Creating games with visual programming tools and …

Today I learned quite some things about the approaches followed at the MIT-STEP lab on creating mobile games with visual programming tools. One very interesting platform allows the creation of mobile location-based games with an online authoring environment. The project is called tale blazer (

Basically the system allows to define Agents and locate them on a map, one can also create different player roles for a game. What I liked very much is that defining all the logic of an the agents as also the players roles can be done with a visual programming approach similar to Scratch.

So you easily define rules to make agents visible on the map or activate other agents, update agents variables and so on. I will explore further what kind of games one can create with this. The games can be played on iOS and Android just get the client.

Just to wrap up a day of great experiences I had the opportunity to listen to Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantasique at the 20th aniversary concert of the MIT SUMMER PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA. So this was a really great experience and for me just was an impressive demonstration of the vibrant cultural community at MIT.

New IEEE article on sensor technology for learning support

The new Bulletin of the IEEE Technical Committee on Learning Technology (Volume 16) is now available at:

I have one overview article on sensors for learning support:

Abstract: One major technology revolution of the last 2-3 years is the broad integration of sensor technology into every day environments and end user products. This article explores the potential and possibilities of sensor technology for learning support. The author gives several examples and structures the potential implications according to different typical applications of learning technology.

An Jan Schneider a PhD Student of our group has an Article on the presentation trainer with which he also has won the demo award at the European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning:

Abstract: The increasing accessibility of sensors has made it possible to create instructional tools able to present immediate feedback to the learners. To study how this type of instruction is able to support learning, we developed the Presentation Trainer, a tool whose purpose is to train the non-verbal communication skills for public presentations. In this paper we present our findings about studying immediate feedback based on a first round of user tests with the Presentation Trainer.

New publications about sensors and smart city learning

Bernardo Tabuenca has published two new articles. He is doing work in the area of integrating life-long learning services into every day environments and linking them to the objects we use every day in our studies and learning activities.

Title: NFC LearnTracker: Seamless support for learning with mobile and sensor technology
Authors: Tabuenca, Bernardo
Kalz, Marco
Specht, Marcus

Title: “Tap it again, Sam”: Harmonizing the frontiers between digital and real worlds in education
Authors: Tabuenca, Bernardo
Kalz, Marco
Specht, Marcus

The difference in mobile technologies

Yesterday I gave a masterclass about mobile learning, you can watch the dutch video at:

or participate at the masterclass in dutch at (it’s free! thanks to sponsoring of SURF Academy)

One interesting issue of discussion was the question what different affordances different mobile technologies can offer and how this has consequences on the instructional design of mobile learning. I think this is definitely an interesting issue and if someone knows any research papers on this issue I would be interested to get some recommendations.

We need more “Imagineering” in TEL

For discussing some leadership issues I came across Walt Disney’s creativity model. He talked about “Imagineering” combining imagination and engineering. I think for a lot ot TEL projects it would be good to think more in terms of Walt’s perspectives on bringing dreams to solutions.

Walt had three perspectives on creativity the dreamer, the realist, and the critic.

  • The dreamer has no limits, give me a magic wand and all imagination.
  • The realist embeds this in reality and ask what is real and what is feasible?
  • The critic looks at the most critical barriers and be the devil’s advocate.

So for your next TEL workshop just split up in rooms and take the three positions and try to synchronize them. Can be very helpful !

Some selected links:


Walt Disney about adding sound to cartoons 😉

mLearn 2013 and a new President ;-)

I am just back from mLearn 2013 the annual world conference on mobile and contextual learning that took place in Doha, Dakar.

The conference featured an outstanding program and focused on the mobile learning activities in the GCC region (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE). Several mobile learning activities from big classroom programs with rollouts of thousand of tablet computers and professional training programs using mobile technologies have been presented in the practitioner track of the conference.

Furthermore in the scientific track of the conference a peer reviewed selection of international research has been presented from all over the world and is available via Open Access published at

Furthermore I have been elected the Preseident of the IAmLearn Association and starting to think about activities and plans for the near future of IAmlearn. I am sure we will see an exciting conference next year again with outstanding papers and soon some interesting and community growing activities in the IAmlearn community.

Watch out at and for the yearly conferences.

New Publication on TEL and Interdisciplinarity

Thanks to Marco Kalz, for discussing and joint paper on

” Assessing the crossdisciplinarity of technology-enhanced learning with science overlay maps and diversity measures.”

Abstract: This paper deals with the assessment of the crossdisciplinarity of technology-enhanced learning (TEL). Based on a general discussion of the concept interdisciplinarity and a summary of the discussion in the field two empirical methods from scientometrics are introduced and applied. Science overlay maps and the Rao-Stirling-Diversity index are used to analyze the TEL field with a scientometric analysis. The science overlay maps show that a wide variety of disciplines contribute to research in the field. The analysis reveals that the field has been operating on a relatively high level of crossdisciplinarity in the last 10 years compared to 6 other fields of reference. Only in 2004 a decrease in the level of crossdisciplinarity could be identified.


Kalz, M., & Specht, M. (in press). Assessing the crossdisciplinarity of technology-enhanced learning with science overlay maps and diversity measures. British Journal of Educational Technology. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12092

MasterClass Technology Enhanced Mobile Learning

On friday 11th of october I gave a master class at the hogschool Inholland (Masteropleiding Leren & Innoveren l Domein Onderwijs, Leren en Levensbeschouwing l Hogeschool Inholland).

About 46 Teachers from mainly sceondary and higher education have been participating in a very inspiring and constructive event. I learned a lot thanks for all participants. So what did I hope do get across:

I talked about my vision on technology enhanced learning in general, the purpose of technology John Hattie’s Visible Learning Book and the limited effects of technology. I also talked about the effects we are aiming at with our researcg group in CELSTEC from awareness, to curiosity, reflection, contextualized knowledge acquisition amonngst others. I also talked about different technologies we are exploring mobile smartphones with dedicated app sets for different topics, ambient and situated displays, the role of sensors and sensing and the importance of feedback and closed feedback loops.

I introduced the model of inquiry based-learning and talked about the basic weSPOT set of tools available. Several teachers approached me about possibilities of using this in their classroom. We are looking forward to have the first set of dutch training materials soon.

One interesting discussion where practical issues meet research is the question how to handle the problem in the classroom if one should allow mobiles on in the classroom or strictly switch them off. One main outcome I would consider is the fact that dedicated tasks and purposes for the use of mobiles and smartphones in student assignments and groupwork is essential.

I also did the “create your app” exercise with the group and the results have been great. I enjoyed the work a lot and I am looking forward to the next workshop or masterclass with such enthusiastic and constructive groups.


Keynote at NBE2013 Conference in Finland

Today I gave a talk at the NBE2013 conference in Pyhä, FInland.

The conference is in a very nice location in Lappland/FInland and the title Media Education in No Man’s Land really fits as we are out in the wild and discussing on the use of media and technologies in education.

Here I provide some background and information for the talk:

  1. All our slides and the referred papers can be found on In my talk I referred to several related works and organisations these included:

    1. as the organisation in the Netherlands for linking ICT and Schools.
    2. is the WIKIwijs project for creating and aggregating learning materials in dutch schools
    3. 4 in balance for introducing new technologies in eduational settings, this can be found on the website
  2. Some PhD Works I referred to are

    1. Glahn, C. (2009). Contextual support of social engagement and reflection on the Web. Doctoral thesis. September, 18, 2009, Heerlen, The Netherlands: Open University of the Netherlands, CELSTEC.
    2. Verpoorten, D. (2012). Reflection amplifiers in self-regulated learning. Doctoral thesis. November, 9, 2012, Heerlen, The Netherlands: Open Universiteit (CELSTEC). Datawyse / Universitaire Pers Maastricht.
    3. Kelle, S. (2012). Game Design Patterns for Learning. November, 9, 2012, Heerlen, The Netherlands: Open Universiteit in the Netherlands, CELSTEC. Aachen: Shaker Verlag.
  3. The toolking ARLearn I was referring to, you can find information about ARLearn here
  4. You can soon find my slides on but now already have a look at my slideshare.