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Expand collaborative experiences with digital innovation

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Published on Tuesday, 14 December 2021

The University of Luxembourg, Cisco Systems and SCRIPT (Service de coordination de la recherche et de l’innovation pédagogiques et technologiques) of the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth announce a new joint research programme – “Collaboration 21” – designed to advance digital transformation in learning and work environments. The public-private partnership responds to contemporary challenges such as collaboration skills, re-skilling, and remote work or learning in a society shaped by digitalisation.

The project is built on three pillars (partnership, interdisciplinarity, living laboratory) through which researchers will leverage digital technologies to enhance collaborative work and learning experiences. The programme follows an interdisciplinary approach, with key disciplines including cognitive psychology, education, computer science, human-computer interaction/user experience, architecture, and socio-technical security. The research is designed for technology transfer and measurable outcomes: it will be integrated step-by-step in a “living laboratory” setting that facilitates the quick implementation of findings in test environments.

The programme obtained the Industrial Partnership Block Grant (IPBG) of the National Research Fund (FNR). It is set for a duration of six years and foresees the recruitment of 10 doctoral candidates and four research associates.

The outcomes of the project will support renewing skills and smart training opportunities for students and the workforce to extend their collaboration skills and experience,” explains Prof. Vincent Koenig, programme coordinator. “Researchers from various fields will contribute to the project by tackling research challenges related to their area of expertise.

Catching up with globalisation and digitalisation

Overall, the field of education is challenged to keep up with the pace of digitalisation. Today, a proportion of the European workforce faces a job market lacking such specific skills, and this discrepancy is expected to grow in the coming years. Closing the gap between educational programmes and the skills needed for future professional, civic and private life is therefore a priority both for the public and private sectors.

Collaboration 21 will carry out research on innovative technologies and novel pedagogical concepts that leverage technology, rather than simply transposing analogue concepts into the digital world. The technologies that will emerge from this research will be user- and purpose-oriented.

The future of Luxembourg’s economy is data-driven will build on new digital technologies (including automation and robotics) and, beyond classical areas of finance and industry, will extend into new areas such as space and particle physics. For this reason, Luxembourg requires a highly skilled workforce, equipped to excel in interdisciplinary and dynamic digital environments.

Empowering people – transforming organisations – designing collaborative tools

Collaboration, a key component in the learning, associative and working environment, as well as public service and communities, is increasingly facilitated by software and hardware solutions. There is a need for people, organisations, and technologies to align themselves with one another to achieve effective results and a positive collaboration experience.

Collaboration 21seeks to empower people to enhance their collaborative skills with the support of ICTs, foster and stimulate a collaborative spirit within the organisation, and develop user-centred and scalable technologies for collaboration.

The living lab setting of Luxembourg institutions

The programme will gradually scale-up research and innovation from the laboratory to the entire Luxembourg learning and work environment. The University’s “User Laboratory,” in which human-computer interaction is researched, will allow the researchers and Cisco to explore, understand, and design digitally enhanced collaboration in a tightly controlled setting. These concepts will then be scaled up for implementation in the Luxembourg Learning Centre, a less controlled environment with a diverse audience. At this stage, the concepts will be further refined. Finally, the SCRIPT will facilitate their implementation in partner schools and institutions for life-long learning. At each stage, data obtained from these test beds will allow to refine and adapt the technical and pedagogical solutions, in time generating significant social and economic benefits.

More information: collaboration21.uni.lu