The STELLAR Network of Excellence


Proposal Submission Deadline: January 15th, 2011



Join the TEL Europe Group for Theme Teams' applicants!

What is STELLAR?

STELLAR is the only Network of Excellence on TEL (Technology-Enhanced Learning) funded within FP7 with the objective to unify the diverse TEL community. To achieve this objective, STELLAR partners use "integration instruments", designed to increase the research capacity of European TEL at all levels, including institutions and enterprises within and outside STELLAR. Theme Teams are one of the instruments designed to create and/or reinforce synergies at scientific level.

What is a "Theme Team"?

A STELLAR Theme Team is a network of mid-career researchers from different institutions, whose aim is to explore and analyze collaboratively emerging research topics in the field of TEL (see below). A Theme Team may be a completely new network created around a specific topic of common interest, or composed of researchers who have already worked together on a certain issue (e.g. at a workshop or within a longer project). The mission of a Theme Team is to share and integrate competences, methodologies and ideas already developed. The Teams are a means to integrate European research units in the field of TEL, notably enterprises and institutions not included in the STELLAR network.

Who can participate in a Theme Team?

The Theme Teams are intended to bring together mid-career researchers from inside and outside the STELLAR Network and to encourage information sharing and discussion amongst researchers who are interested in the same topics, possibly from different perspectives. Basic requirements for a Theme Team composition are the following:

The Theme Team will be managed and coordinated by a Theme Team Leader (the applicant of the Call).

What are the topics?

A Theme Team should contribute to accomplishing the major goal of the STELLAR Network: to unify the diverse TEL communities within and outside STELLAR, identify and advance emerging topics, methodologies and technologies in the field of TEL.
Therefore Theme Teams should locate their topic within the three STELLAR ”Grand Challenges” framework:

Connecting Learners

Learning is viewed as a continuous process which develops through social interaction; people are at the heart of learning and knowledge construction, and communication between people characterizes the social interactions through which learning takes place. Central to these communications are knowledge sharing and collaborative knowledge building.
Information and communications technologies (ICTs) can enable communication through connecting learners with other learners and teachers, trainers, experts in a particular field or more knowledgeable others. New digital tools allow new ways of knowledge sharing and building and include web-based applications such as open and closed forums, personal or shared blogs, chat rooms, instant messaging and video conferences, tagging and collaborative text editing systems. Networking portals allow learners to find, contact and keep in touch with like-minded people.
Below we highlight questions and issues that arise from these new possibilities:
• How do teachers and students respond to working in public and making their work in progress visible and/or accessible to others (e.g. on a wiki)?
• The success of communities (for learning) relies on an active and engaged community of networked learners. This is influenced by both the activities within the network and the organisation of the network. What can we learn from successful face to face and online networks to inform the development of technology enhanced learning communities?

Orchestrating Learning

The phrase 'orchestrating learning' is used as a metaphor for understanding and informing the design of technology enhanced learning situations. This involves a consideration of the learners, the role of assessment, the tools to be used and the role of the teacher or trainer. Issues of orchestration are relevant whether considering learning within educational institutions or learning within the workplace. Traditional models of teaching often need re-thinking within technology enhanced learning situations. For example, ICT provides multiple possibilities for learners to access knowledge that traditionally would have been provided by the teacher. Understanding the orchestration of such learning situations raises important issues and questions, for example:
• What are the key aspects which make the complexity of TEL learning situations different from learning situations in which digital technology is not used? What advice can we formulate to support teachers and designers of TEL based learning situations?
• Traditionally, society has devolved to the teacher the role of the 'more knowledgeable' and with respect to students he/she is responsible for teaching. However it is increasingly recognized that other students within a community might also be 'more knowledgeable others'. In this respect how can a teacher harness collective knowledge, whilst at the same time valuing and understanding the role of their own expertise?
• Assessment of learning is an important constraint on the orchestration of learning. Assessment allows the teacher or trainer to make sense of the evolution of learning and knowing, in order both to effectively support learning and provide a means of certifying knowledge and skills. In this respect how can TEL approaches be articulated with effective assessment processes?

Contextualizing virtual learning environments and instrumentalising learning contexts

All activity is performed in context, which can be thought of as "that which surrounds us" or as "that which weaves us together". This mirrors the distinction made in the technical literature on pervasive computing between context as a 'shell' that surrounds the human user of technology and context as arising out of the constructive interaction between people and technology. Learning not only occurs in a context, it also creates context through continual interaction between people and objects. A context can be temporarily solidified, by deploying or modifying objects to create a supportive workspace, or by forming an ad hoc social network of people with shared interests, or by reaching a shared understanding of a problem. This suggests that technologies for learning should be designed to take into account the ways in which the settings where they will be used are mediated by the context.
Digital and mobile technologies can provide learners with novel experiences by exposing them to a wider range of contexts than was previously possible and by personalising the complex interplay of the technologies being used. There are technical implications, however, because representing knowledge in an interoperable manner among various TEL systems becomes increasingly important.
Below we highlight questions and issues that arise from these new possibilities:
It is increasingly easy for learners to personalise their learning environments, but how do they respond to the flexibility and customisability of adaptive learning environments?
The widespread use of mobile computing devices and mobile broadband is likely to have a significant impact on teaching and learning. What is the role of learner identity within 'mobile learning contexts', and how can learning between and across contexts be supported? What are the issues from the point of view of students in moving between informal and formal and/or virtual and real learning contexts?

Drawing on the research framework provided by the Grand Challenges, Theme Teams are required to identify one or two research questions around which the debate and integration will be built. These are expected to contribute to developing and/or advancing the community's understanding of issues within the Grand Challenges.
Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals, whose topics are new in respect to those already funded in the first round (see http://www.stellarnet.eu/instruments/theme_teams/).

What is the expected output?

Each Theme Team is required to plan for some kind of concrete scientific output showing evidence of the created synergies/collaboration among the members and focusing on the identified research questions.
Specifically valued outputs include (but are not restricted to): a special issue journal, an edited book, a workshop at an international conference with concrete outputs (e.g., proceedings), co-authored articles, learning and training materials/modules/lessons for the STELLAR Doctoral Academy or for enterprises, a project proposal, etc.


Within this second round of funding (the present Call), 4 Theme Teams will be funded (the expected budget of each proposed Theme Team being of maximum € 16.000). The Theme Team eligibility period is 12 months.
Each applicant should specify how the group is planning to use the budget.
Eligible costs are:

Please, note that labour is not an eligible cost.

Content of the proposal

The proposals should follow the template (http://www.itd.cnr.it/download/theme_team_form2.doc), by specifying:

  1. Identification data of the Theme Team (title, participants, contact information, etc.)
  2. A brief summary (including the reason for the proposed Theme Team, a concise description of the output/results, the innovative character and relevance in the field of TEL)
  3. Identification of the "theme" (explaining the topic and its relation to the STELLAR Grand Challenges framework, as well as identifying the research questions around which the debate will be built)
  4. A description of the envisaged output (type of output, how it is related to the identified research questions, the kind of synergies it is expected to create/consolidate, etc.)
  5. Organization of the work towards the output (plan of activities)
  6. Dissemination/Transfer plan (plans for disseminating the output/results)
  7. Monitoring and Evaluation (description of concrete instruments to monitor and evaluate the Theme Team work; i.e. how will you measure integration among Theme Team members?)
  8. Budget (plan of costs).

The full proposal should not exceed 5 pages.

Selection procedure

The present Call will be closed on January 17th 2011 January, 15th, 2011.
The selection will take place in February 2011 and will be managed by the STELLAR Scientific Capacity Committee. Each proposal will be evaluated by at least 2 reviewers (basic requirement for selecting the reviewers will be that of avoiding any conflict of interests between the Theme Team participants and the reviewers themselves).
The main evaluation criteria will include:

By the end of March 2011 all the applicants will be informed of the results of the evaluation process. The selected Theme Teams will be asked to start up within April 2011.

Monitoring and evaluation

During the Theme Team lifespan the work carried out by each Team will be monitored by the STELLAR Scientific Capacity Committee through questionnaires and interviews.
A scientific and financial report will be due at the end of the work. The Theme Team Leader will be in charge of collecting data and submitting both the scientific and financial reports.

How to submit?

Submissions, preferably in PDF format, should follow the schema downloadable at: http://www.itd.cnr.it/download/theme_team_form2.doc
Proposals should be submitted to CNR-ITD who has been appointed by the STELLAR Network to manage the overall Theme Teams process.

Theme Team proposals must be sent via email
before January, 15th 2011 January 17th 2011 to: