Keep posted on the latest happenings on accelerating innovation in learning and education through EdTech and XR
XR4ED AT A GLANCE
What is XR4ED about?
XR4ED brings together the EdTech and XR communities to establish a European reference platform on learning and training with XR that will provide a central access point to existing solutions and contribute to a leading position for Europe in cutting-edge technologies for education.
In this spotlight, we talked with Dr Fotis Liarokapis (CYENS), Coordinator of the XR4ED project to learn more about the project.
Q: What was your motivation to start this project and which innovations do you think it will bring to the EdTech and XR sectors?
A: The most significant innovation is that the XR4ED project will allow developers, educators and learners to use a new XR platform for their benefit. The platform will have several innovative features including: virtual representations and animations of humans (avatars), collaborative capabilities (allowing for multiple users to join simultaneously) intelligent avatars for communication between humans and artificial intelligence, and a market place where educators and learners can use/buy educational material and XR tools. Importantly, the XR4ED platform will also include an authoring tool that will allow educators to create their own learning scenarios in XR.
Q:Thinking from the perspective of the user and considering two of the main target audiences of XR4ED, the educators and thelearners, what will be their user experience while using the XR4EDplatform?
A: This is the main challenge of XR4ED. We want to engage both types of participants: the educators and the learners. Educator(s) will access the user-friendly XR4ED platform that will allow them to create various learning scenarios to enhance their teachings. In particular, they will make use of the authoring tool that will be connected to the XR platform as well as the marketplace from where they will be able to import assets. It is worth mentioning here that the aim is not to replace the role of the educator but to enhance the learning process by providing XR tools. Educators and learners will be able to use the XR scenarios either in the classroom or in remote settings (i.e., the learner’s personal space) thus benefiting the learners since they will be able to spend as much time as they need and want with the learning materials at their own pace.
XR4ED kick-off meeting in Athens, Greece.
Q:What about XR Developers? How will they benefit from the XR4ED platform?
A: Firstly, the XR4ED platform will enable digital start-ups, SMEs, and industry active in the EdTech sector to further advance their current prototypes to market-ready products. This will happen through an open call process targeted at developers, which will fund ten projects aimed at making use of the XR4ED platform and creating their own solutions. Also, it is key to mention that the XR4ED platform will incorporate a Development and Operation space with the necessary tools to support XR developers in creating and deploying new XR components, systems, and applications. In addition, another important feature of the XR4ED platform is the Marketplace, which will give XR developers access to XR components and assets that they will be able to use when creating their own learning products; and the ability to promote their ready-to-market XR education and training solutions.
Q:You mentioned the Open Calls. Could you please tell us more about it?
A: Of course. XR4ED will support start-ups, SMEs, and industry active in the education sector, as well as schools, high schools, universities, and VET institutions, via two Open Calls, which will be launched in the Spring of 2024. Each Open Call will fund 10 projects (with a 12-month duration) and will have a budget of up to 240.000 € per successful proposal. The first Open Call will be targeted at developers, to test and validate the XR4ED platform and to create their own solutions, namely by enabling them to advance their technologies from a TRL4 (TRL: technology readiness level) to a TRL7. On the other hand, the second Open Call will be for mini-pilots, to test the XR solutions in real educational environments. Here the participation of the educational players, such as schools, high schools, universities, teachers, students, parents, and VET institutions, will be key, and mandatory, to ensure the success of the XR4ED platform. We believe that this open call process will be a cornerstone of the XR4ED project since it will allow the end-users to contribute to its development while testing its usefulness and the respective societal and economic impact. At the same time, it will lead to wide dissemination of the project while paving the first paths for exploitation.
Q:What is the process for building a platform like XR4ED's? What have been the first steps and what will be the next ones?
A: We started by collecting the user requirements, as well as, the technical requirements for XR in education. In parallel, the data management plan has also been specified.
All of these tasks (user requirements, technical requirements, and data management) are very important aspects for designing an effective XR platform that meets the needs of education. The next main step will be to start implementing the main functionality of the XR platform together with the marketplace. To the platform, the 3 main components that will be added concern (a) the representation of digital humans including realistic animations, (b) the incorporation of intelligent avatars that can respond to learners in real-time performance, and (c) the marketplace where educators and learners will be able to access to the tools and material. The last component that will be implemented is an authoring tool that will allow educators to create learning scenarios in XR.
Q:How do you see the collaboration with other EU-funded projects with common objectives as XR4ED's? Which benefits do you find in terms of the impact that you want to create?
A: We have already started collaborating with other EU projects that focus on similar issues. The main two projects that we currently collaborate on areXR2Learn and MASTER, which are also Innovation Actions and were co-funded under the same call as XR4ED. The obvious benefit of this collaboration with the ‘sister’ projects is much higher visibility in the EdTech and XR communities. Ajoint LinkedIn channelalready exists and we are planning to have joint webinars every six months. The first joint webinar will take place on June 30th. Additionally, XR4ED has disseminated the concept of XR4ED and its latest achievements at the VR Teacher EU project workshop in April 2023, as well as at the iPEAR Conference on Inclusive Peer Learning with Augmented Reality in June. It is expected that the dissemination of XR4ED to these two EU projects will attract a lot of interest from the EdTech and XR communities. Already, at the VR Teacher EU project workshop, educators from the local community of Cyprus got in touch and expressed their interest to try the XR4ED solutions.
First joint Community Meet up organized by the sister projects - XR4ED, XR2Learn and MASTER - 30 June, 10 AM CEST
The objective of these joint sessions is to share good practices, challenges, tools and resources, as well as promoting the interaction and dialogue between XR developers, young professionals and the educational, scientific and business communities.
XR4ED will fund 20 projects up to€ 240.000
XR4ED will support start-ups, SMEs and industry active in the education sector, as well as schools, high schools, universities and VET institutions, via two Open Calls, each funding 10 projects, with a 12-month duration:
The purpose is to test and validate the XR4ED platform, enabling to advance early prototypes to market-ready products, and demonstrating its usefulness and the societal and economic impact.
The pilots will employ a minimum viable product design approach targeting various end-users, where schools, high schools, universities, teachers, students, parents and VET institutions and companies will be mandatory participants.
SIX THEMATIC PILLARS
Virtual field trips Content creation and exploration Awareness of climate change and biodiversity challenges Training of young professionals and upskilling Distance and Blended learning Inclusiveness and accessibility
BUSINESS AND ACCELERATION
All 20 awarded parties will go through an intensive process which will include mentoring, workshops, dedicated growth coaching and progress monitoring to enhance their business acceleration and incubation.
Don't miss the opportunity to enter the world of XR4ED!