New book on Web 2.0 and Social Informatics for Tertiary Learning

August 19th, 2010 by Thomas Ryberg

Together with Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld and Chris Jones I had the pleasure of being invited to contribute with a chapter to a recently published book titled “Web 2.0 Based e-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Learning“:

Lee, M. and McCoughlin, C. (2010) Web 2.0 Based e-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Learning Hershey PA: IGI Global, 415 pp, US$180 hardback

It is edited by Mark Lee and Catherine McCoughlin and I think it is a really interesting collection with a lot of promising chapters. I was actually going to write up a short description etc. but luckily Tony Bates has beaten me to it – so for more information about the book and the individual chapters I kindly refer to his excellent post.

I have been allowed to share a link to the chapter we have written – so if you’re interested in reading our chapter here’s your chance :-) – the title is: “Catering to the Needs of the “Digital Natives” or Educating the “Net Generation”?

PhD course on Networked Learning and the Net Generation – 1-2 May 2010

February 24th, 2010 by Thomas Ryberg

Just want to quickly post/advertise a PhD course I am co-organising and which will be held in relation to the Networked Learning Conference 2010 (just before the conference). The full title is: “Networked Learning and the Net Generation – Implications and Critical Perspectives” and presenters so far are: Chris Jones, Etienne Wenger and Laura Czerniewicz. More information on the course is available here.

Online seminar on Networked Learning and International Development

December 8th, 2009 by Thomas Ryberg

Charalambos Vrasidas is currently hosting an online seminar on Networked Learning and International Development in the Networked Learning Conference forums – so come and join the discussions in the forum and sign up for the Networked Learning Community.

Charalambos was one of the keynotes at the Networked Learning Conference 2008 in Greece, and he made an excellent presentation on “Social Networking for Social Justice: Challenges and Possibilities”, which I blogged about at that time (or see Gráinne Conole post about the keynote).

I am sure the online seminar will be equally interesting, so do come and join the fun :-)

Call for Abstracts – Nordic Interdiscplinary Conference on Discourse and Interaction

December 4th, 2009 by Thomas Ryberg

Below just some information about an upcoming conference on Discourse and Interaction, which will be held in Aalborg and organised by colleagues of mine from the Centre for Discourse Studies.



NorDIsCo 2010
Nordic Interdiscplinary Conference on Discourse and Interaction

Plenary speakers:
Professor Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, Uppsala
Professor Paul McIlvenny, Aalborg
Professor Sari Pietikäinen, Jyväskylä
Professor Jan Svennevig, Oslo

Dates: 17th – 19th November 2010

Location: Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark

Web site:

The aim of this interdisciplinary Nordic conference is to bring together doctoral students and researchers in the Nordic and Baltic region who investigate discourse and interaction from different disciplinary perspectives. The conference will highlight research that explores how text, discourse, talk and social interaction are structured, organised and constituted. Thus, this conference welcomes contributions by scholars and doctoral students in a range of fields of inquiry, including but not limited to discourse studies, conversation analysis, discursive psychology, critical discourse analysis, interaction analysis, rhetoric,
narrative analysis, discourse theory, political discourse analysis, social semiotics, multimodal discourse analysis, applied linguistics, gesture studies and communication activism, as well as approaches to discourse and interaction to be found in sociology, political science, environmental science, economics, media studies and cultural studies. Please see the
online call for abstracts for more details.

For more information, please contact the organisers:

This conference is supported by:
Centre for Discourse Studies
Doctoral Programme in Discourse & Contemporary Culture
Department of Language & Culture, Aalborg University

New interesting tools for designing learning

November 3rd, 2009 by Thomas Ryberg

In relation to the COMBLE EU project the different partners have been working for some time on developing and adding content to Methopedia. Methopedia is a wiki/community where people can share learning activities, learning designs, approaches and much more. Now our partners from Wildau University of Applied science have develop a flash tool for designing different kinds of learning events – it could be a 2-day seminar, or it could be a series of lectures – the main idea is that it can import whatever is put into Methopedia and then one can create some visual overviews of e.g. a seminar-day or the like and be inspired by the number of learning activities which are available in Methopedia.

But do have a look at the Learning Designer Tool and the associated video.

DELL – come clean up your f¤cking mess!

September 23rd, 2009 by Thomas Ryberg

So obviously a company like Dell has some sort of Green Initiative showing that they care about people, environment, recycling, fluffy bunnies and what not – this is all very nice, but maybe Dell could get even more concrete than that – they can show up at Aalborg University and clean up their mess! Pictures below are from outside Aalborg University where Dell or associates have put little paper ads on the bikes…well, maybe they should have glued them onto the bikes, because obviously in a windy environment they will be all over the place – come clean this up!

Connectivism Wiki and the creation of knowledge

September 18th, 2009 by Thomas Ryberg

From twitter I just happened to stumble upon a wiki-page on Constructivism which is being developed as part of the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge/09 online conference. While I find many of the ideas of connectivism appealing and really interesting, I think there are some problems in calling it a new learning theory or paradigm in itself (as the criticism section of the Wikipedia entry on Connectivism also suggest, and which is explored by Kop & Hill in the article: Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?).

I really do not mean to make a long-winded criticism or dismissing a perspective which I truly find interesting, but looking at the wiki I also think there are some problems. For instance I found the following passage, which I think is quite curious:

What then, do we find to be distinct about connectivism?

1. Existing theories of learning fail to account for the expansion and creation of knowledge

I think it is rather curious that the authors use the word expansion without making reference to e.g. Yrjö Engeström’s theory of expansive learning, which he wrote back in 1987 (is available here). And in the table describing different theories of learning PIaget and Vygotsky are placed under ‘Constructivism’ – although I think there are many commonalities, there are also some differences, which I think would place Vygotsky more within a ‘socio-cultural’ approach (e.g. as also explored in Dillenbourg et al. 1995 who differ between socio-constructivist, socio-cultural (and then situated cognition)). However, there are many different attempts to group learning theories and is difficult to provide overviews without simplifying a bit of course. However, I think it is not quite right to suggest that existing theories fail to account for the expansion and creation of knowledge, as I do find that socio-cultural theorist (Engeström, Saljö and many many others have provided very interesting and extensive accounts of this) – also I would say that others have contributed to this as well (as discussed by Paavola et al. (2004))

Furthermore, I do find there are or could be some very interesting links between Networked Learning and Connectivism – e.g. when looking at the definition from Goodyear et al. (2004):

“Networked learning is learning in which information and communications (ICT) is used to promote connections: between one learner and other learners, between learners and tutors; between a learning community and its learning resources”

I think it would be interesting to further explore how connectivism resemble, differ from, extends or in some ways lack thought from some of these frameworks. Therefore I am also very happy that George Siemens and Stephen Downes will be hosting an online seminar in relation to the Networked Learning Conference from the 26th of October – I am sure some very interesting discussions will emerge from that, and I am also really looking forward to getting to know more about their perspective! (hopefully I will have all the time in the world to participate vividly during those days :-) )

Some references

Dillenbourg, P., Baker, M., Blaye, A., & O’Malley, C. (1996). The Evolution of Research on Collaborative Learning. In E. Spada & P. Reiman (Eds.), Learning in humans and machines: Towards an interdisciplinary learning science (pp. 189-211). Oxford: Pergamon/Elsevier Science.

Goodyear, P., Banks, S., Hodgson, V., & McConnell, D. (2004). Advances in Research on Networked Learning. Dordrecht: Klüwer Academic Publishers.

Paavola, S., Lipponen, L., & Hakkarainen, K. (2004). Models of Innovative Knowledge Communities and Three Metaphors of Learning. Review of Educational Research, 74(4), 557-576. 

Invitation to the Networked Learning 2010 preconference online hot seats

September 18th, 2009 by Thomas Ryberg

Just a service announcement related to NLC2010 – there’s a great line up of people hosting online seminars/hot seats!

Prior to the Networked Learning 2010 conference on May 3rd and 4th in Aalborg, Denmark we are offering an exciting series of online hot seats hosted by some of the leading thinkers in the field. Each hot seat will run for a week starting on the following dates:

Caroline Haythornthwaite: Learning in Social Networks and Networked Learning – starting September 28th, 2009

George Siemens and Steve Downes: Impact on Learning of Networked Technologies – starting October 26th, 2009

Charalambos Vrasidas: Networked Learning and International Development – starting December 7th, 2009

Grainne Conole: Theories and Methodologies for Research in Networked Learning – starting January 18th, 2010

Gabriel Salomon and Rupert Wegerif: Globalisation and Interculturality in Networked Learning – starting February 15th, 2010

And finally during March and April (dates to be announced) there will be hot seats hosted by the conference key notes;

Yrjo Engstrom and Etienne Wenger.

The hot seats are free to attend. All you need to do is sign up at the conference community website and join the online hot seat debates.

If you would like to start a hot seat or seminar yourself please contact Maarten De Laat

( m.f.delaat(ad) ).

Quick note: Cloudscapes and tweets from ALT-C

September 9th, 2009 by Thomas Ryberg

I just thought I would do a quick post about the the interesting online activities taking place in relation to the ALT-C 2009 (Association for Learning Technology Conference). I am not attending the ALT-C – at least not physically, but through twitter (e.g. #altc2009) and cloudworks I can follow some of the debates and access some of the material that people post in relation to the presentations and discussions. In particular I think Cloudscape is interesting, and I can highly recommend people having a look at the ALT-C cloudscape made. What is interesting is that there are both descriptions of sessions, but also stuff people upload and share during the sessions are added or aggregated in this cloudscape (as clouds or through import of tweets, comments and much more) – I think it is really an interesting tool for conferences and other events (and probably also a lot of other stuff :-) )

But really great to be able to follow the debates going on and also being able to view some of the videos (maybe all?). There’s a good video on the debate of: The VLE is dead! (…or is it) (on Graham Attwells blog). This seems to have spurred some debate :-) ….as have the session, I imagine, on “Is there a Net generation coming to university?”…I would really have loved to joined these debates and hope I’ll have some time to do a blog-post on one of them :)

A bit on learning design, learning activities and software

September 2nd, 2009 by Thomas Ryberg

A few days ago I was working on a research-plan for an European project we are engaged in. The name of the project is EAtrain2 which is about:

“The aim of this project is to identify the training and educational needs of employees in both public and private sector and university students regarding EA and to fulfill these using innovative pedagogies and practices based on Web 2.0 technologies and active, problem-based learning approaches.”

Our part of the project is to develop a learning methodology, where we aim to support practitioners in designing (training) courses on Enterprise Architecture. In relation to this project, and the COMBLE-project (another EU-project) we have been looking more into the literature regarding ‘learning design’ or ‘designs for learning’. This is a very broad area, which is basically about enabling practitioners to describe and share their ‘learning designs’. This, however, is approached in a number of different ways ranging from software standards (such as SCORM, LAMS, IMS-LD etc.) to developing software which can support teachers/trainers in the concrete design phases (Compendium-LD). I tried to make a very rough and very incomplete mapping of some of the approaches by dividing them into:

  1. Software standards
  2. Models or frameworks for less formalised descriptions (not necessarily software packaged)
  3. Tools for guiding practitioners in the design process

I have pasted the text in below (which is in Danish though) but I would highly recommend Grainne Conole’s blog (and publications) on learning design and work around the pattern language approach (and Yishay Mor’s work on this) – as mentioned the mapping is incomplete and rough, but thought that some might find some useful links from it…

Software-standarder (SCORM, IMS-LD, LAMS)

Ideen med disse er, at man simpelthen kan pakke noget indhold (SCORM) eller en række af aktiviteter + indhold (IMS-LD + LAMS), som så kan udveksles mellem forskellige e-læringsplatforme. Det vil sige, at uanset om men bruger Moodle eller Blackboard, så vil disse pakkede ‘kurser’ eller ‘indholdspakker’ kunne køre. Ideen er naturligvis også, at man så kan dele sine designs og pakker med andre, således at man kan spare tid og ressourcer. Der er en række muligheder ifht. dette men der er også en del problematikker:

  • Oftest bliver det meget ‘instruktivistisk’ (lærercentreret) (specielt ifht SCORM)
  • Selvom der er mange ‘lagre’ så er det meget få der deler og udveksler – givetvis på mange måder for besværligt
  • Ofte har undervisere brug for at kunne tilrette og improvisere meget, hvilket kan være sværere med sådanne pakker

Her skal også nævnes CSCL-scripts, som både lader til at være et rammeværk/model for at beskrive kollaborative aktiviteter, samt at være implementerbart i software. Man kan læse mere om det her: her er der også links til COLLAGE-editoren, hvor man kan designe scripts, som kan eksporteres i f.eks. IMS-LD format – eller som Collaborative learning flow patterns (som er en type LD-pakker for CSCL-scripts).

Modeller og rammeværk – standarder for beskrivelse

Blandt andet på grund af nogle af disse erfaringer, og f.eks. studier af underviseres praksis og forhold til at ibrugtage store forkromede rammeværk (de Freitas, M. Oliver, Mee, & Mayes, 2008), så har flere forsøgt at lave nogle mindre formaliserede måder at beskrive og dele på, end f.eks. med softwareløsninger. I Australien og New Zealand har der været en del arbejde med at lave forskellige modeller og beskrivelses-værktøjer eller måder at visualiserer og arbejde med læringsdesign og læringsaktiviteter (denne side giver et godt overblik: – og specielt denne side er MEGET interessant for: ) – noget af dette bygger på arbejde af bl.a. Ron Oliver mfl. (R. Oliver, 2001). Det er endvidere et godt eksempel på en af rigtig mange net-ressourcer, hvor sådanne ting bliver lagt til rådighed – problemet er, at de ofte ender lidt som lagre, og ikke bliver opdateret over tid (efter et projekt er slut eller lignende).

Andre måder at beskrive designs og aktiviteter på kan findes på nettet og i diverse artikler (f.eks.  de mange gode af Gráinne Conole mfl.). Ligeledes er der f.eks. pattern approach som mange er blevet interesserede i og som bygger på Alexanders pattern language (se f.eks. eller denne Wiki hvor man kan dele patterns: – her er der flere eksempler på patterns). Kernen er at man beskriver et problem,  kontekst for problemet, samt en løsning. Denne beskrivelse vil andre så kunne gøre brug af hvis de har et lignende problem i en lignende kontekst – f.eks. kan man arbejde med forskellige ‘pedagogical patterns’.

Der er ligeledes opstået andre online communities, hvor man kan dele ‘læringsdesign’, men i mindre standardiseret udgave. Et godt eksempel er Cloudworks som er “a place to share, find and discuss learning and teaching ideas and experiences”. Her er der er lagt mere vægt på interaktion og integration med andre tjenester (f.eks. Twitter). Her kan man dele beskrivelser, ideer, samle inputs fra en konference eller lægge links op til inspiration, som andre så kan kommentere, dele osv. Det er hurtigt og nemt at oprette clouds eller konstellationer af clouds (cloudscapes) og beskrive en ide eller erfaring uden at skulle udtrykke sig i termerne af et bestemt rammeværk eller beskrivelsesmodel (der kan findes mere om dette på Gráinne Conoles glimrende blog: – her ligger også links til flere artikler om learning design og Cloudworks).

Ligeledes kan nævnes Methopedia wiki og community, som vi selv er involveret i at udvikle, som en del af COMBLE-projektet. Her er ideen ligeledes, at man kan dele forskellige læringsdesign og aktiviteter i et wiki-community ved at udfylde nogle relativt simple templates – som f.eks. denne clothesline-aktivitet, man kan bruge til at få lærende til at reflektere over læringsudbyttet for en dag. Ideen er her at samle og dele beskrivelser, billeder, videoer og andet materiale i beskrivelsen af sådanne læringsaktiviteter eller pædagogiske metoder, som andre kan lade sig inspirere af og bygge videre på.

Værktøjer (evt. software) til at guide praktikere

Sidst kan nævnes en række ‘værktøjer’ til at understøtte praktikeres udvikling af kurser og læringsforløb (f.eks. online). Mange af software-værktøjerne som er udviklet til at håndtere f.eks. LAMS-sekvenser, IMS-lD pakker, CSCL-scripts eller SCORM-objekter hører på sin vis til i denne kategori, da de kan siges at være værktøjer, der understøtter udvikling/design af læringsforløb. Nogle værktøjer er dog udviklet mere specifikt med henblik på at facilitere pædagogisk refleksion i løbet af designprocessen, snarere end de er udviklet til at ‘pakke’ og ‘distribuere’ disse.

Herunder kan nævnes CompendiumLD, som er et tilrettet mindmap-værktøj, der kan bruges til at visualisere læringsforløb, aktiviteter og ressourcer – som det beskrives på siden:

” CompendiumLD is a software tool for designing learning activities using a flexible visual interface. It is being developed as a tool to support lecturers, teachers and others invovled in education to help them articulate their ideas and map out the design or learning sequence. Feedback from users suggests the process of visualising design makes their design ideas more explicit and highlights issues that they may not have noticed otherwise. It also provides a useful means of representing their designs so that they can be shared with others.” (

Et værktøj, der ligner dette, men som ikke er et stykke software er CoED-metoden, som er udviklet af mine kolleger Tom Nyvang og Marianne Georgsen. CoED står for Collaborative e-Learning Design Method og kan bedst betegnes som en slags design-spil. ‘Spillet’, som eksempelvis kan udføres som en tema-dag består af forskellige faser med en række aktiviteter, der leder frem mod kollaborativt design af et e-læringsforløb. De tre faser er:

1. Focus the e-learning design process

2. Identify overarching values and design principles

3. Specify design

Nogle gange kan det f.eks. indledes med ekspert-oplæg vedr. e-læring og pædagogik for at få sporet deltagerne ind på e-learning og design. Det vigtige skridt er at blive enige om nogle overordnede pædagogiske værdier og principper ud fra en række forslagskort. Skal der være fokus på kollaborativ læring, gruppearbejde, problemorientering, instruktion, videnstilegnelse? Og hvordan mener deltagerne egentlig at man lærer bedst? Herefter går man mere konkret i gang med at designe et forløb ved f.eks. at pege på nogle ressourcer, aktiviteter og en infrastruktur (det miljø eller miljæer som det skal køre i f.eks. et LMS, PC, CD-rom, spil osv.). Vi har flere gange arbejdet med denne metode ved forskellige lejligheder, og i mine øjne fungerer metoden rigtig godt i forhold til at støtte praktikere i at reflektere over og designe et e-lærings- eller blended learning forløb.


Conole, G. (2007). Describing learning activities -Tools and resources to guide practice. In Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and Delivering E-learning (p. 81).

Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M., & Seale, J. (2004). Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design. Computers and Education, 43(1), 17-33.

Fowler, C. J., & Mayes, T. (2005). JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study – Stage 2: Mapping theory to practice and practice to tool functionality based on the practitioners’ perspective.

de Freitas, S., Oliver, M., Mee, A., & Mayes, T. (2008). The practitioner perspective on the modeling of pedagogy and practice. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(1), 26-38.

Mayes, T., & de Freitas, S. (2004). JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study – Stage 2:  Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models.

Oliver, R. (2001). Seeking best practice in online learning: Flexible Learning Toolboxes in the Australian VET sector. Ajet Publications.

Ryberg, T., Brenstein, E., Pilt, L., Moczadlo, R., Niemczik, C., & Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L. (2008). Enhancing Blended Learning – Developing a Community Based Methopedia. In D. Remenyi (Ed.), The Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on e-Learning (pp. 394-405). Academic Publishing Limited.