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.

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! http://lemill.net)

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])

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? 🙂

LeMill 2.0

Our final deliverable for CALIBRATE project is ready. The original promise was to develop an ‘open source learning toolbox for collaborative learning’ and this should be it.

It looks like our latest version announcement was from version 1.9, so 2.0 doesn’t seem so big a step, but really, we have gone a long way from that: 1.13 was our latest previous release. Our community has grown close to 900 people, 800 learning resources, 2300 media pieces plus tools, methods, groups and references. This is good growth, yet not explosion of popularity. One notable feature of LeMill has always been our multilingualism (12 working translations for LeMill, 3 partial) and this is really affecting our feeling of community: there are few very active countries (Estonia, Georgia) and for me having those visible, but difficult to understand, gives me a good general feel of what we want for our language group to do together. Instead of one story about evolution of LeMill community, there probably will be as many stories as there are teachers native languages.

For next few weeks we’ll have a lighter touch on development, and concentrate more on just observing how people use LeMill. Welcome.