Archive for October, 2009

New Media, Digital Culture and Learning Society

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

There are two new lectures online, I gave recently. They are both in Finnish. The titles of the lectures are 1) New Media and Digital Culture and 2) Learning Society? Knowledge Society and Learning.

The first lecture – New Media and Digital Culture – is part of a common study program for students of the Aalto University’s three schools (Science and Technology, TKK, Economics, HSE, Art and Design, TaiK). The title of the course is “Media in Change” (Median murros) and the aim is to present different point of views to the topic.

The first lecture is online (the right way) as a Flash video one can embed. Here:

The slides of the lecture are here:

The other lecture is part of a course with a similar idea: different point of views to a common theme. In this lecture series the common theme is sustainable development.

From this lecture series there are already some great lectures online. Unfortunately they are put online the wrong way – as Windows Media. Here is a link to the video from my lecture:

Part 1

Part 2

Preparing and giving a lecture of 1,5 hours is not something I do everyday. In my school (art and design) and department (Media Lab) we have a very few this kind of “lecture series”. We do stuff. This is of course possible because we have relatively small groups in the classes, although they have been growing rapidly in last two or three years with more students and less faculty. The class sizes in the two other schools – science and engineering and economics – are much bigger, often hundreds of students in one lecture series.

What I am worried about is what will happen to our quality education (awarded several times) if the 1.5 hours lectures will become the facto standard in the new Aalto University?

In a worst-case scenario we will decrees the average class sizes (in the whole Aalto University) to level that does not have any real effect on the quality of education but will look better in the Annual Report. In our school we will have more students and in the two other schools less students, but nobody will benefit.

If you are interested in to get some idea of the Learning Society –lecture, there is a great blog post about it. It is critical but fair post. Here is the link:

The learning society didn’t really take off (have a look of my comments in the end of the post, too)

SpotifyU – Using Spotify for delivering teaching and learning content

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Spotify is probably the best new internet-thing in years. I have some good reasons to claim that Spotify will be soon added to the list of commercial internet innovations changing the game, such as Yahoo!, Amazon, Netscape, Google or Skype. Just like all these have had an effect on learning and teaching, I think so will Spotify.

If you didn’t know already, Spotify (Check the Wikipedia article) is a software and service to search music, to do playlists and to stream music. There are also social recommendations with “artists you may like” –list and you may have the music available offline. Spotify runs on Win, Mac and Linux. There is also iPhone application.

How Spotify works in practice: You’ll write “Sibelius” to search field and it gives you a list of 235 albums of Sibelius’ music with 3772 tracks. Then you may sort the results e.g. by popularity, track, artist, time and album. Everything is linked together: you’ll click the album name and you’ll get all the tracks of that album.

Probably the greatest feature of Spotify is shareable links. You can make a link to a single track or playlist and share them. Here are examples:

Vadim Repin – Sibelius : Violin Concerto in D minor Op.47 : I Allegro moderato:

Teemu’s playlist:

Spotify is today a music service. I assume they are looking for video content, too.

How Spotify could be used for teaching and learning?

The same way it is used for music, except the content should be small “tracks” for learning: lectures, interviews of scientists and researchers. From these one could then make “playlists” and simply send them for students or use them in a lecture by brining interesting people as voices or vide clips in to the classes.

SpotifyU could be fully free, no advertisement service, run with content donations from the world leading scientists and teachers. To start-up, just have some of the Hans Rosling’s video lectures in small clips in Spotify – something like his famous TED talks – and you will have a movement.

Progressive Inquiry LOs in practice

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

As a researcher it is a great pleasure when someone somewhere is “implementing” your idea the right way. Now it is happening in Estonia.

Five years ago we were presenting the idea of Progressive Inquiry Learning Object templates (PILOT). We claimed:

… learning objects should be designed and presented in a special way in order to promote truly social constructivist learning. The project is based on the concept of progressive inquiry learning object templates (PILOT’s). These learning objects support progressive inquiry knowledge building process in computer and database supported Knowledge Building environments, found for instance in Fle3 and IVA virtual learning environments.

To LeMill we implemented a PILOT editor – a web-based editor to create Flash “movies” designed to be used as an introduction / teaser in a progressive inquiry learning. This was done to proof the concept.

The we wrote and got published an article about it in the International Journal on ELearning.

For some time I already thought that the PILOTs was not good, as the LeMill PILOT editor didn’t get a lot of attention among the LeMill community. I was wrong – maybe – I think, today. Why?

Now, this autumn, teachers in Estonia have start to create and use PILOT a lot. and they look absolutely fantastic.

They are also using the PILOTs exactly the way we designed them to be used (Hans has made a great job in teachers training). The new Estonian PILOTs are really short intros to some topic with pictures, key words, voice narration and research questions in the end. The issue of having the research questions in the end was widely discussed when we were designing the PILOTs because the idea of progressive inquiry is that the pupils are defining the problems, not the teacher. This way the problems in the PILOT’s should be considered as examples of them.

I made a search to LeMill to find all the PILOTs. There are 27 of them. My favorite PILOTs are:

With the whole PILOT idea there are two things I am really proud of. These are the (1) “universal pedagogical design” and the (2) “web-based editor”.

If you think LOs there are very few implementations that are pedagogically sound. The PILOTs are, and even better as the framework offers a “template” one can replicate the pedagogical idea to whatever topic of learning (of course you must understand the idea of progressive inquiry to do this).

The web editor of PILOTs is important because it is (at least in theory) lowering the threshold for teachers to create multimedia learning objects. Our editor is not perfect and with some web 2.0 / ajax magic it could be much better. Still the approach we have is the right.

There is one thing we should implement as soon as possible. We should offer embed -code from all the PILOTs for easy integration to other web content. This is even more urgent now when we have the knowledge building blugin for WordPress. With the embed one could start knowledge building with the PILOT in a blog post and then continue the process with the people in the comments.