The Pattern Language Network

Taming web2.0 in Higher Education

Archive for the ‘outputs’ Category

Kolfschoten and Lukosch: Cognitive learning efficiency & design patterns

Posted by yishaym on March 13, 2009

(cross-posted from

The 1st full paper for our symposium at CAL is now available for download (pdf).

When it comes to design patterns, there seem to be two types of people: born-again evangelists who would sell their mum to convince you that patterns are the cure to all your ails, and normal, decent folk who just don’t understand what all the fuss is about. In a recent conversation with Helen Sharp, I drew an analogy to Aubergines (“No! Patterns are nothing like aubergines – aubergines are yuck!”).

Gwen and Stephan are perhaps the trailblazers of a third type: they decided to apply a bit of scientific scrutiny to the claims of pattern evangelists. Using the theory of cognitive load, they ran a serious of experiments, observing the effect of design patterns on novice and expert designers. Results? “… This leads us to the tentative conclusion that the use of design patterns does not only affect the efficiency of the design effort, it also constitutes learning efficiency of novices to gain design skills and it enhances the quality of their design.

Gwendolyn Kolfschoten and Stephan Lukosch: Cognitive learning efficiency through the use of design patterns

Teaching Processes and systems in organizations become increasingly complex and dynamic. This requires managers of expert teams to quickly gain knowledge and insight outside their prime area of expertise. To transfer expert knowledge and to reuse design solutions design patterns can be used as building blocks for the development of systems and processes. The use of design patterns can increase the efficiency of design & implementation of solutions and in some cases it can enable automated implementation of design. This allows the expert to re-use components to accommodate new requirements in a more flexible way. However, the advantage of design patterns might go beyond re-use, design efficiency and flexibility. This paper argues that in addition to the benefits described above, there is a specific added value for the use of design patterns by novices to acquire design skills and domain knowledge. We propose that design patterns, due to their conceptual design, offer information in a way that enables the creation of better linkages between knowledge elements and improve the accessibility of the information in the memory. For this hypothesis we will analyze the literature on cognitive load and cognitive learning processes, and add to this three case study experiences in which novices and experts were offered design patterns to develop and implement systems and processes.

Posted in conferences, papers | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Our EXTEND/Planet discussion….

Posted by Janet Finlay on February 26, 2009

is now available as an Elluminate recording.  Thanks to Cristina and Frances for facilitating this.

Posted in events, outputs, presentations, reporting, workshops | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

maps are for going somewhere

Posted by yishaym on January 22, 2009

The formative e-assessment group has come up with a map of their patterns and their main supporting case stories.
This map is based on Dylan Wiliam’s table of factors of formative assessment.


map of case stories and patterns from the formative e-assessment group (

I took us quite time to arrive at this map. We tried various techniques and approaches. First, we tried to draw a graph of the links between the patterns. That proved to be too thick in some points (highly connected patterns), too thin in others, and not very informative in general.

Then, we tried a table-top concept mapping at a workshop, where we asked participants to draw out key concepts and map them on the table using post-its and coloured thread. This was a good exercise for participants, helping them establish a common language and identify the contingencies of the domain. However, it didn’t give us anything we could work with as an organising structure.

In the end, we went back to the fundemental question: if having a map is the solution – what is the problem (and the context)? We realised that in the context of our group the primary value of the map, or any organising structure would be to provide a means of navigating the language. To that effect, it has to be simple and informative. Too much information would be just as bad as too little. Think about the London tube map (thanks Jim, for the example). Beck’s genius was in understanding that the design of the map should be functional rather than structural. In other words, scale or any geographical refernce was irrelevant. The map should show you in the simplest and clearest manner how to get from station A to station B (and what fare you need to pay). This resonated quite well with what I remember Helen Sharp pointed out at October meeting. She refered to the papers from the pedagogical patterns project. Most of them start with an easy to grasp table that organises the patterns below into clear categories.

Nevertheless, once we had darted the patterns over the table, the gaps were apparent. Which, as Janet always reminds us, is the second important function of an organising framework.


  • An organising structure is not an Aristotelian hierarchy. It is functional,  not structural. Or rather, structural to the extent is serves its function. Organise as a verb, not organisation as a noun.
  • We should expect many mappings of the same space, each internally coherent but each partially covering the space and overlapping with others.
  • Maps may take any arbitrary shape – spiders, tables, trees, graphs, etc. The mapping tool should afford this. Personally, I recommend creating maps in SVG using inkscape. Unfortunatly, some primitive browsers don’t support embedded SVG, but I trust our users to have enough sense to use decent software (and in any case, we can export images for the poor).

Posted in outputs, tools | 1 Comment »

programme for the KMRC e-learning patterns workshop

Posted by yishaym on January 14, 2009

(cross posted from

Christian Kohls just sent me the programme for the e-Learning Patterns workshop in March, and it’s looking really good. Some of the names I spotted: Helen Sharp, Ulrike Cress, Davinia Hernándes-Leo, Till Schümmer, Frank Fischer, Andreas Harrer, Yannis Dimitriadis (random list).

I’m facilitating a workshop on “cases to patterns” and also giving a talk on “Patterns for building patterns communities”. Here’s the draft abstract for my talk:

workshop1The construct of design pattern is often summarised as “the core of a solution to a problem in context”. What, then, is the problem that design patterns solve, and in which contexts?
As design patterns break new grounds in educational research and practice, challenging questions arise: how do we engage new audiences in the pattern paradigm? How do we adapt the form and modes of use of patterns to make them useful in diverse realms of practice? Why do we have such a strong conviction in the value of design patterns?
The tradition of design patterns refers to concepts such as “timelessness” and “expertise”. These are problematic in a world of accelerating change. Yet another fundamental principle is accentuated; the need to establish robust design languages capable of capturing the complexity of problems in our environment and offering verifiable solutions. I argue that design-level discourse is imperative in many critical domains of human activity, and that patterns should play a central role in such discourse. Over the last few years, my colleagues and I have been developing a methodology for participatory workshops for practical design patterns. This methodology has emerged from the “Learning Patterns” project, and is being refined by the “Pattern Language Network” project.
In this talk, I will describe the methodology, its history and future plans, and provide some illustrative examples. I will also highlight some of the fundamental questions which is provokes.

Posted in conferences, papers, presentations, related projects | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mapping the Planet Patterns – and a Pedagogical Framework for Learning

Posted by jhensman on January 13, 2009

The Planet project has collected and is developing a number of patterns related to using Web 2.0 techniques for learning. How can these be connected to each other to form a language, and incorporated into a wider pedagogic framework that can be easily used by learning practitioners? These questions are looked at in a document available at:


The document looks at the principles of connecting patterns together into a language, and maps the patterns collected by the project, including patterns that came out of the very successful recent workshop on Digital Identity. It then suggests a general pedagogical model and framework that can include the Planet patterns, and uses a simple example scenario to demonstrate how this could be used in a practical situation to help design a unit of learning.


Although diagrams and maps can help in understanding pattern structures and pedagogical frameworks, it is only if these are part of an online dynamic interactive system that they can provide an easily usable practical tool. The document considers what a system like this would look like, and concludes with a discussion on how such a system could interface with other learning tools and systems, which the project has begun to investigate.

Posted in papers, pattern languages | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

We – have – A – P – I!!

Posted by yishaym on December 23, 2008

Thanks to the good work of Ajdin, we now have an HTML API that serves Patterns and Cases in XML, PLML, RSS or CSV. I’ve also added a generic API, which allows you to browse all object in the system in XML/HTML.

The intention here is to allow other design pattern / learning design repositories to interface with our system programmaticaly with as little effort as possible. Other systems could list our objects, include them in searches, support easy linking, or offer an alternative interface (read only, for now).

More should be coming, so you might want to watch

But there’s also a caveat: we’re still in the experimental / conceptual phase. These APIs work, but they are also subject to change. We give no guarentees of backward compatibility. So if you use them, make sure you wrap them with an abstraction layer on your end.

Posted in code, outputs, related projects | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

From stories to patterns, and back, and back again

Posted by yishaym on November 3, 2008

Let’s say you know how to write a case story, and we’ve convinced you that stories are not enough. But how do you get from a story to a pattern? Well, hopefully by March we’ll have something of an answer to that. In the meanwhile, here’s a tutorial that just might help:

Posted in case studies, presentations, workshops | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

us @ handheldlearning

Posted by yishaym on September 13, 2008

Our paper “Planet: bringing learning design knowledge to the forefront” has been accepted to handheldlearning2008 (London, oct 13-15). Looks like its going to be a fun conference. If you’re there, come and say hi. Here’s the abstract we sent:

15 years ago, few learners had either mobile telephony or internet access as a reliable learning resource. Today most have both, in one 150gr device in their back pocket. The accelerated progress of technology means not just that learning is changing, but that change is changing. We – learners, teachers, researchers – have to respond to developments at a dizzying pace.

The first consequence we need to acknowledge is that the division of roles is being blurred. Teachers need to invest in continuous learning, learners can often take the role of teaching, and all are de-facto researchers: exploring and experimenting with new opportunities daily.

The second, more complex and perhaps more vital recognition is that we are all learning designers. We design learning environment for ourselves and for others by choosing the tools and their configuration, we design our curriculum, choosing which new skills and practices to acquire – and which to defer. We design learning experiences by carefully assembling tasks, tools, activities and social interactions.
These observations call for a renewed attention to learning as a design science. Herbert Simon defined: “everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into desired ones” (Simon, 1969, p 129). Hence, design science is, in a nutshell, the science of making a better world. Design science needs a language of its own. A set of “scientific instruments”, modes of capturing and sharing knowledge, and methods of establishing validity. Mor & Winters argue that design patterns and pattern languages hold a promise in this respect, and propose a workshop model for participatory development of pattern languages in education (Mor & Winters, 2007; 2008).

The Pattern Language Network project is developing a methodology, and a set of on-line tools to support it, for pattern-based design research in education. These are being used by communities of practitioners, developers and researchers to capture and share their expertise and examples of good practice as reusable design knowledge.

Posted in about us, conferences, papers | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Call for papers: Pragmatic and systematic approaches in applying patterns

Posted by yishaym on September 12, 2008

Browsing through some old notes from EuroPLoP, I found this:

Call for papers: Special Issue of Springer Transactions on Pattern Languages of Programming (TPLOP) “Pragmatic and systematic approaches in applying patterns”

Even though patterns are a software engineering success story and have become mainstream in recent years, the application of the different types of patterns in practice has not yet fully met the expectations of the patterns community yet. Among other reasons, this is due to the inefficient advertisement of patterns to the community, as well as the lack of techniques for using patterns, and for introducing them into organizations. Many practitioners are aware of the GoF patterns and use them regularly in design and coding, but there is little evidence of systematic use of patterns in other areas of software, such as software architecture, analysis, or process. While there are many anecdotes of the benefits of using patterns, the impact of using patterns at any level is still not well understood. We note that there is some increase in teaching patterns in higher education and professional training programmes, but the results are not yet visible in the industry.
This special issue aims at studying the application of patterns in practice both from the practitioners and the researchers’ point of view. The former are pattern-based approaches that have been applied in industrial projects by experienced architects/designers and have shown promising results even if they lack scientific rigor. The latter are scientific approaches by researchers that aim at software engineering methods to support the systematic application of patterns but may still be at the research stage. Approaches that attempt to bridge the gap between these two extremes are particularly welcome.


Full CFP:

Posted in papers, related projects | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Planet @ LKL Knowledge Seminar, 30 Jan 2008

Posted by yishaym on February 7, 2008

these are the slides I used at the talk I gave at the knowlege lab. I was hoping to have the video & audio tracks to attach, but there was a technical glitch, and I decided not to wait for the slight chance that something will be salvaged.

Overall, response was very good. I think that for the first time in my life I managed to come up with an explanation of “what is a pattern and what is a pattern language” that appealed to the uninitiated.

Quite a few people commented on the visual aspects of patterns and pattern languages, and saw a lot of value in expanding that theme.

I got a very important warning: avoid the content-neutral path. Learning is always a learning of something in some context. We should engage with users who are applying the technology to a clear need, rather then exploring it for its own sake.

Posted in musings, presentations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »