The aim of this network is to strengthen interdisciplinary high-quality research and further develop an on-going research effort supported by a seed money grant from NordForsk in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). The Learning Ecosystems and Activities of the Future (LEAF) is a research initiative that brings together eight research groups from four Nordic countries (Sweden Finland, Norway and Denmark). These groups encompass an area of scientific research related to the interdisciplinary field of Technology Enhanced Learning with special emphasis on two disciplines, namely Learning Sciences and Human Computer Interaction.
The overall aims of the LEAF initiative are to establish a solid scientific ground in order to consolidate research and training efforts in the field of TEL through the creation of a Nordic research network of senior scientists, young researchers and PhD students. In particular, Ph D students in the Nordic countries find it difficult to get supervision covering different areas of expertise in the complex landscape of studying and developing mobile devices for learning Expertise about learning sciences, education technology, computer sciences, human computer interaction and more specifically, competence in the design of pedagogical activities, prototypes, scenarios, social media, qualitative and quantitative methodological expertise, social software, social and conceptual collaboration, architectures, sensors, sema codes, image, sound, animation are needed.
The objective of LEAF is thus to develop and implement a common Nordic strategy for supporting new initiatives that can promote synergy in research, research training and development in the field of TEL across the Nordic countries. The LEAF initiative also aims at reinforcing Nordic research in the field of TEL in relation to the research objectives expressed by the European community in this specific domain area. (e.g. Cordis ICT program in Technology - Enhanced Learning). Based on our previous experiences, we have identified the need of developing a coherent national and Nordic strategy in order to be able to keep our position as one of the leading world regions in the field of TEL.
The expected outcomes of these efforts will result in practical initiatives to support a wide range of TEL related activities of high international quality. Examples of such kind of TEL-related activities are described below:
- Research training actions will consist of facilitating the creation of a network for PhD students and young researchers working on TEL related activities in order to:
- increase scientific exchange between doctoral students from different Nordic countries
- improve their interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in this particular field.
- promote mobility of post docs
- facilitate exchange between PhD supervisors and provide a network for researchers’ co-supervision.
- support Nordic expertise and synergy in multidisciplinary research training
- Planning of scientific research projects focused on further knowledge and understanding of future school development and future learning models in Nordic countries through the following activities:
A. Launching multidisciplinary cross-border research and development projects in which we will provide PhD students and young researchers with an interdisciplinary understanding of :
- analytical concepts, methods and prototypes for the study of the teachers' and learners' interaction with mobile technology.
- scientific perspectives about the issue of: how can mobile and ubiquitous technology be integrated and implemented in teaching and learning practices,
- innovative models and test beds for experiencing future ways of teaching and learning.
B. Sharing expertise between Network participants
Sharing expertise between Network participants and in particular, offering learning and collaboration opportunities for PhD-students and young researchers (e.g. by organizing seminars, workshops and by promoting visits between research groups. The LEAF network has already organized two research workshops in Stockholm, in October 2008 and in Oulu, February 2009. The aim of the workshops was to define the LEAF network research and research training objectives.).
c. Maintaining communication with the industry through an already established contact with Nokia and other companies.
Professor Jari Multisilta has been a visiting fellow at Nokia Research Center, Tampere, Finland during the period 1.1.2008-31.12.2009. Activities included
- discussing and comparing research challenges between industry and academy,
- supporting industries to apply models an methods validated in research projects, and
- supporting the co-operation between industry and academy in research training (PhD students working in industry and doing their PhD thesis).
From a Nordic perspective, our collaboration will enable to develop a vision about how the current and future efforts in the field of TEL in Nordic Countries could evolve and develop in a way that they will become internationally competitive, thus resulting in creating the conditions for a better as well as equal educational system for our coming generations. It is expected that this collaboration will promote the mobility of 35 PhD candidates, who are members of the different eight research groups, in order to attend and actively participate in a series of interdisciplinary scientific seminars, workshops and courses. Several participating organizations of the LEAF initiative have been actively involved in the Kaleidoscope Network of Excellence supported by the EU. Moreover, all LEAF members have on-going scientific collaboration with leading universities in the USA, Canada, Germany, UK, France, Japan and Taiwan. Grounded in the scientific competence in the fields of learning sciences and human computer interaction the network will generate new expertise in the area of TEL and bridge together different eight research groups in the Nordic Countries. Co-operation between different research groups will strengthen each participant’s national and international competitiveness. Collaboration will also strengthen participants theoretical and methodological understanding of learning as well as how different technological tools may enhance deep learning and collaboration among learners.