Archive for January, 2007


pedagogical affordances of social software functions

January 31, 2007

Maybe i am not aware of some existing resources, but i have tried to find example cases how people have used web 2.0 resources in their teaching practice and not yet found a central place.

What is my goal?

I think it is necessary to map the areas where social software might be helpful in teaching.
My way to do it is:
1. Mapping the social software functions
2. Mapping pedagogical uses of social software
3. Deriving the pedagogical affordances of social software from examples
4. Unifying the inital affordance tags
5. Preparing the graph indicating the pedgagogical affordances of social software functions
6. Presumably, if we can omit certain social software functions to certain tools, then we can also generalise the pedagogical affordances of these tools to some extent

Phase 1-3.

Social bookmarking
comment resources;
reflection_resources )


1. Create a set of resources that can be accessed on any computer connected to the Internet.

2. Conduct research and share that research with your peers

3. Track author and book updates

4. Groups of students doing a classroom project sharing their bookmarks, a teacher subscribed to their rss feed to see the direction of their research. (FURL – teacher can review and comment on resources that are bookmarked)

5. Resource teacher does a PD event with a group of teachers creates a shared account where teachers can post research and information bookmarks that they gather throughout the year. All members continuously benefit from this shared resource.

6. Rate and review bookmarks to help other students to decide on usefulness of resources

7. Setup a group tag in order to share educational resources

8. Unintended learning through the discovery of resources and information shared by others through their bookmarks

9. Share links to current news items that relate to classroom discussions.

10. Examine the popularity of a web site that a student had listed and examine those who have tagged that resource in order to find new resources. (and perhaps unintended learning opportunities)

11. Share one account between a number of different subject specific educators or a school in order to share resources with each other. (see Willowdale Elementary School and District6 )

12. Share one account between a large number of educators across a school district that teach in diverse settings in order to create a broad and deep set of resources. (see Traverse City Area Public Schools for district wide social bookmarking)
Social bookmarking does have it’s downsides. Users can easily post inappropriate sites.

Social bookmarking and tagging are two separate concept that share two primary traits:
1) the ability of individuals to organize knowledge in a manner that is personally meaningful and
2) to share, network and collaborate with others who share similar interests.

*examining the social bookmarks by using “Network” feature in . and Digg are two prominent examples.
Sites like Furl go beyond simple bookmarking by saving a copy of the site itself. Setting aside copyright concerns, Furl ensures that valuable resources don’t disappear when a link changes or a site closes.

* Organizing references: Certain sites – like connotea and CiteULike – are useful for learners to organize references when working on research papers. In addition to organizing, the references can also easily be shared with others.
* Group work – have learners post their individual or group work resources on a bookmarking site, so instructors and class members can learn from the research activities of others
* Encourage readers to capture resources of interest in a social bookmarking service, so future search in particular subject areas can occur within the knowledge resource they have created
* Create a personal knowledge repository through sites like furl which ensure important links are kept
* Tie bookmarking into blogging activities…ask learners to create a blog where important reflections – coming out of social bookmarking – can be expressed and explored (and in the process, if blogs are public, enable learners to bookmark the writing of classmates).

Taggin and tagclouds
define_meaning; connect_similar_meaning_resources; shorten_information_access_channels; find_communities_of_interest; connect_communities_of_interest; tags_in_bookmarking_activity; tags_vizualise_by_tagcloud; tags_bookmarks_wiki_blog_forum; observe_tags_feeds; vizualise_blog_tags_tagcloud; shared_tags_tagcloud; tagcloud_ access_inappropriate_public_tags; constrain_tags; closed_system_tags; tag_items_creativegames; track_person; track_learning; tag_meaning_ambiguity;

Tags permit end users to define a resource. Tagging allows end users to define what a resource means. The act of assigning meta-data (data about data) is placed into the hands of the reader, instead of exclusively in the hands of the author or publisher.The tag is a conduit – a window or connection to individuals, resources, and connections. In our hyperlinked world, a tag opens doors.
* Set up a tag for each course (if you want it specifically for your students, use a course code…if you want students to connect with others from around the world, use more generic terms). Have students use that tag when posting images to flickr, bookmarking in, or saving in furl or connotea.
* Set up learning activities where learners contribute to your course by searching and following tags…and bringing the best (however you define that) resources into their personal tag cloud. The resources from all students in a course can then be moved into a wiki for subsequent classes to edit.
* Explore tags of relevant interest to your class, and assign learners to subscribe (via RSS reader…or the old-fashioned way of entering a URL into a browser 🙂 ) to key tags and follow them as a way of augmenting in class instruction
* If you use blogs, use tags as a means of aggregating the “cloud of conversation”. Many blogging systems permit the inclusion of tags at the time of writing. The aggregate of a class’ tagging can be quite revealing of interests and mindsets.

When learners enter open spaces – like public tag clouds – they may encounter resources which the educator (or society) deems inappropriate. It’s important to reflect on how you anticipate using tags, and if you desire greater control, either use a closed system (like elgg) for blogging and tagging, or clearly define tags you expect learners to use.


There are tags being used in some unexpected, interesting ways that reflect communication and ad-‍hoc group formation facilitated through metadata.

The earliest image is of someone discussing social software, and then subsequent users posting screenshots of that picture within Flickr, and other similarly self-‍referential images. The referential and meta nature of the images continues as users took pictures of images on Flickr, etc. Although this is a playful example, it is a use of tags as communicative tool. Only by tagging their photograph with “sometaithurts” could a user of the system join the photographic conversation. Conversely, the only way to follow the conversation was through the systems automated collocating of like tagged items.

A user on Flickr, Andrew Lowosky, began posting pictures of doorbells in Florence, along with a brief piece of fiction about the doorbell in the description of the photograph. He dubbed this combination of photograph and short story “flicktion,” and tagged it as such. (Lowosky, 2004.) Some other users have been tagging photographs with “flicktion” and writing short fiction to accompany it,


Folksonomies (often erroneously applied to social bookmarking, but should apply only to tags…social bookmarks share resources, tags define resources. Folksonomies are comprised of tags, not bookmarks) exist in contrast to taxonomies in information definition. A taxonomy is often pre-defined, or at minimum defined by authors/publishers. Folksonomies are user-defined.


*Because folksonomies include alternative views together with popular ones, they present a unique opportunity to discover “long tail” interests.

*Discovery systems empower users to uncover alternative paths and related resources on their information journey.

*Anchoring effect. These systems, encourage users from an individual standpoint to choose tags that appropriately describe items, which in turn helps them to remember them in the future.

*Folkonomies offer insight into user behavior. Although they are very subjective descriptors, tags like ‘my stuff’ are also both useful tags to others who may want to view what others have on their reading lists.Folksonomies also give us an opportunity to observe user behavior and tagging patterns.

*Difficulty to find the tag. Because of the characteristic lack of control of tags, there is also no way to regulate the use of plurals vs. singular, acronyms, etc.
Many social tagging sites provide lists of “related terms” which encourage the use of “popular” synonyms. There is no vocabulary control and as such, users can include all terms that may apply to the entity when tagging without concern for whether it is a basic, more general or more narrow term.

Affordamces:capture_presentation_lecture; reflect_meanings; reuse_presentation_lecture; individual_anytime_access; podcast_bookmarks; connect_podcast_communities_by_tags

* Recording podcasts with experts and using as an additional resource for online or F2F classes (if you’re using a tool like Skype, a recorder is available to capture conversations .

* Instead of a reflective written journal, allow students to share their reflections through audio

* Record in-class lectures, and break down the lecture to key components to learners can access shorter audio clips…and you can link to individuals sections in online courses.

*Podcasting social bookmarks

*You can generate a podcast from a feed of entries tagged with, say, system:filetype:mp3. Or, to get a podcast of all audio entries, get this: You can video-cast, picture-cast, pdf-cast, etc, etc. becomes the enabler to “cast” bloody anything.
delicious podcast

Feed aggregation

Affordances: observe_information; archive_dynamic_blog_information;aggregate_information_channels; share_aggregated_information; share_aggregated_bookmarks; distribute_aggregated_information

*Archiving feeds

*sharing feeds
Create an account at or Furl( to store, sort and share the web sites that you feel have worthwhile in information for your students (and colleagues). Share your and Furl bookmarks with your class using an RSS feeds.

An RSS feed can be found on the bottom of almost every page within You can use your inbox to subscribe to other people’s feeds or by tag. The inbox merges all of these feeds together into a central feed. This central feed will keep track of all the bookmarks people are adding to the community that I have flagged.

*Homework casting
Building a homework feed:
Homework podcast by rss
* Audio instructions could be recorded online using
* Video instructions created and then posted through
* Web Pages, audio, video and files posted over the web could be bookmarked through and downloaded. (As Doug points out)
* The teacher posts their own files through – PPT, Word, PDFs …

All these services support the tagging of materials that have been posted, as well as an rss feed. You could just use the date of the posts to associate it with the students homework or you could tag the materials with the appropriate homework dates, as all these services support tags.

Next, you take these feeds to your favourite RSS remixer to create a single feed. Some of these remixers support a web page preview of your remixes.

Students could look at this web page preview for their homework or grab the rss feed for their aggregators.

weblog publishing

Affordances: must be written


The use of blogs in instructional settings is limited only by your imagination.

Options for instructors using blogs:

* Content-related blog as professional practice
* Networking and personal knowledge sharing
* Instructional tips for students
* Course announcements and readings
* Annotated links
* Knowledge management

Options for students using blogs in your courses include:

* Reflective or writing journals
* Knowledge management
* Assignment submission and review
* Dialogue for groupwork
* E-portfolios
* Share course-related resources

Blogs in education links

blogs, portfolios?

collaborative authoring
Affordances: controlling_changes; peer_to_peer_meaning_construction; information_access; information_assembling; information_search; creative_community; content_managing; open_access; restricted_access; anyplace_access; knowledge_organisation; semantics_creation; present_information; review_peers; collect_data; track_personal_group_knowledge_creation; manage_course; develop_personal_group_project; scaffold

Examples like wikipedia.
Using wiki in education
*The Collaborative Writing Projekt
*Scaffolding Student Collaboration for Group Wiki Projects
*Using a wiki in University Research
*Wikis in Education Case Study
*Wiki Tool Within a Course Management system
*Constructing science knowledge using a wiki
*Wiki-based collaboration and academic publishing


*Easily create simple websites

*Project development with peer review
Wiki makes it easy for students to write, revise and submit as assignment, since all three activities can take place in the wiki. A student can be given a wiki page to develop a term paper, and might start by tracking their background research. This allows the teacher, and peers, to see what they’re using, help them if they’re off track, suggest other resources, or even get ideas based on what others find useful. Next, the student can draft the paper in the wiki, taking advantage of the wiki’s automatic revision history that saves a before; after version of the document each time s/he makes changes. This allows the teacher and peers to see the evolution of the paper over time, and continually comment on it, rather than offering comments only on the final draft. When the student completes the final draft, the teacher and peers can read it on the wiki, and offer feedback.

* Group authoring
Using a wiki “pulls” the group members together to build and edit the document on a wiki page, which strengthens the community within the group, allows group members with overlapping or similar ideas to see and collaboratively build on each other’s work. It also allows all group members immediate, equal access to the most recent version of the document.

*Track a group project – Considering students’ busy schedules, a wiki is very useful for tracking and completing group projects. It allows group members to track their research and ideas from anywhere they have internet access. give each group a wiki page in which to write the paper itself, and give each member of the group a separate page to track his/her research and ideas for the paper. The “paper” page lets you see how the group is working collaboratively to construct the paper, and the individual pages let you track how each group member is developing his/her contribution to the paper, and gives you a place to leave feedback and suggestions for each student. If you use the individual pages this way, you may want to restrict view access for each student’s indvidual page to only you and that student.

*Data Collection – Because of its ease of editing, a wiki can be very useful for collecting data from a group of students.

*Review classes; teachers
A place for students to collaboratively write reviews of courses they’ve taken.

*Presentations – Some people are using a wiki in place of conventional presentation software, like Keynote and PowerPoint.

*Tracking progress in your research group. Directory of Faculty Research


Affordances: socialising; teamwork_regulation; shared_knowledge_creation; community_building; one_to_one, one_to_many; many_to_many; remote_teamwork; seminar; brainstormiung; role-play; collaborative_inquiry; scaffolding

Forum, mail, chat, audio- and videomeeting, internet phone….

shared creation
Affordances: teamwork_regulation; shared_knowledge_creation; community_building; one_to_one, one_to_many; many_to_many; collaborative_inquiry; remote_teamwork

Whiteboards, shared document editing, shared concept maps, web-based shared models

rich internet applications
Affordances: personalization

Allow a web-page to request an update for some part of its content, and to alter that part in the browser, without needing to refresh the whole page at the same time.

Phase 4.
It is necessary to unify different tags what i selected as pedagogical affordances. Next it might be useful of adding these tags to the functions of social software again.

Functions of social software:
social bookmarking
taggin, tagclouds, folksonomies
feed aggregation
weblog publishing
collaborative authoring
shared creation
rich internet applications

I found a nice image that makes sence for categorizing some affordances of social software.

web 2.0 from

List of all affordances: this list must be sorted and decreased
review_peers; collect_data;
shared_tags_tagcloud; tagcloud_ access_inappropriate_public_tags;

Phase 5.
A good visual might help to understand, which pedagogical affordances are unique and which social software functions may be mutually replaced.
what do functions afford pedagogically


IMS Learning design?

January 30, 2007

Yesterday we discussed can we use IMS Learning design for describing the Activity-theory driven pattern descriptions of learning activities with social software. Our ideas about how the elements of the activity system constrain the operation level of the activities are here:

activity constraints

Here are my comments about IMS Learning design:
We can use a this framework if (Activity Theory – IMS Learning design):
tools=environments; *services (their affordances to perform certain activities)
artifacts=environments: *learning objects
general learning sequence? = play
part of the general learning sequence, will it be separated by events? = act
simple activities or sequenced activities as workflows = activity structures

IMS LD and Activity Theory components

The UML activity diagrams seem to be an intermediate view, that is quite useful. However, where are EVENTS and OUTCOME? It is possible to add the EVENTS between ACTS and OUTCOME with EVENTS.

Sometimes OUTCOME may also become as a learnig object participating in he second ACTs, how is this solved?
How can we go to ACTION and OPERATION level? It seems to be related with the function where we can indicate the affordances of the tool.

Do REFERENCES to /environments *services/ enable to indicate certain different environments, and we could translate services into ACTION or even OPERATION level?


Services seem to be the affordances of tools to perform certain types of

Currently they write down activity part using elements like this (i have deleted the code elements due to wordpress problems):
imsld:role-ref ref=”Teacher”
imsld:environment identifier=”Poland_Italy_Confer”
imsld:title=Poland-Italy Forum
imsld:service identifier=”Poland_Italy_Confer_SO”
imsld:conference conference-type=”asynchronous”
learning-activity identifier=”LA-fuel-valve-lesson-intro”
item identifier=”I-fuel-valve-lesson-intro”

In general using LMS LD might solve two problems: how we write down the workflows (UML and XML views), and we may stop using the Alexandrian Activity pattern approach, because the perliminary phase of making LMS LD descriptions involves quite understandable case description format.
Aims at establishing specifications for describing the elements and structure of any unit of learning.

Provides a means of expressing many different pedagogical approaches in a relatively succinct language what is pedagogically neutral. A system that has to interpret this language does not need to know the pedagogical approach underlying the design: it only needs to be able to instantiate the design, allocate activities and their associated resources to participants playing the various roles, and coordinate the runtime flow.

EML – Educational Modelling Language was the ancestor of IMS LD

From the Conceptual Model, the fundamental concepts behind a Unit of Learning include Role, Resource, Activity, and Method. Additionally, Units of Learning have various meta-data which include Objectives, Title, etc.

The descriptions of use cases:
Primary Actors
Stakeholders and Interests
Scenario Steps

Developing the unit of learning
# n the analysis phase, a concrete educational problem (use case) is analyzed, usually by talking to the various stakeholders. What matters here is that the analysis results in a didactical scenario that is captured in a narrative, often on the basis of a checklist.
# The narrative then is cast in the form of a UML activity diagram in order to add more rigor to the analysis. This is the first design step. The UML activity diagram then forms the basis for an XML document instance that conforms to the LD spec. This is the second design step.
# This document instance subsequently forms the basis for the development of the actual content (resources) in the development phase.
# The content package with both the resources and the learning design will then be evaluated.

Learning Design specifies a time ordered series of activities to be performed by learners and teachers (role), within the context of an environment (this is tools?) consisting of learning objects (this is artifacts?)or services.

Most formal learning design strategies start reasoning from learning objectives, but one may also start from the learning activities, the support activities (usually provided by the teacher), or the environment

The major elements of the Learning Design Specification

components ( are reusable within a learning design)

activities (activity references an environment (tools?) which contains the learning-objects (artifacts?) and services (what is this in activity heory framework?) that are to be used by someone when they engage with the activity).

learning-activity* (activity (learning-activity or support-activity) has a number of parts. They can have their own learning-objectives, prerequisites, and meta-data. Typically, they also have a reference to an environment (tools?) which will contain the learning objects (artifacts?) and/or services (is services like the tool affordances?) to be used in that activity)


activity-structures* (activity-structure contains either simple activities e.g. learning-activity or a support-activity or other activity-structures, referencing other activity-structures means that you can form an arbitrarily complex structure of activities. )


learning objects*


play* (contains a number act elements in sequence, triggered by the end of the preceding one, if there is more than one play element, these will be run in parallel …is it the whole instructional sequence?).
act* (Within an act there is a set of role-parts run in together in parallel.)
role-parts*(role-parts are the element that links the method section to the components, contain a reference to a role and a reference to an activity, at runtime each player in that role gets separately presented with and separately uses the assigned activities and its associated learning objects and services)

The hardest part of this process is determining what should go in the sequence of acts and what should go into activity-structures. (What is then act?). Referencing makes the elements reusable in different places.

The narrative should be structured in the following way

Title – a very short description.

Provided by – author, institution, etc.

Pedagogy/Type of learning – case based, problem based, individualized linear, etc.

Description/Context – idem

Title – a very short description.

Narrative – a general description of the use case in educational terms (see below).

Primary Actor – student in student led learning, teacher in teacher led situations.

Scope – runtime systems involved in the delivery.

Level – description of the level of complexity.

Stakeholders and Interests – a discussion of the roles and their respective responsibilities.

Preconditions – a specification of what is needed in order to provide the student with learning experiences.

Minimal Guarantees – role specific preconditions.

Success Guarantees – role specific demands for the learning experience to be successful.

Main Success Scenario – relate to the runtime systems involved.

Extensions – various failure scenarios.

Learning objectives – idem

Roles: – the various participants, such as student, tutor, assessor, etc.

Different types of learning content used – local texts, internet pages, multimedia DVDs.

Different types of learning services/facilities/tools used – external expert, groupware.

Different types of collaborative activities – among students, between students and tutors, etc.

Learning activity workflow – how Actors / Content / Services interact.

Scenarios – e.g., the same content may be used for face-to-face and distance learning.

Other needs / Specific requirements – e.g. accessibility, specific target groups, etc.


Tagging as learning – activity description

January 29, 2007

For the purpose of web 2.0 learning patterns i have asked my collegue Martin Sillaots to give a short description how he uses tags in education.
Martin’s blog can be found from:

Here is a short overview of Tagging for learning patterns for my pattern-search purposes

Activity: Tagging as learning

Tools:, tagclouds,, webpages with content, C-map tool, LeMill environment
The activity aims the students to plan and execute in teams small project by using social bookmarking and concept-mapping tools besides other social software. They must learn how to navigate in tagcloud, how to create bookmark, tags and notes in, creation of network (network of teachers and students) in

1. Teacher creates page with bookmarks.
Teacher should provide as less as possible tags for bookmark. If teacher will provide too many tags to describe the content of material, students do not have anything to do (they don’t even have to think, only copy).
On the top of teachers page there can be a short lesson plan. It may be created in Google docs. It’s not good idea to create lesson plans as simple HTML document and to publish them in teacher homepage. The key term of all process and system is openness. So each teacher can use same tools and try them by themselves.

2. Students create user accounts.
Very difficult is to find connections between usernames and students real names. From other side, it’s flexible and good tool. In the schools there may be some restrictions to make accounts.

3. Creation of network (network of teachers and students) in Teacher presents his username to students and they add teacher to there personal network. Teacher sees them as fans and can add them to his network.
Students join with teachers network and barrow his bookmarks.

4. Students must read through the content of material and define meaningful tags.
Problem: Students try to copy the content of learning object to notes area. They shoud input all notes and tags by typing or clicking in existing tags.

5. Students must create project plan document, publish this in some open space (e.g. Google docs) and bookmark this in there page.
The notes area in is to narrow. Long answers do not fit to it.

6. To get overview of who tagged what the teacher clicked on link (next to bookmark) this link is tagged by X users. Then the tagcloud of that resource could be seen, list of students who tagged it, their tags and comments. This had to be done separately with every bookmark.

7. The meaningfulness of tags created by students will be measured on final examination. This examination will be like interview. Students will present there personal tagcloud and they must explain what is the meaning of that. Teacher will ask additional questions to guide them and to collect additional information.

8. The concept mapping method will be used when there is already sufficient amount of tags. Then based on tagcloud information the concept map of project management will be designed.

The experiment with this learning pattern is still going on, so i try to update this pattern entry and later to create the real description of it using the pattern elements.


From “Culture and explosion” by J.Lotman

January 28, 2007

I started to read the book “Culture and explosion” written by cultural semiotic Juri Lotman originally in 1992 in russian. I have the Estonian version of it, luckily we share the hometown with Lotman so there is semiotics in the air here.

I am writing down some expectations why buying this book. It is not the first thing I read from him ..earlier i have liked his book about “Cultural semiosis”. His ideas about the semiotic systems deal with the semiosis quite differently from the ordinary Peirce’ian assumptions. He does not deal with the translation between two different systems, rather, in one system there are borders that change dynamically that generates translation possibilities and continuous fluctuation between keeping the identity and letting the system changing. These things are of importance in many instructional designs where the perception of borders between common and align create the possibilities for learning..and if the borders are not perceived (even though if they excist), no learning can happen. It is quite similar to the idea with affordances. Another idea relates with the identity of communities, and how to create it by creating the feeling “us and the others” and secondly, how to make communities to exchange by giving “translation areas”.

Now about this book. The chapters “Semantic intersection as the explosion of meaning”, “Text in text”, “Logic of the explosion”. “Internal structures and outer influence”, “Two forms of dynamics” immediately made me think of the phenomena happening in mobile learning where people interpret each others visuals and signs left in the space…and want to create communities… and thus i hope i can get some inspiration for what we are doing in research.

I will continue this article..when reading the chapters. Lets’ see was i right about inspiration.
Now i try to translate some things i found meaningful. Some parts of it are not the exact translation.

CH. Problem statement
The main question in case of any semiotic system is primarly, its relation with the world beyond the borders of the system, and secondly the relationship between statics and dynamics. This last question can be said also other ways: how can the system develop, keeping ist identity?

We presume two level objectivity exists: one for the language itself (objective for this language) and another beyond the borders of the language. One of the central questions is how to translate the meanings of the system (its internal reality) into the reality that exists outside the reality of the language. Two special questions emerge from this: 1) in order to reflect the world outside, we need at least two or more languages; 2) it is inevitable that the space of the reality was not occupied by one separate language, but with the amount of these. Minimal existing structure presumes two languages and that none of them was able to explain the whole reality.
The intermediate un-translability (or limited translability) between languages is essential for adequate reflection of the outside world in these languages.

CH2: Single-language system
All the communication systems are based on the components (Jakobson):
According to this model the main purpose of communication is its adequacy. According to theory it is possible to elliminate all the constraints that hinder communication between the sender and the receiver. These ideas are carried of the abstraction that presumes the complete idenity of the sender and the receiver. It means they are using the same code and similar memory capacity. In reality the usage of CODE instead of LANGUAGE isnt so harmless as it seems. Sending information within the structures without “memory” would result in high identity of the message. The sender and the receiver with the same set of memory would understand each other ideally, but the merit of the information transported is minimal and the information itself is constrained. We can say that mutually identical sender and receiver understand each other ideally, but they have nothing to talk about. This model is suitable for directing orders. Normal communication between people and normal communication between languages presumes the non-identity of the sender and the receiver. In this case it is normal that the language-space of the sender A and receiver B are partially intersected. Communication is impossible if A and B do not intersect, the total intersection (A and B are identical) changes communication meaningless. Permitted is, therefore, partial overlap of spaces, while at the same time two tendences will be in action: while streaming towards mutual understanding, the overlapped area is tried to be increased, in order to raise the merit of the message, the difference between A abd B must be increased. Therefore, to describe normal communication in languages, we must bring in the concept of tension, the contradiction between the certain forces bewteeen spaces A and B.
The overlapped space of A and B becomes their natural area of communication. At the same time the areas that do not overlap seem to be switched off the dialogue. Here we stumble to one more contraversity: communication at overlapped area is trivial. It occurres that not the overlapped area is of high meaning for the diealogue, but the exchange of information between the areas of no overlap. We can assume that translation of nontranslable becomes the carrier of information with high merits. In the area of overlap, between languages that are similar the translation is easy, between the different languages (e.g. poetry and music) it is difficult and creates ambiguient meanings. Not understanding between languages is same valuable as understaning.

From the Taggin Tallinn m-learning activities viewpoint, this chapter seemed the most interesting for me for thinking how the translatable and non-translatable parts of meaning would be distinguished if the observer sees some meanings related with the objects or spaces in town, and also tries to interact with these meanings by translating them into its own system. Analytically i see the possibility to ask what are the translation-points, and what kind of translation happened beyond the shared area of meaningspace.

CH 3: Continuous progress
Continuous and explosive processes are antiteses of each other. One cannot excist without the other. But from the subjective viewpoint one seems the constraint for the other, an enemy, towards which should be streamed. 18-20th century, the meaning of the explosion-metaphor became analogous to the symbol of destruction, however during reneissance and great conquests to the new worlds it would resemble the birth of new creature or the restructuration of new structure.

This chapter introduces the concept of the explosion as the event that may continue to many different ways. It seems unevitable of creating such explosions by our meaning-creating activities. However, Lotman does not explain what initates explosions.

CH4: Continuous and disrupted
Explosion and continuous development are not the phases that replace each other in sequence, but their relationships develop also in the synchronous space. In synchronously operating structure both the explosion and the continuous processes have important functions: the former are responsible for renewal, the latter for stability. In timeline we can perceive texts like stopped moments between past and the future. Past is embedded inside the text structure and also exists as a memory outside the text. The unknown future enables to consider everything meaningful. Future is imagined as the space with all kinds of possible states. The moment of presence is the falsh of the unrolled space of future. It potentially involves the possibility to all the future paths. The choice of future is operationalised as the chance. Therefore the informativity of it is very high.
With the explosion the level of informativity in the system is increased a great amount. During the moment of explosion each element of the system or the elements outside the system may become the dominating ones in the new path of events.

CH5: Semantic intersection as the explosion of meaning. Inspiration.
It would be correct to imagine the bundle of meanings, which borders are formed from the amount of individual users. Relating non-relatable things in the creational tension is inspiration.
Semiotic space opens in front of us as the intersection of different layers of texts, that all together form some layer, which has internal compex relationships, different level of translability and spaces of nontranslability. Beneath this layer lays the reality layer, that is organised and hierarchically related by different languages. These both layers together form the cultural semiotics. Reality beyond the language borders lies outside of the semiotics of culture. The relationships between the translable and non-translable are so complex that they create possibilities for breakthrough to the space beyond the borders. This function is fulfilled by the explosions, that create windows to the space beyond the language borders.

CH: Text in text
The reality is even more complex: each system is situated in the space where also exist other systems and the fragments of broaken systems. Therefore, the systems do not follow only their own path of development but collide with other cultures. Often during these collisions something compleatly new is generated that is not the logical continuation of any systems. The contrasting of reality and unreal is common to all text-in-text situations. Thus, texts themselves are not homogenous. These texts-in-texts start the unpredictable interplay with the elements of text and increase the storage of unpredictable future developments. If the system was developing without these unpredictable interventions from outside (as a self-closed structure) it would develop cyclically and exhaust itself in time. Continuous intake of align elements to the system makes the movement of the system linear and also unpredictable.

CH: Logic of explosions
One of the main characteristics of the semiosphere is that it is uneven. Semiologic room is filled with structural pierces freely exchanging places, each of which keeps the memory of the whole and when becoming part of the new system will start recovering its own system. Colliding semiotic systems in space have the property of transforming and keeping their identity in these transformations. The source of invariability created by the continuous outbursts and intake of layers of culture would lead to chaos unless there were also the forces working to the opposite direction.

In this chapter i like the idea that each of the align fragments has a memory of its own system and ability to recreate it.

CH. The moment of unpredictability
The moment of explosion is the moment of unpredictability.Talking of unpredictability we mean the equally probable bundle of possibilities (but not all the possibilities..some probable ways are outside the choice of the certain explosion), of which only one will be realised. Distancing from the place of explosion the synonymes will be differed more and more in the meaningspace. This process is regulated by opposite trend that aims to restrict differentiation, changing antonymes into synonymes. When we look from present to future, the presence seems as the bundle of possibilities, when we look from the future to the past, we see linear path where other, unrealised possibilities seem fatally impossible.

CH. Views
Explosions are inevitable part of linear dynamic processes. In binary systems this dynamics is very specific. Ternary systems try to accommodate ideals with the reality, binary systems try to realise unrealizable ideals. The inner central part of the ternary system may live through the explosion, ternary structures however will keep their values, transforming them from the periphety to the core of the system.

Lotman seems to distinguish cultures that are ternary /having three elements, parts, or divisions/ (like western culture) and cultures that are binary (like russian culture). I wonder how it is transformable into the communities of practice..or any communities.

CH. Instead of conclusions
Understanding that the source of any semiotic system is not the isolated sign, but the relationship of at least two signs, pushes us to reevaluate the basis of semiosis.
The startingpoint is not the single model, but the semiotic space. This space is filled by the conglomerate of elements having various relationships that may seem as colliding meanings, that move in the space between complete identity and absolute difference. Each system remembers its pervious states and has a potential vision about the future. Thus, the meaningspace is chronologically and synchronically many-angeled. It has fuzzy borders and ability to be involved int the explosion processes.

Here i like the description of the meaningspace characteristics: fuzzy borders, different languages with the identity, translations between the languages to explain the reality, explosive and linear, self-sustaining and renewing are only some of these.


Framework example: activity pattern for joining into community

January 26, 2007

Example of the framework application for describing one activity pattern


I. Good examples of socio-constructive learning practices (activity patterns) that meet the challenges like collaborating, networking and self-directed learning are extracted and characterised so that these can be used as the basis for instructional design by facilitators and learners in different e-learning setting in new learning landscapes that emerge when the institutional learning management systems are merged with learner-centered social software (iCamp Space).
These descriptions meet the needs of users who plan the instructional design and can be used as the building-blocks in different learning landscapes.

II. Good examples of activity patterns describe the workflows at different learning landscapes, supporting the software designers with the the knowledge for developing the learning software towards the formation of the flexible selectable interoperable sets of tools for different learning challenges (iCamp Space).

Each activity pattern is described in the continuum that enables the users to select the patterns as rich descriptions in Pattern language (Alexander et al., 1977; McLaughlin et al., 1998) or as diagrammed workflows described with the ontological elements of the Activity theory (Engeström, 1987; Kuuti, 1995).

The activity patterns are be organised for the users so that they can be selected and combined dynamically into the learning sequences according to their learning challenges. The selection and activation of activity patterns gives the users suggestions about the alternative sets of tools that might be used for the selected learning challenge.

The ontological elements of the activity pattern are:

Activities are the sequences of activation of subjects, artifacts, tools and events in different actions and operations. Activities are distinguished by motive (why to do?) (Leontjev, 1975/76). Activities may be described as activity patterns (using Alexandrian pattern language) or as workflows (using diagrammic language).
Activity theory considers the tools as the mediators of the activity and distinguishes physical and mental tools. The former are part of activity-space, the latter form the ontological dimension or meaningspace and are not described as part of the activity patterns.

Events that start or end actions and may work like milestones. Events can be described through tools, artifacts and subjects. Events may be related with the outcome of the activity that is usually an artifact or the activity pattern or with the milestone outcomes.

Actions that consist of operations.
Actions and operations involve subjects, tools and artifacts that all add constraints to the applicability of actions.

Actions are defined by using pedagogical ontology. Actions are characterised by clear goals (how to do?) (Leontjev, 1975/76). Actions are: present/demonstrate, follow/attend, find, share, construct/design, ask, receive, respond/reflect, predict, plan, monitor, inquire, regulate, analyze, assess, report, model, illustrate/vizualise etc.
Operations are defined by using technical ontology for making the workflow descriptions technically operationable. The operations can be classified into manipulable and communicative operations. Manipulable operations are: transfer, search, tag, aggregate, reorganise, publish, add, delete, connect, disconnect, run, record etc.
Communicative operations in virtual reality are performed by manipulable operations. Therefore, the communicative operations in workflows are described as the ontological properties of the manipulable operations. Ontological properties of manipulable operations are: define, describe, explain, compare, realte, justify, argument, direct order, indirect order, guidline, request for repair, prompt, hint, request for confirmation, accept, partial accept, pumping, adopt, reject, negative/positive feedback, displace, splice, hypothesis/guess, classify, categorize, infer, explain, generalize, summarize. Ontological properties to the manipulative operations (e.g. scaffolding, reasoning, inquiry or other models) can be taken from the analytical frameworks from the research literature (e.g. Clark, Chi, Hmelo-Silver, etc.) Ontological properties are necessary when to explain, why some actions are effective and some not, they enable to interprete the sequences of operations.

The workflows are described in timeline by using formalised language. Each workflow is an activity pattern that connects subjects, tools, artifacts, actions/operations and events.
The diagrammic visualisation of the workflow distributes operations that the subjects perform with or without artifacts between the distributed tools of the learning landscape in timeline.

Subjects who have different alignment within the community activity patterns (roles or distribution of actions and operations) and who follow different rules that constrain the possible actions and operations with tools and artifacts during the activities. Subjects in icamp patterns can be distinguished into learners and facilitators if necessary only by the actions and operations. This supports the socio-constructive pedagogical framework (Yaeckel and Cobb, 1996) that does not give the tutor a central and qualitatively different role compared with other learners.

Artifacts that are used by subjects in actions and operations. Artifacts are virtual (e.g. webpage) or real objects (e.g. book) with objective properties conveying subjective meaning. The meaning of artifacts is defined by the subjects in the context of activity patterns. Subjects and the activities that they perform with artifact constrain the meaning of the artifacts. Knowledge artifacts combine verbal (written or auditive) or visual (static or moving images) representations of meaning. Artifacts are the outcome of the activity patterns and may become related with intermediate events or participate in the activity workflows and become related with actions/operations.

Tools that are used by subjects when performing actions. Tools have objective properties (what they technically allow to do) and subjective affordances that depend on the users and actions they want to perform in the activities (Albrechtsen et al., 2001). Subjects and artifacts constrain the possible affordances of the tools in activities.

Name: Finding the community

Area of usage: Community-building

Idea how it helps to reach the solution:
The goal of this pattern is finding the community that suits to the interests of the learner, and getting connected with this community. This is achieved by analysing one’s interests, adopting it with the soft ontology of online communities, connecting with the community activity- and meaning-space and contributing there with actions or meanings until acknowledged.

Motivation describing why it is effective:
Finding the community helps to find learning partners with whome the learner has similar identity – learning means getting the ownership of the community practices and meanings, learning is trigged by wishing to advance one’s status in the community, the process takes place by moving from the peripheral to the core area with full ownership of community practices and meanings.

Area of application and constraints:
This pattern should be adopted in case of self-directed learning, networking or collaboration with social software where the distributed and nomadic learners get interested in using the community knowledge and practices for enhancing their own learning and contributing to the community. This pattern is not necessarily applicable in institutional constrained landscapes where users are joined to the community by course- and not interest-based. Users without any clear learning-interests might need guidance how to identify the community meanings that are common to his interests.

This pattern involves analyzing the community identity by guessing the suitable keywords or tags that are characteristic to the community where the learner wants to be involved in, guessing the community activity-space (tool-usage), becoming the user of the tools of the community activity-space, active search of people belonging to suitable community by keywords or tags within the activity-space, getting connected with the community members passively (following their contributions by tags or feed readers) or actively (commenting, sending messages etc.).

Pattern elements:
Blog: etc.
Social bookmarks:,, etc.
Tagclouds any tagclouds on blogs
RSS feed reader: etc.


How to write down the workflow diagrams is still unsolved.
Thwe following questions need to be thought of:
Do the diagrams make sense in case of single activities?
The diagrams of several activities in sequence may be of more use?

Create a blog, log in to the RSS feed reader and social bookmarks.
Follow the tags and analyse, which tags might be of interest, find the versions of the tags for your blog. The appropriate tags will give you direct contact to people who use these tags for marking their contributions.
Vizualise the tagcloud of your own interests. For this use all the content of your blog entries or other creative writings (articles etc.). Use Tagcrowd or other programs for visualisation.
Share your tags and social bookmarks.
Subscribe tags of interest.
Receive blog entries with the tags of interest, analyse tag results, find and select key people with similar interests. Subscribe the feeds of these people or make direct links between your own blog and their blog. Refer to the people of interest.
Ask questions and respond to their contributions.
Present your own interests in blog by using same tags. In blog entries create new content that is important to you. Demonstrate what is your standpoint. Refer to the interesting contributions that relate with your articles.
Analyze information who are the visitors of your blog. Dashboard information may be used.
Contact with interesting persons directly by email and ask to work together.

Consequences of the pattern
This pattern helps individual learners to become part of the learning community by increasing the interest of people from similar area creating knowledge together.

What must be considered in application
When using this blog the learner should have a good access to internet resources and habit of contributing to the social web. The learner must subscribe blogs, social bookmarks and feed aggregator. The pattern is well transferrable to any general types of social software that enable connections by tagging. The pattern is useful if the learners are open to bring part of their knowledge-building processes open to the public.

Culture dependence
The pattern is applicable in open web-based learning landscapes with social software.

Tools and resources
Social bookmarks etc.
Tagclouds any tagclouds on blogs
RSS feed reader

Effective examples of pattern application:
This pattern is extensively used in Blogosphere.

Example from Nancy White:
Blogs and Community – launching a new paradigm for online community?

The Single Blog/Blogger Centric Community…readers begin returning to early bloggers’ sites, commenting and getting to know not only the blogger, but the community of commentors. The one blog is owned by one owner or organisation. There may be more than one blogger writing in a blog, but this is not an aggregation of blogs.
There is little opportunity for members to change, add to or adapt the environment.
The central identities of these communities are the blog owners. Their identities are the best known in the community. The commentors’ identities might emerge over time, but more likely, as commentors get to know each other, they share their personal details via private email, instant messaging and other forms of ‘backchannel’.

Topic centric communities have no single technological platform, with each blogger selecting their own tool. What links them is hyperlinks, in the form of blogrolls, links to other blogs within blog posts, tagging, aggregated feeds (using RSS), trackbacks and comments.
Having a shared tag, a key word that bloggers can attach to their individual posts, can mark a post as relevant to a community.
Tools that aggregate posts from blogs or even tagged posts can blur the boundaries of each individual blog, creating what appears to be a unified collection of posts, assembled on the fly as individual bloggers add posts.

Example from T.Mortensen and J.Walker:
Mortensen, T., & Walker, J. (2002, March). Blogging thoughts: Personal publication as an online research tool. In A. Morrison (Ed.), Researching ICTs in context. InterMedia report. University of Oslo, Oslo. Retrieved June 29, 2005, from

Mortensen and Walker (2002) wrote about their personal experiences of using blogs for research purposes. Both women were undertaking their PhDs and a considerable amount of their research was done online. They began to blog as a way of focusing while online but ‘they soon developed beyond digital ethnographers’ journals and into a hybrid between journal, academic publishing, storage space for links, and a site for academic discourse’ (Mortensen and Walker, 2002, p.250). They found that their blogs became tools which they utilised to think about their research, its values, connections, and links to other aspects of the world.

Related patterns
„Forming the community“
Forming the community pattern describes the deliberate community formation centered around a person or topic and inviting people to contribute as the members of the motherblog.


intersubjective signs in space

January 25, 2007

I found a nice comment from Pasta and Vinegar blog about game-signs.

intersubjectivity as signs in space

This made me think of one of my earlier thoughts about intersubjectivity in space.
I had my venia legendi recently in Tallinn University about different aspects of intersubjectivity where the similar aspect was brought out how signs may be working in space as some kind of intersubjective knowledge, that each interpreter of the sign will use for certain kind of mutual activities and regulation, nevertheless in which context they are performing.

intersubjectivity image

If to think one step further from this, to our Taggin’ Tallinn community games, then maybe it is a solution to m-communities to use such signs as the indicator of the presence of some activities in real space, that would then provoke different meaning-building actions getting unified under certain label. Maybe these signs would be distributed by phones or can be seen in real space as well.


Traffic magnet phenomen

January 25, 2007

popular issue graph

One reason why i am partly working in blog now is to trace the formation of idea-centered cluster in blogosphere. I have been observing my traffic for a month now, since establishing this blog. Finally, i had the “happy day” when instead of 10 visitors i got ten times more. My usual blog visitors seem to be collegues, and the visitors that happen to my blog randomly by searching some keywords. Well..i am blogging about specific scientific issues only…so i don’t expect high traffic.
The high peak was caused by a positive reference by Nancy White referring to one on my articles about the patterns how to find the community. She found me by tracing back one of the references going back to her blog.
What is the pattern? The traffic magnet blog entry was nothing special in itself, but it was hyped by a blog-owner with lots of connections and visibility. This caused temporarily the traffic-peak. I think the nice name for this pattern could be “hype traffic”.

The effect of the “hype traffic” may be getting some permanent visitors as suggested by this feedgraph.

Here is another example of hype after conference with well-known bloggers. One of them, George Siemens pointed to my weblog in his comments creating the massive incasion to my weblog.

hype edmedia siemens

Previously i have referred to one other pattern, that increased traffic: i would call it “abstract in heading” strategy.