Archive for December, 2012


Differences of scaffolding in communities and networks

December 29, 2012

I think that we expect that our empirical cases are like communities of practice, but it may be that not all the characteristics of such community are at present and they are rather knowledge collectivities or constellations of communities of practice, and eventually the Learning Layers project can help the target groups to create a real community of practice by aiding the shared knowledge-base to be developed.

Scaffolding in the community of practice is  a form of enculturation – an alignment (establishing the congruence) to the dispositional knowledge of the community .

Scaffolding in the constellation of communities or in project-based companies (in knowledge collectivities) is facilitation of finding who knows what in the network and how do they do it in the specific goal-directed context.

Does finding the network-partners meet the criteria for scaffolding concept? However, the personal nature of scaffolding in the network suits with the traditional understanding of scaffolding.


I have taken our last concept map, that we composed with Mart Laanpere and Tobias Ley and added the differences of knowledge communities and knowledge collectivities based on Lindkvist (2005) paper.

networked scaffolding - draft


Knowledge Communities and Knowledge Collectivities: A Typology of Knowledge Work in Groups

Lars Lindkvist

Linköping University, Sweden

Journal of Management Studies 42:6 September 2005



In the communities of practice that are ‘tightly knit’ groups (Brown and Duguid, 1998)

– the  ‘dense relations of mutuality’‘strong’ social bonds (because community of practice members trust each other both personally and regarding their competences),

– the negotiated, joint enterprise ‘defined by the participants in the very process’ (cognition is shared at high degree)

.- a shared repertoire including ‘routines, words, tools, ways of doing things,stories, gestures, symbols, genres, actions, or concepts . . .’, and

– shared understandings enable cohesiveness (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998)

A community involves both affect-laden social relationships and a substantial degree of shared ideational or cognitive communality, having emerged over a lengthy period of time (Etzioni, 1996).

Relevant knowledge resides in practice, not in the master. Mastery resides not in the master but in the organization of the community of practice of which the master is a part (Lave and Wenger,1991). In the communities of practice we are confronted with highly complex and ambiguous knowledge that can only be decoded through a lengthy period of actual practising. 

We are thus confronted with a kind of embodied knowledge or competence to behave. Communities rely on ‘dispositional know-how’ created out of practice and held by the community as a whole.

Neither the master nor the apprentice is conceived of as self-conscious and knowledgeable agents. Instead knowledge inheres situatedly in practice and creeps into and occupies the community members when they work together. In the communities of practice learners ‘do not receive or even construct abstract, “objective” individual knowledge; rather, they learn how to function in a community’ (p. 48). As a result they are being ‘enculturated’ (Brown et al., 1989) rather than educated. In communities of practice the apprentice, enjoying a legitimate peripheral participation, gradually approaches a status of full membership by both ‘absorbing and being absorbed’ in the culture of praxis (Lave and Wenger, 1991, p. 95).

In communities of practice, congruence with established practice or paradigms is what matters.


A firm or a project group, merely represent boundary objectsa method of interconnecting communities ‘by which a set of practices manages itself as a constellation of practices’ (Wenger, 1998, p. 247). The designated ‘constellations of interrelated communities of practice’ (Wenger, 2000, p.229) are:

– sharing historical roots,

– having related enterprises,

– sharing artefacts,

– having the proximity of interaction

– having overlapping styles of discourses


Goodman and Goodman (1976, p. 494) discuss temporary systems as a ‘set of diversely skilled people working together on a complex task over a limited period of time’. In temporal networks (project communities, loosely tied communities) – ‘the collectivities of practice’ (Lindkvist, 2005) – the shared understandings and knowledge are not so well developed.

Projects comprise members representing different specialties with different knowledge bases and ways of interpreting experiences. In such contexts there is thus a very limited overlap of knowledge bases, and little time to erect communal knowledge during the lifetime of a project. There is hardly time to learn together long enough to develop communal knowledge, and neither do project teams tend to become ‘tightly knit groups’ or ‘communities’ in a social-structural sense.

A ‘knowledge collectivity’ is an organization that is able to operate on ‘distributed’ knowledge. Instead of being shared among community members, the knowledge base is highly dispersed and individualized among collectivity members. Rather than relying on ‘decentred’ knowledge, project groups must be able to operate on knowledge that is radically dispersed, distributed or individualized, being impossible to gather or comprehend for any single, overseeing mind (Becker, 2001; Hayek, 1945; Tsoukas, 1996).

In such distributed contexts, it is important that members know ‘who knows what’ in a ‘transactive memory’ fashion (Wegner et al., 1991). This makes it possible for them to use each other as external memories, facilitating for example knowing where to start the search process when problems turn up within projects. Knowledge is then activated and exchanged, in a spontaneous manner, at the point of time it is needed.

Instead of erecting and codifying a communal knowledge base as in the communities of practice, firms relying on such a largely informal ‘network memory’ infrastructure thus tend to let knowledge ‘stay in place’ and encourage people to learn how to search for relevant knowledge (Lindkvist, 2004).

When circumstances change fast, people should not look too much inwards and backwards, to ‘our’ identity and history (as in communities of practice). Instead they should look outwards, to what customers want, to the task at hand and forward at what might be achieved. Individual learning in such contexts will to a great extent reflect the goal-directed problem-solving trajectory people engage in.

In comparison with the knowledge community, greater reliance is placed on individual agency in the knowledge collectivity. Relying on their knowledge of ‘who knows what’, they approach others with their problems and their ideas about possible solutions, hoping that the experience, knowledge, intuitions or criticism of others would help them change their way of thinking about their problems, entering new, more promising lines. The fact that others have been around for a long time, or know the narratives, is no guarantee for relevant knowing. Often newcomers may know more than old-timers, and quickly learn what these know.

By using each other as external memories and partners in the co-evolution of knowledge, project members are able to engage in deliberate, goal-directed, trial-and-error processes (Lindkvist and Söderlund, 2002).

As discussed by Potts (2001, p. 418) markets are experimental spaces, ‘spaces where existing knowledge is coordinated and where new knowledge is tested’. We may think of problem-solving processes within projects as taking place within such a ‘marketplace’, where ideas compete for attention and where individuals continuously look for new ideas and criticism that might help them solve their problems. While their fellows in the knowledge community are ‘enculturated’, the individuals in the knowledge collectivity are subjected to specified goals, granting them unrestricted ‘entrepreneurship’ as to how these may be reached.



why community members support others

December 21, 2012

Based on the paper below, networked scaffolding can be provided by persons who are:

– sharing the same community identity – the community concepts, ideas, activities and concerns

– able to synthesize and translate supportive knowledge from one community across community borders to aid members of another community

– are trusted because are wiser and have reputation and peer esteem in the community, their advice works in practice and is timely

– not afraid of work-monitoring and evaluation based on the analytics of their help-giving behaviors

– do support voluntarily to gain peer esteem in the community

– not afraid of idea-stealing because they can get credit of honest attribution as the originators of the ideas and ways of how to make problems solved.


Learning in Knowledge Communities: Managing Technology and Context


MICHAEL BARRETT, Judge Institute of Management, University of Cambridge

SAM CAPPLEMAN, Hewlett Packard Global Alliances

GAMILA SHOIB, School of Management, University of Bath

GEOFF WALSHAM, Judge Institute of Management, University of Cambridge

European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 1–11, 2004

According to Brown and Duguid (2000) learning in communities (‘knowledge communities’) needs to be cultivated through encouragement and facilitation, for example in allowing new ideas to develop and circulate within and between communities (constellation of communities which exist in organizations (Wenger, 1998; Ward, 2002).

A group of people becomes a community of-practice if individuals contribute in a voluntary way,because they feel that they learn a lot through community participation, and because they identify themselves closely with what they perceive to be the community culture.

Community participants can ask questions and receive answers within a short period of time and over spaces.

The existence of clear reasons (business-related needs, interest, incentives, altruism) for knowledge-sharing in the community.

Participants must trust the responses they receive.

Grounding processes in organizational knowledge creation require higher trust level for sharing this knowledge with technology. The virtual interaction can sometimes be a poor choice for particularly complex, political or trust-based communication and interaction.

Participants must find the responses effective in practice.

The work monitoring and collaborative problem-solving support based on incident-tracking support system has to be a natural aspect of the job culture.

The voluntary participation of members of an online community in knowledge-creation is motivated by highly valued benefits such as reputation and peer esteem.

The danger of putting out creative ideas on any electronic system is that they can be taken up and used by others without clear attribution to the originator of the ideas.

Freedom from learning from others, lateral communication and grass-roots development of ideas may be seen as threatening  to existing power structures, particularly if those structures are highly top-down and centralized.

Attempts to communicate meaning is generally more difficult due to the lack of shared symbols such as professional language, job purpose, and norms of behavior between communities.

Hewlett Packard’s approach to knowledge community is based on a system of user profiles and ratings to each others’ postings from 1 to 10. The response from a particular person comes, therefore, with some ‘credit rating’, making it easier for the questioner to assess the likely value of the answer. The development of trust is supported by the credit ratings described above, and reinforced if the advice that is received actually works. The points rating of an individual is a reflection of the person’s perceived value to other community members.

An incident-tracking support system in Zeta enabled an individual specialist to keep track of a particular customer problem and attempts at its solution, but it also facilitated the sharing of such knowledge with others so that a wider group could contribute to problem solving.

Help-seeking and-giving analytics should not be used for performance-monitoring and evaluation of individuals, especially by people who have higher rank in organizational hierarchy. So the access to such forums should be restricted  by job levels to increase the trust of sharing.  People are very aware of who is ‘watching’ or monitoring when they share ideas with others, and there is a need for ‘safe enclaves’.

In voluntary participation in a virtual community, such as open source software movement, participants may gain future financial rewards through the development of their skills and knowledge. The open-source projects like Linux confer highly valued benefits such as reputation and peer esteem.

Brown and Duguid  (1998) suggest using organizational translators – namely individuals who can frame the interests of one community in terms of another community’s perspective to support cross-community learning.  The actions taken by the ‘translator’ in Compound UK were to open up a forum, both face-to-face and electronic, within which the knowledge and perspectives of experts from different communities could be more effectively exchanged.


Exploring factors that influence knowledge sharing behavior via weblogs

T.-K. Yu et al. / Computers in Human Behavior 26 (2010) 32–41


In this paper i found the questionnaire and the model for why people share.



distributed cognitive system may transfer responsibility in scaffolding

December 19, 2012

One question in networked scaffolding is how fading out nature of scaffolds can be achieved. The paper of Bellan (2011) proposes that distributed cognition that appears in human-artifact networks may serve as a scaffold, since it allows to transfer responsibility to the parts of the distributed cognitive system external of individuals similarly as in scaffolding support the tutor (or the scaffold) enables to share some cognitive efforts.


Distributed Cognition as a Lens to Understand the Effects of Scaffolds: The Role of Transfer of Responsibility by Brian R. Belland

Educ Psychol Rev (2011) 23:577–600

This paper proposes an alternative way to conceptualize transfer of responsibility through the lens of distributed cognition.

Pea (2004) argued that scaffolds without fading were not really scaffolds as Wood et al. (1976) originally intended. Pea (2004) wrote that scaffolds that do not incorporate fading were actually part of distributed cognition, or the division of an overall cognitive task into subtasks that can be completed by different people or tools (Hutchins 1995).

Fading out: To promote the effect of scaffolding, one needs to promote the transfer of responsibility from the student and scaffolds to just the student.

In the distributed cognition model, tools and other individuals are considered equal agents in a cognition system (Halverson 2002). Distributed cognition occurs when one cognitive task (e.g., solving a problem) is distributed among individuals and tools such that no one individual must carry out the entire extent of the cognition required to complete the overall task (Giere 2004; Hall 2005; Hutchins 1995; Vosniadou 2007).

The metaphor of distributed cognition may be appropriate to apply to computer-based scaffolds because the latter do not simply add to but fundamentally change the nature of cognition. That is, scaffolds allow students to engage in cognition that is beyond what they can do by themselves.

The ultimate determinant of whether students can assume responsibility from a distributed cognition system is the extent to which they maintain throughout the executive function of the system, defined as “making choices, operating at decision points to explore the consequences of options and select[ing] a path of action” (Bibok et al. 2009; Landry et al. 2009; Perkins 1996, p. 96; Salomon 1993).

Within a distributed cognitive system, there is information and the executive function (Perkins 1996).  Within a distributed cognitive system that performs ill structured problem solving, the information consists of thinking dispositions, basic thinking techniques, tools, and technical realms (Perkins 1995). Executive control refers to students’ abilities to make choices, explore consequences of options, and otherwise make decisions regarding strategy (Bibok et al. 2009; Landry et al. 2009; Perkins 1996; Salomon 1993). The explore consequences aspect of the definition relates to metacognition (Fernandez-Duque et al. 2000). Self-regulation can be defined as the ability to set and pursue learning goals (Pintrich and De Groot 1990). Thus metacognition and self-regulation appear to be related to students’ ability to adopt and maintain the executive function.


External networks as scaffolds

December 19, 2012

In Learning Layers project one concept we are exploring is networked scaffolding.

In this paper i found how external networks as scaffolds may scaffold the workers differently, depending of their work-position:


Knowledge-sourcing of R&D workers in different job positions: Contextualising external personal knowledge networks by Franz Huber

Research Policy 42 (2013) 167– 179

The knowledge sourcing behaviour from external personal networks varies according to job positions.

– the lower the job position, the less important are external personal knowledge networks.

– for non-managerial engineers, inter-organisational knowledge relationships tend to operate via professional publications or online discussion forums rather than via personal networks.

– for managing directors, external personal networks tend to be important than external personal networks

The significance of external personal networks vis-ąvis alternative sources of knowledge was scrutinised by examining the kinds of knowledge that are available uniquely through external personal networks. The results reveal that the most frequent type concerns business knowledge rather than technological knowledge. This strengthens the findings that personal networks are most important for managerial job positions.

technical, non-managerial R&D workers finds alternative sources of knowledge such as internal colleagues or the internet significantly more significant than external personal networks

– the usefulness of external personal networks varies for knowledge functions: they are significantly more important for exploratory practices of keeping up-to-date with the latest technological developments than for more focused problem-solving practices.

– external personal knowledge networks are more important for primarily technology-driven firms that gain competitiveness through cutting-edge technological knowledge than for firms driven by other factors such as knowledge about market needs.