Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Deficiencies in Current TEL Models

In my opinion, the failures of current Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) models basically result from the heavy emphasis on:

  • Knowledge as a thing.
  • Learning as a predetermined process.
  • TEL as a technology issue.

Knowledge as a Thing

Current TEL approaches are following a static and predefined representation of knowledge and are mainly focusing on content delivery. The view of knowledge as an object that can be stored and reused makes that what is presented as learning management is simply content management under a new label. Content, however, represents only one side of the knowledge equation, namely the information side. Information is explicit knowledge that is easily expressed, captured, stored and reused. In the KM literature, there is wide recognition that explicit knowledge represents only the tip of the iceberg. Only a small fraction of valuable knowledge is explicit and there is a huge mass of high-quality knowledge embedded in people, which is not easily expressible and cannot be recorded in a codified form. This hard-to-articulate knowledge is what Polanyi called tacit knowledge.

Furthermore, capturing and storing knowledge as reusable learning objects in centralized repositories makes that knowledge can be isolated from its context. In the KM literature, it has already been pointed out that knowledge is context sensitive. Nonaka & Konno (1998), for instance, point out that "knowledge is embedded in ba" (p. 40); i.e. the shared space or context. "If knowledge is separated from ba, it turns into information" (p. 41).

Learning as a Predetermined Process

Traditional LMS-driven TEL approaches share the view according to which learning is regarded as a process limited by the duration of the semester or term. The view of learning as a semester-bound process conflicts with the nature of learning. Learning is continuous and fluid and cannot be reduced to a process with clearly defined beginning and end.

Moreover, current TEL solutions share a primary focus on the automation of the learning process. A strong emphasis has often been placed on how to control, centralize, and standardize the learning process using technology. The view of learning as an institution-controlled process has led to the development of instructional design specifications that aim to describe a learning flow in a standardized manner, such as IMS Learning Design (IMS-LD).

The automation of the learning process fails to address the complex and uncertain dimensions of knowledge and learning. The learning process cannot be reduced to a string of predetermined processes. It rather emerges through a series of processes that cannot be predicted or anticipated. Organizing the learning process into units with predefined content and learning outcomes is a clear view of learning as a linear process. The linearity of the institution-controlled learning process is not well adjusted to describing what is actually going on in learning in a world of radical discontinuous change. In each new context, learning is a unique process and is the result of emergent processes that do not follow any particular order.

TEL as a Technology Issue

TEL has been often perceived as merely a technological solution to support and supplement institution-led instruction. Consequently, a significant amount of attention has been placed on implementing repositories to capture, store, manage and reuse learning objects and developing platforms to control and automate the learning process.

There is much evidence that current TEL approaches use technology to increase the efficiency of existing practices rather than to improve the effectiveness of the learning experience.

The LMS is designed with the primary focus on management and control and is driven by the needs of the educational institution. LMS-driven TEL solutions follow a one-size-fits-all approach and suffer from an inability to give learners the opportunity to contribute to the learning process in significant ways, and to satisfy the heterogeneous needs of many learners. Similarly, current TEL 2.0 solutions continue to privilege the teacher/institution, rather than the learner, as the central element in the learning experience. These solutions share a common emphasis on how to best integrate the emergent Web 2.0 technologies into the learning process without influencing the traditional pedagogical principles and policies imposed by formal educational institutions. The result is that technology is often applied in the existing institutional context of learning controlled by the institution and organized into courses with preselected tasks, prescribed tools, and predetermined learning outcomes.

In sum, current TEL models, driven by technology-push, might make the learning experience faster or cheaper but not necessarily better. They aim at efficiency (i.e. doing the thing right) rather than effectiveness (i.e. doing the right thing). They use technology primarily to make the traditional institution-centric learning model more efficient. This model, however, remains untestable, unchallenged, and consequently unchanged.


Nonaka, I., & Konno, N. (1998). The concept of “ba”: Building a foundation for knowledge creation. California Management Review, 40(3), 40–54.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Definitions of PLE

Ilona Buchem has compiled a list of PLE definitions ...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

CfP MUPPLE Workshop at EC-TEL 2010

3rd Workshop on Mash-Up Personal Learning Environments (MUPPLE-10)

Held at the 5th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning
(EC-TEL10) in Barcelona, Spain, September 28 - October 1, 2010

A change in perspective can be certified in the recent years to
technology-enhanced learning research 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

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. These PLEs typically
complement Learning Management Systems (LMS) with additional widgets,
services, and data integrated from and with organization-external
learning tools. 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 artefacts and data, have emerged to be the
software development approach for these long-tail and perpetual-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. Interoperability is
the enabler to allow these different components to be worked together
facilitating the achievement of the underlying learning task.

In a wide range of European IST-funded research projects such as Stellar,
ROLE, LTfLL, Mature, and OpenScout a rising passion for these technologies
can be identified.

This workshop therefore serves as a forum to bring together researchers and
developers from these projects and an open public that have an interest in
understanding and engineering mash-up personal learning environments (MUPPLEs).

The workshop is supported with donations to the Open University of the UK:
travel grants will be available.

TOPICS OF INTEREST (but not limited to):

* 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, game-based learning,
self-reflection, personal information
* Interoperability Standards for widgets, content recombination, configuration
* User Studies & Evaluation Methods: evaluating e.g. performance, usability,
specific design features, training methods
* Educational theories for PLE


The aim of this workshop is to bring together the various research and
development groups in technology-enhanced learning that currently focus
on the development of the next generation learning environments that
put the individuum centre stage and empower learners with design
capabilities by deploying modern mash-up principles to establish
system-spanning interoperability.

As this approach is rather young, the workshop seeks to attract both
research results and work in progress in order to chart out the current
state-of-the-art of MUPPLEs in TEL and to define main enablers and future
challenges. Naturally, it will serve as a forum for establishing new

Using the presentations as impulses and continuing post-talk debates,
the workshop will conclude the day with an open discussion exchanging
ideas, summing up, and defining a medium- to long-term research agenda.


Authors are invited to submit original unpublished research as position
statements (max. 2 pages) and extended abstracts (max. 4 pages). Those
extended abstracts that are accepted will be given the option to be
extended into full papers (8 pages). All submitted position statements
and extended abstracts will be peer-reviewed by at least two members of
the program committee for originality, significance, clarity, and quality.
The workshop proceedings will be published online as part of the CEUR
Workshop proceedings series. is a recognized ISSN
publication series, with ISSN 1613-0073.

We are additionally preparing a MUPPLE book, which will draft contributions
from this and the previous workshops.

Authors should use the Springer LNCS format (
For camera-ready format instructions, please see 'For Authors' instructions

All questions and submissions should be sent to: mupple @


* Paper Submission: June 26th, 2010
* Results Notification: July 7th, 2010
* Camera Ready Submission: September 15th, 2010
* Workshop Date: September 28th or 29th, 2010

PROGRAMME COMMITTEE (to be confirmed)

* 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 Moedritscher (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)
* Nikos Karacapilidis (University of Patras, Greece)
* Scott Wilson (University of Bolton, United Kingdom)
* Stephane Sire (EPFL, Switzerland)
* Tony Hirst (Open University, UK)
* Zuzana Bizonova (INT Paris, France)
* Jan M. Pawlowski (University of Jyvaeskylae, Finland)
* Stefan Trausan-Matu (University "Politehnica" Bucharest, Romania)


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


After four successful EC-TEL conferences in the year from 2006 to 2009,
the Fifth European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning provides
a unique forum for all research related to TEL, among them education,
psychology, and computer science. The contributions will cover the design
of innovative environments, the implementation of new technological
solutions, results of empirical studies on socio-cognitive processes in
learning, and field studies regarding the use of technologies in context.

EC-TEL is a competitive and broad forum for TEL research in Europe and
beyond. In its specialised accompanying workshops and the highlighting
main conference programme, EC-TEL10 provides unique networking
possibilities for participating researchers throughout the week and
includes project meetings and discussions for ongoing and new research
activities supported by the European Commission.

See for details.