Citizen science and public engagement perspectives

October 3, 2016

I attended in Oslo Science Park the seminar on citizen participation, expertise, and knowledge sharing in cultural heritage archives and natural history institutions. The seminar dealt with different aspects, which i found interesting to keep a record about.

Bernard Schiele from University of Quebec emphasised the need to overcome the Deficit model in explaining the role of public engagement and citizen science – a knowledge gap between public being illiterate about science and scientists seen merely as the teachers about science. He opened up the high level bodies expectations recently prevalent about public engagement in science as Triple democratisation and engagement model – i) including laypersons in the phase of making science decisions while exercising democratic rights, ii) making science as a co-production involving knowledge of laypersons, as well as iii) making reports accessible to laypersons in an understandable format.

Socientize.eu White paper on Citizen Science aims to support policy makers on European, national and regional level when setting up future strategies of civic engagement in the excellence in science

  • Interrelation in deficit model is paradigm asymmetric, in public engagement model symmetric.
  • Interpersonal relationships in deficit model are compelling, while in engagement model collaborative.
  • Interaction in deficit model positions science into an authoritative position, while in engagement model equal rights to contribute are considered.
  • The conditions in deficit model between scientists and laypersons are following the dependence model regarding the latter, in engagement model autonomy of science and laypersons is practiced.
  • In dependence model the behaviour of laypersons is submissive, while in engagement model the reciprocal engagement is practiced.
  • The knowledge transfer changes fro deficit model one-directional transfer from science to people towards mutual knowledge transfers.

Three models for participation and public engagement in science are: 1) dialogue critical (such as exhibitions, fairs), ii) deliberative democracy (such as consensus conferences) and iii) knowledge co-production (participating together in research projects operating from different locations).

In the discussion the interesting books of social ecology were mentioned: Social Ecology and Social Change by Erik Eiglad.

Science museums so far have been presenting science already made but it should be shifted towards engaging people into science in making what happens at this moment, time and space. The changes that have to be achieved are:

  • From one voice towards multiplicity of voices
  • From dominant view to various views
  • From presenting truth to presenting conflicts, disagreements
  • From linear approach to questions and challenges, multi-faceted open science approach that involves laypersons in engagement
  • From facts, results to relations between people
  • From closed, stabilised, fixed, secure knowledge to presenting also tentative results, failures, aberrations, presenting unfinished knowledge and processes

New media has opened new forms of participatory public engagement that has to be:

  • reciprocal regarding exchanges of knowledge between layperson and scientists
  • regarding the interdependency of different society groups and scientists
  • allowing local knowledge in context to impact science and technology

Dick Kasperowski from LET studio in Dept. of Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg introduced a meta-study considering citizen science papers. He divided citizen science initiatives into two types: i) Perception mode, and ii) Representation mode

However, if to look what way science museums, knowledge institutions and archives so far engage with public, the tendency of engagement is towards using the laypersons as a work labour, either in data collection, metadata tagging, transcribing, validation (having layers of validation for verification of contributed amateur data) or as sensors in pattern recognition (Perception mode). That is not a democracy in open citizen science, rather Taylorism 2.0.

Issues: The scaling up of data done with amateurs is still a problem – the data collected by them are not considered as same valuable. It has been found that when amateurs use protocols, these practices do not scale – protocols do not withstand many users. Protocols start to leak – amateurs start to do other things than expected.

What is needed – instead of mobilising human perception the interpretational cultural contributions should be requested from amateurs. Cultural contributions could allow creating values beyond tasks.

It is important to move from citizens as research object to citizens as research subject.

European citizen science association claims that people should be included also in hypothesis creation and interpretation.

Interesting examples of citizen science:


  • Shakespeare’s world – Transcribe handwritten documents by Shakespeare’s contemporaries and help us understand his life and times. Along the way you’ll find words that have yet to be recorded in the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary, and which will eventually be added to this important resource.


  • Micropast: crowd sourcing: You can assist existing research projects with tasks that need human intelligence, such as the accurate location of artefact findspots or photographed scenes, the identification of subject matter in historic archives, the masking of photos meant for 3D modelling, or the transcription of letters and catalogues. Other tasks might require on-location contributions by members of the public, such as submitting your own photographs of particular archaeological sites or objects.



Read more at: http://hyperallergic.com/122740/crowdsourcing-the-bronze-age-in-a-new-platform-for-archaeology/

Help scientists recover Arctic and worldwide weather observations made by United States ships since the mid-19th century by transcribing ships’ logs. These transcriptions will contribute to climate model projections and will improve our knowledge of past environmental conditions. Historians will use your work to track past ship movements and tell the stories of the people on board.



List of citizen science projects from wikipedia

One form that citizen science is taking is citizens using the data they collect in law cases ( such as plant data, water or air data).

Example Louisiana bucket brigades

Alexandra Everleigh presented motivational issues in citizen participation projects:

Issues: small number of participants do the most work, enthusiasm drops in time, contributing very much on their own terms

The contributions are motivated by fun, wish to contribute in science, unhealthy addiction, feeling part of something bigger or part of community ( social exclusion issues)

Motivational elements used to engage people more are: competitive participatory levels, badges, race to the finish (that is discouraging if the target is far). Best motivations would be personal challenges that are motivated from own interest, demonstrating how contributions make the difference; finding own narratives; open-ended discoveries.

Example of other engagement forms: NYPL Emoji Bot twitter account: Send  an emoji, receive an image  from  collections.


Christine Hine, University of Surrey, Dept. of Sociology has recently edited special issues on socio-technical systems in Science and Technology Studies 29(1)-29(4), where several public engagement projects are depicted.

Issue 1: http://ojs.tsv.fi/index.php/sts/issue/view/3902

Issue 2: http://ojs.tsv.fi/index.php/sts/issue/view/3926

  • Building Knowledge Infrastructures for Empowerment: A Study of Grassroots Water Monitoring Networks in the Marcellus Shale Kirk Jalbert

This paper characterizes the activities of two nongovernmental environmental monitoring networks working to protect watersheds in the Northeast United States from the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. The first is a grassroots coalition of advocacy groups. The second is a large network managed by academic institutions. In both cases, knowledge infrastructures were built to distribute resources and to assist members in using data to make scientific claims.

Issue 3: http://ojs.tsv.fi/index.php/sts/issue/view/4160

  • Co-Observing the Weather, Co-Predicting the Climate: Human Factors in Building Infrastructures for Crowdsourced Data Yu-Wei Lin, Jo Bates, Paula Goodale

We found that conducting citizen science is highly emotional and experiential, but these individual experiences and feelings tend to get lost or become invisible when user-contributed data are aggregated and integrated into a big data infrastructure. While new meanings can be extracted from big data sets, the loss of individual emotional and practical elements denotes the loss of data provenance and the marginalisation of individual ef orts, motivations, and local politics, which might lead to disengaged participants, and unsustainable communities of citizen scientists. The challenges of constructing a data infrastructure for crowdsourced data therefore lie in the management of both technical and social issues which are local as well as global.




Coherence and consistency in ecological learning

December 22, 2015

I have found an interesting PhD thesis by Jornet, Alfredo(2014)


that reminded me my ideas of conceptual coherence and consistency in one paper that never was published. There in 2006  i wrote about conceptual coherence the following:

The definitions of conceptual coherence often combine the cohesiveness and consistency properties of conceptual knowledge. Coherence is a definition that is applicable for characterizing the states of the elements of some larger units (eg. phenomenological primitives, epistemological resources). Coherence is also related to the contextual and time-related dimensions. Cohesiveness is the property characterizing the conservation of inherent relationships among ideas in one explanation framework or the links among several related conceptual frameworks. Consistency is defined as a property indicating that students’ explanations of a certain phenomenon are stable, independently of the variable contexts that depend on the viewpoint of the explanation. It means that students are able of activating same locally coherent sets of ideas again and again in time, independent of task contexts.

That study in 2006 was conducted under the cognitivist (representational mental model) framework that i abandoned in next years being fascinated of distributed cognition and ecological learning models.


This PhD study looks coherence and continuity in the context of embodied and distributed cognition. It uses coherence and continuity to address the sense-making practices by means of which relations of signification are established within and across contexts and situations. Coherence denotes the achievement of order, whether within or across a given problematic or situation. Continuity refers more explicitly to the achievement of coherence across settings and activities, which has been traditionally investigated as the question of transfer.

The coherence and continuity of any set of ideas or concepts, as made relevant by the participants during joint activity, cannot be analyzed in terms of a priori formal properties of either the material setting (e.g., texts, graphs, demonstrations) or the individuals’ thinking (e.g., a learner’s mental representations of texts, graphs, or demonstrations), but must be treated as the result of material and practical operations that involve both.

The thesis suggests that several studies (bodily episodic feelings, that is, a bodily and context-bound sense of “having-been-there” (p. 311), it is only as part of addressing and being addressed by others during conversation that the initial connection comes to be developed as a conceptual one – Nemirovsky, 2011; context-sensitive concept projections and the transfer-in- pieces framework– diSessa & Wagner, 2005; Wagner, 2010) refer to the an expansion of their conceptualizations of learning beyond the individual mental abstract representation to better account for the intrinsic relation between subjects and their immediate material and social environments. A concept projection is “a set of knowledge elements with which a knower assimilates and interprets … the situation’s affordances in a particular, meaningful way” (Wagner, 2010, p. 450).”

Some interesting findings from this PhD study:

  • an initial sense of similarity motivates action that transforms the situation, which in turn allows for the eventual achievement of a new conceptual way of accounting for a new existing order.
  • Inference, as a cognitive process, does not precede, but rather is the outcome of, a larger unit of activity. 
  • Individuals constitute and are constituted by the establishment of conceptual coherence because they are subject to the objective changes that bodily activity brings about in their attunement to the accountable, collective organization of activity
  • Any assumption about what particular actions, utterances, artifacts, and representations “mean” as cultural tools needs to be set aside and instead requires taking a first-time-through perspective of the participants


Reading this PhD study and my old research made me think of my other thoughts about the formation of cultural patterns as niches, that may be described using both of these concepts – coherence and the consistency.

I think coherence and consistency are important both in the circles of personal pattern formation and stabilisation, as well as cultural pattern stabilisation, since both are formed as niches from instances of experiencing. So coherence in pattern or meaning niches requires to be formed across different contexts. How do these instances of experiences align themselves into the coherent pattern or meaning that we can perceive? Is it the distributed nature of those different context experiences that some ways form a consistent network like in the connectionist models? On the other hand how from the contextual coherence point of view do individuals activate cultural patterns and align them with own experienced patterns?

In my old paper i refer: “Hammer et al. (2004) used the term “framing“ to explain the activation of a locally coherent set of epistemological resources, which in the moment at hand would be activated in a mutually consistent and reinforcing way. Framing presumes distributed encoding among resources rather than accepting the notion that knowledge is located in any particular cognitive resource. Distributed encoding is the distributed interpretation across a network of cognitive elements, while the frames can often shift easily.

The consistency of patterns and meanings suffers from time delay and the bubble effect. So from the ecological learning point of view it is personally rather not useful to create consistent cognitive patterns but keeping them open to chance events that can destabilise them from coherency. I wonder how many recommender systems focus of destabilisation processes rather than stabilisation ones.



Social positioning in hybrid social learning networks (HSLN)

October 23, 2015

Our paper of social recognition provision practices in professional help seeking forums led us towards thinking how to improve the knowledge building within such socio-technical systems.

John Cook has suggested in the Learning Layers project a concept of Hybrid Social Learning Networks (HSLN). “Hybrid Social Learning Networks (HSLNs) is a concept describing socio-technical systems that enable Zones of Possibility (ZoP) to emerge when people and artifacts interact and engage in social positioning practices while learning in informal workplace learning situations. In a Zone of Possibility people connect and interact through a hybrid network of physical and technology-mediated encounters to co-construct knowledge and effectively engage in positioning practices necessary for their work.  ”

“Cook: The Zone of Possibility definition thus makes a distinction between the Zone as the structure (a hybrid network of physical and technology-mediated encounters blending socio-technical systems and the actual practice), and the behaviours that the Zone allows (calls for) (connect and interact, to co-construct knowledge, calls for orchestrating social supports – navigation and bridging aids, social positioning, positioning practices necessary for their work), and the resulting functions that the Zone takes as the Possibility (that learners can benefit from the ideas of others). ”

In HSLN-s the different problems and issues can be discussed in specific targeted work groups, that may allow knowledge to be maturing through knowledge building practices. These working groups embedded to wider HSLN can be considered working as in the Zone of Possibility for workplace learning.

Part of what happens in working group relates with dynamic social positioning and identity creation.

I have modelled  how the HSLN and the working group may be interrelated.


Figure: social positioning and identity in the knowledge building workgroups of HSLN.

I used the communication acts’ model we presented earlier, to indicate in timeline how the group who is embedded in HSLN may be influenced by these communication acts during the cycles of knowledge maturing.

The initial group that works for problem sends out requests for, and receives recommendations that are based on socio-technically aided validations that contribute to accumulating credibility to people and resources. Knowledege maturing in the group as well as the social positioning in the group is advancing due to these added resources and persons, and the collaborative knowledge-building the group does. The accumulated credibility from the HSLN contributes to social positioning in group as follows: it may give expertise based ranking among the group members to certain people in group depending of a certain time moment, so social position may change dynamically due what happens with involved persons – which resources they bring into the group (credibility of resources enables calculating persons topic related credibility), what is their personal credibility based on these resources, plus what is their overall credibility in HSLN). Additionally, within the group the adequacy of credible resources and credible persons in respect to topic in hand is estimated as a whole, and if group expertise is low, the recommendations could be pushed by HSLN to add relevant credible persons and resources.

Social ranking of persons within group in time moment may suggests identity and roles in teams, such as leader expert (responsible for summarizing, setting rules to how document is created), and experts who provide arguments (responsible for introducing alternatives, validating).


Distributed cognition model at workplace learning situations

September 2, 2015

Finally some parts of the empirical data from Learning Layers  http://learning-layers.eu/ project have been mapped back to the distributed cognition model.

This work relates cultural pattern appropriation in learning .


This figure describes how patterns “Problem solutions”, “Standards” or “Guidelines” may be updated and what is the role of scaffolding and knowledge maturing practice elements in workplace problem-solving and learning process.

The explanation of the model (draft so far):

Formation and stabilization of “Problem Solutions” or “New guidelines” or “Standards and normatives” as patterns:

1) The individuals, groups and collectives may initiate the Request for help on the basis of Dissonance between own knowledge and that knowledge that supposedly collectively possessed, or what the group might co-create collaboratively. The triggers for Requests for help are urgent problems, mismatch between existing guidelines/normatives/standards and the problem situations, or missing guidelines/standards/normatives for novel problem situations.  The Request for help present to the selected expert, group of workmates or the collective (network, special group) either the “Problem and some possible solutions (with evidences)”; the “Guideline/Standard/Normative (with new non-corresponding evidences)”; or the “Actual work process with a novel project (with the access to monitor/participate in it)” .

2) The targeted helpers are selected based on proximity and trust. When the Request for help is directed towards individual experts, selected expert groups with different expertise, or groups with relatively equal and incomplete expertise, the specific short-term or long-term workforces are created. In case of sending help requests to the collectives representing self-organised members (e.g. special groups, networks), the individuals in the collective may be sufficiently alert having Awareness of upcoming Requests for help – they have collectively taken responsibility for providing help when relevant. Helping practice in collective level is most often an informal activity, while helping practice in collaborative level by experts and groups may be formally embedded to the actual working practices.

3) The individuals in the collective use Negotiation/Grounding for specifying the problem-solution/guideline/standard/normative. The end of Negotiating/Grounding is establishing the common ground. This common ground about problem-solution is often not Formalised/Standardized and shared with the collective, thus it will not be accessible to others for future Uptake. When the individuals of the group Re-experience the problem-solution they continue generating new variations and the pattern is not easily formed. The common ground established for updating or developing new guideline/standard/normative is usually Formalised/ Standardized, shared at collective level, and becomes accessible for further Uptake/Re-experiencing what can amplify the pattern formation.

4) The individuals involved in helping usually Contextualise the problem/ guideline/standard/normative into their locations or situations enabling the variety of alternatives to be discovered in short time. The de-contextualization to generalize solution/guideline/standard/normative is supported in work-groups who discuss or can practice something together by Co-constructing the shared documents that mediate the Formalization/Standardization and are more useful for later pattern sharing at the collective level.

5) Different forms of Validation are used in the Negotiation/Grounding process. The individuals or groups share examples of problem-solution/guidelines/normatives/standards, Validating those with evidences (photos, schemas), personal expertise gained in practice, guidelines/normatives/standards and real examples of practicing to try something out.

The members of the groups and collectives also gain Social Recognition that validates them as experts.

6) The Formalization/Standardization of solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives happens mostly at the collaborative level Co-Creation activities. The collective groups (such as special groups in What’s App) or groups formed at workplace for solving urgent problems do not Formalize/Standardize the solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives that hinders pattern amplification through Uptake/Re-Experiencing, but leaves room for different alternative variations to be used.

7) Persons, groups and collectives may recommend personally or collectively Validated and/or Formalized/Standardized problem-solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives as patterns to resolve help requests [alternatively the Recommender systems may select based on the Request for help from the existing solutions in the collective knowledge base the most relevant “Problem Solutions” or Experts and recommend those]

Change of “New Problem solutions”, “New guidelines” or “New Standards and normatives” as patterns:

1) The practitioners at work belong to the formal/informal groups and collectives (e.g. networks or special interest groups), share common knowledge and practices, and have Awareness of mutually interesting problem-solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives. This Awareness may be mediated by some technologies such as forums (WhatsApp) and databases to discover guidelines/normatives/standards.

2) The practitioners (both individuals and representatives of groups and collectives) perceive at work situations Dissonance between the solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives they know and have experienced, and the potentially existing patterns (solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives) in their formal/informal groups and collectives. They also may discover the mismatch in solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives and actual needs.

3) They involve other experts through Requesting for help from individuals, groups and collectives to Co-create new solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives or will develop by the new solution or practice themselves. Alternatively they Create/Construct novel solutions, and Re-experience to test them out.

They share the New Solution Validating it with evidences with the groups or collectives, and Request for Validation.

4) The addressed expert, group or collective is Negotiating/Grounding with the proposer to specify the New Solution or Practice.

5) As part of Negotiating/Grounding the expert, group or collective is Validating the New Solution by comparing it with existing solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives as well as with expertise, personal experiences, similar cases or with the commonly accepted collective practice. They also aim at achieving common ground about the Formalization/Standardization of it. As a result they may decide the New Solution or Practice to be significantly different and useful and yet missing; or find it being the instance of some existing solution/guideline/standard/normative.

Possible Validation in action may take place to develop the new solution/guideline/standard/normative, that incorporates Contextualization of New Problem Solution to be tried out in at different situations or de-contextualization in a specific case in which the members use the mediating shared document to Formalize/Standardize the New Problem Solution. The Formalization/Standardization makes it shareable and other practitioners can Uptake/Re-experience it that amplifies the new pattern in the community of professionals.

Application of “Problem Solutions”, “New guidelines” or “Standards and normatives” as Patterns

1) At some point the individuals/groups or collectives Re-contextualise the provided solutions and applies guidelines/standards/normatives to solve the problem in hand; they may Re-Experience the solutions/guidelines/standards/normatives several times until Uptake happens and it becomes frequently/commonly used. That will strengthen the pattern.


Book: Mass collaboration in education is soon out

July 7, 2015

Mass Collaboration and Education

Cress, Ulrike; Moskaliuk, Johannes; and Jeong, Heisawn (Eds.)

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Ulrike Cress; Heisawn Jeong; and Johannes Moskaliuk. Mass Collaboration as an Emerging Paradigm for Education? Theories, Cases, and Research Methods

Part I: Theoretical Approaches to Mass collaboration

Chapter 2: Allan Collins. A Brief History of Mass Collaboration: How Innovations over Time have Enabled People to Work Together More Effectively

Chapter 3: Gerhard Fischer. Exploring, Understanding, and Designing Innovative Socio-Technical Environments for Fostering and Supporting Mass Collaboration

Chapter 4: Mark Elliott. Stigmergic Collaboration: A framework for understanding and designing mass collaboration

Chapter 5: Ulrike Cress; Insa Feinkohl; Jens Jirschitzka; and Joachim Kimmerle. Mass Collaboration as Co-Evolution of Cognitive and Social Systems

Chapter 6: Aileen Oeberst; Joachim Kimmerle; and Ulrike Cress. What is Knowledge? Who Creates it? Who Possesses it? The Need for Novel Answers to Old Questions

Chapter 7: Wai-Tat Fu. From Distributed Cognition to Collective Intelligence: Supporting Cognitive Search to Facilitate Online Massive Collaboration

Part II: Cases of Mass Collaboration

Chapter 8: Tobias Ley; Paul Seitlinger; and Kai Pata. Patterns of Meaning in a Cognitive Ecosystem: Modeling Stabilization and Enculturation in Social Tagging Systems

Chapter 9: Aileen Oeberst; Ulrike Cress; Mitja Back; and Stefen Nestler. Individual versus Collaborative Information Processing: The Case of Biases in Wikipedia

Chapter 10: R. Benjamin Shapiro. Toward Participatory Discovery Networks: A Critique of Current Mass Collaboration Environments and A Possible Learning-Rich Future

Chapter 11: Deborah A. Fields; Yasmin B. Kafai; and Michael T. Giang. Coding by Choice: A Transitional Analysis of Social Participation Patterns and Programming Contributions in the Online Scratch Community

Chapter 12: Ricarose Roque; Natalie Rusk; and Mitchel Resnick. Supporting Diverse and Creative Collaboration in the Scratch Online Community

Chapter 13: Brigid Barron; Caitlin K. Martin; Véronique Mertl; and Mohamed Yassine. Citizen Science: Connecting to Nature through Networks

Chapter 14: Sabrina C. Eimler; German Neubaum; Marc Mannsfeld; and Nicole C. Krämer. Altogether now! Mass and Small Group Collaboration in (Open) Online Courses – A Case Study

Chapter 15: Thomas Herrmann. Socio-Technical Procedures of Facilitated Mass Collaboration for Creative E-Participation

Part III: Methods to Empirically Analyze Processes of Mass Collaboration

Chapter 16: Iassen Halatchliyski. Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Networked Knowledge

Chapter 17: H. Ulrich Hoppe; Andreas Harrer; Tilman Göhnert; and Tobias Hecking. Applying Network Models and Network Analysis Techniques to the Study of Online Communities

Chapter 18: Ivan Habernal; Johannes Daxenberger; and Iryna Gurevych. Mass Collaboration on the Web: Textual Content Analysis by Means of Natural Language Processing

Chapter 19: Olga Slivko; Michael Kummer; and Marianne Saam. Identification of Causal Effects in the Context of Mass Collaboration



A model for cultural pattern appropriation in learning

June 12, 2015

Recently we have worked with my colleague Tobias Ley, on the figure to describe how distributed cognition and pattern-formation associate with individual, collaborative and collective learning – A model for cultural pattern appropriation in learning.

Earlier we have described a model of pattern-appropriation and relations between epistemic and collective distributed cognition with Emanuele Bardone ( Pata & Bardone 2014).


Figure. Collective and epistemic distributed cognition ( in Pata & Bardone, 2014)

Then we took a step forward and validated this model together with Tobias Ley and Paul Seitlinger using the tagging data (Ley, Seitlinger, Pata, in press).

We found that:

– individual stabilization co-occurs with processes of enculturation

– artifact-mediated activity lead to formation and stabilization of individual patterns

collective stabilization is a result of individual pattern formation and artifact-mediated social feedback.


Figure. Coupling in pattern formation between Collective and Epistemic Distributed Cognition. ( in Ley, Seitlinger, Pata, in press)

In the third step we started to look how these phenomena happen in workplace learning situations. In the Learning Layers project several interviews with workers in construction and healthcare context, and the related sectorial networks have been conducted. We wanted to use these data to describe the workplace learning patterns. Analytically we first identified existing patterns ( as some practices), and then tried formalising these pattern names. This lead us understanding that central patterns relate solving workplace problems, which brings along knowledge maturing and requires scaffolding learning at individual, collaborative and collective level.

We assume that scaffolding learning and the knowledge maturing are two processes of how the individual, collective and collaborative learning systems influence each other through pattern formation and -appropriation.

As patterns we consider individually, collaboratively or collectively created repeated solutions to the problems that may appear in different contexts. Taking the distributed cognition stance we may see knowledge as a set of pattern activations.

Our model for distributed cognition, scaffolded learning and knowledge maturing (version 1):

Copy of Learning Across Levels of Analysis

Figure A model for cultural pattern appropriation in learning (ver. 1 developed by Ley & Pata, 2015)

Scaffolding (Vygotsky 1978; Wood et al. 1976) in this model is a process where appropriate guidance structures (scaffolds) are created to enhance individual, collaborative or collectives learning in a fading out manner as the individual, group or collective becomes able in solving certain problems. The neo-Vygotskian perspective in social constructivism assumes that the culture (the collective learning) gives for the individual and for the collaborative learning the cognitive tools needed for development. Vygotsky (1994) saw the environment as the source of person‘s development and not its setting. Vygotsky’s (1978) socio-cultural theory emphasizes social interaction and the relationships between individuals and assumes that cognitive development, including higher-order learning, is rooted in social interactions and mediated by abstract symbols. These are not created in isolation but rather are products of the socio-cultural evolution of an actively involved individual. Scaffolding in distributed cognition framework is supporting epistemic and collaborative distributed cognition, the coordinated functioning of the learner(s)’ cognitive, metacognitive and affective domains embraced by collaboratively and collectively emerging patterns (see Ley, Seitlinger, Pata, in press).


The learning of individuals can be scaffolded (Wood, Bruner, and Ross, 1976) in the zone of proximal development (Vygotski, 1978), that initially was defined as the unidirectional difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help of knowledgeable other. In later studies the ZPD concept has been extended to several phenomena. ZPD is considered bidirectional in collaborative situations (Forman, 1989; Goos et al., 2002) and is the the learning potential in small groups where learners have incomplete but relatively equal expertise and where each partner who possesses some knowledge and skills requires the others’ contribution in order to make progress. Through the usage and development of personal and collective patterns in individual learning situations Ley, et al. (in press) and in collaborative situations (Rasmussen, 2001) the ZDP may appear between individual epistemic distributed cognition and the collaborative or collective distributed cognition. According to Valsiner (1987), the culture sets constraints through zone of promoted actions (ZPA) (such as collaborative or collective patterns), and the context of action and actual environment may constrain it even further through zone of free movement (ZFM). Scaffolding in a self-organized systems (socio-technical systems) is no more restricted to human expert and learner (Puntambekar & Hubscher, 2005), but the accumulated knowledge and human behaviours in socio-technical system can be used as scaffolds (Lytras & Pouloudi, 2006; Tammets et al., (2014) and individuals, groups and  organizations must adapt themselves to the current dynamic state of the system. In socio-technical systems scaffolds appear as self-organized services created in synergy of social behaviours and technical means ( e.g. meaning making by social tagging). Socio-technical scaffolds are by nature meta-designed patterns that evolve through feedback loops involving the users in providing support elements to their problems (see Fisher et al., 2007).

In our model scaffolding process supports the knowledge maturing and learning processes that happen in parallel. Scaffolding process involves the following elements:

1) agents that receive and agents that provide scaffolding (individuals, groups, networks, organizations/collectives, socio-technical systems)

2) actions how scaffolding is requested for and put in action (noticing dissonance/mistakes, request for scaffolding; awareness; negotiation/grounding; (re)contextualization; validation/recognition;  uptake/re-experience)

3) scaffolding knowledge and how this is created  (scaffolding knowledge also is developed through the maturing cycle)

4) the problem and the associated knowledge patterns (a pattern is a personally or collaboratively or collectively validated solution to the problem)

5) the stages and relations of scaffolding agents and the problem that have to be detected to make scaffolding actions  applying scaffolding knowledge) effective (such as comprehension of agent’s goals in respect to problem

The scaffolding process can be described as follows:

The agent(s) (person, group, collective) that solve the problem have awareness of expected state of knowledge (the awareness of collaborative or cultural patterns) but notice the dissonance between their actual state of problem solving and the expected state (that is ZPD in the ZPA and ZFM). Agent)s) request for scaffolding and the agent(s) that scaffold (person, group, collective, socio-technical system) must be aware of such scaffolding requests. Then follows the process to discover the agent’s state in respect to problem (and related patterns) and scaffolding knowledge (and related patterns). This process requires agents to (re)contextualize the problem. Noticing the dissonance/detecting the mistakes between the scaffolded agents‘ and scaffolding agents‘ choice of patterns for solving the problem leads them to negotiate/ground for common understanding. This bases on the discourse act model (see in Traum and Allen, 1994, Clark and Schaefer 1989; Pata, 2005).


This (re)contextualization and negotiation/grounding process is done in the fading out manner, that requires the agent that scaffolds to have the dynamic awareness of the changing state of scaffolded agent’s patterns to solve the problem. (Re)contextualization and grounding also may require the remediation of the problem. Validation/recognition is part of the negotiation/grounding acts, it uses the individual, collaborative and cultural patterns to to provide recognition to the current problem solving event and moderates/finalizes grounding acts until the final solution is achieved. In the end of scaffolding process the agent that requested for scaffolding is able to uptake the practice, has the ownership of certain collaborative or collective pattern and no more scaffolding for solving this type of the problem is needed.

Knowledge maturing can be understood as a process where knowledge patterns from the individual level are taken up in the collaborative or collective ways through embodied cognitive processes to create collaborative or collective patterns that in turn influence individual, collaborative and collective learning ( Ley et al, in press). Maturing can be explained by trialogical learning (Hakkarainen and Paavola, 2009; Paavola and Hakkarainen, 2014) that describes the systemic (with feedback loop) nature of the knowledge maturing. Trialogical learning paradigm (Hakkarainen and Paavola, 2009; Paavola and Hakkarainen, 2014) takes the distributed cognitive stance and contextualizes the usage of digital tools and -artifacts in the organizational knowledge creation processes. Activities in organizations always contain various artifacts (e.g. instruments, procedures, methods, laws, forms of work organization etc.). Main core of trialogical learning approach is organizing work around shared knowledge artifacts as mediators of human thought and behaviour (Nardi, 1996) – the emergent interactional resources (Stahl, 2012), which can mediate between individual learning, group cognition and organizational knowledge building, will structure the shared work and reflective practices, may be versioned and iteratively transformed during long term knowledge creation, leading to forming organizational knowledge and practices. By capitalizing on distributed cognition (Hutchins, 1995), the trialogical approach examines knowledge artifacts as materially embodied entities that are worked on in various “external memory fields” (Donald 1991) and “activity systems” (Engeström, 1999) rather than reduced to their conceptual content only (Paavola and Hakkarainen, 2009). In order to transform knowledge artifacts as instruments of their activity, participants have to go through a developmental process of “instrument genesis” (Ritella and Hakkarainen 2012). Passing the knowledge artifacts from one technology to another and one social formation level (individual, group, collective) to another requires its remediation as a central practice (Paavola & Hakkarainen, 2014), and allows improving new properties in that knowledge. Remediation in maturing process is done by changing the format of knowledge from implicit to explicit, from practiced behaviours to verbally/visually communicated and written documents. In this remediation process knowledge is taken from individual to socially shared and collectively approved formats, it is formalized and standardized using governance mechanisms. Governance structures are also responsible for knowledge circulation in a systemic manner, enabling the access to matured knowledge (vocabularies, norms, guidelines etc.).

According to Schmidt and Kunzmann (2014), the knowledge maturing process actions can be divided between different agent levels in our model.

Individual learning phase

The   initial   phases  of maturing  (I.   Emergence)  are   characterized   by   the  exploration
(Ia)  of  new  spaces,  either  as  activities  of  analyzing existing  material  or  by  creative  processes  (new  ideas).  In  both  cases, knowledge is deeply subjective, and the individual decides through appropriation (Ib)   where   or   not   to   pursue   further
development of the usually abundant items in phase Ia. From the distributed cognition approach to learning (Ley et al., in press), appropriation contains individuals to appropriate collaborative or collective patterns, that can be supported by scaffolding processes.

Collaborative learning phase

In the next phase (II. distribution in communities), where knowledge gets discussed and negotiated between different individuals of a social group. This includes the development of a

shared vocabulary and associated understanding, and usually many individual contributions get amalgamated. To reach beyond the social group, transformation (III) is required where the focus is on creating artefacts by restructuring and agreeing on. Transformation means that knowledge is restructured and decontextualized to ease the transfer to collectives other than the originating community. Providing shared vocabulary is governance element as well.

Collective learning phase

For further outreach, the introduction phase (IV) provides an initial step in which either knowledge is prepared in a way that it is easier to understand for others as part of workshops or trainings (instructional strand) or put to practice in a pilot (such as process knowledge). Both is experimental and is a learning phase where experiences are incorporated that prepare for a wider roll-out in the institutionalization phase (Va) where the knowledge gets a stable place, either as part of formal training plans, or as company-wide implementations (processes, products or similar). The goal is here to gain efficiency. Both when knowledge is formalized to be understandable for all, and institutionalized are the elements of governance.

Finally, moving beyond the limited scope of companies, phase Vb (External standardization)

moves towards standardisation or certification where comparability and compliance play a primary role.

Knowledge maturing incorporates several components:

1) agents that create and use knowledge (individuals, groups, networks, organizations/collectives, socio-technical systems)

2) actions how knowledge maturing is initiated and managed (

exploration, appropriation, noticing dissonance/mistakes (that is important at individual, group and collective level and triggers maturing), request for maturing;  awareness (awareness is needed in the distributed cognitive framework to be aware of collaborative collective patterns and awareness allows appropriation) ; negotiation/grounding and (re)contextualization; validation/recognition;  formalization, standardization, uptake/re-experience)

3) knowledge, how it is represented and its maturity states (incorporating knowledge patterns – personally or collaboratively or collectively validated solutions to the problem)

4) the problem and the associated knowledge patterns

It is particularly interesting that according to our approach scaffolding adds to trialogical learning design (Paavola & Hakkarainen, 2009; 2014) this mediation component that allows cultural pattern appropriation in learning.

In the next phase we try to validate our model with the workplace learning data. Then we can be more certain, also can we use same action names for scaffolding and knowledge maturing processes in workplace learning.


Social recognition in pattern networks among professionals

April 22, 2015

This paper paper Pata, K., Santos, P., Burchert, J.”Social recognition provision patterns in professional Q&A forums in Healthcare and Construction” has been accepted to Computers in Human Behavior.


We recently studied with colleagues Patricia Santos and Joanna Burchert several professional forums from the point of view of learning, maturing and recognition.

We used SNA to reveal the patterns and their interrelations.


Here is an example pattern network figure based on one healthcare practitioners forum discussions.

Based on those pattern networks we composed a model of social recognition provision in forums.

This model relates practicing and learning at work, peer-support practices in forums, the validation practices with knowledge maturing and formalizing loop.


Increasing validation practices can improve the credibility accumulation of persons as experts in the network and the credibility of shared resources, and allow crowds to initiate sharing and localising practices, maturing of guidelines and rules.

Yet, in current professional forums, such recognition practices happen quite seldom, and forums are not very good places for discovering which practices are credible based on social recommendation. Bringing some practices to the maturing and formalising loop would require particular orchestrated effort from the networks.

Noticeable is that in face-to-face practices among professional quite similar pattern trends could be modelled. For example based on interviews with construction workers the following dependency model between actions was found.