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CURRENT PROJECTS stephen robot

Stephen became a professor back in the 1980s - sponsored by Apple Computer. There have been some amazing projects, with hundreds of millions of research £ and $ during that period. From Guinness Record sized projects to tiny coastal classrooms. Projects sometimes take a while get started, but like an avalanche they can grow faster with unstoppable inertia as we watch!

"Stephen has a vast portfolio of successful, large scale, learning projects behind him" JISC 2006 (and hopefully even more true today in 10/06/2021 !)

The current projects here (in no order at all) are some of what Stephen and the heppell.net team are working on now (not all fully funded and often pro bono, at least to start with) - but always with others, always grounded, always aiming for best value & affordability, and always aiming to attain real scale...

the learnometer project...

Learnometer is a unique combination of hardware, software and analysed data that help learners, and thus their institutions or families, perform better by optimising physical environments for learning. It measures CO2, light, sound, humidity, PM2.5, TVOCs and temperature. The whole project is essential reading for everyone caring about learning. Over 5 + years we have been through a number of prototypes and now have a successful product in many schools and other places. Initial research supported in part by JISC.

learning spaces:
aggregation of marginal gains

Working with schools from Peru to Australia, from Riyadh to Taipei we have projects helping create some of the most exciting learning spaces in the world. In working with elite sports on their learning spaces we have become strongly wedded to a philosophy of aggregating marginal gains and our learning spaces show that complexity from banks of plants to high refraction painted surfaces and of course, post covid, to the air we breathe in our spaces. A recent example was the refresh of what had been a wonderful state-of-the-art learning space in the 1970s

working spaces: home and office
aggregation of marginal gains

All the research we have on optimising learning spaces so that everyone might be their best selves, cognitively, also applies to home working spaces and to office work spaces too.

We have just begun a series of mini-research projects with coollaborators Coursera looking prediminantly at the physical environment in their offices worldwide, including a flagship new London space, but also contrasting that back with home working spaces. Particulalry interesting as companies ask "why return to the office?"

Learning Lab at UCJC

Some years back a student led project looked at making over learning spaces in some of our SEK Spanish schools. As we started to explore future directions for Learning in higher education it seemed natural to ask theose school students to help us create a Learning Lab - the kind of place they would want to come to learn in the future when they are old enough for college. This Learning Lab - much fêted in the media and by other universities - is a very good marker for what that place might be and we are still learning from it as we evolve it. Watch the video. We repeated the project with a disused industrial building, to create a state of the art Design Lab. In that latter case the students recreated the whole space in cardboard first! That space is evolving too curently.

Golden Generation certifcate generator

We were rather dismayed to hear many voices in the media and governments around the world denigrating the often remarkable work that children were achieving whilst locked-down and out of school. We saw instead the resilience & ingenuity of a generation given agency with opportunity. So we set out to give them credit for, and to accredit, this new body of work.

With long time colleague, collaborator and friend Tom Smith we created a Golden Generation certifictae generator (in Spanish too) and are now sitting on a remarkable dataset of their ingenuity and prowess. Short version is: they went for depth over breadth, for collaboration over working alone, and for ipsative referencing over criterion referencing.

learnology - the never ending masters level community

We've been trying to get traction for this for quite some time. A whole new approach to masters level learning in a community of purpose. Not so much a current project, more one we refuse to give up on!

Technology-enabled Innovation in Education in SE Asia Project

Funded by funded by the Japanese Fund for Poverty Reduction and implemented as a joint venture between IBF International Consulting and Learning Possibilities (Stephen is chair of LP+) the project seeks real progress, through effective learning technologies, for the national policies of Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and VietNam. 2 year project.

Coursera and communities: our SEK / UCJC lighthouse project

Our SEK / UCJC group in Spain, and Coursera, have joined together in a unique "lighthouse project" to look at offering Coursera's vast catalogue of high quality courses to our school parents - as they explore their own professional and parental training needs - to our alumni, our school students, our staff and of course our undergraduate programmes. At this stage we are already excited by the parents' response - of course lifelong learning is a part of the future of education!

Hybrid schools

The pandemic has given much impetus to on-line learning, and indeed over 30 years we have learned much from very many projects. But the blend between synchronous face to face and asynchronous online learning is complex. We are developing a completely modeless school with the SEK group of schools. This is a short primer.

PhD students

Stephen is winding down on PhD students - just one rather overdue doctoral student left. But some cracking past PhDs and I am so proud of their progress since graduating!

elite sports

Working with a number of elite sports - from Olympic teams to global sports like Rugby Union - to optimise their learning. This has been really interesting work because their aggregation of marginal gains approach has much to offer education and learning (as embodied by the Learnometer project work).

optimising cognitive activity in health

We are looking at a whole range of ways that Health as a sector might learn from the work we have been doing in these many other projects. Working with the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust - they are responsible for over 3 million folk - we have begun with an analytical visit to some of their secure premises, and with a guided visit to our Learning Lab, Design Lab and other initiatives. The potential is huge.


Back in 2016 we sought goverment support for a new approach to mass education. Very much a hybrid of the home learning model we suggested it was urgently needed because a pandemic, or worse, might be just around the corner. Turns out we were right (!) and we are now once again dusting off the model to see if finally, the policy makers have woken up yet.


alongside a very detailed look at optimising physical environments for learning at UCJC we are now exploring the impact of food on learning - including immediately before a high stakes test. Lots still to do, but we have started and details are here.

coastal classroom makeover with Essex LA

The project is complete but we are still following up the echoes of it. This project brought together a local authority, Essex, a community, Fingringhoe in Essex, and a host of contractors to "do their bit" in the project. The real expertise of the contractors, the commitment of Essex LA, the agency of the children, the excitement of their teachers and the wonderful leadership of their then head, the late Suzy Ryan all combined to make a remarkable difference. Suzy offered at one stage a simple diagram showing the impact this one classroom had had across the community.

outdoor learning with Essex LA

Following on from the Fingringhoe work, we are back together with Essex again looking at outdoor learning and working this time with Chappel Primary School. We have learned much in this respect from the wonderful BeachSchool.org too.

Participative LearnRadio

Talking to just over 100 ministers and or ministries mid pandemic it was clear that for very many the solution for distant / not in school learning had been to go to radio. It was equitable, needed minimal infrastructure - eg wind up recievers didn't even need electricity - and it allowed synchronous national lessons to be broadcast.

But of course that takes everyone back to the very centralised, "broadcast to" model that learning has moved on from. We think a really interesting solution is a radio station on a box - containing the recording studio and also the broadcasting station. In that way small communities - villages for example - could broadcast their own local experts and projects, can do it asynchronously to some extent, and can then use low tech networking to permeate resources to other communities. Looking for a sponsor now for next steps.


as with all these pages on the heppell.net website, it is very much work in progress; we will add to, or refine, as time goes by.
This page authored, and last updated, by Prof Stephen Heppell - latest changes made on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 12:47 PM