Colin Allison

Dr, Dr

  • KY16 9SS

    United Kingdom

Personal profile

Research overview

Multi-User Virtual Worlds (Metaverses); Distributed Systems; Learning; Environments; Computer Networks; QoS and QoE.

Other expertise

Project management; proof reading and technical editing

Academic/Professional Qualification

PhD Computer Science, University of St Andrews; M.Sc. Computing, Department of Mathematics, University of Dundee; M.A. Hons Sociology, University of Edinburgh

Research interests

Multi-User Virtual Worlds (Metaverses); Learning Environments, Distributed Systems; Quality of Service, Networking, Security, Privacy and Trust.

Research projects have included:

Immersive Research Learning Network (2014 - )

iLRN is an international nonprofit organization of designers, artists, developers, educators, and research experts collaborating together further the development of immersive learning enviroments for scientific, educational, artistic and cultural purposes.

Open Virtual Worlds (2011 - )

A St Andrews Computer Science based grouping of researchers intersted in the development and application of digital technologies for educational and scientific purposes with a particular focus on cultural heritatge.

Finance Education in a Scalable Software Environment (Finesse)

Finesse was an advanced computer-based online learning environment which supported Finance education in Scottish HEIs. Finesse provided routine access to key courseware components of accredited undergraduate and postgraduate modules at Dundee, Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian by building on the facilities afforded by the Scottish Metrpolitan Area networks nda associated institutional infrastructures. Although this project focused on Finance a strong emphasis was placed on scalability because the only way to meet the growing demands of increasing student numbers on strictly limited staff time and resources, while maintaining and enhancing educational standards, is through the development of new scalable techniques. The ability to provide a quality learning environment that can cope equally well with a class of 5 or 500, located at one or more institutions, without requiring extra staff time was a target of particular interest to many disciplines. The consortium represented a partnership between IT systems builders at St Andrews Computer Science and content providers at Dundee, Strahclyde and Glasgow Caledonian. 

ELeGI: European Learning GRID Infrastructure

The European Learning Grid Infrastructure (ELeGI) project had the ambitious goal  to develop, promote and support a new learning paradigm focused on knowledge construction using experiential based and collaborative learning approaches in a contextualised, personalised and ubiquitous way. The new approach was in contrast with the prevalent "information transfer" paradigm which focused on content and on the key authoritative figure of the teacher who provides information.

A synergic approach, sometimes called "human centered design" was been chose to replace the classical, applicative approach to learning. With consideration of humans at the centre, learning was seen as a social, constructive phenomenon. It occurs as a side effect of interactions, conversations and enhanced presence in dynamic Virtual Communities: experimental research concepts integrating new powerful developments of services in the Semantic GRID, the leading edge of currently available and future ICT technologies, with highly innovative and powerfully significant scenarios of human learning.

Video Fingerprinting for Digital Assets Management (2010 - 2014)

This process is an enabling technology which provides a platform for a wide range of potential applications in the area of digital assets management. These include:

  • video piracy detection
  • indexing and retrieval of video archive materials
  • verification of footage for legal purposes

The core invention provides a means of identifying video sequences. That is, a fingerprint is taken of a video, and can then be used to automatically identify that video again, without requiring human intervention. The process does not require embedded information such as watermarks and is robust in the face of changes to the quality of the video.



A covert channel is a communication channel that allows two cooperating processes to transfer information in a manner that violates the system’s security policy. It is thus a way of communicating which is not part of the original design of the system. The use of the covert channels and steganography in public computer networks can prove an effective means of information hiding and secret communication. With the widespread adoption of the Internet the TCP/IP suite of protocols have become pervasive, and therefore an attractive target for the use of these techniques. This project is a PhD research about Covert Channels in Internet Protocols.




LAVA (Laconia Acropolis Virtual Archaeology)

LAVA allows students to participate in a computer-simulated archaeological excavation programme of the Laconia acropolis, the focal point of which is the Basilica. The project will facilitate aspects of learning that can in reality only be provided on a restricted and relatively expensive basis. It can also be a useful introduction to archaeological field work.  


Digital Assets Management

This was an enabling technology which provided a platform for a wide range of potential applications in the area of digital assets management,



Learning Grid of Excellence Working Group (LeGE-WG)

The LeGE-WG aims to facilitate the establishment of a European Learning Grid Infrastructure by supporting the systematic exchange of information and by creating opportunities for close collaboration between the different actors in the formative process.  The Working Group has been funded by the European Commission for an initial 2 years and brings together actors with complementary interests in Grid computing and e-Learning from technology-oriented disciplines, pedagogy, government or regulating bodies and of course students. It therefore provides an interdisciplinary consortium of experts and promotes close interaction between the communities associated with them. LeGE-WG project website:




Global Smart Spaces (GLOSS) : investigating systems support for interaction between people, devices and environments that take account of context and movement on a global scale. Our investigation is into underlying computational models, which will permit appropriate information to pass freely around the underlying infrastructure, whilst respecting privacy, to maximise the potential of the emerging information world.



TAGS: Tutor and Group Support Scheme: TAGS is a framework for researching, developing, deploying and managing distributed learning environments (DLEs). It has been developed through pilots in several subject areas at six Scottish HEIs in support of accredited degree programmes.


INSIDE: An Institutionally Secure Integrated Data Environment: Addresses the problems for users of University Information Systems stemming from the current lack of integration.


ASSETS: A Strategic Service for Educational Materials and Services: The Assets project has created an operational service for a highly diverse set of educational materials and online services. QoS considerations that are now being addressed include scalability, reliability and availability. Replication, is an attractive strategy as it can potentially meet these QoS requirements. Some materials only require simple mirroring, but many interactive materials have their own semantics and need particular synchronisation mechanisms to support replication across multiple servers. This provides interesting challenges in distributed systems.


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