Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Learning Creative Learning: Reading List for Week 5

Gerhard Fischer (2011): Understanding, Fostering, and Supporting Cultures of Participation. Interactions.

Of particular interest to me here are the recommendations for what is needed to create and foster a culture of participation (e.g. open-source software design). Would it be possible to create a culture of participation around learning Maths? What would it look like? Because I don't think it looks like khanacademy or any other website that I know of.

Quotes specific to education

  • Our current educational institutions often treat learners as consumers, fostering in students a mind-set of consumerism rather than of ownership of problems.
  • New models of teaching and learning, with an emphasis on learning communities, teachers as meta-designers, and courses-as-seeds.
  • A culture-of-participation perspective for learning and education is focused not on delivering predigested information to individuals, but on providing opportunities and resources for learners to engage in authentic activities, participate in social debates and discussions, create shared understanding among diverse stakeholders, and frame and solve personally meaningful problems.

Quotes on the required features of a Culture of Participation

  • A fundamental challenge for cultures of participation is to conceptualize, create, and evolve socio-technical environments that not only technically enable and support users’ participation, but also successfully encourage it.
  • Participation is often determined by an individual’s assessment of value/effort. The effort can be reduced by providing the right kind of tools with meta-design, and the value can be increased by making all voices heard by supporting social creativity.
  • Benefits must be perceived. Contributors have to believe that what they get in return justifies the investment they make. The benefits perceived may vary and can include professional benefits (helping for one’s own work), social benefits (increased status in a community, possibilities for jobs), and personal benefits (engaging in fun activities).
  • Low barriers must exist to sharing changes. Evolutionary growth is greatly accelerated in a system in which participants can share changes and keep track of multiple versions easily.
  • If sharing is difficult, it creates an unnecessary burden that participants are unwilling to overcome.
  • It creates technical and social conditions for broad participation in design activities by supporting “hackability” and “remixability.”
  • Boundary objects are needed to establish common ground and establish shared understanding for communities of interest.
  • Participants must be able to naturally express what they want to say.
  • Interaction mechanisms must have a low threshold for easy participation and a high ceiling for expressing sophisticated ideas. 
  • Participants are more readily engaged if they perceive the design activities as personally meaningful by associating a purpose with their involvement
  • We act not only for material gain, but for psychological well-being, for social integration and connectedness, for social capital, for recognition, and for improving our standing in a reputation economy.
  • Cultures of participation rely on intrinsic motivation for participation by providing contributors with the sense and experience of joint creativity, by giving them a sense of common purpose and mutual support in achieving it, and, in many situations, by replacing common background or geographic proximity with a sense of well-defined purpose, shared concerns, and the successful common pursuit of these.

Andrés Monroy-Hernández (2009): Designing a Website for Creative Learning

Broken link. Does anyone know where there is a mirror of this file?

Andrés Monroy-Hernández (2012): Designing for Remixing (excerpts -- Chapters 4 and 7

Well worth a read, even if only for the anecdotes about 10-year-olds forming companies, media franchises and the like on Scratch.


  • Also anecdotal evidence suggests that this form of remixing tends to be a useful way for newcomers to get started with Scratch,modifying an existing project instead of creating something completely new.
  • I argue for the value of using sociability to support creative engagement through basic mechanisms like remixing, which often facilitate more complex collaborative practices such as group work. Additionally, I argue for “participatory diversity,” that is the support for both “making” and “listening” or lurking.
  • Bootstraping a community works well through in-person gatherings, such as workshops, that help identify potential issues with the system and, more importantly, seed the community with the kind of content that is desired for the system.