Latest projects, prototypes and experiments 

When people ask what are we working onright now at the Learning Environments research group, it is often difficult to summarize all the different prototypes, experiments, and projects. The university keeps track of all our publications, but there is so much more with impact.

Therefore, it is good to write down these once in a while.

This spring we started a new major European research project. SySTEM2020 project tackles scientific literacy and STEM education – i.e. education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – of young people aged 9 to 20 years old. The aim is to provide high-quality science education for all by exploring and designing science education outside the classroom. Key questions and themes are how to trigger learners’ interest, motivation, and autonomy, but also how to design services, practices and tools that will advantage inclusion and equity.

SySTEM2020 kickoff meeting took place last May in the spaces of Science Gallery Dublin, the institution coordinating the project. The next project meeting will be hosted on our campus in March 2019 and will focus on co-designing science education outside the classroom. The workshop participants will come with project partners and science education stakeholders. If you are interested in to join the workshop, drop Eva Durall ( an email. SySTEM2020 project is supported by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 Programme.

HUMEX is a national, interdisciplinary research project aiming to improve digital and face-to-face interaction. At the LeGroup we have studied how people feel about personal data tracking in order to design prototypes that are capturing people’s emotions and behaviors for the purpose of enhancing the quality of interaction that is digitally mediated. With an aim to design prototypes we have conducted a contextual inquiry with interviews, focus groups, field observations with various stakeholders. This way we have mapped challenges and opportunities related to possibilities to augment communication with physiological data. Three first functional prototypes are already under construction.

(1) “The Nodders” is a headband device that captures the movement of the head. The audio conference is enhanced by communicating nodding with visuals to fortifies presence and sense of shared understanding. Agreement or disagreement is represented with animated emoticons. The team designing and developing the prototype is Jana Pejoska, Eva Durall, Merja Bauters and Joaquin Aldunate Infante (

(2) “FIRA” is a situational translator designed for construction work. The aim is to improve fluency in the communication between foremen, subcontractors and construction workers by overcoming the language barriers. The prototype is designed and developed by Jana Pejoska & Merja Bauters (

(3) IF – messenger with a heartbeat is a design concept for messenger tool that is used between customer and customer service. To enhance the sense of human presence in remote communication the messenger provides heartbeat of the customer service personnel, captured with a wearable device equipped with sensors to the customer’s chat window. The prototype is designed and developed by Jana Pejoska ( & Valtteri Wikström (

HUMEX is an interdisciplinary research project of the University of Helsinki, Oulu University and Aalto University. Our company partners are Reaktor, Avaus, Wunder, If, Fira, Fondia, Mehiläinen, Affecto, Wörks, and Elisa. The project is funded by Business Finland.

In the year-long national project Pänttäyksestä printtaukseen – ’from cramming to printing’ –  we have studied the adoption of 3D modelling and printing in real school settings. In the last couple of years, elementary schools in Finland have embraced 3D printing as a learning tool for their multidisciplinary learning modules. Earlier studies suggest these maker-oriented, hands-on activities provide new learning possibilities for children. Based on our study utilizing ethnographic methods, 3D teaching and learning focus on technical skills instead of advancing creativity and design thinking. However, 3D projects seem to empower children through newly learned skills and the freedom to fabricate almost anything. The project is coming to its end, and the results will be presented in research articles and at a conference in the near future. The research is conducted by Iida Hietala & Jaana Brinck ( Pänttäyksestä printtaukseen is funded by Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI).

The EU project Learning Layers has released a website with the results from the project, which ran from 2012-2016. From the site’s tools-section you will find our research prototypes: AchSo! – a mobile application for recording, commenting and sharing commented videos at work in situ and Social Augmented Reality, SoAR –  a mobile app for collaboration and communication in physical work environments. The aim of the new website is to make the results of the project accessible and usable for many. If people want to dive deeper into the topic they may read the research articles. Learning Layers was financed within the 7th Framework Programme.

In thelast couple of months, we have presented our research in two conferences. In June in the European Distance and E-Learning Network EDEN annual conference at the University of Genova Teemu gave a  keynote. You may want to check the slides or the video recording of the talk titled:  From Non- and Informal Learning to Documented Co-Learning.

In the end of the EDEN talk, a prototype called Dialogos was briefly presented. In the Connected Learning conference in August in MIT Media Lab, the Dialogos prototype was demonstrated for and discussed with the conference delegates. You may check the video.

Latest prototypes, publications and conferences

In the LeGroup we work with the principle theory based, design oriented. This means that relying on theoretical understanding of and empirical research on what makes sense in teaching and learning, we aim to create new ways of doing things with new tools designed in the group.

We have several new prototypes. Many of them have been already presented in some conference or in a research article. Some of them are relatively mature prototypes when some of them are still proof-of-concepts. We also have some new publications and conference presentations we have been working on lately. You will find a list of them from the end of this post. Continue reading

Recent publications, conferences and workshops

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).

Our fellow Juha, a doctoral candidate got a paper accepted to the Nordes 2013: Nordic Design Research Conference. The article is available in the online Conference Proceedings:

(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.

(8, 9) In the ECSW / EC-TEL 2003 workshops we will present some results from the LEAD-project (Learning Design – Designing for Learning) and from the iTEC –project (Designing the Future Classroom).

(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.

TeamUp wins the eEemeli / Apps4Learning competition

Last week at the ITK 2012 (Interaktiivinen Tekniikka Koulutuksessa) conference TeamUp won the eEemeli competition’s Apps4Learning category.

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.

Mobile Community Wiki presented at GTF’08

We’re right now at GTF’08, presenting a new application of our MobilED platform, the Mobile Community Wiki.

MobilED is an open source platform for connecting phone call and SMS functionality to a data source, such as a wiki. We’ve previously piloted another application, the Audio Encyclopedia, in South Africa. The community wiki is more geared for easy asynchronous communication within a community or distributed team, and thus more applicable in informal and nonformal learning scenarios.

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.

LeMill ITK-päivillä

Tarkoituksemme on tuoda LeMill opettajien tietoisuuteen Suomen suurimmassa opetusteknologiatapahtumassa:

ITK’08 – Opi valitsemaan, olet aikaasi edellä

Toivottavasti pääset paikalle, tilaisuus on aina mielenkiintoinen ja meiltä on luvassa kolme ohjelmanumeroa. Tärkeimpänä workshop, tämä kutsu koskee sinua:

LeMill logo, green

ITK-08 workshop “LeMill opettajan työkaluna”

Järjestämme ITK-päivillä kaikille perus-, keski- ja korkea-asteen opettajille sopivan työpajan, jossa opitaan löytämään, käyttämään ja luomaan avoimia oppisisältöjä LeMill-ympäristössä. LeMill on vapaiden oppimateriaalien etsimiseen, jakamiseen ja luomiseen keskittyvä verkkoyhteisö opettajille. LeMill on MediaLabin Oppimisympäristöjen tutkimusryhmän ja eurooppalaisten yhteistyökumppaneiden kehittämä ja Euroopan opetusministeriöiden rahoittama ja tukema, joten sen käyttö on kaikille ilmaista ja tulee pysymään ilmaisena. (Käy ihmeessä tutustumassa ja ota käyttöön saman tien!

Työpajassa perehdyt siihen mitä LeMillistä löytyy ja saat kokemukseen pohjautuvaa tietoa Internetistä löytyvistä vapaista opetusresursseista ja siitä, miten niitä kannattaa hyödyntää opetuksessa. Työpajan osallistujasta tulee omassa koulussaan se henkilö, joka tietää mistä taikoa tehtäviä, materiaalia ja ideoita tarvittaessa ja jonka luomat oppimateriaalit tunnetaan myös oman koulun ulkopuolella. Yritämme myös saada suomalaisen LeMill-yhteisön käyntiin ja kasvamaan –muu Eurooppa on jo edellämme.

Workshop pidetään Hämeenlinnassa, ITK-päivien workshop-päivänä 16.4. klo 14-17 Hotelli Aulangossa. Osallistuminen maksaa 50 € /osallistuja. Vetäjinä toimivat Tarmo Toikkanen (TAIK), Hans Põldoja (Tallinnan yliopisto) ja Jukka Purma (TAIK).

Ilmoittaudu workshopiin ITK-päivien ilmoittautumissivustolta, valitse workshop-lomakkeesta “WS:LeMill opettajan työkaluna”.

Ota workshopiin kannettava tietokone, jossa on langaton verkkoyhteys. Jos sinulla on verkkomateriaalia, jonka haluaisit julkaista avoimesti ja saada muilta opettajilta apua sen jatkokehittelyssä, ota kyseinen materiaali mukaan tietokoneellasi.

Aikataulu (joustaa osallistujien intressien mukaan):

14.00 Yleiskatsaus LeMillistä

14.20 Tunnusten luonti osallistujille ja ITK08-workshop-ryhmän perustaminen.

14.40 Omien kokoelmien laatiminen

15.00 Tauko15.10 Materiaalin tuottaminen

15.50 Katsaus sosiaaliseen mediaan ja avoimiin sisältöpalveluihin

16.10 Tauko

16.20 Oppimis- ja opetustarinoiden laatiminen

16.40 Seuraavat askeleet: Neuvoja LeMillin ja avoimen sisällön hyödyntämiseen

17.00 Workshopin päätös

Workshop-kutsu julisteena (pdf)

Jos aiot osallistua workshopiin, tai on ihan mitä tahansa LeMilliin tai ITK-päiviin liittyvää kysyttävää, jätä kommentti tämän postin perään!

Lisäksi Teemu, Tarmo ja Hans esiintyvät englanninkielisellä foorumilla torstaina 17.4, klo 14.30 otsikolla:

LeMill – Facebook for learning resources

Esityksessä he kertovat, miten sosiaalisen median ilmiöt voidaan valjastaa äärimmäisen hyödylliseen käyttöön, oppimateriaalien kehittämiseen.

Avoimet sisällöt -tori

Tarjoaa mahdollisuuden käydä konferenssin aikana
juttelemassa kehittäjien kanssa ja kokeilemassa LeMilliä.

Nähdään siellä,
Teemu Leinonen
Hans Põldoja
Jukka Purma
Katrina Silfvast
Tarmo Toikkanen

(Teemu toimii panelistina myös torstain Wikipedia-teemaseminaarissa, 15.15 [B] ja perjantain Sosiaalinen media ja oppiminen-teemaseminaarissa, 10.30 [A])

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!