Posts Tagged ‘workplace learning’


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).


Two Concept definitions and distributed cognition in informal learning

February 14, 2014

At Learning Layers meeting we had the session for theory that guides the project’s technologies and approaches for informal learning at work.

Tobias Ley explained with the figure how the two ways how the concept has been dealt with.


The upper figure relates with the semantic systems that use top-down ontologies for providing support i finding resources for learning.  It explains how real world objects or resources in the web are represented internally and represented by the annotations (tags). Such a model for concepts enables creating ontologies that define the relations of objects. The ontologies that guide learning may be considered as archetypical models – some of them are based on common knowledge and serve as community recommendation structures, others’ have become standards and work as top-down obligational constraints to guide with the recommendations the activities with the related objects.



The bottom figure describes the object representations through concept-vectors.

I think this view is ecology-driven. The description of an object – the concept perception through vectors of certain  properties (tags) – may be considered as one “organism”, whereas all the object conceptualizations in the (learning) community create the object’s description as a “species” –  and this “species” is fit within the niche described by the vector space described by individuals in certain time moment. The most frequent tags create the part of the niche that is community-specific or stabile and may be considered as an archetypical model.  The borders for community’s archetypical model within the whole niche are perceptional, and may be related with the frequency of certain “organisms” in time period, as well as the community members’ validation to certain “organisms”. (acknowledged or core members’ concepts may be considered more credible than newcomers’ ones and determine the community archetypical model)

If someone searches help from the concept niche defined by the (learning) community, his own concept definition may be less or more fit to this concept niche and its most frequently used areas (the archetypical model).  Adaptive learner may try to accommodate to the archetypical models in the niche – it means following the meaning-patterns defined by many. This learning behavior that may be called pattern appropriation is one of the distributed cognitive behaviors when individual learners orient themselves (or may be automatically guided by) the encultured niches in the meaning ecosystem.

Another interesting thought is, if the concept niche is simultaneously provided to the learner through two niches – as the standard archetypical model and the community-defined archetypical model. The standard archetypical model is usually stabile, while the community-defined model depends of the usage contexts of the concept that are changing dynamically. In this situation the learner’s own concept definition has to “decide” in which niche it is more fit. I think it explains why the community niche of concepts is always having the competitive edge over the standards niche – it requires less cognitive effort to stay using the community-defined archetypical model rather than adopting the personal meaning concepts towards fitting to the niche of the standard archeotypical model.

Yet, if one could see the visualization to what extent both niches overlap, the non-fit  (or out of standard niche) parts (tags?) of own  concepts could be consciously detected and abandoned in order to adopt own concepts to the arceotypical models.

In some conditions it is actually not useful to stay in the rigid and timely not updated standard niche, but rather to let oneself be guided by the context-tested niche of the community defined archetypical model.  This model (and the relevant niche) is less mature in this sense that it may contain areas what are not sufficiently proven to be useful. But it may contain also more useful areas than the standard niche.

In our discussions with Emanuele Bardone we defined two distributed cognitive behaviors – pattern appropriation clearly relates with the niches as pattern-spaces. Every person repeats for himself certain  meanings for the concept, and actually therefore creates the personal cognitive niche that is a vector space defined by these trial usages of the concept. The personal cognitive space can be located somewhere within the community and normative niches. It seems cognitively easier to be staying mostly within the range of his own cognitive niche, especially if it is fit to the cultural/standard archetypical niches.

But there is also another behaviour – chance-seeking that is extending one’s cognitive niche with new elements, adapting to be more fit. The chance-seeking can be used for extending the community defined archetypes for the concept.  The chance-seeking may be made conscious by visualizing the chance cases that appear outside the current personal cognitive niche. Chance amplification would then mean consciously repeating such cases, testing their viability empirically to extend one’s cognitive niche.

Chance amplification becomes the collective process of distributed cognition  when one can see the changes in his cognitive niche in the cognitive landscape of the community (the standard- and community niches of the archetypes) and get recommendations from those community niches. Several persons contribute to these community niches dynamically by sharing their concept-instances (“organisms”) and can be simultaneously aware of others’ chance-seeking events, if these are made explicit. The collectively empowered chance amplification increases the possibility that positive chances would be incorporated to the community niches.

Let’s illustrate all this: There is a standard treatment procedure in medicine that has to be followed for certain disease (standard archetype). As this is tested out by the doctors in actual practice sometimes it works, sometimes it seems not fit to the actual situations. The doctor at every patient’s case creates for himself the description how to do the treatment and this builds up the personal cognitive niche for this disease treatment. The doctor has learned the standards of treatment. Maybe the doctor also discusses the deviation-cases with other doctors. The cognitive niche of this doctor then incorporates and is embedded within the standard treatment niche as well as the community-defined niche. I think for the person these become inseparable. At some moments the doctor becomes aware of that the new case does not fit to his previous cognitive niche and the chances he creates as new treatment must be validated. One way of collective chance validation is seeing if someone else in the community has already tested the similar new treatment, another is making his chance case known to others for validation. In both cases the chance amplification is collectively empowered. And it is more likely that collectively empowered chances will extend the cognitive niches of many persons and thus become common and get incorporated to the arhetypical models of the community niches.



Self-regulated Workplace Learning: A Pedagogical Framework and Semantic Web-based Environment

November 12, 2012

The IntelLEO project has ended with a paper

Self-regulated Workplace Learning: A Pedagogical Framework and Semantic Web-based Environment

Self-regulated learning processes have a potential to enhance the motivation of knowledge workers to take part in learning and reflection about learning, and thus contribute to the resolution of an important research challenge in workplace learning. An equally important research challenge for the successful completion of each step of a self-regulatory process is to enable learners to be aware of the characteristics of their organizationally-embedded learning context. In this paper, we describe how a combination of pedagogy and Semantic Web-based technologies can be utilized to address the above two challenges. Specifically, we demonstrate the proposed solution through the Learn-B tool that leverages ontologies to support self-regulation in organizational learning.

in the journal

Educational Technology & Society 15 (4), 75–88.


Learning and knowledge-building in extended organizations

May 20, 2012

The IntelLEO project is going to its end, and we are looking back at what we achieved.

In the project we assumed that to support organizational responsiveness, cross-organizational learning and knowledge-building should be supported. Our assumption was that learning and knowledge-building (LKB) activities across organizational borders as well as within organizations would create conditions for organizational responsiveness to appear.

We adopted the knowledge conversion model by Nonaka & Takeuchi (1995) into cross-organizational settings,

identified learning and knowledge-building enablers and inhibitors,

and developed technological services that support those learning and knowledge-building activities that support responsive organization to emerge:

  • the competence-based reflections in the format of the construction of learning paths and monitoring personal development in socially and organizationally embedded context (externalization and internalization activities) (see Siadty et al. 2011)
  • the competence-annotated sharing and searching of knowledge (externalization, internalization)
  • the competence-annotated searching for other learners or working partners and team-building (socialization and combination activities)
  • the construction, accumulation and provision of organizational knowledge to its employees using the semantic web technologies and ontology framework (externalization and internalization activities)

We assumed that extended organizations are connected with temporal learning and knowledge building activities, and we may conceptualize such an extended organization (an IntelLEO – intelligent learning extended organization) as a distributed cognitive system.

Socially distributed cognition, where cognitive processes are distributed across members of a social group by knowledge exchanges also contains mutual awareness, communicating and socially provided support as an external locus of control for cognition. The forms of socially distributed cognition are:

– monitoring peers’ activities for mutual awareness, social surveyillance (such as friend-feeds, wall, mashups)

– peer-scaffolding (commenting, rating, favouriting)


Distributed cognition involves coordination between internal and external (material and environmental) structures through causal coupling (an embodied cognition) that enables adapting one’s actions to fit to environmental conditions.

These also associate with the distributed intelligence and dispersed learning processes carried out in a loosely coupled way. Such distributed intelligence creates a distributed cognitive system that also contains a feedback loop to community/organizational culture – cognitive processes can be distributed through time in such a way that products of earlier events (of the same person, of other community/organization members or members from different community) can transform the nature of later events.

This may take different formats:

– creating and using personal knowledge aggregations

– using the external knowledge organization of peer’s (tags, annotations to the resources they have used)

– using bottom-up or top-down aggregated organizational knowledge (tagclouds, semantic search)

– creating and organizing personal reflections (blog posts)

– using externalized peer’s knowledge (blog posts)

– creating personal networks (mashing feeds to monitor)

– benefitting from community browsing (from shortcuts the personal networks create in the community).

Here are some results from the interviews with workplace learners about using the IntelLEO framework for learning and knowledge-building (LKB):

The temporal LKB activities that have been identified as the prerequisites of organizational responsiveness These acts create distributed cognition possibilities across EO in IntelLEO Examples of temporal LKB acts perceived by workplace learners

1. The presence of knowledge exchanges among employees

Cognitive processes are distributed across the members of a social group (a socially distributed cognition).

Better communication

Becoming open

Exchanging knowledge and experiences

Acknowledging that someone might read and learn from my reflections.

Sharing, asking and commenting to support the development of learning partners

Helping my colleagues to discover interesting online resources

Cross-organizational  collaboration on research projects

Starting and sharing new learning areas in the company

Sharing relevant information with a group

Shared goal or experience supports LKB

Sharing information complements each other’s knowledge and increases group synergy

2. The opportunity for employees within an organisation to use knowledge to adapt their actions to appropriately fit environmental conditions

Cognitive processes involve coordination between internal and external (material or environmental) structure through causal coupling (an embodied cognition)

The continuously changing and evolving job requirements impose the need for constant learning of new things

Autonomy  for deciding when and how to learn

Performing LKB primarily for oneself

Organising learner’s current/planned knowledge is increasing the willingness to get involved in LKB

Giving the big picture – what have you done, how have you done it and what else you should learn

Reflection makes to analyse development and think thoroughly about the activities

Showing the learning progress motivates others’ learning

Documenting one’s knowledge increases the others’ motivation to learn within the organization

Reading colleagues’ entries  help to realize that my contribution can also be useful for my colleagues

Seeking external solutions for internal challenges

Seeing what and how others have learnt  – that makes to think should I learn it as well, how could I learn it

Reusing the „lessons learned“ of my colleagues for planning learning

Peers’ contributions influence to see own things from different viewpoint

Providing the organisational goals on what to learn

Can take a look at the example-learning paths, created by organization

Benefiting and learning from the crowd-sourced knowledge and annotations gathered by the entire organization

Organizational goals may be harmonized with input from personal goals and work-practces

3. Distributed intelligence and dispersed learning processes carried out within loosely coupled different organisations

Processes are distributed through time in such a way that the products of earlier events can transform the nature of later events (feedback loop to organizational culture).

The sufficient mass of initial content in the system increases motivation to add

Looking back/finding at own entries and annotated resources

Identifying potential learning and/or research partners

Getting an insight into others’ interests and goals

Following resources or persons

Associating the discovered resources with the task

Letting others to know of new contributions

Seeing the activities in interesting topics and of colleagues

Better structuring and organizing of the collective knowledge

The collaborators can easily access task-relevant resources

Collaboration between organizations influences positively the development of individuals

It influences the growth of the organizational and individual knowledge