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Dr Canan Blake

Dr Canan Blake

Profile summary

  • Visiting Informal Academic
  • Honorary Associate
  • Learning and Teaching Innovation
  • Institute of Educational Technology

Professional biography

I am now an Honorary Associate in IET and continue my research activities in the area of technology enhanced learning in science and collaboration in online learning environments.  

Research interests

My main research interest is technology enhanced learning. Within that broad topic I am interested in collaborative learning and interaction in computer supported learning environments, mobile learning, technology enhanced learning in science and in work places and open learning and open educational resources (OER).

below you can find a list of projects I was involved:

PI Project

The three year Personal Inquiry project aimed to help young people to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to understand and contribute to their changing world. It was a collaboration with the Universityof Nottingham and was awarded nearly £1.2m from ESRC and EPSRC through the TEL ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’ initiative, part of the national Teaching and Learning Research Programme.  

The research involved 11-14 year-old children and helped them to take advantage of hand-held computer technology – both inside and outside the classroom to help personalise the way children learn, making it more accessible and more effective. We explored a new approach called ‘scripted inquiry learning’, in which pupils investigated a topic with classmates, by carrying out explorations in their classrooms, in their homes and outside, supported by technology. 

Members of the project team worked with a panel of teachers and curators to develop specific scripts related to the topic themes and with students and teachers at Oakgrove School.

The project website is at:


Mobile Clinical Learning

This project set out to review the potential of learning resources provided in PDAs linked to VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) and to investigate the ways in which clinical learning within two comparative institutions can be supported by using small handheld computers also called personal digital assistants (PDAs).Working with UCL CHIME and Ibn-i Sina Turkish Teaching Hospital mobile devices were distributed to clincians to support them in their work-based learning activities. A comparative mixed method evaluation of these mobile support mechanisms will support an international viewpoint on the use of mobile learning in a global arena. 


OLnet is an international research hub for aggregating, sharing, debating and improving Open Educational Resources (OERs), taking the OU's expertise in researching the Open Learn initiative out to support research by and of the OER world. The aim of OLnet (Open Learning network) is to tackle gathering evidence and methods about how we can research and understand ways to learn in a more open world, particularly linked to Open Educational Resources (OER) but also looking at other influences. OLnet is funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation together with Carnegie Mellon University.

For more information see the project website at

Earlier projects:


InterLoc is a joint project on collaborative argumentation, funded by JISC, between the OU and London Metropolitan University, and others. In the area of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning where the advantages of group working are widely recognised in the literature, researchers have tried to understand the particular characteristics of collaborative working which can make it an effective learning experience. This research examines how dialogue can be structured to support higher-order mental processes used within academic practice. In particular it investigates how collaborative argumentation can introduce students to academic practice.

An interface to support structured dialogue (using Internet Chat) has been implemented as an online computer-based tool and recent JISC funding has enabled further work to develop the software for more general use.

Researchers: Canan Blake, Eileen Scanlon and Simon McAlister, Andrew Ravenscroft from London Metropolitan University.

Kaleidoscope Network of Excellence

Several CALRG members belong to the Kaleidoscope Network of Excellence which brings together European experts to share knowledge and to study and develop new concepts and methods for investigating the future of learning with digital technologies. CALRG members are involved in a project funded by Kaleidoscope on Mobile Learning in Informal Science Settings (MELISSA).

Recent technological developments mean that many mobile devices (such as SmartPhones) now have some of the functionality of personal computers as well as communication capabilities. This project is investigating what this means in the area of informal learning in Science; where, for example, learners might be using portable devices to support their interests in this area such as field work for amateur naturalists, geologists or in weather forecasting.

Researchers: Canan Blake; Gill Clough; Pascale Hardy; Ann Jones; Patrick McAndrew; Daisy Mwanza; Eileen Scanlon; Josie Taylor; Giasemi Vavoula.



Teaching interests

I supervised research students Eunice Olakanmi, Koula Charitonos Katy Jordan and Tina Papathoma.Eunice investigated self-regulation in school science and Koula's work is related to use of 'social software' for enhancing the museum learning experience. Katy investigates social networks for academics and Tina investigates assessment in MOOCs.

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Computers and Learning Research Group (CALRG)GroupInstitute of Educational Technology