New projects and collaboration

It’s been a hectic end of the year.

The iTEC -project is moving forward with testing in school and new cycles of scenario creation and design work. The annual review of the project went fine. The reviews are important: they are quality control but also an opportunity to learn. We past the “control” and learned a lot.

The formal results of the iTEC project’s first year are available in the project website. We think the Report on Design Prototypes and Design Challenges for Education is worth of reading.

We have, however, some new and exciting projects going on and coming up. Some are small, some are large.

With the Learning + Technology Group at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering we have started a project studying, developing and designing online learning tools and social media for computer science learning. The group has developed many great software tools serving computer science studies and has interesting educational practices of teaching computer science. In the research project we are now looking possibilities of integrating the services, motivational questions of students and coherent design of all this.

Another national project we are involved in is called (in English) Open Networks for Learning. In it we support production of open educational resources by training teachers and other experts, creating and supporting networks and services and this way strengthening active citizenship and democracy. For this project we are, for instance, maintaining, supporting and training people to use LeMill, Wikimedia -services, and Creative Commons Finland -services. The project does not include a lot of research per se but provides as possibilities to bridge research and practice.

A third national project is service design project with the Pirkanmaa Hospital District renewing their organization to focus on value created for patients and to prepare the way for a construction of a new wing in the hospital building. In the project we are applying some learning theories and participatory design methods, as well as considering the role of new media (online, an in hospital) services and devices in the hands of the patients and hospital professionals. The first research publication (in press) from the research project is titled Games as Design Medium —
Utilizing Game Boards for Design Enquiry with Cancer Patients
by Juha Kronqvist et al.

Our colleges in the Tallinn University are getting together an interesting consortium of European top research groups in the field of mobile learning. With them we are right now preparing a research and project plan with several companies to start a new project in mid 2012.

We also have ongoing discussions with library operating bookmobiles: to study and redesign the service by introducing new media tools (tablets, projections, touch screens/tables, RFID etc.) and services in their offering. The possibilities to implement new kind of media education, youth work etc. with bookmobiles are huge. It is a great opportunity to do people-centric and participatory design research.

In addition to the European research in 2012 we are interested in to take part in the national Learning Solutions program by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. Let’s seen.

One more thing: As part of the Aalto on Waves we organized a Future of Learning study project with graduate students coming from the fields of art and design, engineering and technology and economics. We may expect interesting results.

iTEC, LeMill and some new projects in the pipeline

We have some news from the research group, which you may have read already from some other sources.

The iTEC project — the designing the future classroom — is now in a full speed. It is a four year project we started in September so the first results are expected to be out around April-May. To follow our work focusing on to engage teachers and learners in the future classroom you may visit the blog and wiki just set-up last week. Here is the link:

http://itec-wp3.taik.fi/

LeMill — the web community for finding, authoring and sharing open educational resources — developed and hosted by us is something that is getting better and better almost every week. The latest updates are reported in the blog of the service:

http://blog.lemill.net/en/

The LeMill community is also growing steadily. The statistics show that most of the growth right now comes from Lithuania, Russia and Hungary. Why from these countries? I think it is all word-of-mouth marketing from our stable community members in Estonia and Georgia. Where is the rest of the Europe, United States, Asia and Latin America? What are the competitors of LeMill in these countries or is it simply that teaches do not care? A lot of open questions. A good thing is that LeMill is getting better and better.

We are also soon starting some new projects. They are related to service design and use of ICT in informal learning in open spaces: offline and online.

iTEC: Innovative Technologies for an Engaging Classroom

In September 2010 we are starting a new four year European R&D project exploring and designing new ICT tools and ways of using them in classrooms. Our research group’s special interest is to design new practices of using interactive surfaces when pupils will all have network device they may use with the surface.

Here are some slides with some initial ideas on how the interactive surfaces could be used in classrooms in collaborative learning processes.

The ITE 2010 (ITK 2010) conference

Interactive Technology in Education (ITE) –conference is the largest conference in Finland related to information and communication technology in educational use. The conference takes place on 21st – 23rd of April 2010 at Hotel Aulanko, Hämeenlinna, Finland.

Our research group have several talks and session in it. Here is the list of events and talks:

April 21st: Full day workshop

Workshop on social media in teacher’s daily work

April 22nd : keynote and sometu track talks

Teemu Leinonen: Keynote: Networks and Learning in Future

Tarmo Toikkanen and Jukka Purma: Teachers’ open idea repository, LeMill (in Sometu track)

Tarmo Toikkanen and Anne Rongas: Teaching and studying in the fully open Finnish Wikiversity (in Sometu track).

April 23rd: Content repositories

Jukka Purka and Tarmo Toikkanen: 15 years of content repositories for teachers: what went wrong?

April 22nd and 23rd: In Open Content Bazar

On Thursday and Friday we also have a booth in the “Open Content Bazaar” where we are continuously running demonstrations about LeMill and Wikiversity.

The event is from most parts in Finnish – all our talks are in Finnish. If you are still interested in to get to know the Finnish “scene” there are some nice presentation in English, too.

New tools for sophisticated online learning

I am often thinking how to describe our design work – our attempt to create tools for learning. We naturally attempt to design good tools for good learning. The challenge is the word “good”: it opens too many questions.

Because of this we sometime use the term “sophisticated” to describe the tools and the learning they support. The term “sophisticated” is of course, also problematic but I feel that it is somehow according to our design orientation.

We are moving to start two new projects that are also conntected to each other. They are both small pieces in a possible open learning ecology with sophisticated tools helping people to run sophisticated learning – online. These are:

  1. Lightweight tools for knowledge building in social media
  2. EduFeedr – to handle your open online courses

With these tools the world would be a better place.

LeMill, Media Lab Helsinki, MobilED and Reseda

It’s been quiet on this blog for some time.

No, we have not, shut down. We simply have been busy on other “forums”.

Recently a better locations to follow our work on online have been the LeMill blog, Media Lab Helsinki news blog and even the MobilED blog. Also our University research database, Reseda, is a good place to have a look of our latest publications and projects. E.g. you may search with Media Lab – Learning Environments.

There are some major results we should have wrote about on this blog, too, but …well you know. Sorry for this. We’ll try to be better in future.

MobilED – mobile audio wiki engine

For some time we have been doing design research with the MobilED mobile audio wiki prototype we designed and implemented with our partners in South Africa.

The research has relied on research-based design approach with contextual inquiry, participatory design, prototyping and piloting of the prototype with real people in real life situations. In number of event and forums we have present the results of the research (we are still woring on with the main article). It’s been an interesting journey.

Now someone should take the MobilED technology – the mobile audio wiki engine – to a new level. If there is somewhere some software developer with coding skills related to one or more core technologies used in the MobilED, these are Asterisk and MediaWiki, we are happy to give the leadeship of the development for you.

We are happy to keep on hosting the development site (http://dev.mobiled.org/trac/), the SVN and give all the support one may need to get on working with this. Let us know if you are interested in.

Wikimedia – Media for All

On Friday April 11th I am giving a talk in the Helsinki Media Conference with the title: “Wikimedia – Media for All”. I proposed for the organizers a title “Wikimedia – Education for All”, but they thought that “Media for All” is a more catchy title. I think they are right – they are the media professionals anyway.

The conference website tell about my talk:

Researcher and designer of educational technology. Leinonen speaks about the importance of free content for people, education, societies, democracy and economical development.

Leinonen, an Advisory Board member of the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects), believes that free content is critical for billions of people around the world. According to him Wikimedia provides a platform for new kind of public media and educational services that are less bias that many of its alternatives. Wikimedia is an example of media from people to people.

The matter that I am somehow involved in the Wikimedia seems to be the edge. They are interested in the wiki-revolution: how it happens, the quality issue, is it a threat or possibility for the traditional media etc.

This is somehow a bit annoying for me. I hardly can call my self “Wikipedian” – I do not have many edits in there at all. I am fine to call myself “Wikimedian”, because of my latest contributions to the Wikiversity.

Still, I am first of all a researcher focusing on learning with new technology. The fact that Wikimedia Foundation is also interested in the same topic brings us together. I think in learning stands Wikimedia’s greatest promise.

Three new books

We have three new books / publications in the pipeline. These are Wikipedia User’s Guide, two LeMill related articles in a Learning Objects 2.0 book and an article in the UNESCO’sVisual Narratives from Arabia – Online Master Module on Art, Design and Technology book.

Wikipedia User’s Guide

With friends at the University of Tampere we are writing a Wikipedia user manual. The textbook is specifically targeted for teachers, educators and educational administrators. The aim is to answer, to such a questions as:

  • How you can trust the information found from the Wikipedia?
  • How one can use Wikipedia in teaching and learning in different levels of education?
  • How Wikipedia works?
  • Who are behind the Wikipedia?

The book will have many practical tips, but it will also explain the philosophy and future of Wikipedia. The book will be delivered as PDF and printed, free of charge for all the schools and libraries in Finland. The book is in Finnish and written in the Finnish branch of the Wikibooks. You are welcome to contribute. The book/booklet will be published in April 2008.

LeMill related articles in a Learning Objects 2.0 book

We were invited to contribute two articles to the Learning Objects 2.0 book, published by the Finnish Board of Education. The articles will be about the PILOT – progressive inquiry learning object templates and LeMill as a teacher community. The book will be published in April 2008.

Visual Narratives from Arabia

This is a book that documents and summarizes the experience of Online Master Module on Art, Design and Technology. The book is very visual, full of works students did during the master class. I wrote in it an introduction, Creative learning online: Experiences from the art, design and technology in Arab States. The book will be published in the e-tissal event taking place right now in Casablanca. Please, send me a copy!

End of the year, publications and some new projects (we hope)

The end of the year is always busy time to get everything done before the Christmas. This week we submitted two manuscripts to two peer-reviewed journals. I am very proud of us!

I also made a decision that, at least, I will in future publish only in Open Access Journals. I hope other member of the group will follow this.

We are also coming to the end with the Calibrate project where we have been developing LeMill. We should soon publish something interesting about the design and usage of LeMill.

We have been generating and submitting several new project proposals to different funding bodies and now waiting for responses. There are basically four areas, where we would like to do research in the next coming years. These are:

  1. Exchange of free and open education resources and teacher authored content: research, design and development in this field we would like to do with the LeMill and the community in the LeMill.net (today 1228 users).
  2. Mobile tools in learning: we have some new great ideas we would like to elaborate and workout with number of stakeholders. The MobilED is a great project to build on.
  3. Rich media, creativity and empowerment: Children and young people are more and more remixing, shooting and sharingv ideos, making music etc. with digital tools. This new sub-culture could be used to empower people. UNESCO Young Digital Creators and the Digi-Arts projects are great starting point for this.
  4. Knowledge building and conceptual tools for learning: We would like to think, design, develop and test some new ideas related to knowledge building and tools supporting progressive inquiry. Concept maps in the context of knowledge building is one area we are interested in. In the research related to collaborative knowledge building we are using social network analyses and theories, but also going to mix them with theories more common in cultural studies and classical sociology.

At the moment we do not have funding to do all this. We have some prospects (really only prospects!) to get some small grants to do the first and the third one. If you found the topics interesting and have some resources, please contact: teemu.leinonen@taik.fi.

Saying this I feel like a Internet Beggar. Is this where we have become with the funding models for academic research? 🙂