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Gearing up for the university of the future: giving learners everywhere the best of both worlds – University of Reading

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Gearing up for the university of the future: giving learners everywhere the best of both worlds

Release Date 29 November 2012

A computer-based learning tool that can deliver lessons via a mobile phone, yet offers feedback previously only available from a real-life tutor, is the aim of researchers at the University of Reading.

With more people than ever wishing to gain new skills in a flexible way, education providers are increasingly creating distance learning and online courses to satisfy demand.

Can a course taught over the internet ever be as satisfying for students as the experience enjoyed by those receiving traditional training, with face-to-face feedback from a real-life tutor?

Researchers at the University of Reading are contributing to the development of an e-learning system, called INTUITEL that aims to emulate the best aspects of traditional teaching methods, while benefitting from the convenience and innovation that comes with technology-enhanced online learning. 

Professor Atta Badii, Director of the Intelligent Systems Research Laboratory, who leads the INTUITEL research at Reading said: "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.

"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."

The project began in October 2012 with part-funding of just under €3m under the European Commission FP7 Research Programme with additional financial support from Partners in the e-learning industry. The three-year project aims to harness the power of online ‘knowledge clouds' while also providing the kind of individualised feedback that previously was only available from a human tutor.  A key contribution of the University of Reading to INTUITEL is in leading the work in system integration.

An INTUITEL-enabled system will provide an integrated learning environment that can reconfigure and adapt itself to the needs of any learner. It will monitor their learning behaviour, and their progress to support their learning with 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, the cultural and emotional context in which learning takes place and the relevant environmental influences such as ambient noise, download speeds, and interface features such as the screen size - allowing users to make use of mobile phone technology as well as more traditional desktop computers.

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. 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".


For more information, or to organise interviews with Professor Atta Badii, contact Pete Castle at the University of Reading press office on 0118 378 7391 or

Notes to editors:

The University of Reading is a research-led UK university, ranked among the top 1% of universities worldwide (THE World University Ranking 2012).

The Intelligent Systems Research Laboratory (ISR) is a multi-disciplinary research laboratory at the School of Systems Engineering, University of Reading. ISR has a track record of research and innovation with leading contributions in many successful collaborative national and international projects, with funding from various public and private bodies such as EPSRC, MoD Grand Challenge, TSB, the European Commission as well as industry-sponsored research and technology development worldwide. It has a track record of successful leadership of large collaborative projects, including scientific and technical coordination of projects involving computer network security, robotics, simulation and modelling, and assisted living technology.

INTUITEL is an EC-funded Research Project under the Grant Agreement no 318496 of ICT FP7 Programme in Technology Enhanced Learning.

The INTUITEL consortium includes partners from seven countries (Austria, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and UK). These are:  Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences with Professor Dr Peter A. Henning of Institute for Computers in Education Computer Science as the Coordinator (, Steinbeis Innovation GmbH, University of Reading, University of Vienna, International University of La Rioja, Holon Institute of Technology, Fraunhofer IOSB Karlsruhe, TIE Nederlands b.v., FZI Karlsruhe, Centro para el Desarrollo de las Telecomunicaciones de Castilla y León, eXact Learning Solutions, Information Multimedia Communication AG.  Go to project website >>>

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