Patterns for building patterns communities

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Keynote at e-Learning Patterns, Tübingen, March 4-6, …

Keynote at e-Learning Patterns, Tübingen, March 4-6, 2009


The 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.

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  • Holding your pattern concept up against Alexander's is interesting, lots of divergence there. Of course building a dwelling in a community in a society on a continent is so concrete and established hierarchically - whereas to be honest I think educators don't see what they are doing as situated hierarchically on a global scale.
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  • 1. Patterns for building patterns communities Yishay Mor, Pattern Language Network, London Knowledge Lab, UK
  • 2. Learning Patterns was a Jointly Executed Integrating Research Project of the Kaleidoscope Network of Excellence, funded under the FP6 programme. For further details, please see
  • 3. The Pattern Language Network (Planet) project is a collaboration between Leeds Metropolitan University, Coventry University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Kings College London and London Knowledge Lab. It is funded by JISC under the Users and Innovation Programme. For more information see
  • 4. Thanks
    • Kaleidoscope network of excellence
    • JISC
    • London Knowledge Lab
    Planet Team Janet Finlay, John Richard Gray, Isobel Falconer, Jim Hensman, Steven Warburton Learning Patterns Team Efi Alexopoulou, Staffan Björk, James Bligh, Mark Childs, Michele Cerulli, Vincent Jonker, Chronis Kynigos, Fionnuala O’ Donnell, Dave Pratt, Brendan Tangney, Monica Wijers Hundreds of workshop participants (some of them here today)‏
  • 5. Think of a technology that you have encountered recently, which has changed your life in some way
  • 6. Think of an Eureka! Moment, where you understood how you could use this technology, or understood something by using the technology (or both)‏
  • 7. Draw it. (3 minutes)‏ You can use words, but only as part of the drawing.
  • 8. Now look left & right, and find a pattern.
  • 9. Problem: Bad Design
  • 10. Context: Technology Enhanced Education
  • 11.  
  • 12.  
  • 13. the critical resource is not the capacity to produce, but the knowledge to do it right. Problem: The Design Divide the gap between those who have the expertise to develop high-quality tools and resources and those who don’t (Mor & Winters, 2008*)‏
  • 14. Solution...
  • 15. ?
  • 16. Problem: acceleration
    • The world is changing. Fast. Faster.
    • Teachers are learners.
    • Students are researchers.
    • We are all designers of our own and our peer's learning experiences.
    Son, this was my dad's mobile. I want you to have it.
  • 17. Traditional social configuration of design Client Designer Developer (dumb) Users
  • 18. Patterns -> democratisation of design knowledge Client Designer Developer Users
  • 19. The Distributed Development Network* Winters, Mor & Pratt, forthcoming The Interwebs
  • 20. Patterns: Sharing of distributed design knowledge
  • 21. Welcome to the 21 st C
    • Timelessness is dead.
    • Expertise is spread.
    • Design is bread.
    • We hope you enjoy your journey
  • 22. Learning patterns for the design and deployment of mathematical games 1 year / 7 institutions / 6 countries / 16 team members / 6 workshops / >50 patterns Designing games for mathematical learning requires the assimilation and integration of deep knowledge from diverse domains of expertise - mathematics, games development, software engineering, learning and teaching. All are various facets of design knowledge.
  • 23. Case studies
  • 24. Typologies
  • 25. Patterns
  • 26. Trails
  • 27. Shortfalls
    • Pattern shock
      • by the time participants “get the idea”, workshop is over.
      • Consequently, most participant contributions not usable.
    • Closing the loop
      • Need to validate patterns by use.
    • Us as component
      • “ great stuff, but I couldn't do it without you”
  • 28.
  • 29. Learning Patterns -> Pattern Language Network
    • Several commited groups
    • Extended process
    • Tighter methodology
  • 30. Participatory Methodology for Practical Design Patterns
    • Problem
      • Acceleration -> need for effective protocols for sharing of design knowledge
    • Context
      • interdisciplinary communities of practitioners engaged in collaborative reflection on a common theme of their practice.
      • blended setting : co-located meetings + on-line collaborative authoring system.
  • 31. Solution: a series of three* collaborative reflection workshops
    • Case Stories Workshop
      • Engender collaborative reflection among practitioners by a structured process of sharing stories.
    • Pattern Mining Workshop
      • Eliciting patterns by reflecting on and comparing case stories.
    • Future Scenarios Workshop
      • Validating and enhancing patterns by applying them to novel problems.
  • 32. Collaborative reflection workshop
    • Problem
    • Facilitate on-going design-level conversation between designers and practitioners involved in diverse aspects of the problem domain.
      • Open, trusting and convivial.
      • And at the same time
      • Critical, focused and output-directed.
  • 33. Solution
    • Before the workshop
      • Establish communication channels
      • Collect contributions
    • On the day
      • Intensive guided group work: process contributions, produce, share.
    • After the workshop
      • Refine products through on-line channels
  • 34. Workshop I: Sharing case stories
  • 35. The problem with stories Narrative is a powerful epistemic tool (Bruner). Story-telling is intuitive and captivating.
    • But , we want to avoid
    • Gossip
    • Divergence
    • Therapy
  • 36. S.T.A.R.R
    • S ituation
      • Set the scene (I wasn't there)‏
    • T ask
      • What problem where you trying to solve?
    • A ctions
      • What did you do?
    • R esults
      • What happened?
    • R eflections
  • 37. Problem: telling a good story is not so easy
    • Inexperienced story-tellers might -
      • Take the context for granted
      • Preach, apologise, market, or generalise
      • Avoid inconvenient details
    • Interactive feedback should help, but peers might -
      • Be reluctant to criticize
      • Attribute misunderstanding to their own faults
      • Loose attention
  • 38. Three hats
  • 39. From stories to patterns
    • Map the forces
    • Map the concepts
      • Table-top concept mapping
    • Connect & refactor
      • Related, super-patterns, sub-patterns
    • Validate
      • Theory & triangulation
  • 40.
  • 41.  
  • 42.
  • 43.  
  • 44. Paper 2.0
  • 45. Thank you The pattern language network project: Yishay Mor This presentation
  • 46.