collaborative multimedia story writing for children aged 5-6 years old (e.g. T'rrific Tales).
For both novices and experts to enable them to perform their programming tasks efficiently and effectively.
Specifically, to support: constructing Prolog programs (e.g. the Recursion Editor), the Prolog Techniques Editor (e.g. TED); debugging Prolog programs (e.g. TADP).
Brna, P., du Boulay, B. and Pain, H. (1999). Learning to Build and Comprehend Complex Information Structures: Prolog as a Case Study. Cognitive Science & Technology. Ablex. (Paperback ISBN: 1-56750-435-3).
... and there's also the on-line Prolog book!
The development of multiple teaching strategies; the use of Socratic style techniques for promoting conceptual change; the teaching of troubleshooting; the use of external representations to aid problem solving.
Specifically, teaching strategies relating to: troubleshooting (e.g. TADP); programming languages (e.g. SWANN); physics (e.g. DYNLAB, The DEVRL Virtual Classroom); analytic reasoning (e.g. switchER).
We worked with the University of Thessaly, Greece, and Sor Trondelag University College (HiST), Trondheim, Norway on an Educational Content Management System for the Support of eLearning across Europe (eCMS), the Hellenic Pedagogical Institute on Networked Distance Learning with a focus on training teacher trainers (Hermes Wings), with the University of Thessaly, Greece and the Bioclimatology Unit, INRA of Avignon, France (NELTEGEM) as well as the Hellenic Pedagogical Institute and the Computer Technology Institution, Greece and as various stakeholders.
LeActiveMath delivered an innovative web-based intelligent tutoring system for mathematics that will be used in high school and college or university level classrooms as well as for self study.
LeActiveMath builds on the eLearning environment ActiveMath which resulted from research and development at the University of Saarland and at the DFKI. This system already generates courses providing user-adaptivity, i.e., these courses depend on the learner's goals, their level of mastery of the subject, and a few preferences. The pace of learning, the level of detail, the way of presenting the content, the presentation format, and the number and difficulty of examples and exercises can be personalized for the individual learner as required. ActiveMath can work with several computer algebra systems and uses and updates a simple learner model. It provides a dictionary, private and public notes, a copyright button, adaptive annotation of tables of content, and so on. The content to be assembled and presented by ActiveMath is represented in the XML-based language OMDoc. This ontological knowledge representation for mathematics serves as a basis for reuse and interoperability of the content and also for finding dependencies of concepts in a domain.
Further high-quality research is necessary to develop LeActiveMath as a third-generation eLearning system that comprises more elaborate and justified personalization and learning scenarios, natural language tutorial dialogues, open learner modelling, and interactivity that is tool-supported and scaffolded. In particular, the degree of interaction required with the domain places great challenges on the ability of the system to maintain a coherent dialogue with the learner, while the open learner model, Northumbria University/The SCRE Centre's main contribution, affords an opportunity to investigate the effect of attention being drawn both to reports of progress in mathematical learning and to a number of variables associated with learning, including the learner's meta-cognitive activities, and the learner's feelings, motivations and attitudes.
LeActiveMath will be evaluated in a number of European schools and universities. The requirements, some developments, and the evaluation will be continuously discussed with an advisory board representing the target users.
Additional partners of the project are: German Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI and coordinating partner), University of Edinburgh, Technical Universiteit Eindhoven, Universitet Augsburg, Universidad de Malaga, Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH, Universitet des Saarlandes, and EURICE GmbH.
As a follow on from the NIMIS project, we obtained funding from the Nuffield Foundation to examine whether carefully designed, high quality, child-friendly ICT facilities integrated within normal classrooms and used across the curriculum over two years in key stage 1 (Years One and Two) can support improved achievement across the curriculum and increased motivation and self-esteem leading to better classroom relationships.
ICT and the Whole Child ran from September 2001 to August 2003.
We had an EU MINERVA grant up to the end of September 2003 to work with the University of Thessaly, Greece, and Sor Trondelag University College (HiST), Trondheim, Norway on an Educational Content Management System for the Support of eLearning across Europe (eCMS). The main project site is http://elearning.noc.uth.gr/.
Researchers at the CBLU, Leeds University and at the University of Duisburg, Germany and INESC, Portugal worked together with MediaWorld and local schools to develop the Computers in the Classroom concept (CiC) as part of an Esprit funded i3 project NIMIS. The CBLU team can be viewed here and a wee story here.
We have also been working on the EU funded "New Learning Technologies for Lifelong Self Learning on Mediterranean Greenhouse Engineering and Management" (NELTEGEM) project. Our main partners were the University of Thessaly, Greece and the Bioclimatology Unit, INRA of Avignon, France but we also have links to the Hellenic Pedagogical Institute and the Computer Technology Institution, Greece as well as various stakeholders.
We also worked with the Hellenic Pedagogical Institute on Networked Distance Learning with a focus on training teacher trainers. This was part of the Hermes Wings subproject of the Odysseus project.
I and researchers at the Human Communication Research Centre, the University of Edinburgh worked on the GRIP project. This sought to:
I also worked on the Distributed Extensible Virtual Reality Laboratory (DEVRL), and the modelling of students learning to model physical phenomena (with COAST) with the logiciel CHENE
I fully support the work of the Artificial Intelligence in Education Society in its activities. The Journal (www.ijaied.org) owned by the Society is committed to the dissemination of high quality research results associated with the field of AI in Education.
In July 2003, I was appointed as the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education. I encourage papers to be submitted to myself from those interested in the use of technology harnessed to improve the education of children and adults using artificial intelligence in appropriate ways.
For those with a keen sense of the history of AI in Education, have a look at this page and this page from the programme for AI-ED'83, the first of the series of conferences now run by the Artificial Intelligence in Education Society. Where are all the speakers now?
I encourage anyone interested in "open learner modelling" to go to the LeMoRe website.
I founded the Learning Technology Research Group at Northumbria University in 2002, While I was there, it was a group of around 30 academic staff, research assistants and PhD students for which I was responsible. We were interested in the design and use of learning technologies for all forms of education and lifelong learning. We had theoretical and applied interests with a special technical focus on the areas of mobile computing, eLearning, interactivity and the use of narrative in interactive learning environments.
While at the Computer Based Learning Unit, I was responsible for this theme which was concerned with the role of various kinds of visual representations in learning, from the design of visually-oriented interfaces to the use of video and virtual reality in education.
The 4th International Workshop on Narrative in Interactive Learning Environments 2006 was held in August 2006 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The 10th Conference on User Modeling 2005 was held in July 2005 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The 12th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education 2005 was held in July 2005 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The 3rd International Workshop on Narrative in Interactive Learning Environments 2004 was held August 6th - 9th, 2004 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Mexican International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, MICAI 2004 was held 26th April - 30th April, 2004 in Morelia, Mexico.
The 3rd International Conference on Computational Semiotics for Games and New Media was held 9th September - 12th September, 2003 in Middlesborough, England.
The 10th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, EARLI was held 26th August - 30th August, 2003 in Padova, Italy.
The AI-ED 2003 conference was held 20th July - 24th July, 2003 in Sydney, Australia.
The Learner Modelling for Reflection workshop conference, part of the AIED 2003 conference, was held 20th July or 21st July, 2003 in Sydney, Australia.
The Tutorial Dialogue Systems: With a View Towards the Classroom workshop conference, part of the AIED 2003 conference, was held 20th July or 21st July, 2003 in Sydney, Australia.
The Innovations in Teaching Programming workshop conference, part of the AIED 2003 conference, was held 20th July or 21st July, 2003 in Sydney, Australia.
The PEG 2003 conference was held 28th June - 1st July, 2003 in Moscow, Russia.
The 15th Annual Workshop of the Psychology of Programming Interest Group was held 8th April - 10th April, 2003 in Keele University, England, co-located with the 7th International Conference on Empirical Assessment of Software Engineering (EASE).
The 2nd International Workshop on Narrative in Interactive Learning Environments was held August 6th - 9th, 2002 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The 2nd International Conference on Computational Semiotics for Games and New Media was held 2nd September - 4th September, 2002 in Augsburg, Germany.
The Workshop on Case-Based Reasoning (CBR) for Education and Training was held 4th September, 2002 at the 6th European Conference on CBR (ECCBR2002) in Aberdeen, Scotland.
The Workshop on Individual and Group Modelling Methods that help Learners Understand Themselves was held 2nd June, 2002 at ITS 2002, San Sebastian, Spain.
The Workshop on Future TV: Adaptive Instruction in your Living Room was held 2nd June, 2002 at ITS 2002, San Sebastian, Spain.
The Workshop on Animating Expressive Characters for Social Interactions was held 4th - 5th April, 2002 at the AISB'02 Convention, London, UK.
The AI-ED 2001 conference was held 19th-23rd May, 2001 in San Antonio, USA.
The PEG 2001 conference was held 23rd-26th June, 2001 in Tampere, Finland.
The Euro-CSCL 2001 conference was held 22nd-24th March, 2001 in Maastricht, The Netherlands.
The 1st International Workshop on Narrative in Interactive Learning Environments was held August 30th - 1st September, 2000 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The ICCE 2000 conference was held November 21st-24th, 2000 in Taipei, Taiwan.
The PPIG 2000 (Psychology of Programming Special Interest Group) 12th Annual Workshop was held 10th-13th April 2000 at Corigliano Calabro, Cosenza, Italy. Proceedings can be ordered by downloading this pdf file.
The ICCE'99 conference in 4th-7th November, 1999 in Chiba, Japan.
The workshop on Analysing Educational Dialogue Interaction: Towards Models that Support Learning was held 18th and 19th July, 1999 in Le Mans, France.
The AI-ED'99 conference was held 19th-23rd July, 1999 in Le Mans, France.
The PEG'99 conference was held 9th-12th July, 1999 in Exeter, England.
The Roles of Communicative Interaction in Learning to Model in Mathematics and Science (C-LEMMAS) TMR European Conference was held April 15th-18th, 1999 at Ajaccio, Corsica.
The Symposium on AI and Creativity in Entertainment at AISB'99 in April, 1999 at Edinburgh University, Scotland.
The PPIG'99 (Psychology of Programming Special Interest Group) 11th Annual Workshop was held 4th-6th January 1999 at the Computer Based Learning Unit, Leeds University, England. A report is now on-line.
The workshop on AI/Alife and Entertainment at ECAI'98 was held on 24th August 1998 in Brighton, England.
Thinking with Diagrams - an EPSRC/ESRC funded workshop was held at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth on 22nd - 23rd August 1998. The summaries of various workers in the area are available.
The ITS'98 Fourth International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems was held 16th-19th August 1998 in San Antonio, Texas, USA.
The XVIII Congresso Nacional da Sociedade Brasileira de Computação was held 3rd-7th August 1998 at UFMG, in Belo Horizonte, MG Brasil.
The VRET'98 Home Page. In July 1998, VR News organised a conference on VR and Educational Technology at City University, London.
The IEE AI and Educational Software Colloquium was held 12th June, 1998 at Savoy Place, London, England. This was organised by Professional Group A4 (Artificial Intelligence) of the IEE. It was co-sponsored by the International Society for AI and Education (IAIED), Society for the study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour (AISB), the British Computer Society (BCS), the ESRC and the EPSRC as well as the Computer Based Learning Unit, Leeds University. Post event information is available
The ECCM'98 Second European Conference on Cognitive Modelling was held 1st-4th April, 1998 at the University of Nottingham, England.
The PPIG'98 (Psychology of Programming Special Interest Group) 10th Annual Workshop was held 5th-7th January 1998 at the Open University, England.
The PEG'97 Home Page. In 1997 PEG was in Bulgaria on the Black Sea at the end of May 1997. (Here's a mirror site for the PEG'97 conference)
The VRET'97 Home Page. In June 1997, VR News organised a conference on VR and Educational Technology at Loughborough University.
On May 13th and 14th, 1997, a workshop at the CBLU was held on the topic of HCI Meets CBL. Here are the slides from my introductory talk on CBL issues for HCI.
Thinking with Diagrams - an EPSRC/ESRC funded workshop held in Portsmouth early January (9th and 10th) 1997. A discussion paper is available that provides a series of questions that need to be examined more closely relating to the use of diagrams in education.
On April 18th and 19th, 1996 a workshop was held at the Computer Based Learning Unit. The topic was Dialogue Modelling in Collaborative Educational Environments. Here are the slides from my talk on Collaborative Problem Solving with an Unfamiliar Diagrammatic Representation
|Richard Cox: used to work on the GRIP project but is now a Reader at the University of Sussex.|
|Judith Good: Working on Visual Programming Languages and AI-ED - now at the University of Sussex|
|Mark Burton: Used to work on Modelling Collaboration but now at ARM.|
|Atif Waraich: Main work is on the use of narrative in informant design and narrative in interactive learning systems. He is currently at Manchester Metropolitan University.|
|Andrew Harrop : Working at Leeds University on the move from concrete to abstract External Representations.|
|Rukaini Haji Abdullah: She worked on program comprehension via performing explicit transformation before returning to Malaysia to resume her lectureship.|
|Daniela Romano: Working on Virtual Laboratories - now at the University of Sheffield.|
|Susan Bull: Working on Collaborative Student Modelling and now at the University of Birmingham|
|Vania Dimitrova: Working on User Modelling at Leeds University|
|Judy Robertson: worked on GhostWriter for her PhD and then StoryWriter - now some more interesting things! She is currently at Heriot-Watt University.|
|Isabel Machado: Working on support for narrative control in a desktop virtual reality environment for young children's story creation.|
|John Gilsung Lee: Working on happiness and young children's learning|
And if you really want to know...
A Prolog book
for an introduction to Prolog
An Article on How to Prevent PhD Completion!
An Allegory of the PhD process :-)
Phil Agre's guide to Networking: this is a worthwhile article for any PhD student.