I am doing my doctoral studies in the learning environments research group in Media Lab Helsinki, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. My study focuses on designing online tools for open education. The study includes five cases that approach open education from different angles. First two cases focus on open educational resources (LeMill and PILOT), the third and the fourth case are about supporting open online courses (EduFeedr and LeContract) and the final case focuses on teachers’ competencies (DigiMina). I am doing my doctoral studies in a design university where the creative design practice is an important part of the research. In all of the included projects I have been responsible for conceptual design and interaction design. The research results will be summarized in my thesis using the practice-led research methodology.
In my study I have taken the digital ecosystems approach on open education. The tools designed in the study belong to a larger system of tools and practices that form an open education ecosystem. The current working title of my thesis is “Designing for the Open Education Ecosystem”.
The following online tools have been designed during the study:
PILOT is a template for creating special type of digital learning resources that support social constructivist learning. The initial design was carried out in 2004 and 2005. In 2006 the template was implemented in the learning resources authoring tool LeMill. During the study teachers have created 32 learning resources that are based on the PILOT template. The initial design of PILOT template is published in article 1.
LeMill (http://lemill.net) is a web community for finding, authoring and sharing digital learning resources. The design and development of LeMill started in 2005 and the first working prototype was launched in 2006. All the learning resources in LeMill are created by the members of the community and published under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and adaptation by others (open educational resources). The design and development of LeMill software has continued until now and LeMill has become one of the largest open educational resource portals in Europe. Currently 32000 teachers from 75 countries have joined LeMill and published more than 57000 learning resources. The design of challenges and solutions in LeMill have been published in article 2.
EduFeedr (http://www.edufeedr.net) is an online environment for managing and following open online courses that take place in blogs. The motivation to design EduFeedr came from several open online courses that I organized to promote LeMill and open educational resources among the teachers. The design of EduFeedr started in 2009 and the first prototype was launched in 2010. Currently more than 40 courses in 5 countries have been organized in EduFeedr environment and several more educators have tried out the possibilities of the software. EduFeedr is still in beta phase and at least two additional releases are planned. The initial design of EduFeedr is published in article 3.
LeContract is an online tool for supporting the use of learning contracts in open online courses. Learning contract is a pedagogical method in which the learner writes a contract that includes her learning goals, strategy to achieve these goals, resources that are needed and criteria for evaluating the outcomes. Keeping the learner motivation is one of the challenges in open online courses. Personalized learning goals and strategies are one solution to keep the participants motivated. The conceptual design of LeContract was carried out in 2010. The actual development of LeContract software has not started yet. The conceptual design of LeContract is published in article 4.
DigiMina is a web-based tool for assessing teachers’ educational technology competencies. Open education introduces a variety of new tools and practices. In order to utilize these tools and practices in their work teachers need not only general ICT competencies but also special educational technology competencies. In DigiMina system teachers can solve competency tests that contain various self-test, peer-assessment and self-reflection tasks. After completing the competency test they can access and share a competency profile that summarizes their level of educational technology competencies. DigiMina is a local project that is developed for primary and secondary school teachers in Estonia. The competency test is based on the Estonian teachers’ educational technology competency model. DigiMina software is currently under the development. The conceptual design of DigiMina and the assessment methodology is published in article 5.
I have currently 5 articles that I am planning to include in the thesis. Three articles are published in journals (article 1, 2 and 5) and two articles in conference proceedings (article 3 and 4). With EduFeedr and LeContract projects I am still looking for a possibility to publish a more elaborated version of the paper.
Põldoja, H., Leinonen, T., Väljataga, T., Ellonen, A., & Priha, M. (2006). Progressive Inquiry Learning Object Templates (PILOT). International Journal on E-Learning, 5(1), 103-111. [Online]
Leinonen, T., Purma, J., Põldoja, H., & Toikkanen, T. (2010). Information Architecture and Design Solutions Scaffolding Authoring of Open Educational Resources. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 3(2), 116-128. [Online]
Põldoja, H. (2010). EduFeedr: following and supporting learners in open blog-based courses. In Open ED 2010 Proceedings (pp. 399-407). Barcelona: UOC, OU, BYU. [Online]
Põldoja, H., & Väljataga, T. (2010). Externalization of a PLE: Conceptual Design of LeContract. In The PLE 2010 Conference Proceedings. Barcelona: Citilab.
Põldoja, H., Väljataga, T., Laanpere, M., & Tammets, K. (2012). Web-based self- and peer-assessment of teachers’ digital competencies. World Wide Web. doi:10.1007/s11280-012-0176-2 [Online]