Digital Literacy and Education

In 2014 Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. hosted a series of events on “Digital Competencies”. The fifth and final event of the series took place on 17th November 2014 and was dedicated to the digitisation of education. The question of the event was “Digital learning on your own – How do we deal with changes in learning?”. Even if I had barely time to prepare as I was invited last minute to substitute for a colleague, I enjoyed the podium discussion with: Simon Koehl, Nina Lindlahr and Axel Krommer,

The common denominator of the discussion was that there is still much to be done in formal education as far as digital literacy of teachers and students is concerned. Also everyone tended to agree that digital media will keep on playing an important role both in formal and informal learning, which will contribute to diminishing of boundaries between different learning contexts as well as between teaching and learning, eventually leading to new hybrid forms of learning.

You can find the notes from the event including video recordings in Wikimedia Blog.


Photo by S. Horn Dasch (WMDE), CC-BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Serendipity, diversity and creativity in learning

Last week I gave a keynote presentation on serendipity and diversity in learning at FH Dortmund (Germany) as part of the KomDiM project related to Competency Development in Diversity Management in Higher Education. I enjoyed dwelling on serendipity and serendipitous learning a lot. Since my first article on serendipitous learning, followed by the book chapter in 2012, there have been a number of publications related to serendipity citing my work (e.g.  Saadatmand & KumpulainenTimo van Treeck & Martin Ebner; Aladjem & Nachmias). This years’ presentation explored the links between serendipity, diversity and creativity in relation to education and learning. You will find the slides in SlideShare (in German).

It could be the right time to work on a serendipity follow-up article in 2015 🙂

Mobile Learning & Creativity

I am proud to announce that our Special Issue on Mobile Learning and Creativity with the International Journal of Blended and Mobile Learning is now online!

You can find the editorial by Ilona Buchem, Isa Jahnke & Norbert Pachler here (PDF), in which describe the rationale for this Special Issue:

“Creativity has been proclaimed as one of the so-called key 21st century skills and as the driving force of economic development in post-industrial era. With the ‘creative class’ (Florida, 2002), comprising different types of creative workers, tackling complex, societal problems ranging from solving economic problems, through creating innovative technological solutions to devising new ways of social entrepreneurship, the role of creativity will arguably increase dramatically in the years to come. Already today many of the fastest-growing jobs and emerging industries rely on workers’ creative capacity, such as the ability to think laterally, inventing new scenarios and producing novel solutions. To face this demand, both education and business have to embrace new technologies and design new ways to foster the creativity of students and workers.”

The five selected best papers we included in this Special Issue can be found here, Volume 5, Issue 3. Also, the papers can be found in the ACM digital library. Please make sure your article search is for the whole ACM guide, not just the ACM and affiliated publications.

These papers are:

  • Isa Jahnke: Teaching Practices in iPad-Classrooms: Alignment of Didactical Designs, Mobile Devices and Creativity (pages 1-16)
  • Maria Ranieri & Isabela Bruni: Empowering Creativity in Young People Through Mobile Learning: An Investigation of Creative Practices of Mobile Media Uses In and Out of School (pages 17-33)
  • Sobah Abbas Petersen, Emma Procter-Legg & Annamaria Cacchione: Creativity and Mobile Language Learning Using LingoBee (pages 34-51)
  • Steve Wright, Ben Short & Gale Parchoma: Supporting Creativity in Craft Brewing: A Case Study of iPhone Use in the Transition from Novice towards Mastery (pages 52-67)
  • Jennifer Masters: Creative Teaching and Learning Strategies for Novice Users of Mobile Technologies (pages 68-79)

Congratulations to all authors for starting the conversation with us on how mobile learning can foster creativity.

NB: We have started the discussion on mobile Learning and creativity in the TEL community a few years ago and held a workshop on Mobile Learning and Creativity at the European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning in 2012 (EC-TEL 2012 & #MLCW12) and the workshop on Computational Tools Forstering Creativity in Learning Process at the EC-TEL 2013 (EC-TEL 2013). You can find out more about the two workshops on creativity in TEL here:

  • Mobile Learning and Creativity Workshop 2012: Cloudworks.
  • Computational Tools Fostering Creativity in Learning Process 2013: CCL2013.

I believe there is yet much to explore – if you are interested in projects in cooperations related to Mobile Learning and Creativity please let me know!



This year I was honoured to act as the General Chair of the 4th international PLE Conference, which took place 10-12 July 2013 in Berlin at Beuth University of Applied Sciences with a parallel event in Melbourne at Monash University.

The PLE Conference is dedicated to Personal Learning Environment and is an international scientific conference taking place annually, each time in a different city. Following the successful events in Barcelona in Spain 2010, in Southampton, UK in 2011, Aveiro, Portugal and Melbourne, Australia in 2012, the 4th International PLE Conference 2013 was held in Berlin, Germany and in Melbourne, Australia. The aim of the PLE Conference 2013 is to create a space for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, experiences and research around the development and implementation of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) – including the design of environments and the sociological and educational issues that they raise.

This year, the special theme for the conference was learning and diversity in cities of the future. The focus was on how to design Personal Learning Environments in order to support diversity, cross-boundary learning and interdisciplinary transformation of urban spaces as part of highly interconnected social and technological infrastructures of smart cities.  As in smart urban spaces, people, organisations and objects become interconnected by means of new technologies and media, innovative, sustainable and inclusive solutions for connected learning become crucial not only in terms of emerging technologies but first and foremost in terms of (i) human knowledge and skills, (ii) diverse and inclusive communities, as well as (iii) learning and knowledge networks.

In search for an intelligent exploitation of networked urban infrastructures for learning and the extension of the current understanding of Personal Learning Environments, the PLE’13 Call for Papers looked for concepts, scenarios, technologies, frameworks as well as educational approaches for constructing PLEs to support learning in smart urban spaces. We are currently working on the Conference Proceedings and the Special Issues – the Special Issue of eLearning Papers (Issue 34) and in the Special Issue of the Journal of Literacy and Technology (JLT) – which will include best papers from the PLE Conference 2013. The publications are scheduled mid September.

I would like to take this opportunity and thank all of you who supported this year’s conference as a member of the Organising Committee and/or as a member of the Scientific Committee!  It has been a great experience and the success of this year’s conference would not be possible without you!!!

We will soon have the recordings of the sessions featured at  BeuthBox campus TV.  For the time being have a look at the pictures from the conference on Flickr, e.g. here + here + here + here + here + here + here +  here + here + here – and have a look at the latest updates including links to slides on SlideShare in our PLE2013 Facebook group.

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 …