Acer and UTS: Enhancing student learning & research - Education Matters
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Acer and UTS moving forward in enhancing student learning and research

Acer-Predator-Analytics-lab-at-UTS-enhancing student learning and research

Acer and Intel have launched a new analytics lab in the University of Technology Sydney that will enable research into advanced computer technology and data science.

The UTS x Acer Predator Analytics Lab, based in the new UTS Central building in Sydney, provides academics from the Faculty of Engineering and IT (FEIT) and other related disciplines with access to high-performance devices from Acer’s leading Predator Gaming brand in a collaborative workspace.

Featuring high-level processing power, these devices will open opportunities for research across artificial intelligence and data science, including in areas relating to student learning behaviour and learning efficiency enhancement.

Acer’s Oceanic Region Sales Director, Rod Bassi, said the company was proud to work with UTS in establishing the research lab, which he said will provide a new set of tools for FEIT academics and their research associates.

“Acer’s Predator brand has continued to push the boundaries of product innovation and being an OEM manufacturer ourselves we understand the opportunities that the processing power of gaming technology can deliver to other areas,” Mr Bassi said.

“There was a clear opportunity to take advantage of these capabilities and put it in the hands of academics, through an innovative and engaging research space.”

Distinguished Professor Fang Chen, Executive Director of Data Science UTS, said the lab would help keep FEIT at the forefront of innovation in areas such as advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence and education.

“By giving bright minds access to Acer’s powerful, high-tech hardware, the newly established lab will help to further develop this expertise and achieve data science breakthroughs that have significant social, industry and economic impact,” Professor Chen said.

The launch of the lab was also the occasion for an update on the UTS x Acer Learner Attention Analytics Pilot Program, which was announced in early April 2019.

The pilot, which involved more than 100 students from both UTS and John Paul College, employs the latest technology in attention analysis, with the aim of establishing a fuller understanding of student behaviour in a classroom setting. The desired outcome is the development of a proof-of-concept platform that could help enhance student learning experiences and outcomes.

The project has so far involved the collection of over 500 hours of learning data using hand gesture and eye-tracking technology combined with a graphical user interface (GUI) to record mouse movements, keyboard and digital pen usage and eye movements. The data was then analysed using artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to determine behaviour patterns and their links to learning outcomes.

Professor Chen said that the pilot had so far offered fresh insights into student learning progress, enabling multi-level learning outcome comparisons.

“The progress of the pilot program to date has proved the concept and effectiveness of using digital technologies to understand student engagement patterns in real-time,” said Professor Chen.

“This provides many possibilities to create innovative solutions for educators, students and broad communities for effective online lifelong learning.”

Professor Chen said that alongside extending the program into more schools, the pilot will now move to identify stages of learning among different students and determine where difficulties occur in the learning process for individual students.

“Now, the journey ahead is determining the best use this technology,” Professor Chen added.

“We and Acer have had roundtable discussions with schools to explore potential usage and how it can help improve teaching processes and better engage students. There is a lot to do, and we are very excited.”

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