Overview of Research Projects at TECFA

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CSCW and Collaborative Interaction (up to Contents)

BOOTNAP: Social Grounding in Computer Supported Collaborative Problem Solving

When we solve a problem with a colleague or a friend, we often use a piece of paper to draw a diagram or sketch. Such diagrams help us to build a shared representation of the problem and to repair communication breakdowns. Can we design equivalent artefacts to enrich human-computer collaboration?

Contact: Pierre Dillenbourg and David Traum

Implicit Coordination in Distributed Systems

This project concerns the design of artificial agents able to collaborate with a human agent which is a key issue in the area of educational science and will advance the knowledge about learning from an interdisciplinary perspective, bringing together Swiss and Romanian researchers from the areas of psychology, educational science and computer science.

Contact: Pierre Dillenbourg and Catalin Buiu

See also: Computer Mediated Communication, Information Systems and Virtual Worlds, e.g. the The TecfaMOO project.


Distance Education (up to Contents)


The JITOL project concerns "Just in Time Open Learning". Jitol is based on the essential assumption that collaborative learning is the best way to access professionnals know-how and that it provides an infrastructure for communities of professionnals to discuss, document and enhance their working practices and the knowledge bound up in them. Through the creation of a transient virtual community bound by a strong motivation to analyse focused themes, it bonds and mixes both experts and learners around an electronic conferencing device.

Contact: Daniel Peraya or Philip Swann


The mediatization of teaching contents in the context of distance learning is in the forefront of the contribution of TECFA to the TEMPUS-Project "Distance Study Centre Budapest". TEMPUS (the acronym for Trans-European Mobility Scheme for University Studies) forms part of the overall programme of European Community aid for the economic restructuring of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Its main goals are to support the development of higher education systems and to encourage joint activities and exchanges.

Contact: Daniel Peraya


TRIBUNE is a so-called horizontal project giving a comprehensive view of R&D in the European DELTA Community. It's main production is the TRIBUNE Collection , a series of booklets of which one has proven indispensable: Who's Who in DELTA.

Contact: Pierre Dunand Filliol or Daniel Peraya


The SIGMA Project aims to give a survey of the curricula in Communication Sciences offered in the Swiss Universities. The main idea is to help the students compare the courses provided. This project prepares the SOCRATES and LEONARDO European programs. The Swiss Report includes swiss and european recommandations. A postscript copy is available here .

In September 1995 an European Conference took place in Sienna. The Swiss report of the Sienna Conference The future of Communication Sciences in Europe has been published and is available on demand. The participants decided to make a proposal to the SOCRATES Programme in order to set up a thematic network. A working group was set up to prepare a proposal. Unfortunately, the proposal was refused.

Contact: peraya@divsun.unige.ch.


The HUMANITIES Project - in its second phase - aims to develop and consolidate a structure for virtual mobility through European Universities. Three academic domains are concernend by this project: Litterature, Law, and Communication Sciences in which TECFA is involved. The project will make use of available technology, such as ISDN, satellite, Computer Mediated Communication (CMC). Information on the project and its newsgroups are available here.

Contact: Daniel Peraya, Pierre Dunand Filliol or Daniel D'ancona.

updated 10.10.96


This project aims to update a overview (written in 1991) of the state of the art of the OFDL scene through all Swiss Univerisities. It describes both soft- and hardware uses, analyses pedagogical projects and focuses on human ressources. An brief presentation of the repport is available here.

Contact: Daniel Peraya


This project aims to study particulary the changes in competences brought about, for the different training actors, by the development of information and communication technologies (ICT), at both individual (trainers and learners) and collective (training services and organisations) levels.

Contact: Daniel Peraya


The projetc described here concerns the developpement and implementation of a course focusing on human ecology for distance delivery, in the first instance, to teachers and trainers working in the Poschiavo region of Switzerland (Canton des Grisons). The course is organised by the Istituto Swizzero di Pedagogia per la Fomazione Professionale (ISPFP) and the Swiss Telecom. It will be technology based, will have a six month duration, and will be offered for the first time in January 1997.

TECFA will be part of this project, and will be in charge of its global evaluation.

An exhibition will present the project to the region in May 1996.

An brief presentation of the project is available here.

Contact: Daniel Peraya


The FETICHE Project analyses the present situation about the impact of new information and communication technologies (NICT) - such as telematics, multimedia, Internet... - in the field of Teachers' Continuing Education and Training in a number of European Countries.

The inquiry will focus on actual practice in the different participating institutions. It will then broaden its scope and include state of the art reflection on teacher's training in the participating institutions. Finally, it will be complemented by a systematic enquiry into current practice, ideas and views on the role of new technologies in traning teachers/educators in the different countries involved.

Two fields will be especially investigated: team work and co-operative learning using NTICs and computer mediated communication.

Outcomes will take the form of a series of guidelines for future teachers' training endeavors that include NICTs and will propose pilot experiments to test the validity of these recommendations.

Mail Contacts: Pierre Dunand Filliol or Raymond Morel.

updated 16.10.96

Socrates' Mailbox PROJECT

The Socrates' Mailbox Project is focused on users' implicit learning procedures with Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the classroom. A European Observatory Project, it pertains to global Open and distance learning issues. It is planned for a two year period, and began in September 1996.

The inquiry will concentrate on learning with ICTs and will stress on interpersonal communication skills, group dynamics, inter-cultural communication, integration strategies, etc.

It will also seek to bring some enlightment in the domain of developing teachers' new comptences and skills within a ITC empowered classroom. Project findings will be regularily disseminated through a WEB site in order to enhance collaborative inter-institutional co-operation.

Mail Contacts: Pierre Dunand Filliol or Raymond Morel.

updated 12.12.96 pdf

A Global G7 Project (up to Contents)


The objective of this project is to have an inventory of available electronic and digital resource (Internet servers) to be able to make them available to the users of a G7 Pilot server. The data gathered must be usable for tans-cultural language learning. An inclusive range of servers have been analysed:

Mail Contacts: Pierre Dunand Filliolor Raymond Morel.

updated 14.10.96


National projects(up to Contents)

National Research Program 33: Effectiveness of Swiss Educational Systems

National Research Program Home Page (in french and in german)

The NRP 33 aims to enhance the effectiveness of learning and the quality of evaluation. TECFA's project in the program consists in writing a trend-report on swiss research in the domain " NIT application in education".

Contact: Patrick Mendeslsohn or Patrick Jermann

OCDE Project

The aim of this project has been to draw up a picture of current in-house use of learning technologies in adult professional learning in compagnies and administrations in Switzerland. The Swiss Report Switzerland -- Learning technologies in companies, written by A. McCluskey has been presented at the OCDE/NCAL (National Center on Adult Literacy) Conference held in Philadelphia (USA), in February 1996.
The study has been commissioned by the OFES, Federal Office for Education and Science.

Contact: Peraya Daniel


Multimedia Courseware (up to Contents)


"Machina Carnis" is an educational software tool on electro-cardiology and cardio-vascular regulation. It is currently tested with physiology classes in the Faculte de Medecine of the Universtiy of Geneva. It is 100MB application running under Windows 3.1 including 16 hypermedias, 12 simulation modles, 3 interactive animations, auto-evaluation tools etc. The package also a 37 minute movie with synthetic images which will we plan to distribute in digital format in the future. The whole includes thus several multimedia features, such as images, sound, interactive animations and digital video. It should also represent a interessting testcase for highspeed WANs (add something on the ATM project)

Contact: Daniel Peraya or Francois-Daniel Giezendanner


Artificial Intelligence in Education (up to Contents)

A brief introduction to the theme

GEOLAB: A learning environment fo reservoir volumetric characterization.

FSS Consultants is a company which provides geostistics courses, mainly for oil companies. We submitted a joint research proposal to develop an intelligent learning environment in which the trainees learn to estimate the uncertainty of their prediction when they have to estimate the volume of an oil or water reservoir. This software will be built around the existing geostatisctical package developped by FSS and integrated to their existing courses.

Contact: Pierre Dillenbourg

PUZZLE: An environment to study help tools.

The aim of this project is to study how people can discover the underlying regularites of a complex computer environment they have never seen before in order to propose new efficient help tools. The project includes the development of two different tools interacting with each other. The first one is a complex environment to learn visual computing concepts and artificial life fundings. The other one is a kind of multipurpose courseware manager.

Contacts: Silvere Martin-Michiellot or Patrick Mendelsohn .


The memolab research project is funded by the Swiss Research Fund under a special research program (PNR 23), intitled `Artificial Intelligence and Robotics'.The research team is multidisciplinary. It includes P. Mendelsohn (psychology), B. Borcic (computer science), M. Hilario (computer science), D. Schneider (political and computer sciences), P. Dillenbourg (educational and computer sciences).

Contact: Pierre Dillenbourg


SMILE stands for 'student modelling in interactive learning environments'. In traditional ITS systems, the role of student modelling is to select an adapted teaching strategy. This projects focuses on the role of student modelling in systems which are more open than traditonal ITsS. In such systems, the role of student modelling is not to select s strategy for the learner but to help him to manage his own learning. Therefore, this project tackles issues such as metacognition, open student models, reciprocal modelling, ... and tries to unify this work in a formal approach.

Contact: Pierre Dillenbourg

Learning in Humans and Machines

The mission of this recently launched programme is to advance our konowledge about learning from an interdisciplinary perspective, bringing togethere researchers from cognitive science, computer science (especially machine learning) and educational sience.

Contacts: Pierre Dillenbourg or Patrick Mendelsohn .


Computer Mediated Communication, Information Systems and Virtual Worlds(up to Contents)

Closely related to other research areas (e.g. Distance-Education), CMC, Information Systems and Virtual Worlds for Education & Research is a new line of research at TECFA (started in Summer 1994).

Contact: Daniel Schneider

Tecfa Home Page - D.K.S.