The University of Reading is helping to develop a new e-learning tool that delivers lessons via a mobile phone, yet offers feedback previously only available from a real-life tutor, with significant financial backing from the European Commission.
Researchers working on the tool's development have said that traditional learning models and universities will ignore e-learning 'at their peril'.
The three-year project has received just under £2.5 million funding from the European Commission FP7 Research programme and aims to develop a system, dubbed INTUITEL, which emulates the best aspects of traditional teaching methods and delivers them through online portals.
"Online learning will continue to challenge the traditional learning models and universities around the world will ignore this at their peril. They need to embrace such disruptive trends and seek to leverage their intellectual and social capital as well as their international standing and alliances to exploit this trend," said Professor Atta Badii, Director of the Intelligent Systems Research Laboratory, who leads the INTUITEL research at Reading.
"This is an opportunity to re-invent university provision, offering new accredited programmes to support the increasing number of lifelong learners throughout the world via platforms for innovative flexible anywhere anytime learning."
INTUITEL hopes to provide an integrated learning environment that can configure and adapt itself to the needs of any learner. It will monitor their learning behaviour and progress, and provide feedback based on the learner's profile, and the relevant models of teaching and learning.
Feedback will be informed by insights arising from monitoring the student's learning style, pace and attitude. It also aims to assess the 'cultural and emotional context' in which learning takes place, as well as environmental influences, such as noise, download speeds, and screen size.
Professor Badii said: "We are aiming to transform e-learning with more intelligent technology, giving the final user the best of both worlds. We want to empower teachers and learners and to improve their quality of experience, liberating their interactions and knowledge sharing from some of the constraints of time, place and space. This provides the learner with a self-managed mix of online and traditional instructor-led tuition modes.
"INTUITEL is about gearing up for the university of the future, offering worldwide virtual learning and outreach, 'knowledge clouds' service provisioning to the global online students, the alumni and the industrial partners as well as the students on campus."
He added: "This is the INTUITEL vision for enabling technologies to support a consistently high quality of experience for learners and other stakeholders, at the point of need anywhere locally and globally".