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 (, 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 (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:

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

Publications coming

We today got together to organize work around preparation and writing of research papers. Our new research assistant Katrina is taking the greatest responsibility to keep us analyzing and reporting the research results from the last three or so years of work in the research group. We are working on the following papers (working titles):

Software as hypothesis – developing human-centered design research method through three design cases

Audio wiki for mobile communities – information systems for the rest of us

Design of LeMill – web community for finding, authoring and sharing learning resources

The first article is a formulation and conclusion of the design research method and practice we have been developing in the research group.

The second article is presenting new design direction for the MobilED project proposing that the audio wiki is probably more useful as an informal community information system rather than as an application for formal teaching and learning (for what it was originally designed for).

The third article is the first proper description of LeMill with explanation of principles behind it, design rationale and the process of designing it.

We are aiming to get these out in six coming months. We are targeting to some journals and some conferences. Can’t wait to get these out!

What a spring coming up: Fle5, LeMill, MobilED, Papanek’s machine (maybe?)

I just realized today that we have a good change to release three new major “products” still before the summer. I also have a student who is interested in to develop the Papanek idea machine. This would make it four.

So, what are these “products” and how they should be considered in the “academic context”?

Our products are actually our hypothesis. They represent and carry with them definitions of challenges related to some human activity system. They are also representing out understanding on how the challenges could be solved. As hypothesis they are also prototypes: they are something we can test if they really solve any of the challenges they are designed to solve. The product is not only a product, but also our definition of “better way of doing things”.

In the academic circles the “product” sounds very commercial. However, our products are avant-garde products. They are experimental and novel. This makes them naturally to be “products” coming from an University, rather than from any other place.

Are we going to have a major release party some day later in spring?

If, we’ll get all four products released before then end of May, I’ll promise to arrange a huge party. Hans will be the dj.