Liisa Ilomäki

Liisa Ilomäki

Department of Psychology
P.O. Box 9
(Siltavuorenpenger 20 D)
00014 University of Helsinki
Tel: +358-50 - 511 4376;
+358-9-191 29 475
(Note: ”ä” -> ”a”)

I have been engaged in studies of learning, and information and communication technologies (ICTs) for more than 15 years. I designed programs for computer-aided learning and trained teachers to use ICT in their teaching. During the last 4-5 years, I have been working as a researcher at the University of Helsinki. I have been involved in the Schools of Helsinki 2001 project, from the beginning, and produced a number of research reports in that context. I am engaged in analyzing larger bodies of data concerning teachers’ and students’ skills and practices of using ICT and their associated pedagogical conceptions. My team has also collected and studied data about parents' beliefs of the role of ICT in school.

My research work began from a very challenging experiment 1996-1999, when I was as a researcher and a consultant at a Lansimaki school at Vantaa. We were investigating how portable computers could be used to support students’ learning at upper-elementary level. It was a very engaging project, the results were very good and collaboration between teachers and researchers went very well. One particularly intriguing topic that emerged from the project was student expertise in ICT: During the experiment, some of the students developed very sophisticated computer skills and assumed a larger responsibility of ICT-related issues at school than normally is the case. They were, for instance, coaching teachers in the use of ICT.

Through this and other design experiments, I came to understand how effective use of ICT requires a whole school's engagement rather than relies only upon an individual pioneering teacher. I have worked with several other schools and tried to help them to create a strong pedagogical community focused on discussing learning and understanding and pedagogical possibilities offered by new technology. It is my experience that a principal should be closely involved in efforts of pedagogical development. Later on, I have focused on the issue of distributed leadership at school: how to create a team consisting of principal, vice-principal, and teachers representing technical and pedagogical ICT experts, together trying to create a kind of knowledge management strategy for the school. An important aspect of this strategy is teachers' professional development, pedagogical workshops, collaboration with researchers an so on. It is also extremely important to keep close contact with parents and get them involved in pedagogical development projects.

I have continued my work with school communities while engaged in collaboration with Espoo City Department of Education. We are developing a framework for analyzing how the skills and practices of using ICT, associated pedagogical practices and visions could be investigated at the level of an individual school. This work is closely related also to research on teacher communities in the context of the Schools of Helsinki 2001 project. Because of these efforts we have come to undertake research on teachers' virtual communities, in the European School Manager project. I am currently involved in studying teacher networking and pedagogical processes taking place in virtual communities.

Besides participating in our research projects, I have continued the first part of my ICT-related career, i.e., designing learning environments and providing corresponding consultation. There are intriguing practical aspects involved in this kind of work -- it is as practice-laden as knowledge work ever could be. As example of this sort of work is digital image processing that I have been practicing, even if I am still at the first step of the ladder.

Centre for Research on Networked Learning and Knowledge Building