Season’s greetings from the Learning Environments Research Group! Here’s a recap of what our designers and researchers have been up to during 2014.
In the last post to this blog I was listing some of our latest publication and activities in conferences. Now I felt that it is good to write down about our major research projects and to highlight some outputs from them.
During the autumn term the iTEC: Designing the Future Classroom project has kept us busy. From the last six months the Edukata — design toolkit has been one of the major outputs of the project. Edukata — design toolkit is targeted for educators to help them to design great learning activities with their colleagues. We currently have an open beta of the guide book for downloading and gathering feedback from real situations of using it. The current plan is that the final version of the guide book will be translated to 16 languages and distributed widely in Europe.
In the Learning Layers research project we have designed and developed a new prototype for informal learning in construction sites. The Ach So!-prototype is an Android app to shoot videos, to annotate them and to share them. When starting a video you choose a genre for it. The options are: (1) site visit, (2) problem, (3) trick of trade, (4) good work. When you are done the video can be annotated so that you point at something in the video and write a text that is then displayed as a caption next to the pointer. The video will also come with all the available contextual metadata, such as location etc. The current development version of Ach So! is available for downloading. In order to install Android software from third party sources, “Unknown sources” setting needs to be enabled from the Android device. The setting can be found either under Settings > Security > Unknown sources or Settings > Applications > Unknown sources.
In the LEAD: Learning Design – Designing for Learning project we have focused on case studies with the Presemo participation platform and Feeler prototype that aims to combine data about wellbeing, such as physical activity and rest, with data about learning performance in order to generate visualizations that support learners’ reflection process. Our partners in the University of Tampere have continued to gather and analyze (big) data gathered from close to 900 schools in Finland. With the Square1 prototype we have been a bit on hold because of lack of programing resources. Also the Feeler project needs soon some developer resources. Anyone interested in working in open source projects like this? If yes, please contact us.
In the LEAD project we are also studying the future of online learning. For this purpose we have setup the OpenEdX platform for research purposes. The server is here: http://edx.aalto.fi and open for Aalto experiments (anyone can register as participants, but let us know if you wish to create courses in there). In the online learning research we are focusing on design. We are particularly interested in studying the user and learning experience of the online learning services, such ah EdX and Eliademy. Therefore the research touches some major pedagogical issues, too. Designing great services is hard and when it comes to complexity of different services, educational services are for sure high in the list.
We have noticed that although the most satisfactory part of the work for many of us is the design and development of prototypes we must publish about them, too. We do lab and design studio work, test our prototypes in the field and then report our finding from all the phases of the work. Getting this in balance is difficult but I have a feeling that we are learning. During the spring term we are expecting some major publications from the research group discussing results from the lab, studio and the field.
Finally, I just updated our Research -page of this site. It now gives an overview of all the research projects, both current and past.
From the last six-months we are happy to report several interesting new publications. I’ll simply list them in here with the links:
(1) To the first book in Finnish about design-based research in education (Kehittämistutkimus opetusalalla edited by Johannes Perna) I wrote a chapter with the title Muotoilututkimus: tutkimusta, kehittämistä ja prototyyppejä (Design Research: Research, Development and Prototypes).
(2) Juha Kronqvist, Heini Erving, Teemu Leinonen (2913): Cardboard hospital: Prototyping patient-centric environments and services. Nordes 2013.
Our other fellow Hans Põldoja has been working on his final publications for his doctoral dissertation. The dissertation is expected to be ready in the the end of the year. With his colleagues at the University Tallinn they also have published the following article in the book Open and Social Technologies for Networked Learning:
(3) Laanpere, M., Põldoja, H., & Normak, P. (2013). Designing Dippler — A Next-Generation TEL System. In T. Ley, M. Ruohonen, M. Laanpere, & A. Tatnall (Eds.), Open and Social Technologies for Networked Learning (Vol. 395, pp. 91–100). Berlin / Heidelberg: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-37285-8_10.
In the end of July we will present some early results from the Learning Layers–project (Scaling up Technologies for Informal Learning in SME Clusters) at the ISTAS 13 -conference, The IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society in Toronto, Canada:
(4) Teemu Leinonen, Jukka Purma, Kiarii Nguya, Alexander Hayes (2013): Scenarios for peer-to-peer learning in construction with emerging forms of collaborative computing. ISTAS 2013.
The following short papers will be published in the conference proceedings of the Interactive Technology in Education 2013 – conference’s research track.
(5) Jukka Purma, Kiarii Ngua, Eva Durall & Teemu Leinonen (2013): How to design learning in the 21st century.
(6) Anna Keune & Teemu Leinonen (2013): Square1 hypothesis: Building computational and collaborative learning tools in school.
(7) Eva Durall & Teemu Leinonen (2013): Digital dashboard for visualizing learning progress and well-being.
In the ECSCW 2013 (European Conference on Computer-Supported Collaborative Works) and in the EC-TEL 2013 (The European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning) we are organizing a workshop Backchannels and live participation tools.
(10) For the iTEC –project (Designing the Future Classroom) we are also working on a publication with the working title Edukata — Designing Future Classroom Learning Activities. The guidebook is intended to be a “source of inspiration for educators to strengthen their confidence as designers of future classroom learning activities”. It will be published before the end of the year and it will be translated to 16 languages.
(11) From the iTEC –project we are also preparing some research papers: one conference workshop paper about Ambire (an ambient display for 1:1 laptop/tablet classroom reflection) and a journal article with the working title Designing tablet apps for individual and collaborative reflection in learning.
(12) From the research done in the LEAD -project we also have submit a journal article with the title Design Thinking in Research of Collaborative Tools for Learning.
Publishing is good but demos / prototypes are great. We have some new demos and prototypes, too. The Fle4 – knowledge building tool has been redesigned with a map view. The Square1 (a collection of single-task dedicated learning devices) hardware, interaction design and software are nicely coming all together.
One of the reasons why I enjoy working in this particular research group — and in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture — is the possibility to design and build prototypes.
In our academic practice we aim, no only to study and do research on learning environments and learning tools but also to build new artifacts (prototypes, models etc,). The artifacts that are designed during the design research are a crucial part of the research results. The way the artifacts are forms part of the research argumentation.
I have above updated slide set presenting our research group. From it you’ll get an overview of the research projects we are currently involved in and some examples of the prototypes. Things are done by people — they are presented, too.
With this post I am happy to present three relatively new prototypes made in the research group. These are ReFlex, Square One and Cardboard Hospital.
ReFlex is a tool for learners to record 60-second audio-visual clips of their personal learning experiences, to store them on a timeline and to share them with teachers, peers and parents. All recordings by one learner are stored on a personal timeline and are accessible for later review. In addition to the present, learners may also create “time capsule” recordings for the future. Time capsules can only be opened when their set date is reached, and can be used as statements of learning objectives. From the entire pool of recordings, learners can mark important clips by highlighting them. The best way to get an idea of it is to try it. ReFlex is a web app and available in: http://reflex.aalto.fi
Square One is a single task dedicated learning devices designed for group work in schools. The idea is that school children could build their own device in a Fab Lab kind of facilities. In the Square One there are three kind of devices: (1) one dedicated for writing, (2) one for drawing and (3) one central piece for searching and for assembling presentations out of the content created by the learners. The central piece is a two-sided tablet, one side is dedicated for searching and the other side for assembling. The central piece comes with cameras, microphones and speakers. The writing and drawing tools are dedicated only for these tasks. You write or draw and then you send your creation to the central piece. We are currently doing the software and hardware design and looking for the components. The idea is presented in the slides below.
Cardboard Hospital is model for prototyping workshop, service design and co-design. The model was tested this spring in our Media Center Lume. In the workshops, patients, hospital staff and architects were creating ideas for the future hospital environment through physical 1:1 prototyping. The Cardboard hospital worked as a media rich learning environment for stakeholders (architects, patients, medical doctor and nurses) to discuss, negotiate, to transfer and to design new spatial, organization and process solutions. This is is presented in the video above.
We are looking for creative people with interesting ideas to work with us as a postdoctoral researcher. The postdoctoral researcher will lead and conduct research and design in externally funded research projects ongoing and starting in the research group, as well as teach (supervise MA thesis projects) these topics in the Department’s MA program. The postdoctoral researcher will also act as the vice leader of the research group.
The position requires a Doctor’s degree (preferably completed within the last five years), management skills, design portfolio as well as research and design skills necessary for the development of digital tools and systems (prototypes) in various contexts of learning.
How to apply? You will find the instruction from the Aalto.fi -site.
We just started a new project. Here are the slides from the seminar of the Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. The two year project is funded from the Tekes’ Learning Solutions program.
We are hiring a doctoral student to work on her or his own research related to the themes of the research group. The doctoral student must possess or apply for a post-graduate study place in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Here is the official call text from the University web site.
Aalto University is a new university with over a century of experience. Created from a high-profile merger between three leading universities in Finland – the Helsinki School of Economics, the Helsinki University of Technology and the University of Art and Design Helsinki – Aalto University opens up new possibilities for strong multi-disciplinary education and research. The university’s ambitious goal is to rank among the top universities in the world in its areas of specialization. At Aalto there are 20,000 students with around 75,000 alumni. We have a staff of 4,500 including 300 professors.
The former Aalto University School of Art and Design and the Department of Architecture of the School of Engineering have merged to form the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The new school combines design, media, architecture, film, art education and art. The key areas of research in the school are design, digital media, audiovisual representation, art, visual culture, well-being architecture and emerging technologies, and urban planning and design.
Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture invites applications for
DOCTORAL STUDENT, Learning Environments Research Group
The job begins in fall 2012. The assignment is for maximum of two years.
Key Accountabilities and Qualifications
The doctoral students will be part of the Learning Environments research group (LeGroup – http://legroup.aalto.fi/ ) at the Media Lab, Department of Media. The LeGroup is involved in research, design and development of New Media tools, as well as their use and application, in the field of learning. The areas of research and design practice are in computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL); information and communication technology (ICT) in learning (tablets, mobile phones, touch screens, PDAs, PCs etc.); ICT in creative group work and design; ICT in empowerment through learning; and learning environments enhanced with technology. The group’s approach to research and design is theory-based but design-oriented. This means that besides the academic research papers the outcomes of the group are often software systems, software prototypes, applications and scenarios.
The doctoral student will conduct research and design in one of the above areas based on her own interests. The successful candidate will have theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in order to work within art and design-based academic institution. The position requires a Master’s degree, design portfolio as well as research and design skills necessary for the development of digital tools and systems (prototypes) in various contexts of learning.
The doctoral student must possess a post-graduate study place in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, OR commit oneself to apply for a post-graduate study place in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture by September 15th 2012 (please see https://into.aalto.fi/display/endoctoraltaik/Homepage). If the applicant is not granted a post-graduate study place by December 31st 2012, the employment will not be continued. Sufficient knowledge in English language is also required. The applicant has to present a research plan that is related to one of the focus areas of research in the Learning Environments research group and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture in general. The research plan must include a schedule for completing the doctoral degree.
Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland.
Salary will be paid according to the University’s salary scheme.
Application period and instructions
Application documents, including an (1) application letter, (2) CV, (3) design portfolio, (4) research plan and a possible certificate of the post-graduate study right, should be sent preferably by email to email@example.com (subject: Doctoral student, Learning Environments) or by mail to: Registry, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, P.O. box 31000, 00076 Aalto, Finland. Applications should arrive no later than on August 14th 2012 by 3 p.m. (Finnish time GMT + 2:00). All application material should be in English.
Aalto University reserves the right for justified reasons to leave the position open, to extend the application period and to consider candidates who have not submitted applications during the application period.
The application materials will not be returned.
Associate Professor Teemu Leinonen
tel. +358 50 351 6796
TeamUp is a new media reflection tool for teachers and students to form teams based on students’ interests, and for students to record 1 minute audio updates about their teamwork progress, challenges and planned next steps.
In the spirit of participatory design, and as result of the merging of the iTEC work packages WP2 and WP3, we redesigned our iTEC website. The new URL is http://itec.aalto.fi (old URL redirects). The new site acts as the place for teachers and students across Europe to interact with the iTEC project from scenario development to prototype and pilot design.
The page directly calls for teachers and students to participate, and includes news, scenarios (provided by Futurelab), information on participatory design workshops, descriptions of our prototypes, learning stories and learning activities. The page is still under development and growing as the project is going on. To keep the design process even more transparent and open for teachers and students, we are planning to publish summaries of Focus Group sessions, as well as design challenges and opportunities in the near future.