Computing research at the Open University (OU) is people-centred. Our research integrates technology into human activities, supporting human needs through technology and augmenting human capabilities to shape and influence the development of technology in our daily lives. It addresses socio-technical problems, which is particularly relevant in the current era when computing is fully integrated in society and society is an integral part of computing.
Following from the social justice mission of the OU, we conduct research in computing technologies for social good. We also use technical innovations in order to support openness to people, places, methods and ideas in a scalable way.
We collaborate on a multidisciplinary research agenda, which spans four main research themes with international recognition, namely Human-Centred Computing (HCC), Learning and Multimedia Technologies (LMT), Software Engineering and Design (SEAD), and Artificial Intelligence and Data Analysis (AIDA). The four research themes are overlapping topics with applications in Learning and Education; Health and Wellbeing; Citizen Empowerment; Politics and Government; Security and Policing, Forensics & Privacy; Environment & Sustainability; Science & Scholarly Communication; Urban and Smart living; New Media and Society; Accessibility, Inclusion, Ethics, Social Justice and Diversity; Arts, Entertainment and Culture; and Professional Practice.
Big Scientific Data and Text Analytics Group (BSDTAG) Blockchain, Decentralised Knowledge and Learning (BDKL) Citizen Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAI) Critical Information Studies (CIS) Intelligent Deliberation (IDea) Intelligent Systems and Data Science (ISDS) Interaction Design Research Group (IDRG) Learning Analytics (LA) Modelling and Prediction of Human Behaviour (Map-HB) Natural Language Processing (NLP) Next-Generation Multimedia Technologies (XGMT) Social Data Science Group (SDS) Software Engineering and Design Group (SEAD) Technology and Education Research Group (TERG)
Dr Mancini's and her colleagues' pioneering research in Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI) has led to the design of novel animal-centred interactive technologies and has had a significant impact by benefitting mobility assistance dogs and the people they assist in the UK and by enhancing public understanding of Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI). Their research has given mobility assistance dog charities new tools with which to efficiently train dogs and has made the premises of public-facing businesses more accessible. Together, this work has enhanced the wellbeing of dogs and people by facilitating daily tasks and strengthening the human-dog bond.
Dr. De Liddo's research on the theories and methods required to harvest the Collective Intelligence (CI) of large numbers of people has developed new technologies which public sector organisations, educators, broadcasters and NGOs have used to engage people to participate in decision-making. Through these tools, Dr. De Liddo's work has:
Dr Knoth's novel research in aggregating research repositories has created the world's largest Open Access (OA) collection of research literature and pioneered machine access to this content. His not-for-profit CORE.ac.uk is ranked among the top 1,500 websites in the world by website popularity and top 20 websites in Science and Education. It has over 40 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) and is valued at USD94,250,000.
CORE.ac.uk has played a pivotal role in the global open science movement by:
Prof Price and his team of engineers developed the Painpad along with Prof Pearce, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH). Clinicians track patient vital signs, including self-reported pain, in order to monitor treatment for many conditions. Keeping pain levels under control can be an important factor in early discharge. Normally pain levels are recorded by nurses every few hours, but the painpad allows more frequent and accurate pain readings while saving nurse time for more important tasks. Painpads have been used across MKUH since 2017 with more hospitals joining in 2021.
Since 2016, Springer Nature, one of the world's foremost academic publishing companies, has used a software solution developed through Motta, Osborne and Salatino's research on scholarly knowledge mining to significantly improve the efficiency and quality of its editorial processes.
Using the researchers' Smart Topic Miner (STM) software to automate the process of annotating conference proceedings for its Computer Science book series, Springer Nature has reduced its associated editorial costs by 75%. STM has also enabled its editorial assistants' professional development and improved the quality of its processes, leading directly to an additional 12 million downloads of its approximately 3,200 STM-edited Computer Science books. This corresponds to a 53% positive growth differential with respect to the average growth trend for non-STM-edited Computer Science books.
Professor Zdenek Zdrahal and Dr Martin Hlosta's pioneering research in Predictive Learning Analytics has developed new tools which successfully improve higher education student retention, by providing an early warning when students are at risk of failing or abandoning their studies. These tools have reduced from 37% to 19% the average drop-out rate for first-year students at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague, thus saving 422 students from abandoning their studies and preventing the faculty from losing close to GBP1 million in government funding. Zdrahal and Hlosta's work has also improved professional practice, student outcomes and retention rates at The Open University.