Digital Strategies and Change Agents

I am coordinating the project “Digital Future” at Beuth University in Berlin founded by the Stifterverband in which we develop strategies for the use of digital media in every department in 2016 and then a university-wide strategy in 2017 based on the department-strategies. One of the key approaches in this project is Open Innovation, in which we focus on bringing in different stakeholders and different perspectives together. Each department has already appointed a digitalisation representative who together with a strategy-team with representatives of different stakeholder-groups from a given department (including professors, students, alumni, researchers, program directors, lab directors etc.) drive the development of the digital strategy in the respective department. Not long ago I presented our strategy development process at the Workshop on e-Learning with the focus on digital representatives as change agents. You can see my slides below.

Are you involved in a similar process or can point me to an higher education organisation developing digital strategies? If yes, I’d be glad to receive your comment and share ideas and lessons learned!

Wearable Technology Enhanced Learning

Just recently we (Ilona Buchem, Ralf Klamma, Fridolin Wild) have set up a Special Interest Group dedicated to Wearable Technology Enhanced Learning, short: SIG WELL as part of the European Association of Technology Enhanced Learning.

Here is our introduction on Wearable Technology Enhanced Learning:

Wearable technologies – such as smart watches, smart glasses, smart objects, smart earbuds, or smart garments – are breaking the established ground and offer new opportunities. These devices are body-worn, equipped with sensors and conveniently integrate into leisure and work-related activities including physical movements of their users. According to the recent forecasts (e.g. Cisco, Gardner, Deloitte) for 2018, portable technologies, including mobile and wearable devices, will form the basis of personal communications with the global wearable device data traffic increasing by over 60%.

Wearable user interfaces are just starting to transform user experience, improving integration of technologies into everyday life, education, and work. Since wearable technologies are likely to shape the future relationship between humans and computers, it is essential to look beyond the still mostly desktop-driven, narrow perspective of how technologies may enhance learning. We think that the Wearable-technology Enhanced Learning (WELL) is beginning to emerge as one of the earmarks of the transition from the desktop age through the mobile age to the age of wearable, ubiquitous computing.

We are interested in research and development related to wearable technology enhanced learning and are just beginning to collect examples of how wearable technologies can be and are used to support learning. One of my favourite examples is STEMbite in which Google Glass is used to create engaging videos on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths).

If you have some good examples, just drop me a comment. Also I will soon blog about my recent research project in this area.

Open Access Book (L3T)

L3T is an open access book on learning and teaching with new technologies. The L3T project is run by Sandra Schoen & Martin Ebner and the L3T book is an open access book written in German and published under the Creative-Commons-Licence CC-BY SA. It is a great idea and beacon project in many respects. Here are some reasons why:

  • Book chapters are written individually or collaboratively by various authors, including academics and practitioners, bringing in different insights and perspectives.
  • The book is created on a honorary basis of all people involved. A passionate community has involved around the project in the last 2 years.
  • Contributors to the book can work remotely (e.g. some groups use GoogleDocs, some EtherPad based applications to work on texts).
  • Contributors can also collaborate on the spot, e.g. this year editing camps – L3T-Camps –  took place in different cities in Germany and Austria.
  • The single L3T chapters can be downloaded for free and used as Open Educational Resources (OER) for example in higher and secondary education, and beyond.
  • The L3T can be used on mobile devices, e.g. smartphones, tablets, in an interactive way, e.g. making notes, highlighting and bookmarking (see: L3T mobile apps).
  • The project follows a hybrid model of financing, i.e. all digital chapters can be downloaded for free, while the print version can be purchased as a regular book with altogether 592 pages (see: epubli online shop).
  • Everyone can support the L3T for example by donating or sponsoring a book chapter (see: L3T support).
  • And last but not least: The L3T book homepage has an integrated analytics tool, where you can see the number of downloads per chapter (see: L3T analytics).

I have had a privilege of contributing to this exciting project in its first edition in 2011 and the second edition in 2013. The second edition of L3T was written by 250 authors and completed just a few weeks ago, resulting in a textbook  with 59 chapters on a wide range of topics related to technology-enhanced learning (TEL) (see all chapters here).

The 2013 edition includes among others the updated collaborative chapter on blogging and microblogging in education and my new chapter on digital diversity and divide, which I am looking forward to extending in the future editions of the L3T book. Therefore, it would be great to receive your opinions and recommendations for extending the current version of these chapters. Please just drop me a line – thanks.

L3T Diversität und Spaltung

Diversity and Quality

One of the central questions in our project Wikipedia-Diversity is the question about the relationship between diversity and quality. As far as diversity is concerned we mean the socio-demographic diversity of Wikipedia editors. In the first year of the project in 2013 we are focusing on gender-diversity and will be looking at other types of socio-demographic diversity, e.g. age and cultural background as a follow-up. As far as quality is concerned we mean the quality of the process of knowledge production and the quality of the product of knowledge production in the Wikipedia.

We have recently conducted a number of interviews with Wikipedia editors asking them a number of questions, including:
“Do you think that the low number of female editors in Wikipedia (approx. 10%) has an effect on the quality of Wikipedia? What is the evidence?”

Some of the key effects of socio-demographic named by the interviewees were:

  • The diversity of topics and articles covered by Wikipedia
  • The diversity of perspectives (including the perspectives on what is relevant)
  • The quality of cooperation (especially on discussion sites)

Today, at Open Sunday organised by Wikipedia Deutschland, we held a workshop as a follow-up to these interviews.

Here is the presentation from workshop we did today at Wikimedia Deutschland/Open Sunday:


MOOC Fellowship

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been recently gaining a lot of attention and publicity. We have seen different MOOC models evolve based on different underpinnings and motivations (e.g. cMOOC vs.xMOOC) and different stakeholders earmarking their positions in the MOOC universe (e.g. higher education, non profit, for profit and venture capital). The MOOC idea seems to be becoming part of the new global learning culture with pioneer projects from Canada & USA spurring related initiatives in other parts of the world (e.g. #OPCO12 or #MMC13 in Germany). The MOOC Production Fellowship contest initiated in Berlin (Germany), follows this international trend:

“The contest seeks to identify ten innovative concepts for massive open online courses (MOOCs). Fellows will receive funding as well as assistance with course production. Stifterverband and iversity hope to raise awareness for the tremendous potential of digital technology in education and seek to activate a process of creative adaptation within the academic community.”

To me this seems be a great opportunity to embed the MOOC idea in existing university structures, at the same time opening doors to participants from around the world and bringing together students, practitioners and experts. I have invited colleagues from Sweden – Rick Middel (University of Gothenburg) and Bert-Ola Bergstrand (Socialt Capital Forum NGO) to join forces in a cross-national collaboration dedicated to Digital Economy and Social Innovation, in this way combining expertise to create a transdisciplinary MOOC.

The “Digital Economy and Social Innovation” MOOC addresses several topics, among others:

  1. Defining digital economy, social innovation, social entrepreneurship and sustainability.
  2. Understanding new models of digital economy and sustainable social change.
  3. Building capacity and social relations for social innovation in the digital economy.
  4. Organizing and funding social innovation, measuring social impact.
  5. Growth and scaling social ventures, bottom of the pyramid.
  6. Current research on digital economy and social innovation.

Our collaboration is based on the “bridging concept”, i.e. bridging between (i) learning contexts (especially between formal learning in higher education and informal learning in global networks); (ii) learning input (especially between theoretical input coming from university professors and input from the field coming from social innovation practitioners); (iii) course participants (enhancing interaction between higher education professors and students and practitioners to get involved in social innovation in digital economy).

You can find out more about our MOOC idea on the submission page. If you like it, give us your “vote”. As the contest is based on the public voting, the courses with most votes “win”. Thank you for supporting us!

Here is our intro video:



Wikipedia-Diversity is a new collaboration between Wikimedia Germany and Gender & Technology Center at Beuth University, dedicated to promoting diversity in Wikipedia. We have just started in February and are starting off with an interdisciplinary research team bringing in expertise from pedagogy, psychology, sociology and culture studies. The topic is super interesting and the team truly dedicated so I am really glad to lead this project. Our first common paper describing the approach was accepted for the eSociety Conference 2013 and I enjoyed presenting and discussing with the eSociety community in March (presentation below). Our approach is based on transdisciplinary principles (as we intend to utilise approaches from various disciplines to find best possible solutions) and on the principles of open innovation (as we intend to support the sharing of ideas, skills and resources from inside-out and outside-in). We are now prioritising the common goals for the overall strategy and the milestones for the first year of the project. This summer semester I will be also working with my students in the course “Media Didactics and Learning Design” at Beuth University on designing digital learning materials addressing specific aspects related to fostering diversity. It is a very exciting phase and I just can’t stop thinking about solutions and ideas.

  • If you know of some inspiring approaches that may be relevant for our project, please let me know!
  • If you are interested to find out more, I am curating resources on ScoopIt: Wikipedia-Diversity on Scoop it
  • If you want to read in German, here is the project website (under construction): WiDi project website

Designing Mobile Learning

The new issue of eLearning Papers on Mobile Learning has just been published. I am very glad that our paper on designing mobile learning in international and interdisciplinary students groups has been included in this special edition, which focuses on:

(…) on mobile technology applications and their potential to enhance learning within the broad-spectrum of education and training. The articles clearly demonstrate that mobile learning is moving beyond its early infancy. This latest expansion is accelerated by the increasing penetration of smart phones and the ecosystems that they have enabled. In this environment, the student population has become more diffuse, but also more connected.

Our paper reports on an international collaboration in which students from different universities designed and developed mobile learning applications, working together in interdisciplinary teams using social and mobile media. We describe the concept, process and outcomes of this collaboration including the challenges of designing and developing mobile learning applications in virtual teams. Here is the reference and the link:

Buchem, Ilona; Reinhardt, Wolfgang; van Treeck, Timo; Leiba, Moshe; Perl, Alexander (2012). Designing and Developing Mobile Learning Applications in International Student Teams. eLearning Papers, Mobile Learning, December 2012. Link to PDF.

It would be great to find out if there has been a similar project somewhere and what experiences have been made. I think one of the biggest challenges we have had was the coordination of teams and misunderstandings in communication as students never met face-to-face. Have you faced similar challenges? How did you approach them?