Sebastian H.D. Fiedler On Thursday and Friday (08.09 and 09.09.2016) we held our first in-house conference at the Hamburg Center for University Teaching and Learning (HUL) in collaboration with researchers from the Competence Center for Educational Development And Research in Higher Education (CEDAR) at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

The event was titled “Perspektiven und Zukunft der Forschung zum Lehren und Lernen an Hochschulen” (Perspectives and future of research on teaching and learning in institutions of higher education) and catered to German speaking researchers who work in the area of research and development of teaching and learning in higher education.

The final programme (in German) offered 4 parallel tracks of “symposia” that grouped a number of related contributions from a variety of German and Swiss institutions.

HUL in-house conference 2016

An interesting element of the overall event was labeled “conference phenography” which Gabi Reinmann had initiated as part of the conference design. Teams of two observed and participated one particular conference track, took notes, and finally recorded a conversational commentary on video that is finally going to be shared with the other participants. I had the privilege to go through this exercise with Frank Vohle (Ghostthinker company) and my HUL coworker Eileen Lübcke. It’s going to be interesting what others make out of our short video snippets.

I will try to write up my overall impressions in the coming days.

In the meantime, I can already point to a commentary (in German) that my colleague Tobias Schmohl has published on the matter and a small selection of photos that I took during the event.

Sebastian H.D. FiedlerI am playing around with the Fargo outliner. Apparently it can be used to interface with WordPress sites. I have always liked to do structured writing in outliners. Especially for Web publishing. The old Radio Userland plus Manila Frontier combo was a pretty cool setup. One could edit good part of a Manila website through the Radio outline interface. Nothing that came after this could quite live up to this user experience.

Well, Fargo might bring some of that old workflow back. It is all OPML based and makes some clever use of the Dropbox infrastructure. It sure looks very interesting so far.

What I find missing right now is…

  • separate WP blog interface settings per outline
  • collaborative editing of one single outline
  • (I am sure that list will grow when I play around a bit more…)

If you have never worked with dedicated outliners before than the following description from Dave Winer (one of the guys behind the Fargo outliner) provides a pretty nice summary:

An outliner is a text editor that organizes information in a hierarchy, allowing users to control the level of detail and to reorganize according to structure. Your notes can have full detail, yet be organized so a casual reader can get a quick overview. Outlining is a great way for teams to organize work…

[via Small Picture ]

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler

Since March I have engaged in a series of conversations with Dr. Emanuele Bardone. Apart from some obvious similarities in our current set up (we both hold postdoctoral Research Fellowships at Tallinn University, have Estonian partners, occasionally struggle with the odd inter-culture challenge, and so forth), we quickly detected a certain compatibility in interests and orientations. Emanuele’s background in philosophy (of cognition) and his focus on “chance-seeking” in digital learning environments make an interesting fit with my longterm interest in autodidaxy, self-education, and the emancipation of individual and collective learning activity in the context of the unfolding, digital transformation of society.

Well, we will see where things are going… but at the moment we are tinkering with some rather practical ideas on how to give a research collaboration a more concrete shape. Stay tuned.

The conference theme responsible teaching and sustainable learning focuses on elementary issues that educational researchers investigate. Besides, it picks up EARLI’s twofold mission in researching learning and instruction and also connects to recent developments in educational research and practice…

[via EARLI 2013 conference website]

Sebastian Fiedler The submission deadline is October 31, 2012. For details have look at the first call (pdf) issued in March 2012.

[Sebastian Fiedler]

Sebastian Fiedler In July I managed to re-vist Athens, Georgia, where I worked and studied at The University of Georgia from August 1998 to May 2000. It was a great opportunity for an occasional “walk down memory lane”. I was able to spend a few days with Chad Galloway, one of my trusted sources of diversion and entertainment in and outside of the Learning Performance Support Lab… back in the days. It sometimes felt like I had never left.

The UGA campus was as beautifully landscaped and well maintained as ever. And the climate was as hot and sticky as it usually gets in the deep South in the middle of summer. For my Baltic travel companion, Terje, this was surely a new and somewhat challenging experience…

It is still amazing how much night-life is packed into the rather small downtown area of Athens, GA. This hasn’t changed a bit… as it seems. Though it was “slow season” right at the end of summer session the live music scene felt alive and kicking. That was always one of the best feature of nocturnal Athens for me.

ICALT2011 was hosted in the Georgia Center on South Campus. We presented our paper “Expanding the concept of learner control in higher education: consequences for intervention design” there and I managed to catch up with Lloyd Rieber and Janette Hill. I also got to know Ike Choi who had joined the Instructional Technology faculty at the UGA right after I had left. I also walked over to beloved Aderhold Hall (or Aderhold Hell… as it was sometimes called)… but offices looked pretty much deserted and I could not find anyone there.

Terje on the other hand managed to find two Estonian researchers at the conference: Mario Mäeots and Heilo Altin from the University of Tartu. They turned out to be a very enjoyable company on various tours in and around town during the conference days.

All and all it was really nice to touch base with the UGA folks… and float around campus and town after all these years.

[Sebastian Fiedler]

Sebastian Fiedler

In my recent live presentation/session for PLENK2010 I was trying to argue that if we want to get any further with the notion of Personal Learning Environments (PLE), we need to stop staring exclusively at the current (and transient) level of technological (Web) development. Instead, we need to analyse the “personal learning” side more seriously.

One possible perspective to take here is a (socio-)historical one. What types of learning have emerged over time and coupled to what (media-)historical developments? Personally, I find it rather useless to talk about environments for personal learning (or Personal Learning Environments) without an exploration of the types of learning (or the types of learning activity) these, so called, environments are supposed to constitute, support, or facilitate (you name it).

In their recent book chapter “Lernkultur oder Lernkulturen – was ist neu an der ,Kultur des Lernens’?” Erdmann & Rückriem (2010) discuss, among other things, the emergence of new types of learning (Lernformen). In this context they provide a short and simplified overview of three central (media)-historical types of learning that they distinguish:

  • Contextualised, experience-based learning
    (kontextualisierts erfahrungsbasiertes Lernen)

    “Learning” is coupled to the body and (mostly local) social practice. Think: observation, co-ordinated action, apprenticeship, and so forth.

  • De-contextualised, knowledge-based taught-learning
    (dekontextualisiertes wissensbasiertes Lehr-Lernen)

    Book- & text-culture allow for the emergence of a new media-historical from of “knowledge”. The book (text) becomes the new leading medium. In this context “learning” emerges as “activity” (Lerntätigkeit). De-contextualised, systematic taucht-learning becomes the dominant format and gets institutionalised in “school”. Contextualised, experience-based learning is gradually de-valued in society and taught-learning is treated as “learning” par excellence.

  • Re-contextualised, sense-constituting, reflexive learning
    (rekontextualisiertes sinnkonstituierendes reflexives Lernen)

    what gets on centre-stage is the learning of sense-constituting. Erdmann & Rückriem acknowledge that the former (media-)historical types of learning were also “sense-based”, of course. However, sense was either coupled with the actual contextualised personal (and social) experience, or the de-contextualised (book-)knowledge. What the authors see emerging is the de-coupling of knowledge (generating?) system(s) and meaning (generating/constituting?) systems(s) in the information society. Learning how to constitute sense becomes thus an important individual and societal task. This new type of learning can be (should be?) characterised as net-worked (I spare me a more detailed description of the “networkedness” as it is understood by Erdmann & Rückriem).

Erdmann & Rückriem prosose that these historical types of learning have emerged and developed in a successive, irreversible manner. However, they co-exist largely unconnected (which is really to be expected in the early stage of the ongoing cultural transformation).

I am not trying to say that Erdmann & Rückriem (2010) are drawing the one and only meaningful distinctions here. Nevertheless, they point us in an increasingly important direction for analysis and discourse:

…if we want to theorise about “learning” what boundaries do we want to draw? … and why?

…do we want to model individuals, groups, networks, organisations, etc. as the agents (of learning)?

…if we choose to model “personal learning” … what types of learning (Lernform) do we want to (or should we) focus on in the light of the ongoing (digital) transformation?

…if there is really a new (media-historical) type of learning emerging, how would a “personal learning environment” for such type of learning have to look like?

… and so on…


Erdmann, J. W., & Rückriem, G. (2010). Lernkultur oder Lernkulturen – was ist neu an der ,Kultur des Lernens’? In G. Rückriem & H. Giest (Eds.), Tätitgkeitsteorie und (Wissens-)Gesellschaft (pp. 15-52). Berlin: Lehmans Media.

[Sebastian Fiedler]

Sebastian Fiedler

I am finally out of project work and will dedicate the next 12 months to reading, thinking, and writing. Enough of EU funded R&D for a while!

It was really about time to re-focus on my personal educational and academic interests. Naturally the move forces me to go through yet another “transition” phase, requiring considerable adjustments of all kinds. Tiring.. and refreshing at the same time.

[Sebastian Fiedler]

Sebastian Fiedler

This is probably old news for the professional usability crowd. However, I have recently re-visited a number of ISO standards that I made use of within my earlier consulting work on human-centered design, Web (and Software) usability.

It appears that ISO 9241 that used to be titled “Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals” is being re-titled and re-organised.
It carries now the more generic title “Ergonomics of Human System Interaction” and ISO is renumbering the standard so that it can include many more topics:

  • 100 series: Software ergonomics
  • 200 series: Human system interaction processes
  • 300 series: Displays and display related hardware
  • 400 series: Physical input devices – ergonomics principles
  • 500 series: Workplace ergonomics
  • 600 series: Environment ergonomics
  • 700 series: Application domains – Control rooms
  • 900 series: Tactile and haptic interactions

The first part of ISO 9241 that has been renumbered seems to be the old part 10 that is now Part 110 “Dialogue principles”. However, the dialogue principles still seem to be the same.

For folks who are interested in Web usability and design issues there are two (relatively new) relevant parts already following the new numbering system:

  • Part 151: Guidance on World Wide Web user interfaces
  • Part 171: Guidance on software accessibility

What I also find noteworthy is the fact that good old ISO 13407 “Human-centred design processes for interactive systems” will be integrated into ISO 9421. The new draft version is titled “Human-centred design for interactive systems” and should become part 210 in the new numbering system of ISO 9241. I am not sure yet what is actually being changed (apart from the number…).

If you know more about it… shoot me a message.

[Sebastian Fiedler]