The current ‘Interactive Media Lab’ is founded on May 12th, 1988, when Dr. Antonio Bartolomé applies for an infrastructure grant within the University of Barcelona, DOE Department, stating that modern, interactive equipment will be necessary for enhancing teaching activities at the department.
The president of the Education Science Division at the time, Josep M. Rotger, feels that these resources will be important in the near future and supports the initiative with 36,000 Euros. This grant allows for the establishment of a service for lecturers and researchers who are interested in interactive video.
In July 1988, Antonio Bartolomé submits a research project to CIDE in which he proposes a study on the introduction of interactive resources related to different cognitive styles and other social and individual aspects. The project is approved and the first videodisc is produced on the subject of ‘New Technologies for Education.
In 1989 the core is established of what will become the Interactive Media Lab. A group of seven students, amongst others Albert Esteruelas, Esther Boix and Mercè Durán, participate in the design and development of multimedia products on laserdiscs.
In the same year, José Luís Rodríguez Illera and Antonio Bartolomé get a scholarship to travel to the UK in order to gather information on product acquisition. At this time, it is almost impossible to find interactive video in Spain.
Also in 1989, the first of two courses supported by the European Social Fund is organised on the subject of interactive resources for Education. In September of that year, the Education Science Division creates the Interactive Video Centre, and DOE lends out its equipment. This Centre is active for 4 years, until a multimedia room is created by the Division against the group’s criteria, which promptly makes the researchers go back to the DOE department. At this time José Manuel Moral and Ángeles Martínez join the team.
Starting from 1990, some of the results of the ongoing research are released. The European connection is started: in the first project, Eurotecnet, the Centre participates as a partner, and in the second, Comett-II, as a coordinator.
In the meantime, three videodiscs ‘Laservision’ have been produced, including the production and installation of an information point for the Department of Labour of the Catalan government. Simultaneously, other products are developed in digital format, like the CarAudio, an optic disc for Pioneer.
Between 1991 and 1994 the Centres becomes well-known for its singularities within the Spanish technology landscape. When the CD-Rom arrives, many other departments and entities start working with multimedia, but at that time only a small number of institutions like the ‘Programme for Audiovisual Media’ of the Catalan government, or a centre associated with the University of Malaga are producing interactive videodiscs.
During this period, the Interactive Video Centre takes in national and international students with scholarships and participates in several European projects, organising international seminars, participating in conferences and publishing articles in national and international journals. Some of the major projects, like Grimm, are prepared for during this period. The new crew involves Dámasco Ezpeleta, Mariona Grané, Laia Maimó, Anne Kramer…
Around 1994 an almost invisible transformation takes place at the Centre: after returning to the DOE offices, the European participation diminishes and more contracts are made with companies outside the universidy. But the change of spaces also means that the Centre is incorporated in the DOE Department. The relationships between the group members and the Department become more intensive, and the Centre acquires a dynamising role within DOE, promoting the use and development of an intranet, which turns DOE into a ground-breaking department in the use of telematic resources.
The impasse caused by the transition to the Fourth Framework Programme at the European Union pushes the Centre toward companies for their funding. By now, its scientific and technological level offers an interesting and attractive framework for research and development.
Although some sub-groups had been created previously, it is not until now that some of the junior researchers at the Centre start getting their own contracts. Some of them are quite important, like the design and coordination of the Activa Multimedia series, by Plaza y Janés. Some of the group members are hired by external companies, and others become lecturers at different departments of the University Barcelona.
In 1996 the Education Science Division moves to Hogares Mundet, a renovated building complex located in the green mountains surrounding Barcelona: the new Vall d’Hebron Campus. At this occasion, a more powerful intranet is installed, which also means the transition toward the use of the Internet as a – still quite poor – carrier for multimedia products.
After a one-year break the Centre starts participating in European projects again (Teeode and Impact), although its main activitiy keeps located at the level of contracts with companies. That year, the Centre collaborates in putting the first Spanish movie on the Internet, and a year later it manages to design an online environment for the most important periodical publication on tourism in Spain: Editur.
lmiThe Interactive Media Lab (LMI) is officially born. A new logo is designed by Dámaso Ezpeleta, a website with information and projects is created by Mariona Grané. LMI is leading the ambitious project Grimm, addressed to early childhood education, with which the Lab gains its prestige in the field of Education. This project will be the basis for the Research Group Grimm-2000, recognised as a quality group by the Catalan government.
During the period between 1996 and 1999, LMI collaborates with different companies through the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation: contracts are signed with the publishers Graó, Plaza y Janés, Edebé and Editur.
In the field of distance education, educational material is designed and produced for the Galician government and the pharmaceutical Profarmaco company, master courses, post-graduates and doctoral courses are organised in the Universitat de les Illes Balears, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Universidad de Málaga, Universidad de Navarra and of course the University Barcelona.
Simultaneously, European projects such as Teeode, Impact, Mediakids, Learnett and Multimeduc are carried out. Some of the key people involved are Angel Toribio and Anna Rubio. Many of the interns work at the LMI for one or two years to pass on to the labour market: Núria Serrat, Javier López, Noelia Gastañaga, Luis Castillo, Sandra García, Toni Ramos… A special unit is formed within LMI, called ‘the Brioche’: Sergio Valcarcel, Eva Romero, Vicens Yll, Tere Vida, Luis Lanero and Marta Colomar.
In 1999, LMI coordinator Antonio Bartolomé makes his official change to a new Department, the Didactics of Visual Education Department at the Teacher Education Faculty, as Head of Studies for the new Audiovisual Communication Studies. This second-cycle study (Licenciatura or Master level) is started in 1999 with the first students attending the new courses.
At this moment, LMI moves to a different space within the Campus, and becomes part of the new Department as well. Between 1999 and 2002 it participates in the European project Pictte, but new activities also focus on the development of eLearning design (Master in Application of New Technologies in Education), and on the research of opportunities in education related to digital video as a new communication medium.
The new Interactive Media Lab addresses its activities to the field of Audiovisual Communication and Art. Antoni Mercader joins the group and launches an important research area related to digital media and contemporary art production. Some of the most important names during this period are Marcos Morcate, Inyaki Sanz, Nelia Cuadros, Fran García, Eva Martínez, Jordi Pardo, Pepa Jiménez and many other students of the new Audiovisual Communication Studies, who go on to find their way in the professional world.
Starting from 2002, the LMI is incorporated by the quality research group Vall (Communication, Art, Education) at the Didactics of Visual Education Department.
During this period of five years, the LMI will be the support unit for some of the research areas of Vall. Its members participate actively in several European projects supported by the eLearning Programme of the European Commission, focussing on Digital and Media Literacy for migrants (LMI coordinates eCLIPSe, XenoCLIPse and xenoclipse.net) and on Technology Enhanced Learning Environments (LMI is a partner in the Telepeers project and the Kaleidoscope network). It also participates in PIC (Public Internet Centres), a Grundtvig project in the field of Digital Literacy.
The group also develops some important advances related to Conceptual Art and Media Art. LMI is project coordinator for Vivid Radical Memory (Culture 2000) and project partner in GAMA (eContent Plus). Simultaneously, other national and regional initiatives take place within the research group, especially in the field of Innovation in Education. In 2007, Vall is recognised by the University Barcelona as a consolidated research group on educational innovation.
Miguel Angel Muras designs the Lab’s new logo and website, which starts working on a dynamic data base. This period features new people: Cilia Willem, Martín Aiello, Joan Frigola, Lucrezia Crescenzi, Valerie Rubinstein, Miguel Angel Muras, Eva Carbó, Laura P. Sola, Jaime Bartolomé, Marga Carreras, Monica Mato.
In the year 2008, twenty years after its founding date, LMI becomes an independant research group within the University of Barcelona. Researchers from other departments and universities join the team: Jordi Sancho, Raúl Martínez, Rosa Tarruella, Elena Cano, José Manuel Llop, Leo Martín, Patricia Compañó, Inés Carles, Anaïs Le Corvec, Jaime Fabregat. The group gets support from Rafael Suárez, Karina Olmedo and Gonzalo Marchena, amongst others.
The first project carried out in this new period is Bridge-IT, a network coordinated by LMI and funded with 462.000 euros by the European Commission for the next two years. The network has 24 partners from 11 countries.
At 2009, LMI applied at the Research Groups Call of the Generalitat de Catalunya, and it got the first position at the faculties of Pedagogy and Teachers Training, with the id 2009 SGR 847.
2014, the LLI is recognized as a new research group by the Government of Catalonia, this time with UViC as the Interuniversity Research Group ID 2014 SGR 604.
We are now the Interactive Media Lab of the University of Barcelona - University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia.