Presentation in the doctoral seminar

Last week I had a presentation in the Media Lab doctoral seminar. I have been busy with one project deliverable for the last few days and managed to upload the presentation slides (with a few minor edits) just now.

I received quite useful feedback for my work in the seminar. I had a feeling that my plan about combining the articles/projects together as the “open education ecosystem” made sense for most of the people.

Some suggestions:

  • “Designing the Open Education Ecosystem” is too ambitious title. I have designed only some tools to the ecosystem. Also, digital ecosystems have a certain degree of self-organization and cannot be completely designed. Therefore “Desining for the Open Education Ecosystem” would be more suitable title.
  • The 6th article should be written as the introduction chapter of the dissertation. Five articles would be enough for the dissertation. Later the introduction chapter could be also summarized as an article.
  • The main research question “What are the pedagogical, technical and social considerations for designing educational tools for the open education ecosystem?” is too wide. However, finding the balance between the pedagogical, technical and social constraints seems to be the challenge that I have had in each project.
  • I received a good hint that I can use “layers” in my digital ecosystem terminology. Etienne Wenger at al have written a book “Digital Habitats” where they have some ecosystem diagrams with layers. My colleagues in Tallinn have been critical about using layers, because it is not part of the natural ecosystems. I am not sure how far I should go with using the natural ecosystem analogy.
  • I should look at the ‘practice-led research’ method to strengthen the design methodology part.
  • People are missing from my layer images. This is something that must be there when the the three layers are merged into one diagram.
  • Some people were not sure if “social” is the best name for the third layer. At the moment most of the items in that layer are connected to openness. There was a joke to call it the “leftover layer”.

My colleage Teemu Leinonen has proposed a research-based design methodology (only presentation, full article is not available online) where software prototype is seen as hypothesis. In the beginning of the design process the hypothesis is quite fuzzy and it will become more clear during the stages of the design process. For example in LeMill project our hypothesis was that “an online service with learning resources that can be edited and improved by others with tools for social networking and matching of interests among the participating teachers could enhance sharing and collaboration around learning materials“. I have an hypothesis for each case but the main hypothesis can be formulated when my understanding about the open education ecosystem is more clear.

Later we discussed with Teemu about the target audience of my dissertation. I think that the main target will be the open education community. I have learned a lot from the design community but my dissertation will not contribute back so much to the design community. My second target group would be the technology-enhanced learning community, especially now when they are starting to see the importance of design and openness.

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