Objectives of the service
In the era of Covid-19, students from different parts of the world, but especially Italian ones, had started their first experiences with digital education, often with very low results in terms of engagement and learning achievements. The service we propose - to be deployed and tested in Italy - has been designed to respond to this gap. It is based on the integration between a consolidated gamified e-learning platform enhanced by Augmented and Virtual Reality in-App content. It is not just a short-term project, but a longer-term initiative to create benefits in terms of better and more engaging remote learning opportunities. The idea behind Space Edu Park is to build a framework to provide support for schools and teachers in innovating the educational model, integrating effective and appealing distance learning solutions. At the same time, this will have an impact on students’ learning processes, by enhancing the emotional and cognitive dimensions, as well as boosting social aggregation.
Users and their needs
The proposed solution will impact the following Italian user communities:
- Science lower-secondary school teachers: Need support to daily learning activities and a platform to keep students more engaged when learning remotely. We developed an intuitive platform for distance learning in which we provide integrative paths for science education using ESA assets and in-App AR/VR experiences included in a gamified environment set-up to support pedagogical innovation and realise the flipped classrooms model;
- Lower secondary school students: Need learning by doing and motivation-driven processes (gamification), but also a strong support to social interaction and social aggregation to avoid isolation feelings. We propose a gamified platform to maximise engagement and learning by playing experiences in AR/VR applications. We also propose competition and team challenges to boost social aggregation.
- Lower secondary Headmasters of the Schools: Need a guide towards the flipped classroom approach, also in a digital environment that is designed to better dialogue with the digital natives and assure monitoring of the activity of both students and teachers. Finally, the digital environment that will host a remote learning activity should also provide a solid system to assess the learning achievements.
Service/ system concept
The starting point of our project is the gamified e-learning platform, already in use in the business sector, accessible via web from PC and mobile, which is based on a user portal - to be customised - and the back-end component. The user portal is organised into two sections: on one side the education path is proposed, while on the other side the progress level achieved is shown to the user. While an education path is going on in the user portal, the back-end monitors and records the student level of learning and analyses, in real time, the education gap that may come up. With the same logic, a test or an assessment process can be done in the front end of the platform. The students’ progress feedbacks are provided in form of levels, awards, badges and open badges, to increase student’s motivation to learn and to achieve long term memorizations of the learning contents.
The platform front-end was developed with the utmost respect for usability and accessibility principles, focusing on the user, as the focal point of the system. The user interface has been created through a Single Page Application (SPA) and it is totally client-side, designed to make interactions as smooth and fast as possible and it was developed using Angular JS, Typescript and Bootstrap technologies. The back-office has a J2EE and proprietary relational database (SQL Server / PostgreSQL). AR/VR technologies are used to enhance the content of the learning path. AR/VR solutions have been developed as a standalone APP, developed in Unity 3D / AR Foundation, to be downloaded via the App stores, for Android and iOS devices. The AR/VR App syncs data with the e-learning portal, so the teacher can follow the progress of students. Both platforms use standard protocols to talk with each other.
Space Added Value
Earth Observation data is going to integrate students’ Earth science curricula allowing them to develop specific competences such as:
- Observe, analyse and describe phenomena belonging to natural reality and aspects of daily life, formulate hypotheses and verify them, using simple schematizations and modelling;
- Recognise the main interactions between the natural world and the human community, identifying some problems of anthropic intervention;
- Use the wealth of knowledge acquired to understand current scientific issues and to adopt responsible behaviour.
We integrate data obtained from the satellites of the Copernicus, EUMETSAT and Earth Explorer programs, and the multimedia contents of the ESA Φ Experience (based in ESA / ESRIN) in the original educational contents that are produced for this project.
The first contents of the course have been produced in the two versions foreseen: a multimedia learning object (fig. 1) and AR/VR App with AR/3D experiences (fig. 2). The platform parametrisation on the lower secondary earth science skills has been implemented (fig. 3) and the first internal texts on the requirements show that we succeeded in the fulfilment on its match. We are now implementing the different teaching resources inside the platform in order to be ready to start the pilot in the coming month.
Fig. 1 Snapshots examples of the Multimedia Learning Objects
Fig. 2. Snapshots examples of the AR/VR app
Fig. 3. Snapshot example of the customized platform parametrization process