Monday, November 30, 2009

New Tools for Personal Learning

A nice presentation by Stephen Downes who talked about tools for personal learning, at the MEFANET 2009 conference. Slides and audio from this talk are available.

Monday, November 23, 2009

IJTEL Special Issue on MUPPLE

Call for articles of the
International Journal for TEL
for a special issue on
'Mash-Up Personal Learning Environments'

Submission deadline: January 8th, 2010

The International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning (IJTEL)
seeks original manuscripts for a Special Issue on Mash-Up
Personal Learning Environments to appear in 2010.

A change in perspective can be certified in the recent years
to technology-enhanced learning re-search and development: More
and more learning applications on the web are putting the learner
centre stage, not the organisation. They empower learners with
capabilities to customize and even construct their own personal
learning environments (PLEs). These PLEs typically consist of
distributed web-applications and services that support system-
spanning collaborative and individual learning activities in
formal as well as informal settings.

Technologically speaking, this shift manifests in a learning
web where information is distributed across sites and activities
can easily encompass the use of a greater number of pages and
services offered through web-based learning applications. Mash-ups,
the 'frankensteining' of software arte-facts and data, have
emerged to be the software development approach for these
long-tail and per-petual-beta niche markets. Core technologies
facilitating this paradigm shift are Ajax, javascript-based
widget-collections, and microformats that help to glue together
public web APIs in individual applications.

The International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning
(IJTEL) dedicates a focused issue on col-lecting the research
on understanding and engineering mash-up personal learning


- Visions: architectures, frameworks, strategies, models
- (Collaborative) authoring tools
- Data interoperability: with e.g. microformats, streaming
data, mixed media data
- User interfaces: concepts, metaphors, workflows
- Development methodologies
- Innovative widgets and services: e.g. for instruction,
reflection, personal information
- Interoperability standards for e.g. content recombination
or PLE configuration
- User studies & evaluation methods: evaluating e.g. performance
- Usability, specific design features, training methods

IJTEL fosters multidisciplinary discussion and research on
technology enhanced learning (TEL) ap-proaches at the
individual, organisational, national and global levels.
Its key objective is to be the leading scholarly scientific
journal for all those interested in, researching and
contributing to the technology enhanced learning episteme.
For this reason, IJTEL delivers research articles, position
papers, surveys and case studies aiming:

- Provide a holistic and multidisciplinary discussion
on technology enhanced learning research issues
- Promote international collaboration and exchange of
ideas and know how on technology enhanced learning
- Investigate strategies on how technology enhanced
learning can promote sustainable development

Papers submitted to this special issue must follow the criteria
used by IJTEL and defined by the na-ture of this special issue,
namely by covering the following mandatory items:

- Presenting original research;
- Offering a critical review of the state of the art in the field;
- Providing methodologically sound and innovative
technological insights;
- Illustrating the application in real-world cases;
- Performing the evaluation of the proposed ideas.

Submitted articles must not have been previously published or
be currently submitted for journal publication elsewhere. As
an author, you are responsible for understanding and adhering
to our submission guidelines. You can access them at

The journal is now accepting submissions for this special issue
through its Online Submissions and Peer-Review System at, which provides instructions
about formatting and length. If you have any questions,
please contact or the guest
editors at the addresses listed below. Please include the title
of the Journal in your email and give as much detail as possible
about your query or problem.

- Paper Submission: January 8th, 2010
- Results Notification: February 8th, 2010
- Revisions: March 8th, 2010
- Notification of Final Acceptance: March 21st, 2010
- Final versions: April 21st, 2010

- Abelardo Pardo (University Carlos III de Madrid, Spain)
- Dai Griffith (University of Bolton, UK)
- Denis Gillet (EPFL, Switzerland)
- Effie Law (University of Leicester, United Kingdom)
- Felix Mödritscher (Vienna University of Economics
and Business, Austria)
- Graham Atwell (Pontydysgu, United Kingdom)
- Gytis Cibulskis (Kaunas Technical University, Lithuania)
- Mart Laanpere (Tallinn University, Estonia)
- Martin Wolpers (Fraunhofer FIT, Germany)
- Mohamed Amine Chatti (RWTH Aachen, Germany)
- Ralf Klamma (RWTH Aachen, Germany)
- Nikos Karacapilidis (University of Patras, Greece)
- Scott Wilson (University of Bolton, United Kingdom)
- Stéphane Sire (EPFL, Switzerland)
- Tony Hirst (Open University, UK)
- Ernie Ghiglione (Macquarie University, AU)


- Fridolin Wild (The Open University, UK)
- Matthias Palmer (University of Upsala, Sweden)
- Marco Kalz (Open University, The Netherlands)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Google Chrome OS

Google released Chromium OS as an open source project. Below are videos introducing the Google Chrome OS, its interface, and more.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009 by Jane Hart

Jane Hart provided a list of top 100 tools for learning in 2009, compiled from the top 10 tool contributions of 278 learning professionals worldwide. Jane also provided a nice presentation of the top 100 tools on Slideshare. Great work Jane!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cloud Computing in Plain English

A 3 minute introduction to the basics of cloud computing from Common Craft. You can find here more about cloud computing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pecha Kucha

A video by Heike Philp about Pecha Kucha (Japanese for chit-chat), the 20x20 speedy presentation technique.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CfP: Social Software Engineering 2010

I am very glad to be on the program committee of the 3rd International Workshop on Social Software Engineering (SSE2010) organized by my dear friends Martin Ebner, Imed Hammouda, Hans-Joerg Happel, Walid Maalej, and Wolfgang Reinhardt. The workshop is co-located with the Software Engineering 2010 conference in Paderborn, Germany (February, 22-26 2010) and will take place on February, 24 2010.

In this workshop we would like to bring together researchers and practitioners working on different aspects of collaboration and knowledge sharing in software engineering as well as the engineering of social software to discuss new results and future research challenges. Major topics addressed at the workshop include (but not limited to):

The topics of the workshop include, but are not restricted to:

  • Social and human aspects of software engineering
    • Collaboration and knowledge sharing in development teams and (Open Source) communities
    • Impact of Social Software on development processes
    • Empirical studies on collaboration and information behaviour in social software engineering
  • Engineering social software
    • Engineering of lightweight and unobtrusive tools, Web 2.0 and Social Semantic Web applications
    • Approaches and tools for context-aware and personalized assistance
    • Particularities in the development of Social Software
  • Social Software Engineering
    • Concerns of individuals in collaboration settings, such as learning, usability and incentives
    • Usage of Social Software to teach software engineering, teaching social aspects of software engineering
    • Research methods and approaches for analyzing and designing successful collaboration support
    • Scientific analysis of the relation between methods/processes, tools and collaborative development practice
Below is the call for submissions. A PDF of the call is available here.

CfP Social Software Engineering 2010 (Paderborn, Germany)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

LaaN vs. Activity Theory

In this post, I will try to outline some of the key concepts behind Activity Theory and then compare it to the Learning as a Network (LaaN) perspective/theory.

The cultural-historical theory of activity (Activity Theory) has grown out of the work of Vygotsky, Leont’ev and other Soviet socio-cultural oriented psychologists. Activity Theory approaches human cognition and behavior as embedded in collectively organized, artifact-mediated and object-oriented activity systems (Vygotsky, 1978; Leont'ev, 1978, Engestörm, 1987). According to Engeström (1999b), an activity system "constantly generates actions through which the object of the activity is enacted and reconstructed in specific forms and contents - but being a horizon, the object is never fully reached or conquered" (p. 381).

Activity Theory develops from the work of Vygotsky, particularly his arguments that human development and learning is mediated by artifacts, such as language, signs, and symbol systems. The classical representation of an activity system is a mediating triangle comprising three central components, namely subject, object, and mediating artifacts (Vygotsky, 1978). Activities are social practices oriented at objects. An entity becomes an object of activity when it meets a human need. The subject constructs the object using mediating artifacts (Engeström, 1999b). Leont'ev, (1978), drawing on Vygotsky's foundational work, points out that there is a crucial difference between an individual action and a collective activity and extends Vygotsky's original model into a model of a collective activity system. Leont’ev’s conceptualization includes division of labour, which helps to differentiate between what is accomplished collectively or individually. Leont'ev further adds a distinction between activity, action and operation, as three different levels of human practice in order to delineate an individual's action from the collective activity (Leont'ev, 1978, Section 3.5).

Figure 1: Activity System (Engeström, 1999a, p. 31)

Inspired by Leont'ev's work, Engeström (1987, 1999a) also notes that the problem with Vygotsky's classical representation of an activity system is that it does not fully explicate the societal and collaborative nature of the human actions. He then graphically expands Vygotsky’s original mediating triangle with a social component by including three contextual factors, namely community, rules, and division of labor. Engeström uses this expanded activity system model as the basis for his theory of expansive learning, which focuses on the expansive transformation of the object of activity in a collective activity system (Engeström, 1987, 1999b).

Engeström (1987) conceives the notion of the ‘zone of proximal development’, initially discussed by Vygotsky, as the cornerstone of expansive learning. Within an expansive learning framework, Engeström (1999b,2001) presents the notion of 'expansive cycle' as the equivalent of Vygotsky's zone of proximal development. As Engeström (2001) puts it: “a full cycle of expansive transformation may be understood as a collaborative journey through the zone of proximal development of the activity” (p. 137). Engeström traces seven expansive learning actions to be taken in travelling through the zone of proximal development of an activity. Together these actions form an expansive cycle or spiral. According to Engeström (1999b), an ideal-typical sequence of actions in an expansive cycle includes (p. 383):

1. questioning, criticizing, and rejecting some aspects of the accepted practices,

2. analyzing the situation,

3. modelling of a new solution to the problematic situation,

4. examining the model,

5. implementing the model,

6. reflecting on and evaluating the process,

7. consolidating its outcomes into a new, stable from of practice.

Figure 2: Expansive Learning Cycle (Engeström, 1999b, p. 384)

However, in the new knowledge intensive era, it is increasingly evident that knowledge is highly complex and that dealing with knowledge is definitely not reducible to any sequence of actions. The actions which form Engeström's expansive learning cycle are not the only kinds of actions that must be mastered and performed in highly complex knowledge ecologies. LaaN does not postulate a predetermined sequence of actions; it rather enables a wide range of learner-driven actions that are neither predetermined nor predictable.

In general, using Activity Theory as a framework for the analysis of activity in complex learning environments has a major limitation. Learning as a complex activity cannot be captured by an overarching activity system (or even a network of activity systems) purposefully oriented toward the achievement of an object of activity. Learning is multifaceted and dynamic, and activities in a learning environment are fuzzy, varied, and often fragmented, which makes it very hard to elicit a complete picture of the activity system(s) under observation, encompassing, in activity theory terms, an evolving set of subjects, objects, mediating artifacts, actions, rules, norms, and division of labour. The solution to this problem is to understand the learning activity from the learner's point of view. Whereas in Activity Theory the prime unit of analysis is an artifact-mediated and object-oriented activity, LaaN rather focuses on the individual learner and her PKN. In activity theory, you are what you do. In LaaN, you are what your PKN is.


- Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by Expanding: An Activity - Theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit. Retrieved from

- Engeström, Y. (1999a). Activity theory and individual and social transformation. In Y. Engeström, R. Miettinen, & R. L. Punamäki (Eds.) Perspectives on activity theory, (pp. 19–38). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

- Engeström, Y. (1999b). Innovative learning in work teams: Analyzing cycles of knowledge creation in practice. In Y. Engeström, R. Miettinen, & R. L. Punamäki (Eds.) Perspectives on activity theory, (pp. 377–404). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

- Engeström, Y. (2001). Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization. Journal of Education and Work, 14(1), 133 – 156.

- Leont’ev, A. N. (1978). Activity, Consciousness, Personality. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Retrieved from

- Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Related Posts:

- LaaN vs. Social Constructivism

- LaaN Revisited

- Characteristics of Knowledge Ecology

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Google Story

Via Martin Ebner.

A quick look back at the Google story over the last 11 years...

Monday, November 09, 2009


-- CALL FOR PAPERS - Deadline for submissions: 25 January 2010 --

Freiburg, Germany, 26 - 29 July 2010
part of the IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems (MCCSIS 2010)
Freiburg, Germany 26 - 31 July 2010

* Conference background and goals
The IADIS e-Learning 2010 conference aims to address the main issues of concern within
e-Learning. This conference covers both technical as well as the non-technical aspects of

The conference accepts submissions in the following seven main areas: Organisational
Strategy and Management Issues; Technological Issues; e-Learning Curriculum
Development Issues; Instructional Design Issues; e-Learning Delivery Issues; e-Learning
Research Methods and Approaches; e-Skills and Information Literacy for Learning.

* Format of the Conference
The conference will comprise of invited talks and oral presentations. The proceedings of the conference will be published in the form of a book and CD-ROM with ISBN, and will be available also in the IADIS Digital Library (accessible on-line).

* Best Papers
Selected authors of best papers will be invited to submit extended versions of their papers to selected journals (i.e. IADIS International Journal on Computer Science and Information Systems - ISSN: 1646-3692) including journals from INDERSCIENCE Publishers.

* Types of submissions
Full and Short Papers, Reflection Papers, Posters/Demonstrations, Tutorials, Panels and Doctoral Consortium. All submissions are subject to a blind refereeing process.

* Topics related to e-Learning are of interest. These include, but are not limited to the following areas and topics:

Organisational Strategy and Management Issues (main area)
- Higher and Further Education
- Primary and Secondary Education
- Workplace Learning
- Vocational Training
- Home Schooling
- Distance Learning
- Blended Learning
- Change Management
- Educational Management
- Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for Educational and Training Staff
- Return on e-Learning Investments (ROI)

Technological Issues (main area)
- Learning Management Systems (LMS)
- Managed Learning Environments (MLEs)
- Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)
- Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) Tools
- Social Support Software
- Architecture of Educational Information Systems Infrastructure
- Security and Data Protection
- Learning Objects
- XML Schemas and the Semantic Web
- Web 2.0 Applications

e-Learning Curriculum Development Issues (main area)
- Philosophies and Epistemologies for e-learning
- Learning Theories and Approaches for e-learning
- e-Learning Models
- Conceptual Representations
- Pedagogical Models
- e-Learning Pedagogical Strategies
- e-Learning Tactics
- Developing e-Learning for Specific Subject Domains

Instructional Design Issues (main area)
- Designing e-Learning Settings
- Developing e-Learning Pilots and Prototypes
- Creating e-Learning Courses
- Collaborative learning
- Problem-based learning
- Inquiry-based learning
- Blended learning
- Distance learning
- Designing e-Learning Tasks
- E-learning activities
- Online Groupwork
- Experiential learning
- Simulations and Modelling
- Gaming and edutainment
- Creativity and design activities
- Exploratory programming

e-Learning Delivery Issues (main area)
- e-Delivery in different contexts
- Higher and Further Education
- Primary and Secondary Schools
- Workplace Learning
- Vocational Training
- Distance Learning
- Online Assessment
- Innovations in e-Assessment
- e-Moderating
- e-Tutoring
- e-Facilitating
- Leadership in e-Learning Delivery
- Networked Information and Communication Literacy Skills
- Participation and Motivation in e-Learning

e-Learning Research Methods and Approaches (main area)
- Action Research
- Design Research
- Course and Programme Evaluations
- Systematic Literature Reviews
- Historical Analysis
- Case Studies
- Meta-analysis of Case Studies
- Effectiveness and Impact Studies
- Evaluation of e-Learning Technologies
- Evaluation of Student and Tutor Satisfaction
- Learning and cognitive styles
- Ethical Issues in e-learning

e-Skills and Information Literacy for Learning (main area)
- Teaching information literacy
- Electronic library and information search skills
- ICT skills education
- in schools and colleges
- for business, industry and the public sector
- in adult, community, home and prison education
- informal methods (peer groups, family)
- Education for computer-mediated communication skills
- Netiquette
- Online safety for children and vulnerable users
- Cybercrime awareness and personal prevention
- Student production of online media
- Web design
- Digital storytelling
- Web 2.0 tools
- etc.
- Digital media studies

* Important Dates:
- Submission Deadline: 25 January 2010
- Notification to Authors: 26 February 2010
- Final Camera-Ready Submission and Early Registration: Until 26 March 2010
- Late Registration: After 26 March 2010
- Conference: Freiburg, Germany, 26 - 29 July 2010

* Conference Location
The conference will be held in Freiburg, Germany.

* Secretariat
Rua Sao Sebastiao da Pedreira, 100, 3
1050-209 Lisbon, Portugal
Web site:

* Program Committee

e-Learning 2010 Conference Program Chairs:
Miguel Baptista Nunes, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Maggie McPherson, University of Leeds, United Kingdom

General MCCSIS 2010 Conference Co-Chairs:
Piet Kommers, University of Twente, The Netherlands
Pedro Isaías, Universidade Aberta (Portuguese Open University), Portugal
Dirk Ifenthaler, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany
Nian-Shing Chen, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan

Committee Members: *
* for committee list please refer to

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Future of Institutions

A video by Graham Attwell and his Colleagues at Pontydysgu on the future of eductional institutions. You can see other videos on the same topic by Rob Howes and Martin Weller.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Did You Know 4.0

Via Bertrand Duperrin and Luis Suarez.

This time on convergence and technology...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Complete Guide to Google Wave

A free online version of the book "The Complete Guide to Google Wave" by Gina Trapani with Adam Pash is available here. You can find more about Google Wave here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Jay Cross on investing in learning

A video of Jay Cross talking about informal learning...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Android 2.0 (Eclair) Released

Android 2.0 has been released and Google announced that the Android SDK now supports Android 2.0 (aka Eclair). The video below provides more information about Android 2.0.