MOBIlearn The wings of learning




Keynote speakers

  • Robert Meersman, Director of STARlab, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
  • Tom H. Brown, Deputy Director, Telematic Learning and Education Innovation, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Lim Cher Ping, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Christopher von Koschembahr, Worldwide executive for mLearning, IBM, USA



Director of STARlab,
Vrije Universiteit Brussel,



Robert A. Meersman is full professor in the Department of Computer Science of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel where he leads the laboratory of Semantics Technology and Applications Research (VUB STARLab) since 1995. From 1986 until 1995 he was full professor at the KUB (Department BIK) in Tilburg, The Netherlands. He teaches database and information system courses, both introductory and advanced. VUB STARLab runs several sizeable European and national scientific projects (OntoBasis, FF Poirot, DIP, …) and has participated participates in a number of 5th and 6th Framework EU Networks (OntoWeb, CCFORM, InnovaNet, Knowledge Web). Robert Meersman has been invited speaker and lecturer at international conferences, universities and institutes worldwide.

He has been Chairman of IFIP WG 2.6, the Working Group on Database and first Chairman of IFIP TC12, the Technical Committee on Artificial Intelligence. In June 2003 he was elected Chairman of IFIP TC2 (Software Theory and Practice). Professor Meersman is a recipient of the IFIP Silver Core Award. Within IFIP WG 2.6 he created the Database Semantics international conference series. He is current President of the non-profit International Foundation for Cooperative Information Systems (IFCIS) which organizes the yearly CoopIS conference, next in Larnaca, Cyprus, October 2004 as part of the OnTheMove2004 Federated Conference. He is also the President and co-founder of the Distributed Objects Applications Institute v.z.w., another not-for-profit scientific organization. He has been General Chair, Program Committee Chair, Tutorial Chair and PC member of numerous international congresses, conferences, and workshops.

Professor Meersman's current research interests focus on implementing database- and Web-semantics using so-called ontologies, and several STARLab ( projects funded by EC 5thFP, 6thFP as well as from other sources are under way on this subject. He is the author and co-author of numerous publications in the areas of conceptual modeling, information systems methodologies (in particular NIAM of which he was one of the original researchers) and the formal and empirical semantics of information stored in databases, and of course with recent applications in e-learning, and the unlocking of e-content in general.


Speech abstract

Companies, organisations and governments increasingly make use of the Web not only to make available textual information about themselves in webpages, but also to offer more structured data related to the complex concepts supporting their communication and business processes.

The need for software clients to access, from mobile devices on the road, the resulting distributed, heterogeneous and especially autonomous resources poses interesting new research and development questions. It required standardisation of syntax of presentation and structure, as do HTML and XML respectively. But this need now also creates substantial pressure towards standardisation of precise semantics, or meaning, of the data and its constraints within the application domain. The computer-based repositories of such shared domain semantics are called ontologies, and generalise the notion of metadata in a non-trivial way.

The infrastructure whereby arbitrary resources on the WWW can be mapped to relevant formal ontologies, and have their content meaningfully unlocked through so-called web services, mobile or fixed, is now often named the Semantic Web.

Clearly e-learning objects as a resource constitute no exception; in fact modeling the knowledge content and processes for mobile e-learning presents an interesting focus of research and development in the field of ontology engineering. Indeed ontologies are emerging for this domain where human competency, educational process and subject matter interact with localized needs, thus allowing vastly increased reusability of this expensive knowledge.




Deputy Director,
Telematic Learning and Education Innovation, University of Pretoria,
South Africa



Tom Brown obtained his Ph.D. in the field of distance learning in 1993 at the University of Pretoria with the topic: "The operationalisation of metalearning in distance education".

His expertise are in the following fields: learning, learning facilitation, education innovation, distance learning (ODL), instructional design, educational technology, flexible learning, e-learning and m-learning.

Tom has been involved in distance education for more than 11 years. Since 1995 he has also been involved in consultancy work for various institutions in the field of distance education and flexible learning. Prior to his present position at UP, he held positions such as High School Teacher, Instructional Designer, Senior Lecturer, Head of Department and Director of an Institute for Courseware Development.

He currently holds the position of Deputy Director at the University of Pretoria where he is responsible for, amongst other, educational technology, education innovation and distance education partnerships.


Tom currently leads the following strategic university-wide committees at the University of Pretoria as chairperson:
- Executive Committee for the university's partnerships with private providers of education;
- Working Group for Education Innovation;
- Working Group for the development of guidelines and criteria for the evaluation of the quality of teaching;
- Evaluation Committee for Education Innovation Awards;
- Working Group for the University-wide Education Innovation Plan;
- M-learning Task Team.


He is also currently a member of the following strategic university-wide committees at the University of Pretoria:
- Executive and Management Committee for distance education programmes;
- E-strategy Working Group.


Tom is an invited visiting expert in international postgraduate courses in distance education, chair of research workshops and keynote speaker at international conferences.


Some of his recent work culminated into a number of documents, including the following:
2000: Focusing on the Client - Into the future with Flexible Learning (Strategic document with guidelines and recommendations for education innovation at UP).
2001: A new education model to promote flexible learning (Article in Tukkievaria, UP)
2003: The role of m-learning in the future of e-learning in Africa. (Paper delivered at the ICDE-2004 conference in Hong Kong)
2004: Towards a model for m-learning in Africa. (Article forthcoming in the International Journal on E-learning)


Speech abstract

Exploring future learning paradigms: Will m-learning survive?

The rapid development in and adoption of mobile technologies on a global scale, have led to increasing interest in m-learning (mobile learning) as an important mode of learning. While there are as many people using mobile technologies as there are opinions on how mobile technologies will impact e-learning, the majority agrees that m-learning could play a major role in the near future.

As relayed by innovation experts, new ideas and inventions only become innovations when the ideas or inventions are adopted and utilised by the market. M-learning evidently is a huge innovation as it appears to be one of the fastest growing modes of learning that has ever been experienced up to date. What could this remarkable trend be attributed to?

Perhaps one of the explanations lies in the fact that the role that communication and interaction plays in the learning process is a critical success factor in contemporary educational paradigms. M-learning affords opportunities for the optimisation of interaction and communication between teachers and learners, among learners and among members of COPs (communities of practice). M-learning appears to thrive within the contemporary constructivist and social constructivist paradigms because it enriches both synchronous and asynchronous communication and interaction.

What will however happen if (or when) learning paradigms change in future...? What will future learning paradigms look like? Will m-learning still thrive in these new learning paradigms? Will m-learning survive at all?



Assistant Professor,
National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University,



Dr. Cher Ping LIM is an assistant professor at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. He is the chief investigator of 2 funded research projects: (1) Effective Integration of IT in Singapore Schools: Pedagogical and Policy Implications (MOE/Singapore), and (2) Supporting E-discussions and e-sharing with New Technologies in Learning Communities (M1/Singapore). He has published widely internationally in different areas of education technologies, namely online learning and other IT-based learning environments in schools and corporations. Dr. Lim has also provided consultancy services to e-learning portals in Shanghai (China), the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute, APEC, UNESCO and Inter-American Development Bank.


Speech abstract

Engagement in M-Learning: Situating Learning Objects in Learner-Centered Activities

Emerging technologies such as SMS, WAP, GPRS, 3G, wireless, blue-tooth, handheld, and mobile phones are becoming pervasive information and communication technological (ICT) tools in the learning environments. Schools and universities have explored various ways of integrating these emerging technologies into the learning environment to engage their learners anywhere and anytime. However, in many of these projects, one wonders whether there is any value-add to the engagement in learning; that is, many educators questions the learning in the m-learning. This paper addresses the learning in m-learning by first identifying and analyzing the affordances of emerging technologies for learning. It then goes on to propose the development of learning objects to be situated in learner-centered activities; and hence, highlighting the importance of collaboration among instructional designers, programmers and teachers, and the pivotal role of the teachers in the m-learning environment.



Worldwide executive for mLearning,



Christopher T. von Koschembahr was responsible for many of IBM's first solutions and successes in what was then called Distance Learning - including IBM's single largest e-Learning event, and the most used eLearning solution within IBM. He continues to be a pioneer in e-learning for IBM - seeking out how new technologies can help improve eLearning for the benefit of both the learner and their businesses. Most recently he has created the first m(obile)-Learning solutions which enhance the current eLearning portfolio - making it more engaging and more accessible for the learner.

He is presently Business Development Executive, Learning Technologies, and WW Leader for mLearning - where he continues to drive differentiation through innovation, focussing on unique customer challenges. He joined IBM in 1983 as an Engineer and has held a series of technical and managerial positions, including the role of technical assistant to IBM's head of the PC Division.

He holds a double degree from Duke University in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.


Speech abstract

With an increasingly mobile working, m(obile)-Learning is the next evolution of eLearning. By making online learning truly on demand and more accessible, mobile workers can remain more engaged even while on the move,
and therefore the learning has a higher chance of being successful. As mobile devices converge and new connectivities become more prevalent, profound new possibilities are now made practical and economical. There are
also significant business benefits by providing learning in a way that it can fill "downtime" often experienced by road warriors. This presentation will explain and demonstrate the pragmatic and performance-based approach that
IBM has taken to address the needs of mobile workers both for IBMers, as well as for customers.

Some areas to be highlighted include:
- The new eLearning possibilities that are made possible by new devices and connectivities
- The benefits of more immediate, on demand, and flexible eLearning experiences
- The enterprise considerations for mLearning deployments





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