Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Education in the third dimension

01.02.2008
Up to now, most learning focused on abstract symbolic knowledge like writing, or passive receptive iconic knowledge through images. But there is a third kind, 'enactive' knowledge, or learning by doing. It is the information we acquire using our whole bodies, and it is a new paradigm in IT-assisted education.

Learning by doing, or by ‘enaction’, started at the dawn of humanity itself, from the time the first proto-human discovered that a bone could become a tool. But it is a practice that has become marginalised in developed societies, as convenience and, increasingly, technology lure people away from craftwork and physical labour.

Today, knowledge mediated by computers is transmitted symbolically, through writing, or iconically with pictures. But not, perhaps, for much longer.

Thanks to an EU-funded research network, called Enactive, there is now a large and thriving research community working on computer-assisted ‘enactive’ knowledge. Experts in robotics, virtual reality, experimental psychology and neuroscience share resources and information.

“Four years ago when we started, there was no research community for IT-assisted, enactive knowledge,” says Enactive’s coordinator Professor Massimo Bergamasco. “There were relatively isolated communities in experimental psychology and neuroscience, but there was nothing that linked those fields with specialists in computer science, or multimedia, or robotics.” Now there is a society, a conference and one of the network’s partners is setting up a lab dedicated to this research.

It is a tremendous achievement, but what will it all mean?

Virtual carpentry
It is easy to imagine various potential applications. How about using a screen, a glove and a handheld ‘chisel’ to become a carpenter? You could change the settings to reflect different types of wood, and you could mess up as many pieces as you like because they would be replaced virtually. But, at the end of it, you would be a fully skilled craftsman.

Does it sound a bit far-fetched? Well, in a separate EU-funded project, called Haptex, researchers have successfully created the ‘feel’ of a virtual fabric. Its texture, strength and elasticity are all transmitted via a glove. First time users are really surprised at how real this virtual fabric feels.

Professor Bergamasco highlights other potential applications. “We see concepts in different fields, like rehabilitation, surgery, industrial training, space exploration. The number of potential applications is virtually limitless.”

Imagine a surgeon practicing a delicate procedure on a virtual patient, until he or she becomes expert. Or, one day perhaps, it will be possible to model an individual patient and practise a particularly tricky operation virtually, before trying the real thing.

It is all built on the idea that we learn better by doing something than by reading about it, or even watching a video.

But the real wonder of this research is that experts do not yet know what marvels enactive knowledge could yet unlock. Creating computer-assisted, enactive devices will provide tremendous tools to disciplines like experimental psychology and neuroscience.

Imagine a language interface that hears what you say and responds appropriately. Will you learn better, faster, or not? What does ‘whole body’ education tell us about human psychology, evolution and learning mechanisms? And what new potential enactive applications will those experimental discoveries enable?

Uncanny reality
We do know that, in the shorter term, it will be discoveries made through a combination of haptic devices, audio and video. Haptic devices are interfaces that provide a physical feedback to the user. Typically they appear, in a very primitive application, with video game control pads. The pad shakes each time an impact occurs on screen, for instance.

There are far more sophisticated devices, however, like the haptic glove created by Haptex. Combined with audio and vision, haptic devices can provide uncannily realistic impressions of reality.

“Most of the work within the next few years focuses on audio, vision and touch, there is no real work on taste or smell yet. Different groups are looking at different things, like audio with haptics, video with haptics or combinations... The network has really inspired a lot of activity,” explains Bergamasco.

“In fact, the Network of Excellence was a superb platform to promote this field,” he reveals. “We had 25 groups, research institutes, mostly in Europe but with some in the USA and Canada, and the degree of interaction between them now is amazing.”

It means that the whole field of technology assisted, enactive knowledge is just at its very beginnings, but thanks to the work of the Enactive Network of Excellence, the field is set to expand rapidly.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/id/89485

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Concert of magnetic moments
14.06.2019 | Forschungszentrum Juelich

nachricht Rigid bonds enable new data storage technology
14.06.2019 | European XFEL GmbH

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

Im Focus: Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.

Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...

Im Focus: Cost-effective and individualized advanced electronic packaging in small batches now available

Fraunhofer IZM is joining the EUROPRACTICE IC Service platform. Together, the partners are making fan-out wafer level packaging (FOWLP) for electronic devices available and affordable even in small batches – and thus of interest to research institutes, universities, and SMEs. Costs can be significantly reduced by up to ten customers implementing individual fan-out wafer level packaging for their ICs or other components on a multi-project wafer. The target group includes any organization that does not produce in large quantities, but requires prototypes.

Research always means trying things out and daring to do new things. Research institutes, universities, and SMEs do not produce in large batches, but rather...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Concert of magnetic moments

14.06.2019 | Information Technology

Materials informatics reveals new class of super-hard alloys

14.06.2019 | Materials Sciences

New imaging modality targets cholesterol in arterial plaque

14.06.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>