Quiet, but not inactive

After the TENCompetence winter school I pretty much abandoned this blog. This did not mean that I was on vacation, but that I have been pretty busy in writing papers for workshops, conferences, and journals. There was a paper for the CHI Nederland workshop in Amsterdam, a paper for the TENCompetence Open Workshop in Madrid, one for the special track on Technology Support for Self-Organized Learners at the 4th EduMedia Conference in Salzburg in June, an article for the IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, and finally a paper for the ECTEL2008 conference. Also I attened the quaterly TENCompetence meeting. As you can expect, my fingers cramped and my mind was empty after all this thoughtful writing.

Now as I stare at the output of somewhat 40 pages and find time to start writing about all this, I have received some reviews. Hence, I can report not only on content, but also on successes and failures.

The first paper I submitted mid of March to the CHI Nederland 2008 workshop "the web and beyond". The call for papers for this workshop stated that the topic is to make the Web2.0 mobile and invited researchers and industries to submit their contributions. Therefore, I submitted the first paper about a mobile version of team.sPace. The title of the paper was "team.sPod: contextualising groups, concepts, and locations". As usual with a first submission to a new community and on a new topic, the paper has been rejected. "We could not figure out what it was you wanted to present", was the only remark for the rejection. This remark has two dimensions: first, the use cases of team.sPod were not well presented and we have focused too much on technical aspects of the new system; second, our paper was not about location based systems, which was what the programme committee obviously considered as "the mobile web". For the next publication on team.sPod I put a greater emphasis on the use cases and the consequences for a mobile application.

The second paper was "Cross-system log file analysis for hypothesis testing", which I submitted to the TENCompetence Workshop in Madrid. The paper covered part of the evaluation methodology that we applied for evaluating the TENCompetence pilot implementations. In general the paper was well received by the reviewers, but they remarked that empirical data was missing. Well, the data is not analysed yet, so there is nothing really ready for report. Last week I presented the work in Madrid and I had an interesting discussion with some of the participants at the workshop. One important thing that I took with me was that more work on understanding the effects of the different systems on learning. Sadly, we will not be able to continue this work within the project, but I think there will be some opportunities on comparing mobile and static systems.

The third paper was about the first results on the first team.sPace experiment I ran at the beginning of this year. This first empirical paper focused on the interviews I made with selected participants. The results of these interviews showed some interesting effects of indicators, particularly on the emotional level. Yesterday, I received the confirmation that the paper was accepted for the workshop - and has been suggested for an extended journal paper. I have not yet found the time to work through the reviews.

The fourth paper is called "smart indicators for learner support" and was submitted to the new "IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies". It covers parts of my contribution to last year's ECTEL conference. While the paper to ECTEL was about the underlying model and the technical architecture, this paper took a deeper look on the empirical data on habits of the participants during the team.sPace experiment. This goes beyond the interviews about which I reported in the previous paper. By evaluating the data I learned once again that one just cannot rely on the people responses, but has also to look at how they actually act. With regard to this paper the results are weak but the point in the right direction and partially confirm the answers I received in the interviews. Let's see what the reviewers have to add about this.

Finally, I submitted on Wednesday a new paper on team.sPace to this year's ECTEL. The paper is called "implications of writing, reading, and tagging on the web for reflection support in informal learning". It looks at a different aspect of the team.sPace experiment. While the first evaluation analysed the effect of activity indicators on learner engagemet, this evaluation analysed how the participants used tags to organise their web-blogs and bookmarks, and compared it with their reading and searching behaviour on team.sPace. While the first evaluation gave only weak results, this one lead to some harder results on a huge amount of data. I analysed some 80,000 raw datasets and reported about the findings. The results point way towards different usages of tag clouds, beyond searching, finding, and awareness. I found that in small user groups the reading habits of users can be used to infer interest information that help to show interesting and related topics of which the users might not be aware of. Interestingly this has not really been investigated in research. I found only a few papers (authored or co-authored by D.R. Millen from IBM research) and a mini study on different forms of using tags in social bookmarking, but nothing really into depth. So this analysis, could turn out to be quite valueble. It is very likely that I spin off some more papers about of these findings.