Archive for the ‘Aalto University’ Category

Backchannels and Live participation tools (Call for workshop participation)

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Matti Nelimarkka writes about backchannels and live participation tools:

“Backhannels and live participation tools are used e.g. in education, conferences and TV shows to increase the interactivity and participation of learners, participants and viewers. Research-wise the domain is scattered across different fields, such as HCI, CSCW and education. This workshop aims to draw together researchers, developers and practitioners in this area to consider (1) how to conduct high quality research and (2) how to make research with impact on the larger society.

To discuss and understand the phenomena we decided to organize a workshop at the European conference on Computer-suppoted cooperative work (ECSCW 2013) & European conference on Technology enhanced learning (EC-TEL 2013).

Submission deadline June 28, 2013
Workshop date September 21, 2013

Paphos, Cyprus

Call for participation

We invite position papers (max 5 pages, ESCSW format) in one (or more) of following categories:

  • Examples and demos of prototypes, experiments and system descriptions of and for backchanneling and other forms of audience participation
  • Research methods for analysis
  • Case studies and empirical findings
  • Exploration of new ideas

Workshop papers will be shared before the workshop among the participants, in order to map the content of these papers together before the workshop. During the workshop, we focus on two questions:

  1. development of a joint design space with a set of rationales for why certain kind of features have been enabled in backchannels and participation tools and others not, and
  2. methods for research (e.g. data collection, analysis, and theoretical underpinnings).

MOOCs or orchestrated jazzy learning with the Web?

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

In many things the middle is the best. MOOCs versus no MOOCs? The Web is the best.

800px Toronto All Star Big Band   Beaches Jazz Festival 2012 MOOCs or orchestrated jazzy learning with the Web?
Photo by synestheticstrings / Wikimedia Commons.

The massive open online courses are seen by some as a disruptive innovation in education. For instance, Michael Barber and his fellow lobbyists of the Pearson recently published a booklet with a provocative title: An Avalanche is Coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead. In it the authors give advice for the university leaders:

“University leaders need to take control of their own destiny and seize the opportunities open to them through technology – Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for example – to provide broader, deeper and more exciting education.”

The advice is interesting. Broader, deeper and more exciting education with technology? Yes. With MOOCs? Not sure.

Most people agree that there is a lot of room to develop MOOC pedagogy. Distance courses have been organized for close to 300 years. Online learning over Internet (often called eLearning) is close to 20 years old. Neither, the distance courses over mail, radio, TV or the eLearning with Internet, have been great success stories. The main criticism has been that there is a lack of (human) interaction. Those MOOCs that are now emphasizing communities, peer evolution and group work tasks are trying to do get this right.

With the eLearning and most of the MOOCs there seems to be one major problem: poor understanding of the nature of the Web and how to use it most efficiently in teaching and learning.

The people promoting connectivist MOOC (also called cMOOCs) claim that the cMOOCs are a platform that “emphasizes creation, creativity, autonomy, and social networked learning“. Maybe.

These MOOC enthusiasts seems to believe that the opportunity itself will make people autonomous, creative and social and that every person have this character. I agree — partly. All people are creative, autonomy, and social. The challenge is that most of us have a life history that has shape us not to be creative, autonomous or even social.

The MOOC developers should pay a special attention to find ways to support human beings that do not have pre-existing, internal motivation to be creative, autonomous and/or social. In this task the traditional schools, colleagues and universities are, at least in average, doing much better job than the MOOCs. Not all of them, but many. The key in the case of the schools, colleagues and universities is to be a community: a social network where people respects and cares about each other and support each other in their attempt to be autonomous learners.

Many schools, colleagues and universities are also today magnificently using the Web to achieve these objectives. For instance, my university provides for the academic staff a service to find interesting contacts to study and works with, a blog service, a wiki platforms and mailing lists. Maybe a bit surprisingly we also have pretty classical order and discipline management that do not want to provide these services for students.

With the tools we can orchestrate learning on the Web. We can orchestrate learning but still keep it free for improvisation. That is why I call it orchestrated jazzy learning.

We can have a blog for the study project, ask students to share their essays and other creations on a wiki, ask students to share their projects online have discussion on a forum on urgent matters in the community, use Twitter and Facebook to share our work and to facilitate discussion with a wider audience. Depending on the direction people takes in the course, as some kind of jazz collective, and depending on the respond we get from our “audience” we improvise.

Why it is so difficult to have MOOCs that would work this way?

The difference is in the number of strong and weak links. In MOOCs there are thousands of weak links — links between the people participating in the course. In an orchestrated jazzy learning with the Web in a campus university there are many strong links (your class, your teachers, your department, your lab) and many weak links (practically everyone in the world who is interested in).

There are, however, examples of building strong links online, too. Howard Rheingold’s Rheingold U is a good example of an online community with strong links too. The Rheingold U alumni have, for instance, co-authored the Peeragogy Handbook.

The General Assembly is another interesting startup with online classes and workshops in various locations. The service is matching great teachers and instructors with specific skills and people interested in to learn them. The classes are small and the courses are intensive (In 2001 I co-found a company called that was in practice doing exactly the same).

Adianta School for Leadership and Innovation is also doing things differently. They have a curriculum with three large themes: innovate, build and lead. In their program building balanced network of strong and weak links is crucial. For instance in one of the courses students’ assignment is to get 100 followers on Twitter and get retweeted 10 times in a week.

MOOCs are not the disruptive innovation in education. The Web is the disruptive innovation in education. Some players in the educational field will be better in utilizing the Web than others. Some will have MOOCs, when others will build jazz collectives using the Web.

It is not only a matter of using the tools, the Web. It is also a new way of thinking about studying and work. The Web is challenging us to see that most innovative and productive organizations and people are no more managed by “order and discipline”. The organizations are becoming networks of autonomous, creative and social subjects. We should take advantage of it. The right place to exercise this is a school. The educational organizations must be the first to change. Or actually, you must be the first to change.

Prototypes: ReFlex, Square One, Cardboard Hospital

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

One of the reasons why I enjoy working in the learning environments research group — and in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture — is the possibility to design and build prototypes.

In our academic practice we aim, no only to study and do research on learning environments and learning tools but also to build new artifacts (prototypes, models etc,). The artifacts that are designed during the design research are a crucial part of the research results. The way the artifacts are forms part of the research argumentation.

I have above updated slide set presenting our research group. From it you’ll get an overview of the research projects we are currently involved in and some examples of the prototypes. Things are done by people — they are presented, too.

With this post I am happy to present three relatively new prototypes made in the research group. These are ReFlex, Square One and Cardboard Hospital.

reflex blog Prototypes: ReFlex, Square One, Cardboard Hospital

ReFlex is a tool for learners to record 60-second audio-visual clips of their personal learning experiences, to store them on a timeline and to share them with teachers, peers and parents. All recordings by one learner are stored on a personal timeline and are accessible for later review. In addition to the present, learners may also create “time capsule” recordings for the future. Time capsules can only be opened when their set date is reached, and can be used as statements of learning objectives. From the entire pool of recordings, learners can mark important clips by highlighting them. The best way to get an idea of it is to try it. ReFlex is a web app and available in:

square1 image blog3 Prototypes: ReFlex, Square One, Cardboard Hospital

Square One is a single task dedicated learning devices designed for group work in schools. The idea is that school children could build their own device in a Fab Lab kind of facilities. In the Square One there are three kind of devices: (1) one dedicated for writing, (2) one for drawing and (3) one central piece for searching and for assembling presentations out of the content created by the learners. The central piece is a two-sided tablet, one side is dedicated for searching and the other side for assembling. The central piece comes with cameras, microphones and speakers. The writing and drawing tools are dedicated only for these tasks. You write or draw and then you send your creation to the central piece. We are currently doing the software and hardware design and looking for the components. There is a more complete description of the Square One (or Square 1) in the LEAD-project blog.

Cardboard Hospital is model for prototyping workshop, service design and co-design. The model was tested this spring in our Media Center Lume. In the workshops, patients, hospital staff and architects were creating ideas for the future hospital environment through physical 1:1 prototyping. The Cardboard hospital worked as a media rich learning environment for stakeholders (architects, patients, medical doctor and nurses) to discuss, negotiate, to transfer and to design new spatial, organization and process solutions. This is is presented in the video above.

This post was originally published in the blog of the Learning Environments research group.

Learning Environments research group is hiring

Monday, August 6th, 2012

The Learning Environments research group (LeGroup) at the Media Lab Helsinki of the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture is looking for doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers interested in to work in several new research projects starting in Autumn 2012.

For the doctoral students position(s) there is still a week to prepare your application materials. The applications should arrive no later than on August 14th 2012. You will find the official call text and instructions from the Aalto University web site. Please read it carefully and prepare your application.

If you are interested in to the postdoctoral researcher post(s) , please send an email to Teemu Leinonen with a (1) cover letter, (2) CV, (3) design portfolio and (4) a statement of your research interests.

Further information
Associate Professor Teemu Leinonen
tel. +358 50 351 6796

Towards Peer-production in Public Services: cases from Finland

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Picture 50 300x212 Towards Peer production in Public Services: cases from Finland

I wrote an article to a book about peer-production in public services.

The title of my article is Towards p2p learning: what media and whose peer?. In the introduction the editor describe the article as follows:

Meanwhile, Teemu Leinonen, in his article, inquires on the qualities of different media when it comes to providing peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and how we might conceptualize who are our peers when doing so. To ilustrate his point, three different examples are used, ranging from the assemblies devised by students occupying a high school in Santiago de Chile, the online computers used to create self organized class rooms in India, and finally the different social media services used to create complex massive open online courses. The three cases highlight important possibilitites of peer-to-peer learning and related media, to develop opportunities which challenge current assumptions of how teaching and learning should happen. At the same time, the examples also illuminate an important concern: If our peers are understood to be only those with whom we share an interest, the possibilities of transcendence seems ultimately very limited.

The book, edited by researchers from Aalto University, is a collection of articles that deal broadly with the relationships between peer-to-peer dynamics, and public services. Most of the cases presented are illustrative of recent developments and discussions in Finnish society, however, also included are broader international perspectives, giving historical reflection and future-oriented speculation on how peer production might affect the structures of our society. Of particular interest is the role of Internet and new media in making these developments visible and scalable.

For more information and to download the PDF:

Join the Facebook online launch event:

This publication has been made with the support of Aalto Service Factory