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?

Gamification in Education 2012

Gamification was definitely an important trend this year and it looks like it will continue to make an impact not only on marketing but also on education next year. The term “gamification” has even made it to the US selection of Oxford’s shortlist for the Word of the Year 2011!
Gamification is defined by the Oxford University Press as
 the application of concepts and techniques from games to other areas of activity.
Designing for gamification in education is not the same as as designing educational games. It is more about translating and transferring what we know about the potential of games for captivating attention, motivating to do things and coming back for more in educational settings. Andre R. Proto writes in his blog post on “Gamified Classroom”:
“With the current state of school budgets, teachers interested in gamification can’t depend on state funding to provide their class with the technology needed for video games. No matter how good a system, any gamification platform that relies on technology is sadly out of reach for many classrooms. We need a method for teachers to implement game mechanics into their classroom without adding to the financial burden. Any other solution, no matter how engaging, isn’t scalable.”
To me one of the most interesting projects ever is the school “Quest to Learn” in New York supporting a dynamic curriculum that uses the underlying principles of games:
“Quest to Learn has purposely responded not only to the growing evidence that digital media and games offer powerful models for reconsidering how and where young people learn, but also to the belief that access for all students to these opportunities is critical.”
Another project related to gamification in education that got much attention this year has been Mozilla Open Badges Project, aiming at “making it easy to issue and share digital learning badges across the web:
Learning today happens everywhere, not just in the classroom. But it’s often difficult to get recognition for skills and achievements that happen outside of school. Mozilla’s Open Badges project is working to solve that problem, making it easy for anyone to issue, earn and display badges across the web — through a shared infrastructure that’s free and open to all.
Some interesting applications include the The Peer 2 Peer University and the course on “Open Badges and Assessment” started by Doug Belshaw. By the way, Mozilla Open Badges Initiative will be leading a track on “open Badges: open Data for Open ePortfolios” at ePIC 2012.
There have also been a number of individual initiatives with such pioneers as Lee Sheldon at Indiana University designing courses as multiplayer games and abandoning grades for game points. You can find out more about it in the blog “Gaming the Classroom“.
Another development worth mentioning are new features of the microblogging service Edmodo. Nic Borg, the co-founder of Edmodo, recognised the “the gamification of the classroom” trend: In 2011 Edmodo started offering some new functionalities such as badges — with which teachers can award students — and a Quiz Builder assessment engine.
If you take a closer look, all these projects show that the idea of gamification goes far beyond collecting points or badges and leveling-up. It is all about enhancing learner engament and supporting the learning process in a formative and iterative way. The premise of gamification is that it no use sitting and waiting for intrinsic motivation but it may be more effective to apply strategies to trigger interest and engagement. As Elizabeth Corcoran puts it in her article “Gaming Education“:
“Gamification, by contrast, doesn’t rely on internal motivation. Instead, it’s using the oldest tricks in the book: providing instantaneous feedback, egging on the competition, and rewarding even tiny steps of progress. Gamification assumes that the player isn’t especially motivated — at least at the beginning — and then provides barrels of incentives to ramp up that motivation.”
With this year coming to an end, it is the time for New Year’s resolutions.  As far as my work as researcher and lecturer (and starting from next semester as visiting professor for educational and social media studies), my personal resolution is to further explore the area of gamification in education.
What I am interested in, is to see how gamification can be applied to support university courses and online communities. This is of interest to me for a number of reasons. First, I would like to experience this new design process. Second, I want to find out what can change in the classroom – for good and for bad. Third, I would like to discover the patterns of gamification that can be of value for different types of courses in higher education. So, I will be re-designing my current courses soon and designing my new courses based on selected game principles. I am really looking forward to this new experience.
I have started curating the “Gamification in Education” topic with Games and Gamification on, a stack on Gamification on Delicious and a new Twitter stream with #gamification on Hootsuite. I am looking forward to sharing brilliant ideas and good practice from all over the world and across different educational contexts.
Last but not least, here are also some of the key blogging gamification experts that I have been following in the last months:

Hope you find this useful too …

Online Educa Berlin 2010

This year Online Eudca Berlin was as great as ever. Meeting all these great people that you are in touch with on Twitter, Facebook, Skype and other media face-to-face again or for the first times makes it so worthwhile every year.  This is just my short record, so that I know next year, what I did this year 😉

This year started for me with a pre-conference … oh no, wait, it started with an e-mail on the pre-conference day from organizers asking me if I wanted to join the Battle of the Bloggers as the fourth panelist. Well, this was a really short notice. As I was completely tied up with other things and have experienced  a slight, ok a medium, ok ok maybe more than medium, burn-out after intensive work on a proposal bid, I just decided not to. Yes, I must admit I started to regret it the moment I was there. And the other panelists as I found out later were a completely friendly and civilised bunch of people 😉 – (remember the opinionated speakers last year).  So yes, next year I’d love to join but with a little more-in-advance notice please?

The real pre-conference started for me with a workshop on “Usable Representations of Learning Design for Educators and Instructional Designers” with Gráinne Conole (and here), C. Vrasidas and S. Retalis. It turned out to be a very good choice and I was so glad to get to know  Gráinne in person. I got to know Cloudworks much better and learnt some handy ways of representing learning designs that I will recommend to my team at the Mediencommunity project. Dear Grainne, it would be great to get further materials on the LD tools. I think they will be pretty useful to my project. As we are designing online seminars which are planning to roll-out in spring, using LD tools will be very useful to communicate the design to the design team and to the moderators who will facilitate the online seminars.

After the workshop there was speakers’ reception and I enjoyed touching base with the chair of my session Teri and her colleague Timo both from Helsinki. I then had a wonderfully interesting conversation with Mark Childs about digital identities. Thank you Mark, it was great sharing ideas with you!

Thursday was the first conference day and a complete public transport chaos due to heavy snowfall and ice. As I live outside Berlin, it took me over 3 hours to get to the venue on that day. It was unbelievable – trains simply got canceled and as I had no winter tires on my car I was stuck at the railway station drinking one hot chocolate after the other. Finally when I got to OEB, my session on e-portfolios was already on, so I almost jumped from snow into the presenting mode. It was a good session though and I enjoyed talking about the idea of fostering the readiness of organisations for a change from bottom-up as an important, and often neglected, aspect of implementing e-portfolios. I presented together with my colleague Birgitta Kinscher as we related to our bottom-up activities in the E-Portfolio Initiative Berlin (and here), where we are both members. You can see the slides on SlideShare.

Then I attended the Battle of the Bloggers which this year was called “The Graveyard of Learning”. The panelists were sharing their opinions on learning trends, tools and theories, declaring them dead, alive or zombie. I really enjoyed a good mix of arguments by Tom Wambeke, John Traxler and Hans de Zwart and the fact that the audience was engaged in voting though a new tool called shakespeak invented and introduced by a young start-up. BTW it’s a nice and easy-to-use voting tool.

Last conference day, which was today was full of new encounters and talks, including Sounds of the Bazaar interviews. This year I happened to be on the other side – instead of interviewing I was interviewed, which was nice too. I talked about e-portfolios and E-Portfolio Initiative Berlin. Then we (Judith Seipold and Klaus Rummler as interviewers me, Birgitta Kinscher and Hörg Hafer representing E-Portfolio Initiative Berlin), recorded a podcast about e-portfolios which I am looking forward to see on the Pontydysgu website soon!

The session I really enjoyed today was the one on “Informal Ethics” with the renowned speakers: John Traxler, Andy Black, Steve Wheeler, Mark Childs and Geoff Stead. This interesting and not that often discussed topic was well presented in its complexity and from different perspectives which has inspired me to think and read more about ethics in social media and beyond. Steve Wheeler mentioned a publication coming up soon on “informal ethics” and I am really looking forward to it. Where will I/we be able to find it Steve?

Last session I attended today was the Engage award session in game-based learning. There were 3 winners, among them the winner of the best learning game: Congratulations to all nominees and winners!

Of course Online Educa Berlin 2010 is not over yet! Oh now, the discussion and sharing is still going on. People are tweeting about it  simply search by hashtags #oeb10 or #oeb2010 ) and new blogposts, videos, pictures and other user-generated contents is surely popping up on the Web soon.

All in all – what a vibrant, rich  conference with a global community feeling! Can’t wait until next year!

Kollaboratives Lernen (2)

Während meiner Recherchen zum Thema “kollaboratives Lernen” bin ich vor Kurzem auf einen interessanten Beitrag von Strijbos et al. (2004) gestossen. Dort wird die Meinung vertreten, dass die beiden verwandten Begriffe, d.h. “kooperatives Lernen” und “kollaboratives Lernen”, bisher noch nicht ausreichend ausdefiniert wurden, um als konzeptuelle Grundlage für das Design von computer-unterstützten kooperativen/kollaborativen Lehr-/Lernszenarien im Sinne von CSCL (Computer Supported Collaborative Learning) bzw. CSGBL (Computer Supported Group-Based Learning) dienen zu können.

Die Autoren setzen sich mit unterschiedlichen Ansätzen zum kooperativen und kollaborativen Lernen auseinander und kommen zur Schlussfolgerung, dass nich eindeutig aufgezeigt werden kann, was kooperatives und kollaboratives Lernen von einander unterscheidet.  Die Autoren erwähnen u.a. die Unterscheidung zwischen Kooperation als Zusammenarbeit in wohl-strukturierten Domänen und Kollaboration als Zusammenarbeit in schlecht-strukturierten Domänen (Slavin, 1997), sowie die Unterscheidung von Kooperation und Kollaboration als zwei Enden eines Kontinuums mit Kooperation als stärker strukturierte und Kollaboration als weniger strukturierte Zusammenarbeit (Millis and Cottell, 1998).

Die Autoren schlagen in diesem Zusammenhang vor, kooperatives und kollaboratives Lernen aus einer prozessorientierten Perspektive der während der Gruppenarbeit stattfindenden Interaktionen analytischer zu betrachten. Sie schlagen drei unterschiedliche Ebenen zur Beschreibung von Interaktionen vor. Diese sind (1) Arten von Beziehungen zwischen Gruppenteilnehmern (Ebene eins), (2) zeitliche Aspekte von Interaktionen (Ebene zwei) und (3) Arten kommunikativer Handlungen (Ebene drei).  Darüber hinaus werden weitere fünf Fakoren zur Beschreibung von kooperativen und kollaborativen Lernprozessen genannt. Diese sind: Lernziele, Aufgabenart, Vorstrukturierungsgrad, Gruppengröße und Art der technsichen Unterstützung.

Obwohl die genannten Beschreibungskategorien bestimmt nicht ausschöpfend sind und auch in Einzelfällen selbst ungenügend ausdefiniert wurden, zeigt der Beitrag von Strijbos et al. (2004), wie komplex die beiden Lernformen sind, wenn man sie in Einzelfaktoren zerlegen möchte.


Strijbos, J.W., Martens, R. L., & Jochems, W.M.G. (2004). Designing for interaction: Six steps to designing computer-supported group-based learning. Computers & Education, Elsevier 42, 2004 (pp. 189-211).