Digital Innovation Lab: the outputs

The main objective of this project is to develop the open source application “ConnectU” to evaluate the level of universal design applied to the contents developed by teachers in HE institutions, but we’re working on more.

This project aims to achieve the greatest possible impact among the different agents involved: teachers, students, and institutions. Based on the analysis of the current situation, the consortium of this project has detected a series of gaps that it intends to fill. In-depth analysis based on the questionnaire will detect the specific teaching difficulties faced by teachers in higher education institutions. It will also make it possible to draw up a catalogue of methodologies that, to date, due to their heterogeneity, make it difficult for lecturers to choose when planning their teaching according to their students’ specific situations and needs.


purpose of the project

The recommendations obtained will then lead to developing a software tool, ‘ConnectU’ app, which will have a major impact on instructional design. As it is an opensource application, it can be implemented in any institution. This tool will be essential for streamlining the planning of subjects, degrees and instructional design. In addition, it will enable the design of innovative and quality strategies for online, blended and blended learning in higher education institutions, in line with European policies in this respect.

The creation of innovation laboratories helps to overcome one of the main difficulties faced by academics when applying innovative methodologies. These spaces will bring about a revolution in any higher education institution where they are implemented. They will also allow for a complete transformation of the teaching and learning process. All these products facilitate the transition from teaching and assessment methods that are well established in face-to-face teaching environments to online, blended and mixed learning.

Academic staff will be able to make use of these outputs free of charge and with assistance and advice. The immediate conversion to distance learning methodologies will be facilitated for the teaching community, ensuring or at least having statistically sound evidence of such a process through the Project results. It will also allow them to streamline the entire instructional design process in their subjects. 2. Students. The main benefit for students of the results of this project will be that they will not see the quality of the teaching-learning process diminished once face-to-face teaching is changed to distance learning.

However, the advantages for them are innumerable since the adaptation of the teaching methodology to the distance context facilitates the monitoring of the students in terms of time and space. In addition, students will be able to incorporate their recommendations for improvement both in the ‘ConnectU’ tool and in the new teaching methodologies tested in the innovation labs. 3. Universities and teaching institutions. The organisations involved will find it substantially easier to adapt and train their teachers to prepare them for the distance or blended learning context. The cost savings can be very significant if the ConnectU and the innovation labs achieve optimal results.It will undoubtedly have a very relevant impact in different aspects, speeding up teachers’ decisions in the reconversion of their teaching methods.

Specifically, we expect to have 2520 filled questionnaires (minimum 20 teachers by the branch of knowledge); 5.000 downloads of the infographics and the ebook; 5.000 downloads of the ConnectU’ app; 1.500 teachers trained in the new methodology; involving at least 30 other institutions to use the app. We also expect 2000 students to use self-regulated learning activities; 120 users of the Innovation Labs spread across all the institutions in the consortium, 2.500 professors trained through personalised training itineraries, and at least 30 other institutions from different educational levels will use the innovation labs.

Result ID 1: The efficient teaching guidelines: a dataset by branches of knowledge

project results

The first project result will consist of designing and creating a dataset to analyse the factors that most affect teaching quality by branches of knowledge (Arts and Humanities, Sciences, Health Sciences, Social and Legal Sciences, or Engineering and Architecture). Each partner will collect data through a questionnaire constructed ad hoc to incorporate all relevant variables linked to active methodologies, teaching resources (virtual and augmented reality, podcasts, infographics, etc.) and the types of assessment used by the university teaching staff according to their area of knowledge. The aim is to address one of the main challenges of the European University Association (EUA).

The Universal Design, as a means to ensure inclusive, equitable and accessible education for all students, an education in which the teacher helps students to be managers of their learning. The importance of this project lies in the fact that it is not a mere description or enumeration of teaching methodologies, assessment systems or technological resources. On the contrary, it is an exhaustive analysis of its components (requirements, objectives, etc.). The analysis will allow us to develop the ‘ConecctU’ app, On the other hand, this material will serve as a starting point for creating the Innovation Lab and designing the training actions planned in the different institutions involved in the project. Finally, the information gathered will be published in the form of infographics. This material will be available in English, Czech, Spanish, Finnish, Dutch, and Italian. In addition, an ebook will be produced, which will collect experiences of good practices with active and innovative methodologies. This dataset will be duly deposited in open dataset repositories according to the principles established by Open Science.

Needs analysis

The pandemic has highlighted some of the shortcomings, limitations and challenges of education at all levels of education, especially at the university level (Rapanta et al., 2020). In HE, it is assumed that students master learning strategies and self-regulate their learning process (Steh & Saric, 2020). The results of the data analysis we will carry out will serve as a starting point for planning teacher counselling through comprehensive and individualised training.

Target groups and expected impact

The direct beneficiaries of this output will be teachers at all educational levels. This will have a particular impact on the learning of all students, regardless of their physical, linguistic, social, etc. status. We expect that at the end of the project, the infographics and the ebook will have reached 5.000 downloads. We expect that it will influence teacher assessment quality systems.

Innovation and transferability

The innovative component of this proposal does not lie in the sequential presentation of methodologies, types of assessment and technological resources for teaching, but in the detailed analysis by branches of knowledge of the components of the TPACK model (pedagogical, didactic and technological knowledge of the teacher). The analysis will also provide information on how university teachers take into account the psycho-educational variables involved in the teaching-learning process (learning styles, motivation, metacognition, time-space management, personality, self-concept, motivation, learning styles, relationships with peers, relationships with the teacher, equity, inclusion, etc.). To ensure the dissemination and transferability of the PR1 (project result 1). a virtual multiplier event will be held in January 2023, jointly organised by all project partners and led by the University of Murcia. The EUA and national and European educational leaders and university professors will be invited to this event to promote the project results among European universities. It will also be extended to teachers from other educational levels, as the project’s sustainability objectives include its adaptation to Secondary and Vocational Educational Training.

Result ID 2: ‘ConnectU’: a digital teaching advisor tool for HE

This project aims to develop a software application to advise academic teaching staff in instructional design, following the Universal Design (UD) principles of inclusion, equity and accessibility. Based on the information obtained in the previous result, the consortium will develop ‘ConnectU’ app, a virtual advisor for teaching in Higher Education. ‘ConnectU is based on a proactive, personalised decision-making process through the adaptation of the principles of the Computerised Adaptive Test (CAT) model.

The aim is to offer the teacher a personalised instructional design proposal covering the three pillars of the successful learning experience: planning and design, teaching and learning, feedback, and meta-learning (Mazur & Valdivia, 2020). First, the user must register and answer a series of questions that will configure his or her profile. From these answers, the algorithm will select the first item with which the process starts. These are some of the generic questions: faculty, courses level, teaching experience, knowledge and experience, number of courses per semester, etc. In the next step, ‘ConnectU will present the items generated in the lasts results differentially according to the answers given by each teacher. The app will generate an instructional design proposal adapted to the teacher, the subject and the student. All the results generated by the app will allow the detection of training needs that will be used to nurture the next phase of the research. The app will also have a space for students to learn about their self-regulated student profile and the keys to work on those aspects involved in learning that can be improved (e.g., use of time, physical and social environment, learning methods, performance monitoring, etc.).

Needs analysis

Due to COVID-19, teachers have had to adapt to an immediate situation, and educational institutions have made a great effort in digital transformation. However, continuing with this emergency remote teaching is unfeasible and does not guarantee the quality of teaching. It is time to change to a student-centred model in which teachers must balance their curricular, psycho-educational and technological knowledge to design successful learning experiences. Nevertheless, the work pressure involved in that paradigm shift (e.g. surveys results in 76.5% UMU; 83.5% RUG), coupled with teacher training deficiencies, make it difficult to meet this challenge. ConnectU offers an exciting alternative that reduces the time we have to invest in designing courses from Universal Design principles, moving away from more traditional teaching models.

Target groups and expected impact

Academic teaching staff from any branch of knowledge, newcomers (predoctoral, postdoctoral staff) to education and experienced professionals. It will also be useful for students to reflect on their learning needs. Elements of innovation: The innovation component of ConnectU lies in the fact that it is an application that advises and guides teachers in designing their instruction. It is neither a repository of educational materials, nor is it a list of active strategies and methodologies where the principles are explained in such a generic way that it is difficult to visualise their results in a specific area of knowledge. We expect that, at the end of the project, the app will reach 5.000 downloads, counting with 1.500 teachers trained in the new methodology -Involving at least 30 other institutions.

The ConnectU use will be compulsory in the 6 partner universities Regarded with its transferability potential, the app can be applied to other educational levels with slight algorithm adjustments, adapting the learning standards and compulsory education. It can also be applied to teaching academies. Furthermore, this project can generate an appropriate synergy with the Erasmus + projects INDIe and the INDIe4All, as it can complement the INDIeOpen curricular content development platform with ‘ConnectU’.

Result ID 3: Training for academic teaching staff: when students’ selfregulated learning matters

The aim is to address one of the main challenges of the EUA: training for academic teaching staff on inclusion and equity topics. Specifically, the Innovation Labs aim to:

  1. expand knowledge, enhancing understanding of Universal Design (UD) principles for inclusive, equity and accessible teaching
  2. stimulate innovative ideas on how to improve innovation strategies and practices through learning from experts and peers
  3. build peer support networks of practitioners to exchange good practices and promote collaboration in innovation.

The Innovation Labs will be a space to exchange good practices, co-create new ideas and explore areas for collaboration among institutions. This will help to reduce one of the main dissatisfactions of teachers with work overload. It is also an ideal complement to ‘ConnectU’ for new teachers in educational institutions. The training modules will be designed on the basis of the information gathered in the first step of the project and the needs identified for each user through rhe app.

Needs analysis

The need to create Innovation Labs arises mainly from a gap in the training of staff in higher education institutions, which does not exist for teachers at other educational levels: Pre-school, Primary and Secondary teachers must necessarily undergo prior pedagogical training in order to be able to teach. At the university level, where we find a dual profile in staff (teaching and research), pre-doctoral training in research content is conceived as a compulsory issue that no one questions. However, the same is not true for teaching. Houlden & Veletsianos (2020) state that moving to online teaching has added to the stresses and workloads experienced by university faculty and staff who were already struggling to balance teaching, research and service obligations (Rapanta et al., 2020). What teachers need is not “tips and tricks” but a process of deep and careful reflection on what competences students can develop.

Target groups and expected impact

Academic teaching staff from any field of knowledge, both those with a long career in university teaching who need to recycle their teaching practices and those who are about to enter university teaching. Indirectly, the greatest beneficiaries will be the students, since good teaching practices guarantee the personal and professional development of students (Fisher et al., 2018). Elements of innovation: The innovative component of this proposal lies in the creation of a space to experiment, analyse innovative teaching practices, receive feedback on the implementation process and assist in the development of innovative practices or ideas. It will also allow teachers to be advised on how to develop a training pathway that meets their needs and fills their gaps.

The Innovation Labs will be reference spaces for teaching experimentation, to analyse teaching practices. Therefore, the main indicators of the impact of the Innovation Labs will be: -120 users of the Innovation Labs spread across all the institutions in the consortium. -2500 professors trained through personalised training itineraries. -At least 30 other institutions from different educational levels (Secondary, Vocational Educational Training, Adult Education) will use the Innovation Labs. Transferability potential: The Innovation Labs can be a reference for Secondary, VET, Adult Education, and Teachers and Resources Centres. In short, their use can be extended to any organisation linked to education to analyse its teaching practices and initiatives, with the support of experts in educational innovation