Reflections on ITK2013

By Kiarii and Eva

From 10th to 12th of April, the 2013 Interaktiivinen Tekniikka Koulutuksessa took place in Hämeenlinna. First day was dedicated to several pre-conference workshops such as the researchers meeting, while the other two days were focused on the presentation of experiences in the use of ICT in learning contexts.

The conference has a long tradition in Finland and it is mainly addressed to a national audience (in fact, most of the presentations were in Finnish). Therefore, for non- Finnish speaking attendants, the conference was, besides a knowledge exchange, an introduction to the Finnish interactive educational technology community. The profile of the members of such a the community was quite diverse since among the attendees you could find teachers, researchers and representatives of the ICT sector.

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Square1: Participatory design with girls in Oakland

Video documentation of the presentation of one group (turn up your volume to listen to the comments of the girls).

school-1-small school-2-small
With the help of Jana, the techGyrls program coordinator of the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland, and four creative mentors, Becca, Melissa, Lily and Malia, I facilitated a PD workshop with 26 girls (4th and 5th grade) at the ACRON Woodland public School in Oakland, California.

In a big circle, I first presented the Square1 concept using the cardboard prototypes. The girls were excited in participating in a professional design process and the further design of the concept. The girls asked questions about the prototype, including how the devices would connect and how to share text and images between the devices. Answers to these questions were be further explored in small group work. We worked in four small groups of 6-7 girls and one mentor. Jana documented the workshop by floating from group to group. As more girls than initially expected participated in the session, and I only prepared cardboard prototypes for two smaller groups, we improvised and created rapid paper prototypes for the additional two groups.

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Middle school intern Nico at HIIT

2013-04-22 19.56.08In Finland, there is a practice of middle school students doing a short term internship (TET) in work places. We had Nico, a 8th grader visiting us for one week. Nico wrote about his experiences with us:

HIITissä työskentely oli erilaista, koska minun tehtäväni vaihtelivat eri päivinä. Mutta silti se oli joka päivä kiinnostavaa ja hauskaa. Työnantoihini kuuluivat haastatteluiden puhtaaksi kirjoittaminen, kyselytutkimusten purkaminen tekstiksi ja oman Windows-phone applikaation tekeminen.

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LEAD @ ITK 2013

Interaktiivinen tekniikka koulutuksessa (ITK, Interactive Technology in Education, ITE) -conference is the largest conference in Finland related to information and communication technology in educational use, and this year takes place 10-12.4. in Hämeenlinna. LEAD participants are actively present in the conference, presenting their works:

Research workshop

  • How to design learning in the 21st century (Jukka Purma, Kiarii Ngua, Eva Durall & Teemu Leinonen)
  • Square1 hypothesis: Building computational and collaborative learning tools in school (Anna Keune & Teemu Leinonen)
  • Digital dashboard for visualizing learning progress and well-being (Eva Durall)
  • Presemo – a live participation tool (Kai Kuikkaniemi, Matti Nelimarkka, Jukka Reitmaa & Petri Lievonen)
  • Opettajayhteistyö ja opettajatiimit tieto- ja viestintäteknologian opetuskäytön tukena (Teemu Mikkonen & Antti Syvänen)
  • Verkko-opiskelu ja sen tutkiminen: tapaus (Emilia Hjelm, Arto Vihavainen & Matti Nelimarkka)
  • Agile in educational domain: fast develoment cycles and evaluation of a software product (Matti Nelimarkka, Kai Kuikkaniemi)

Main conference

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Mobile tools good in social context

In this blog post, I summarize learning Squire’s & Dickers’ article “Amplifications of learning: Use of mobile devices among youth” published in Convergence. Their work is a small qualitative study with ten teenagers in U.S., so the results might not be directly applicable in Europe or Nordic countries.

Why to focus on mobile phones? The researchers suggest that mobile devices allow more interesting stuff happening. They list, based on Klopfer’s and Squire’s (2009) article, that mobile media allows

  • Portability
  • Social interactivity
  • Context sensitivity
  • Connectivity
  • Individuality

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Oakland school visit

techGyrls information and events.

techGyrls information and events.

To further develop the Square1 set of single task dedicated devices in close collaboration with teachers and learners, connections to public schools in the Bay Area were established through the after school mentoring program techGyrls organized by the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland, an NGO that organizes classes and programs around Berkeley and Oakland.


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Square1 cardboard prototype

Square1 cardboard prototype 1 The Square1 is the concept of a set of single tasks dedicated devices for collaborative and cooperative learning, such as a self-organized learning environment, in school. The ideas is that students and teachers will be able to assemble the devices together in school. The set consists of three devices: one for writing, one for drawing and one central device for presentation creation and online search. To share text paragraphs or illustrations, students can connect the writing and drawing devices to the central devices. The central device includes two screens, one on each plain. One screen is dedicated for presentation creation. To access the online search function, the central device has to be flipped.

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Visit to Gemilo HQ

LeaD team paid a visit to Gemilo company. Our plan was to learn more about the Gemilo Social tool, how it is used and how it could be used in LeaD. Currently Gemilo Social platform is used in Kaarina municipality (some 5000 users) and soon there will be Gemilo schools also in Ireland and London. By the end of the spring term the users overseas will be in the thousands. Also University of Tampere and Tampere University of Applied Sciences are currently experimenting the tool. All of these cases present opportunities to gather data by LeaD-research groups.

The Gemilo Social is a social media based education and collaboration tools for companies and educational institutions which works for example as an ideation tool, school project task management software and social media based communication platform. However,  much depends on how the end-users use it as there are always unexpected uses to be found.

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Modern Web for Education: Software development and Agility

This is the intial story on a series of posts that explain changes ongoing in the software industry and highlights changes in the domain of Web technologies. Future stories include mobility, browser related stuff and discussion on openness.


Benington, Herbert D. (1983): “Production of Large Computer Programs”. IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 5(4): 350–361

However, before moving to technology domain, I think it’s worth of mentioning new kind of working practices used in software industry. Many public organizations still use what’s called Waterfall development model. In this model, the product is designed and scoped before moving to the development phase. After that, the product is tested, fixed and delivered to use. Each step follows the other, therefore the name of waterfall. In practice the scoping of a software system is less successful and the results of these projects are usually longer delivery times and poorer product quality.



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Eliademy,  A LEAD partner Aims at Democratizing Education

CBTec, one of the LEAD (learning design-design for learning) board member and program contributor, recently launched Eliademy a free online classroom that supports educators and students, enabling them to create, share and manage courses. It is available for anybody to teach and learn any subject, for free. Eliademy’s mission is to democratize education with technology. In order to make this happen, “Eliademy is open for collaboration and new business opportunities. Join our efforts to export Finnish technology and education abroad”, commented Sotiris Makrygiannis, co-founder and CEO.

Eliademy disrupts online course management market with simple design and outstanding technical engineering making it accessible for any generation from digital natives to baby boomers.

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