The ICALT project

Quick Links

To use iCALT, visit these web pages:

Note: replace iCALT with the name of the lecture. Once a lecture has been uploaded, a list of available URLs for use with that lecture is returned.


The use of software tools to obtain real-time feedback in the classroom is seen as a means of obtaining educationally valid data on the educative process (Howard, 2010; Krishnaswamy et al 2010; Markham et al 2010). This extends the basic ‘clicker’ type of feedback tool (e.g. Draper, Cargill & Cutts, 2002; Flynn & Russell , 2008) where the physical device is replaced by the students using networked computers, or other mobile devices such as mobile phone, to provide the input.

This project is about developing a software tool that is designed to provide an interactive software-based feedback system. The intelligent Context Aware Learning and Teaching (iCALT) application is capable of collecting a range of responses from students as well as being suitable for use in peer review activities. The context aware nature of the tool means that it is seeing the student as the means by which the current ‘state’ of the classroom can be recorded. That is, the context can be monitored through the student responses. As the teacher can also annotate her teaching materials, it can also be seen that the teacher is another context aware sensor.

This particular approach to obtaining feedback in the classroom does not have its origins in any specific pedagogical theory. It has been derived from SocioCybernetic pedagogical thinking (Markham, 2008). A SocioCybernetic approach to modeling educational systems uses socio-technical systems theory as its base (Emery & Trist, 1969) and the source of this thinking has been related to educational technologies (Lee, 2003).  The value of such an approach lies in the ever-changing nature of the Information and Communication technologies (ICT) that are available to educators. We have to conceptualize the potential role that ICT can play in the teaching and learning environment. If we accept the assumption that we have a technological environment that is inextricably linked to the human environment, then we must understand the transactions that take place between the technology and human systems if we are to understand how we most effectively develop the human technology interaction.

The important factor in the SocioCybernetic approach is seen to be the nature of the transactions that occur between the teacher and the student, particularly the way in which the transactions are facilitated by aspects of the environment. In this case the transactions are facilitated through the use of mobile technologies such as the networked computer and the mobile phone. iCALT goes beyond the basic ‘clicker’ approach and this helps overcome some of the issues that have been raised about such technologies. For example, reviews of the evidence on the relationship between personal response systems and student performance have found that the results were very mixed (eg Shapiro, 2009). In particular, such Personal Response Systems (PRS) appeared to have a marginal effect on final assessments in spite of improving student participation in class and, sometimes, student self-rating of what has been learned. There has been some comment on the fact that much of the evaluation research has used summative data and is not looking at the possible broader effects on student learning. Unfortunately, there appears to have been little systematic work that shows that PRS produce, for example, deep versus surface learning (e.g. Entwhistle, 1981)

In addition, PRS-type tools typically include personal response remote keypads, the output of which has been collected and processed to provide real-time summary data for the teacher (Flynn & Russell, 2008). Thus, they are not underpinned by the notions of context-awareness and do not facilitate a teacher in understanding student perceptions and feedback and dynamically adapting a lecture delivery to that context. The project being reported here has gone beyond this essentially linear thinking into a dynamic multidimensional mode by using context aware computing techniques.

Finally, there is little discussion about the behavioral base for educational technologies. There is discussion about generalized approaches such as using cognitivist thinking or neo-behaviorist thinking (e.g. Fox, 2006; Winn, 2006; Li, Clark, & Winchester, 2010) but this does not inform us on what motivates the student. There are a number of applied motivational approaches that can be pursued.

The iCALT Philosophy

The iCALT Model

Applications of The ICALT Model

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24 May 2022
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