N. 24, Spring 2015


Innovative Designs with Social, Mobile and Wearable Technologies for Creative Teaching and Learning


• Introduction


This focus section is devoted to the creative uses of social, mobile and wearable technologies for teaching and learning. Specifically, it explores new designs for teaching, designs for learning, with a focus on creative practices in teaching and learning .

The emphasis on ‘creative’ teaching and learning has been gained from the observation that fostering creativity is still a underexposed aspect when it comes to designing for technology-enhanced learning. While a great number of learning designs focus on enhancing efficiency, mastery and attainment, there are yet few examples of designs explicitly addressing creative teaching and learning [1]. This special issue (SI) aims at encouraging researchers, designers and educators to reflect on how their designs may already enhance creativity and gives creativity a more prominent role in designing, developing and researching technology-enhanced learning with emerging technologies such as social, mobile and wearable. 

The term creativity in teaching and learning is highly contradictory (e.g., [2]). Not all researchers, teachers and learners would agree to the same understanding. Therefore, we rather argue that creativity is a lot of things and creative designs for learning can mean a bundle of many things. The papers in that SI are example on how to bring emergent technology and creativity together; they address different facets of creativity. The understanding of creativity underlying this special issue is based on the socio-cultural concept of creativity, which shifts the attention from unique, great creators and revolutionary creations to ordinary creators and creativity of everyday life [3]. This concept of creativity includes notions as “connective, social activity” [4], “collaborative creativity” [5], ”making something new, something valuable or useful for a particular group” [6], “making something novel in a given context” [7] or as “connecting with others, sharing and putting together ideas and artefacts to create something novel from the creator’s perspective in a particular context” [8]. These approaches emphasise the importance of creativity for the engagement with social and physical environment, active and meaningful participation [9].

Social, mobile and wearable technologies - and particularly the link between them - offer new opportunities for technology-enhanced teaching and learning practice, including connective, social and collaborative forms of creativity in specific contexts. However, there seems to be a gap between technological and pedagogical innovation. Pedagogical innovation in this context may be considered in terms of the transformation of the existing (educational and didactical) practice. As innovative uses of technologies emerged from creative processes, taking place in communities, embedded in networks of social relations, there is a need to explore and discuss how innovation in learning and teaching is conceptualised in different communities. Learning designers and educators have the social responsibility to develop designs and facilitate learning putting specific needs of diverse teachers and learners at center stage. Therefore papers in this focus section have been selected also based on the value of proposed designs for the users.


• Papers in this focus section


This focus section includes five selected papers presenting current research on Innovative Designs with Social, Mobile and Wearable Technologies for Creative Teaching and Learning. The different focal points of the five papers represent the diversity of approaches in this field.

Paper 1 by Nikos Mitropoulos, Maria Taramigkou and Dimitris Apostolou titled “Exploiting Readily Available Information to Support Everyday Creativity on the Move”, presents m-CRUISE - a mobile search application which combines diversification of content and sources with a user interface design utilising cues from the social chatter. Social chatter is used as a source of information that can inspire learners. The m-CRUISE application follows the approach of funnelling social chatter into information seeking to enable the use of clues embedded in the social chatter and the Web at large in expanding search queries. CRUISE stands for Creative User Centric Inspirational Search, an approach which aims at helping users to explore inspirational cues through various sources of information. The mobile application m-CRUISE lets the learner initiate a query and then choose the path to enrich and broaden the query by exploring available information and re-formulating queries. The work presented in this paper gives an insight into exploratory search and information retrieval algorithms which enhance inspiration and creativity in approaching everyday tasks with the help of mobile devices. Following the discovery learning theory, the authors argue that mobile applications such as m-CRUISE can be used as tools for inspiration and discovery learning. The potential is seen in enhancing serendipitous encounters with inspiring information, encouraging active engagement, promoting self-motivation, giving autonomy to users in dealing creatively with situations and facilitating the development of creative problem solving skills.

Paper 2 by Angel Suarez, Stefaan Ternier, Marco Kalz, Marcus Specht titled “Supporting Inquiry-based Learning with Google Glass (GPIM)”, introduces a Google Glass application - the Glassware Personal Inquiry Manager (GPIM), which has been developed in the weSPOT project. The GPIM application follows the Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) approach and has been designed to facilitate self-directed learning to enable students to set up personally meaningful inquiries. Compared to a mobile application, the glassware application GPIM allows for new types of inquiries, especially inquiries which start with student curiosity followed by capturing a wonder moment. The GPIM application installed on the Google Glass worn by the user allows to capture a wonder moment just in time and in an unobtrusive way. Collections of wonder moments can be then used as a source of inspiration to develop new inquiries or activities. In this way, a wearable device may be used to support inquiries resulting from curiosity of the learner as part of the seamless learning experience. 

Paper 3 by Ilona Buchem, Jörn Kreutel, Agathe Merceron, Marten Haesner, Anika Steinert, titled “Wearable Learning for Healthy Ageing through Creative Learning: A Conceptual Framework in the project “Fitness MOOC” (fMOOC)”, presents an fMOOC solution which utilises wearable fitness trackers to support healthy ageing through physical activity as part of the daily routine. fMOOC stands for fitness MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and aims at enhancing embodied, creative learning experience through physical practice and interaction with senior users with the support of wearable and mobile devices. The fMOOC approach is based on the process-oriented concept of creativity which is closely linked to psychological and physical well-being as well as on the capability approach to health. The fMOOC solution utilises gamification elements and learning analytics to enhance physical creativity and creative interactions. In this way, fMOOC promotes healthy ageing by tapping into the positive impact of creativity on well-being. Specifically, fMOOC allows participant to engage in creative, community-based learning activities as part of everyday life by integrating wearable fitness trackers as part of a hybrid learning environment. The health related information from the fMOOC delivered by means of wearable and mobile devices may be used to explore own health and develop capabilities to live healthy.

Paper 4 by Thomas Cochrane, Laurent Antonczak, titled “Designing creative learning environments”, describes a framework for designing creative learning environments using mobile social media as a catalyst for redefining both lecturer pedagogical practice, as well as redesigning the curriculum around student generated mobile portfolios. This framework has been used to design a series of courses in higher education and the paper provides insights from these courses as well as evaluation results. The framework for designing creative learning environments leverages several foundational concepts, including the concepts of building learning communities, rhizomatic learning, heutagogy, the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition framework, three levels of creativity (reproduction, incrementation, reinitiation) and collaborative curriculum design. Two of the keys to the framework presented in the paper are redefining pedagogical practice and cultivating student creativity. The authors argue that designing transformative learning environments involves cultivating a sense of supporting and encouraging student creativity, such as focusing teaching-learning not upon the delivery of a prescribed cannon of content, but upon student-generated content as a result of their experiences and explorations of mobile social media throughout the course, as well as modelling creative pedagogical practice by teachers actively using mobile social media. 

Paper 5 by Annamaria Cacchione, titled “Creative use of Twitter for dynamic assessment in language learning classroom at the university” describes an empirical study with two classes of basic Italian in higher education context, in which Twitter was used as in-classroom tool for dynamic and authentic assessment aiming at improving the overall language proficiency. The use of Twitter the pedagogical approach in which creativity in second language learning is considered as a key driver of language acquisition. By adopting dynamic and authentic assessment, Twitter has become the central point of an integrated and interactive learning-teaching process, in which social interactions feed the content creation process in a creative way, by combining, linking and mixing information from different sources. The use of Twitter on mobile devices follows such approaches as Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to support the creation of augmented learning environments which allow for creative manipulation, interpretation and redesign of available material into new forms of expression. The results of the study show that the overall language proficiency increased compared to previous years and creativity could be enhanced through the collaborative creative construction of content and creative use of language.


• Conclusion and Outlook

The five papers included in this focus section provide valuable insights both on conceptual and empirical levels into how mobile, social and wearable technologies may be used to support creative teaching and learning. The analysis of the papers in this focus section reveal seamless learning as one the key issues related to creative teaching and learning practice. 

The papers point out that seamless learning emphasises the bridging of different learning forms and encompasses a number of dimensions, including formal and informal learning, learning in physical and digital setting, learning through knowledge synthesis, learning across time and locations, learning through a combined use of multiple device types, ubiquitous access to learning resources [10]. Seamless learning experience is addressed explicitly or implicitly by all five papers in this focus section as a way of enhancing creative teaching and learning practice supported by mobile, social and wearable technologies.

Seamless learning experience may be enhanced by serendipitous encounters with information from the social chatter. The serendipity of information encountered seamlessly by means of a mobile search application enables users to approach information queries in a creative way, which may include re-formulating the query by taking new information into consideration. Seamless learning may also take place by capturing wonder moments (e.g. a-ha!-moments) with help of a wearable device just in time and in an unobtrusive way and using such moments as an entry point for new inquiries and learning activities. Learning in a seamless way is enhanced , which allows to capture wonder moments wherever learners go. Wearable and mobile technologies can be also used to enhance a seamless learning experience by capturing bodily fitness data and feeding it back to learners to enhance an embodied learning experience. The use of social mobile media to create learning environments in which interactions extend beyond the limits of educational institutions may be also seen as a way of enhancing seamless learning. Creative learning environments enhanced by social and mobile media provide opportunities for seamless learning integrating learning inside and outside the classroom. Finally, seamless learning can be supported on the level of dynamic and authentic assessment with help of social and mobile media.

Concepts for seamless learning aim at progressively transforming existing beliefs and methods of learning [10]. This perspective links seamless learning to creative learning and teaching which involve changing the existing practice. Therefore, a recommendation for further research is to explore the links between seamless and creative learning concepts and designs, especially in view of the use of emergent media for learning. Secondly, the papers show that with emergent technologies the traditional spaces of online and offline are merging [11] where people do not only learn in interaction but in crossaction. Crossaction is a form of seamless learning taking place across existing boundaries. The society is moving towards such ‘seamless’ CrossActionSpaces [12]. Further research is required that explores and studies designs for learning and teaching under those new conditions.


by Ilona Buchem, Isa Jahnke, Yishay Mor, Dimitris Apostolou



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2. Jahnke, I. (2013). Teaching Practices in iPad-Classrooms: Alignment of Didactical Designs, Mobile Devices and Creativity. In International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning (ijMBL), July-Sept 2013, Vol 5, No 3, pp. 1-17.

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6. Sternberg, R. J. (1999). Handbook of Creativity. Cambridge University Press.

7. Gauntlett, D. (2011). Making is connecting. The social meaning of creativity from DYI and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.


8. Jahnke, I. (2011). How to foster creativity in technology enhanced learning. In B. White, I. King, & P. Tsang (Eds.), Social media tools and platforms in learning environments: Present and future (pp. 95–116). New York, NY: Springer. Doi:10.1007/978- 3-642-20392-3_6

9. Howland, J., Jonassen, D., & Marra, R. (2011). Meaningful Learning with Technology. Boston et al.: Pearson.

10. Wong, L. H. and C. K. Looi (2012). Enculturing Self-Directed Seamless Learners: Towards a Facilitated Seamless Learning Process Framework Mediated by Mobile Technology. WMUTE 2012: 7th IEEE International Conference on Wireless, Mobile and Ubiquitous Technology in Education. Retrieved from: http://www.lias.nccu.edu.tw/video/wp-content/uploads/2012/004.pdf 

11 Floridi, L. (2014). The Fourth Revolution. How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality. Oxford University Press. 

12 Jahnke, I. (2015). Digital Didactical Designs. Teaching and Learning in CrossActionSpaces. New York/ London: Routledge.