The Pattern Language Network

Taming web2.0 in Higher Education

Finding evidence

Posted by Janet Finlay on February 26, 2009

There are a couple of things that make patterns distinct from other forms of design guidance. One is that they are routed in practice – they are not simply “good ideas” or theories (not that there is anything wrong with those) but they are drawn from real examples of things that have worked to solve problems in specific contexts. Another is that they cannot just be based on a single example – a pattern can only really be called a pattern if it can be demonstrated to have worked in at least three distinct cases. We call this the rule of three. We recently reviewed all the “patterns” that have arisen from our workshops and most fall into the “candidate pattern” category – we think they might be patterns, we have one – occasionally two examples of the pattern – but we don’t yet have sufficient evidence to be confident that this really is a pattern.

So we are looking for evidence in the stories of successful practice that we all have as educators. Our Elluminate story telling session on Tuesday with the EXTEND project brought up several examples which – at least on the surface – seem to be evidence of one or other of our candidate patterns. We plan to hold more open story telling sessions over the next couple of weeks. Prior to that we will be publishing summaries of our existing candidate patterns so that people can easily review them and let us know if they have had any experiences relevant to any of them.

Pattern elicitation is an ongoing community process – and we expect the Planet patterns to be evolving and developing long after the of the project through other initiatives that are already in progress. But we’d like to make the most of the wealth of experience in Emerge to gather evidence! Watch this space.

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