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QUT students spark virtual learning revolution

Three PhD students from the Queensland University of Technology have impressed judges in a national inventors' competition by designing an IT system that allows students to receive lectures via their mobile phones or PDAs.

Andrew (Siak Chuan) Tan, David (Lei) Wang and Chien-Jon Soon placed third in the national Imagine Cup, which is run by Microsoft and attracts university teams from across Australia.

The QUT trio have developed a system dubbed QAT (pronounced “cat”) – Question Answer Technology for a virtual learning environment.

QAT allows lecture notes to be downloaded onto a phone or PDA (personal digital assistant) for offline usage, with the student able to pause the information and ask questions by speaking into their device.

The lecturer – or fellow students – can then contribute answers, with the contributions synchronised when the viewer is next online.

This revolutionary approach to learning means students can interact with their lecturers from virtually anywhere, at any time.

"The primary goal of QAT is to facilitate classroom-like interaction between students and lecturer, remotely," Andrew Tan said.

"Educators complain that there is too much lecture material online while too few students in seats. This creates a lack of interaction between students and lecturers, which is not good for learning.

"But QAT helps solve that problem because it enables easy communication between students and lecturers no matter where they are. It's state-of-the-art e-learning."

Andrew, David and Chien-Jon are all postgraduate students completing their PhDs with QUT's Faculty of Information Technology. Andrew and Chien-Jon are also tutors with the faculty.

The team's Imagine Cup entry was overseen by QUT lecturer Dr On Wong.

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