Archive for the ‘edublog’ Category


Professor position call: digital ecosystems

April 8, 2010

Institute of Informatics, Tallinn University, ESTONIA*

The Institute of Informatics invites applications for a position of
Professor of Digital Ecosystems.

Deadline of applications: June 10, 2010.
Expected start of the work January 1st, 2011.

The employment period for the position is for 5 years and shall undergo re-elections after that. Tenure at Tallinn University can be achieved after two successful periods. The new position has been established with a significant financial contribution from European Social Fund.

The Institute of Informatics has undertaken a major development by evolving international programmes and research groups in ICT.
The significant part of ongoing research in the institute is focusing on social media ecosystems in the context of e-learning, e-governance, e-participation and network enterprise. Our international R&D team is using mainly participatory design research approach and intervention studies to envisage and develop prototypes of the next generation social media tools, with the special attention to their semantic interoperability, identity management, user experience design, activity pattern mining and semantic annotation for metadata.
The successful applicant for a professorship is expected to make a significant contribution to the development of the Interactive Media and Knowledge Environments master curriculum as well as of the Information Society Technologies PhD curriculum. (S)he is also expected to supervise PhD and master students, to be a mentor for less experienced teachers of the institute, to develop new initiatives and to start a research programme related to the field of professorship.

Applicants should possess:
1) A PhD degree in a field related to the professorship;
2) An outstanding international reputation for excellence in scholarly research;
3) Demonstrable ability to teach effectively at both graduate and undergraduate levels;

4) Excellent oral and written communication skills in English;

5) An understanding of and commitment to the role of the University to the world innovation stage, experience in cooperating with the industry is particularly welcome.


iCamp project results

February 10, 2009

I have been part of iCamp Europaean 6th Framework project pedagogical workpackage team from 2006. In this project we conducted three trials of teaching with web 2.0 tools in cross-institutional settings.

Our final pedagogical deliverable provides the new model how to support self-directing, collaborating and networking competences with new media environments in institutional settings.

Fiedler, S., Kieslinger, B., Pata, K., & Ehms, K. (2009). Camp Educational Intervention Model. iCamp IST 6th Framework Project Deliverable 1.3. URL:


ICT-use surveys in Georgia and Estonia

December 22, 2008

Tiger Leap and Deer Leap are two organizations that coordinate ICT education in partnering countries – Estonia and Georgia. As an additional task i have done this year some surveys and book-writing related to ICT teaching.

Last month we handed over the survey (in estonian) how teachers use ICT as an integrated topic in their lessons. This can be viewed from:

Today i ended the survey of Georgian ICT use (in english).
After adding some introduction and inferences part we can hopefully make it available in net.

In Estonia the most useful method of implementing ICT into subject lessons for teaching ICT competences is individual projects. Quite some schools use it as a form of exam. We envision that the rising trend of evaluating ICT-competences in Estonia will be portfolio-method.

We are currently developing a new distributed learning environment model in which teachers and learner’s individual portfolio and collaborative resource sharing environment will be interoperable and used for various projects like the teacher and students plan.

Most interesting trend in Georgian survey was that Georgian teachers are very positive about cooperation and sharing, they are very active in using collaborative sharing environment for learning resources. It seems there is an explosion of collaborative project-based learning in Georgia.

Quite a lot of sad results appeared too, in spite of wish to teach ICT, teachers definitely lack of competences what and how to do in their particular subjects.

This year we wrote for Estonian teachers a book (in estonian) that is in wiki about various methods, emphasizing especially the Web 2.0 trends.

Book can be viewed


Intervention model components in eLearning

October 30, 2008

Analysis of iCamp project’s three cross-institutional case studies enabled to model the necessary components of an intervention model at institution, facilitator and student levels:

institutional level

Intervention model: institutional level

facilitator level

Intervention model: facilitator level

learner level

Intervention model: learner level

In the application of an intervention model, facilitators and students have a crucial role in changing institutionally accepted practices.


Two Ed-media08 papers

May 1, 2008

This year Ed-media 2008 conference takes place in Vienna. Although i am not able to be at EdMedia this year, since i go to iCalt conference, i really regret since there will be a very interesting community meeting.

The Personal Learning Environment PLE issues are discussed at the symposium: How Social is my Personal Learning Environment (PLE)? with the participation of:
1. Sebastian Fiedler
2. Tarmo Toikkanen and Teemu Leinonen
3. Stéphane Sire et al.
4. Liliane Esnault, Denis Gillet and Annick Rossier Morel
5. Colin Milligan
6. Graham Attwell, Margarita Perez Garcia, and Steven Warburton
7. Barbara Kieslinger and Kai Pata
8. Bernadette Charlier and France Henri

Our paper with Barbara Kieslinger is:
Am I alone? The competitive nature of self-reflective activities in groups and individually

Abstract: Although it is not yet common practice, the use of personal learning environments (PLEs) has started to enter formal higher education by a number of early adopters. Some lecturers facilitate their students in making use of social software tools and networked resources for learning activities. In our contribution observations from field research that has been conducted in the context of the European research project iCamp are discussed. On a conceptual level iCamp intends to develop a learning environment design model that provides more autonomy to the learner, in terms of activities tools and resources. In the field trials students were guided towards self-reflection and self-direction activities by making use of their personal learning environments, while at the same time they were prompted to perform collaborative activities in distributed shared learning environments. Thus students and facilitators were challenged by the competitive nature of self-reflection done in single PLEs against the other-directed reflective activities done in distributed shared learning environments. This article elaborates on why collaborative activities might be hindering the individual reflective activities, and how this can be overcome.

Besides symposium, we have another paper where we elaborate the self-directing aspects in social learning environment using the data from the master course of web 2.0 from Tallinn University.

Tammets, K., Väljataga, T., & Pata, K. (2008). Self-directing at social spaces: conceptual framework for course design. Proceedings of Ed-Media 2008. Vienna: AACE, 2008.

Abstract: This paper examines the use of social spaces in order to foster self-directed learning activities in higher educational institutions. It argues that current instructional design models need to be adjusted with respect to self-direction according to the continuously changing processes in post-industrial society. Based on empirical research conducted with master students it attempts to design a conceptual framework for course design with the emphasis on self-direction in social spaces.


Learning affordances of the blog and aggregator

February 21, 2008

Finally we have managed to analyse some data related to learning affordances of aggregators and weblogs. The study was conducted as part of the master-level Educational Technology course at Tallinn University in spring term 2007.

We analysed students‘ visual schemes of personal learning landscapes and activity patterns, and the written explanations containing information about the learning affordances of social software.

Affordances were collected from the schemes and initially categorised according to the tools they were related to. Each particular affordance could be listed only once in relation to the certain tool.

Next, the second order categorization of affordances according to the activity pattern types was undertaken. The base of the activity types emerged from the analysis of different students‘ activity patterns in combination of tools‘ use. The list of 9 pedagogical activity types was developed.

The following figure demonstrates the different types of learning affordances related blogs and aggregators.

blog/aggregator learning affordances

Weblog affordances and implications to learning design

The main affordances of weblogs that could be categorized as supporting the activities related to assembling the learning environment were: personalization of web-pages, adding and saving data and links, limiting the access rights, and information facilitation. One of the students mentioned the affordance of relating weblogs with other mediating environment, indicating that indeed such affordances are perceived, which are evoked by the interrelations of certain tools, not only by one tool. Some students perceived that they can do a prognosis of certain resources and evaluate the usage of different tools in weblog.

Students did not mention any weblog affordances related community formation activity. This is quite an interesting result, since it is generally believed that weblogs might be a good tool for social networking. It is assumed that the course designs should try to initiate more such activities using new social software functions. Besides community formation, running the community as a creative system is becoming increasingly important.

The most frequent affordances that could be related as supporting the lecturing and presenting activity type were giving tasks and presenting information to the learners. The fact that students could see this pedagogical task-related affordance is promising for the educators who would like to use weblogs primarily as the teaching tools. Some student, however, generalized this affordance and did not mention task-specific actions – affordances what they perceived as creating information and publishing artifacts are the most general function commonly related to the weblogs.

Only one affordance was classified as supporting the information filtering activity type: understanding the information given by the tutor. However, this affordance still indicates towards cognitive information filtering, rather than information retrieval by using various technical features social software offers. The weblogs have several ways of filtering information by tags, keywords, incoming RSS feeds, tag-feeds. From the perspective of course design, it can be concluded that the facilitators need to plan more activities where students could actively try out how to use such social information retrieval methods.

A number of activities could be classified as supporting the self-tutoring activity type. Affordances such as learning, self-study, self-reflection, self-analyzis, and self-evaluation were perceived as part of weblog functionalities. This indicates that weblogs might be used actively in education for self-directed learning. Other affordances students mentioned were creating time-tables and action plans and doing homework.

Student found several affordances that could be classified as supporting the activities related to individual creative assignments. These, that could be related with one student’s learning activities were: getting tasks, browsing thematic information and analyzing information feeds, reading, reflecting on artifacts in the weblog, revising information, presenting, and improving. However, there was high number of affordances, which presumed the interaction with other student’s work, such as commenting the posts, sharing files and giving feedback to peer’s work. This indicates that the the paradigm change is about to happen in what is considered an individual work – commenting and sharing each others’ assignments during the activity shifts the emphasis from the outcome-related assignments, where students must produce a final artifact only, towards increased attention to the learning process in which students develop and dynamically change their knowledge.

A group of affordances were classified as supporting the collaborative creative assignments. Monitoring the other learners and the community reflection, communication with the co-learners and the tutor, sharing and interchange of information with learners, collecting the results from the group activity and coordinating the information among the group of learners were most frequently mentioned affordances. However, it was evident that students did not yet perceive the possibilities social software allowed to do collaborative creative assignments, such as mashing feeds, retrieving information using tags or social browsing etc. Co-construction of knowledge was not perceived as part of the social software affordances.

A small group of affordances were classified as supporting the assessment and evaluation type of activities. These were evaluation of learners knew knowledge, getting feedback and learning from the result of group activities. Notable is that the last two are related to what students can gain from assessment activities. The students were not able of bringing out many different affordances social software might offer for evaluation. This indicates that in the new social-software based course designs the facilitators should develop a bigger variety of assessment methods that originate from the functions social software offers. It is important that assessment and evaluation procedures were used for increasing students’ motivation to learn, and were not merely seen as grading instruments.

A group of affordances were classified as enhancing regulation, monitoring and support activities. Affordances related to the facilitator were monitoring learner’s action and reflection, supervising learners, giving feedback and supporting, recognizing students and giving enthusiasm. Affordance related to the student’s activity was asking the teacher.

Aggregator’s learning affordances

The majority of learning affordances students related with aggregator belonged to three types of activities: assembling the learning environment, filtering information, and regulation, monitoring and support. Activity of assembling the learning environment with the aggregator is favored by the following affordances: creating an aggregator, aggregating personal interest feeds, collaboratively monitoring co-learners blogs, getting feedback and sharing the blog content. Since the aggregator was one of the central tools in the course environment, where students could monitor each other’s weblog feeds and initiate writing feedback, this was influencing strongly students’ perception of aggregators. However, students have not payed much attention to the mashed bookmark feed and bookmark tagcloud which were also accessible from aggregation page. Students noted once the affordance of discussion as supporting community-formation activities with the aggregator. The widgets supporting asynchronous and synchronous discussions were part of the group aggregator. The only affordance supporting lecturing and presenting activity was publishing feeds.

The affordances enhancing information filtering type of activities were: aggregating social tags feeds/artifacts’ information, collecting friends’/community feeds, creating personal filtering for the feeds, monitoring community reflection. Notable is that while some learners perceived information as feeds, the others named it artifacts or information. It may be assumed that this represents two types of thinking: technological (feeds, tags) and information-related (artifacts, blog posts, info). This aspect may be important if aggregators are taught to be used as personal or group learning tools. The affordances related to the aggregator express very clearly students new type of technological understanding of social software – the words feed, social tag, aggregation, and filtering appeared in most of the affordances of this group. Another interesting issue is other-directedness if thinking of the aggregators. Aggregators have commonly introduced as personal tools, while in this master course it was used as a group tool. Thus students perceived mainly the affordances related to monitoring and filtering information from other students and from the community and did not describe the widgets that might be used for mashing personal information.

Affordances belonging to the self-tutoring activity type were missing.

Individual creative assignments were supported by the few affordances like collecting information, reading feeds and selecting information.

Collaborative creative assignments were supported mainly by the affordances of collaborative monitoring the feeds or co-learners. Again the two distinctive perceptions – technological (feed) and learner-related ( co-learner, student, user) can be found when expressing the affordances.

Assessment-related affordances were evaluating feeds and getting feedback. Similarly to weblog affordances for learning, learners see two aspects of evaluation – that of the facilitator who does the evaluation and the other where student benefits from the evaluation. From the perspective of using aggregators in teaching, it is clear that there needs to be developed a new method how to assess students’ personal or group aggregators as their information gateways and activity areas.

Affordances of aggregators related to regulation, monitoring and support type of activities were: getting the instructions, monitoring co-learners or students’ feeds/learners/artifacts, aggregating feeds, sharing personal feeds, and giving feedback to the feed. Interesting was that students named affordances similarly in relation to teacher’s as well as students’ regulation, monitoring and support activities. This indicates that in new type of courses the learning situation is diminishing the difference between the facilitator’s and learners’ roles.


learning to be a scientist in social web

December 13, 2007

Gradually, but it is more and more evident to me as a researcher, that new web 2.0 possibilities turn my making science different. Yet, compared with the traditional science-making, new researchers must overcome some internal dilemmas. Some, that my colleagues are most concerned of are:


Here are just some of the new habits and principles i have experienced within a year as a scientist.

1) we publicly reflect in weblogs, how the ideas are born
The process of making knowledge becomes more important than the final product, even to the extent that there is no final product in the end, but we are always on the road. It is more and more evident, that the public ideas are found much more frequently than those in journals, and in the world scale they have more impact and chance to be considered.

We are not infallible as scientists, thus, we must stop pretending that all we are never wrong. We can, and always should turn back in the middle of the path, and say we were mistaken and start new path.

There are journals who try to use after-reflection for final papers, for keeping their community more lively. It is supposed to give opportunities to create knowledge in another format than evaluating the paper in new journal papers with critical or supportive references. However, mixing the two formats – ‘end product centred’ and ‘process centred’ seems not very fertile in those journal weblogs.

2) we publicly write knowledge as joint efforts in wikis etc. places
The community has the means and right to ground and contribute to the ideas publicly. The ownership of the ideas is collaborative. We as scientists need to dissolve in the masses for the sake of the product we develop.

3) synchronous chatrooms become the knowledge-construction playground
When all the knowledge is accepted as dynamic, and the process of creating knowledge is most important, scientists need places for ‘ brain poking and tickling’ as playgrounds, where knowledge was always flowing between individuals and getting variated. We don’t want to be deadly serious all the time.

No wonder many conferences are accompanied by social practices such as lively micro-blogging, or using shared tags to blog and deposit side-products (images, comments, summaries, reflections).

3) we pick up triggers from the ‘untrusted’ social web (weblogs, microblogging and social bookmarking sites) to create new knowledge
The validation of the ideas becomes public and democratic, demolishing the myth that few selected reviewers can give more objective review. It is evident that journal reviews are built upon the concept of final, objective knowledge. We, as scientists, should stop believing that there is final, objective truth in scientific ideas and accept that the process of constantly changing and playing with the knowledge is, what we are ought to do.

4) new, microblogging paper formats are here
If the process of dynamically changing knowledge is most important for keeping ideas updated, we go for ‘triggers’, and short and precise ideas become more important than long and elaborated final products. In new microblogging formats, each idea in my flow can branch. The rhizomic concept versus tree concept (eg. A
Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) is supported by new formats better than ever.

5) awareness of knowledge ‘out there’ must be maintained consciously
Already now, there are too many journals to follow their final ‘end product papers’, so we need to start using social web practices – social bookmarking, aggregating rss feeds from journal paper keywords to filter and become aware what is out there and be effective.