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.

Fle4 – Knowledge Building for the rest of us

We finally decided to bite the bullet and create a plugin for WordPress to allow knowledge building discussions, such as progressive inquiry. While Fle3 is a very good tool for doing KB, it’s quite challenging to install. The impulse came from Hans, when he (jokingly) said that he needed knowledge building on WordPress by “next Tuesday”.

Well it turned out that implementing KB discussion onto WordPress blogs wasn’t such a difficult task after all. I’ve now written a functioning plugin that does this, and it even uses the knowledge typesets from Fle3. Meet: Fle4 – Knowledge Building for the rest of us. It’s still very much in beta. There’s a live demo so you can test out Progressive Inquiry and Six Hat Thinking, but easy plugin installation is still a few days in the future (waiting for acceptance into the WordPress Plugin Directory).

So… Take a look and send us comments.

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.

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.

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.