The Pattern Language Network

Taming web2.0 in Higher Education

Archive for October, 2008

e-Framework Workshop – Weds 29th October 2008.

Posted by johnrg on October 30, 2008

Went to the e-framework workshop yesterday and in retrospect I feel it was useful in that it helped me make more sense of what is expected from project teams’ contributions to the e-framework.  The workshop introduced ‘Programme X’ which is concerned with something called the ‘JISC Innovation Base’ and the ‘national’ e-framework. We were introduced to the JISC Innovation Base; it would be helpful if the purpose of this database was clearly stated – my take is that JISC are trying to create a search-able database containing descriptions of key aspects of each project together with clear statements of their outputs. These outputs will include references to entries in the e-framework and hence make it easier for other people to find and use these outputs. People at the workshop were used as guinea pigs to test the process of identifying essential elements of their respective projects and model them. There are emerging tools and templates to support the IB however they are not widely released as yet.

With regard to the e-framework my understanding is that identified services arising from projects need to be expressed as service usage models; such services may be software tools, processes, activities etc. The workshop included an introduction on how to bridge from a project’s entry in the IB onto entries in the national e-framework as SUMs. 

Together with a colleague I was able to create an entry for the Streamline project for the IB, to specify elements of the bridge and to create a tentative SUM for one of the services arising from the project. This was relatively straight forward as the service was a software tool; I think matters may be more difficult if the service is a process (such as some of the outputs from PLanet).

It is unclear exactly what is expected from current Projects with regard to contributions to either the IB of the e-framework; clearly attendance at this event and being guinea pigs in the process are evident contributions to the ‘e’framework’. I’ve emailed Lawrie seeking clrification on this point.

George Roberts said that he would collect slides from the event and make them available via the EMERGE website – not yet present at the time of this post.

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Planet 2-day meeting

Posted by Janet Finlay on October 29, 2008

My head is buzzing following our very productive two day meeting in London which finished yesterday. The first day was a meeting of the Planet team; on the second we were joined by distinguished guests with expertise in various areas of patterns and representations of practice. These included: Lorna Burns from Barnet College; Mark Childs from Coventry; Juliette Culver from the OU; Sally Fincher from University of Kent; Christian Kohls from the Knowledge Media Research Center in Tübingen, Germany; Diana Laurillard from London Knowledge Lab; Helen Sharp from the OU; and Niall Winters from London Knowledge Lab. Jill Jameson also joined us for the afternoon on the second day in her role as critical friend to the project. In between the two working days, the team and guests met for dinner at the wonderful Ottolenghi restaurant in Islington – well worth a visit! But back to the main business. 

Frankly it is difficult to know where to start. On day one we thrashed through some major issues to do with the process of eliciting patterns, the scaffolding we offer through our wiki, and the need for (and current lack of) an organising structure for the patterns that are emerging from our workshop activities. On the second day we had invited our guests to submit stories about their own successful teaching practice which we then used in the morning to give them a taste of our workshop approach to pattern elicitation. In the afternoon we invited them to feedback on this which led to a valuable discussion of the strengths and weaknesses in our approach and alternative approaches which really helped us to pin down the aspects we need to focus on in the remaining months of the project.

Each of these needs further consideration (and warrants its own blog post) but to summarize:

  • We are proposing a three workshop model, with active facilitation from a pattern-knowledgeable moderator pre and post each activity. Much of this is in place but needs closer specification so that what is currently “craft” knowledge is made explicit, the activities required of participants are more clearly defined and the case and pattern structures currently on the Wiki reflect what we are seeking in these two forms.
  • We need to agree what and how we are abstracting from case stories to make patterns: what are the salient questions to ask? And what order is it appropriate to ask them?
  • We urgently need an organising structure to help us make sense of the patterns that are already emerging, to identify gaps where new patterns are needed, and to scaffold the use of patterns in practice. We have some candidates and we need to start working with them: how do our existing patterns map onto these? where are the gaps? what sense do they make to users? The latter is key: whatever structure we choose must reflect the way teaching practitioners work and think about their practice or the patterns will not be used.
  • We currently have upwards of a dozen user groups, with whom we are working and talking. All are at different stages in the process, but it is important that one or two at least complete and evaluate the whole three workshop cycle. CETL ALiC and the e-formative assessment groups are furthest along this path so we need to make sure their forthcoming workshops reflect the process as it is developing.

There is much more to say and other team members will give their own reflections on the event. But for me this has been a significant activity and one which has really enabled us to examine what we are doing. There is a lot still to do but we are definitely making progress! The challenge now is to keep focused on these critical elements of work.

Posted in action items, pattern languages, patterns, project, reporting, workshops | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Christian Kohls mines for patterns in London (Oct. 28th, 5pm)

Posted by yishaym on October 23, 2008

(cross-posted from designforlearning)
A bit of a short notice, I know. But if you happen to be in town, come to Christian Kohl’s talk at the Knowledge lab:

Getting to sound educational settings, successful teaching methods and beneficial instructional tools and materials is a challenging design task. To not reinvent the wheel and learn by good practices that have proven in the past, patterns are a promising approach to capture the knowledge of experts. Design patterns describe the essential elements of solutions for recurrent problems and reason about context, applicability, benefits and liabilities. In this presentation, patterns of interactive information graphics will be demonstrated to show how various visual interaction forms can help or fail to serve in an instructional context. Based on these and other pedagogical patterns some fundamental concepts of patterns will be illustrated.

Starting with an elaboration of common practices of the pattern community to find, write and reflect about patterns, a model of pattern acquisition will be developed. This model is based on schema theory and leads to a discussion about the reliability and usability of patterns. The striking question is whether the documented patterns, the patterns in our mind and the patterns in the world are the same.

About the speaker
Christian Kohls is a Member of the research unit “Design and Implementation of Integrative Learning Environments”. He has been working at the Knowledge Media Research Center since 2005. His job is the technical development of the German information and qualification portal He is also responsible for editoring the content section “media technology” and gives frequently online trainings in e-learning software. After his studies of media and computer science he worked in the e-learning team of the University of Applied Sciences Wedel/Hamburg. He worked as consultant at pharus53 software solutions and implemented multilingual wbt solutions and software tutorials. He is inventor and development coordinator of moowinx, an end user tool to create interactive graphics.

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“language” attribute on patterns?

Posted by yishaym on October 16, 2008

Our cases have a “group / workshop” attribute. This is because we collect them from various communities, and the participants in these communities want to quickly find their peer’s contributions. We didn’t have a similar attribute for patterns, thinking that the whole point of patterns is to promote generality and knowledge transfer. Now, that is still true, yet on the other hand we can see several distinguishable (if not distinct) languages emerging. Patterns for e-Assessment are a cluster apart from HCI patterns etc. After all, this is the pattern language network.
So, should we add a “language” attribute to patterns? Should it be single or multiple choice?

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Studies or stories?

Posted by yishaym on October 16, 2008

One of the issues that came up at the recent formative e-assessment workshops was the disparate interpretations of Case Study. This led to the production of our tutorial. But it also got me thinking, maybe we can do better by a change of name. If we talk of “case stories” or “case narratives”, would that clarify what we’re looking for?

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Planet: bringing learning design knowledge to the forefront

Posted by yishaym on October 15, 2008

Here’s my slidedeck for tomorrow’s presentation at handheldlearning:

Posted in conferences, slideshows | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

An inconvenient thesis?

Posted by yishaym on October 7, 2008

Christine Elizabeth Wania’s phd thesis questions the empirical evidence for the benefits of pattern languages in HCI:

For more than two decades much of the pattern language literature, within the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), has focused on the possible benefits pattern languages may provide, but there has been very little empirical work to support these claims. It has been suggested that interaction patterns or pattern languages in HCI may address some of the problems inherent in designing interactive systems by supporting reuse, capturing design knowledge, enabling the sharing of design knowledge, and facilitating communication among designers and users. This study examined the impact of a pattern language on the design of information retrieval interfaces, in terms of the quality of the interfaces and the time to design the interfaces. Participants created paper and pencil interfaces based on the given design task. Participants were exposed to either a pattern language, guidelines, or no structuring technique. There were no statistically significant differences between the three groups in terms of the quality of the interfaces and time to design the interfaces. The results of this study suggest that the value of pattern languages in HCI may not be in reuse, at the early stages of design, or in terms of the quality of the resulting designs, in domains familiar to designers. Although there was no apparent impact of the pattern language on the early stage designs, the results of a follow-up study suggest there is a significant correlation between the existence of patterns in commercial systems and the overall usability of those systems. Therefore, we suggest that we, as a community, very closely examine the current state of pattern languages in HCI before continuing to move forward. As a community, we need to shift our focus away from discussing the possible benefits of pattern languages and trying to build pattern collections. And instead, focus on trying to fully understand the value of pattern languages in HCI. In doing so, the HCI community, will then begin to see the benefits from all the great efforts in this area.

About time someone asked this question. I mean, I’ll swear by my favourite patterns and pattern languages, defend them as if they where my children flesh and blood, but do we have any evidence, in the scientific sense? In a way, this brings back the discussion on validity, resonance and aggregation. Yes, patterns work great for those who believe in them. But shouldn’t we aim higher?

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Eureka!, again

Posted by yishaym on October 3, 2008

On Thursday we had the 2nd practical inquiry day of the formative e-assessment group. The focus of this day was collecting case stories and identifying seed patterns (aka proto-patterns).
To get people in the right mood, we started with the Eureka! game, which we first tried in Singapore. You have to try it – it’s such great fun, and brings out the hidden truths about learning.
It’s also a great release exercise before diving into case study writing. After playing this, people loose all inhibitions, and the stories just pour out.

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