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Design seeking and scaling v1


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Reconceptualising Design Research for Design Seeking and Scaling. Short position paper by Cook and Bannan, June 2013. **Critical comment and pointers to related literature invited** Contact:

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Design seeking and scaling v1

  1. 1. Reconceptualising Design Research for Design Seeking and ScalingShort position paper by Cook and Bannan, June 2013**Critical comment and pointers to related literature invited**Contact: 1 represents a model for Design Research that extends existing approaches so that theytake account of design creativity and scaling of design (the latter in terms of numbers of usersand the complexity of research projects). The model draws on some of Rogers’ (1983) notionof diffusion of innovation, particularly his ‘model of stages in the innovation-decisionprocess’ (p 163) and the ‘five stages in the innovation process in the organization’ (p. 392).However, the experience of the authors and other research have led to the model; weparticularly draw on experiences of Learning Layers1for scaling in workplace learning andpart of the Learning Layers Design Team PANDORA, which is exploring collaborativesupport for maturing local living documents and the building personal and professionallearning networks using mobile and social media (Cook, 2013). Phase one (Priorconditions) and five (Diffusion at scale) are the focus of this position paper as theyprovide an innovative perspective on the potential of collaborative technologies that areembedded in workplace practices, and which contribute to and help to scale learning on theindividual, group or organizational levels; specifically, this paper contributes conceptual andmethodological work (Design Seeking and Scaling model) and original technology design(PANDORA Design Team case study).Figure 11Learning Layers is a 7th Framework Large-scale integrating project co-funded by the European Commission;Grant Agreement Number 318209;; Cook is a work package leader in this project.
  2. 2. Starting from the top left of the diagram and moving clockwise we have five related phases:Prior conditions, Persuasion, Design decisions, Research Process and Diffusion at scale; theseare now described in turn below.The Prior conditions (Rogers, 1983, 163) phase recognizes the need to look at previouspractice, felt needs/problems, innovativeness and the norms of the social system. We extendthis notion prior conditions and ‘agenda-setting’ (Rogers, 1983, p. 392) by making an explicitlink to ideas surrounding design creativity and the question ‘how do design ideas arise’?Design seeking is a key concern here, and this draws on the concept of problem seeking(Cook, 2000) rather than mere problem solving. In the early design process we can say that“knowledge is essentially problematical: it is not just a question of solving a problem, it ismore a question of seeking out the nature of the problem and then devising an approach tosolving it” (Cook, 2000). A related notion that of the ‘Problem frame’ (Jackson, 2001), whichprovides a set of concepts used when gathering requirements through a process of parallel,as opposed to hierarchical, decomposition of user requirements (which could then be used forcreating specifications for computer software).The ‘learning theory’ in part of the PANDORA Design Team (e.g. see Cook, 2013) involvesthe objective of designing to support the construction of locally trusted Personal LearningNetworks (Cook and Pachler, 2013; this has appeared in the Learning Layers Project‘Scaffolding Model’ (Ley, Cook et al., 2013)). As a worker’s or group’s connections andconfidence grow, they build what we are calling a Professional Learning Network. First stageof scaling is the building, maintaining and activating Personal Learning Networks.Second stage is where professionals move from local trusted personal networks out intowider networks that can potentially include anyone. This is what we are calling ProfessionalLearning Networks (Cook, 2013).‘Designing for scale’ needs to be considered at this early stage, there are three key aspects tothis: diffusion of innovation, systemic pain points and Clusters. ‘Diffusion of innovation’,(Rogers, 1983) is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas andtechnology spread through cultures. A key notion for us is that for Technology EnhancedLearning (TEL) to be adopted on a large-scale it needs to address an empirically based‘systemic pain points’ that, if addressed, have the potential to attract significant take up byother groups of professionals who face the same problem (see Cook, 2013 for an exampletaken from UK Health Service). This notion of solving ‘systemic pain points’ for scalinglinks closely to but extends phase of ‘Informed Exploration’ (Bannan-Ritland, 2009). Scalingthrough ‘Clusters’ involves a “geographically proximate group of interconnected companiesand associated institutions in a particular field, linked by commonalities andcomplementarities (external economies)” (Porter, 2008). It is important to distinguishmanaged Clusters from unmanaged clusters or agglomerations/lumps with no organisation orteam working on behalf of the cluster members to get them to move in the same direction.The Learning Layers project is working with clusters in Healthcare and construction bybuilding sustainability beyond project horizon by promoting a network of EducationInnovation Clusters (see Figure 2) to serve other clusters with services and technologies to
  3. 3. speed uptake of new learning methods and technology. Key additional concepts (which linkthis phase in a double headed arrow to the fifth phase) are organisational cultures andcontexts; this work is pertinent here in terms of drivers and barriers.Figure 2: Education Innovation Cluster2Our second phase is called Persuasion (Rogers, 1983, p. 163) and this relates to theperceived characteristics of the innovation as well as the need to keep large project teams ‘onboard’. ‘Redefining’ (Rogers, 1983, p. 392) is a key notion here, whereby the “innovation ismodified and reinvented to fit the organization, and the organizational structures are altered”.Other key concepts for us based on our experience are: ‘Co-design’, e.g. working with Health Professionals in NE England. ‘Team negotiation’ in larger projects, the need for shared theoretical concept. ‘Interdisciplinarity’ and different cultures are an issue in larger projects – we areevolving the notion of the use of artifacts as tools for design discourse (e.g. to engagewider community and assist scaling via an innovative Open Design Library: Cook,2013). ‘First cut innovation decision’, the innovation is modified to fit the organization. ThePANDORA Design Team emerged from the Open Design conference in Feb 2013. Inthe UK, health sector national guidelines are published by NICE( in three areas. Guidelines are interpreted locally by GeneralPractitioners (GPs) and used in local Health Practices. Focus groups (Feb 2013), partof Layers Ethnographic Study (WP1), and Expert interviews has confirmed thatcommunicating these ‘local living guidelines’ can be a problem (it represents asystemic pain point).Research Process is the third phase where we are ‘clarifying’ (Rogers, 1983, p. 392), thisrefers to the “relationship between the organisation and the innovation” in that “theinnovation is defined more clearly”; this relates to design seeking. Other key concepts for usbased on our experience are:2Thanks to Tor-Arne Bellika for letting me reuse this slide (taken from a US Office for Educational Technologyreport, and providing me with insights and references on Clusters.
  4. 4.  ‘Theory check’. A core issue is one of how to embed theory into the design process; atthe moment this is the biggest challenge for Learning Layers. We need to keepreminding ourselves that this is about testing theory not just coming up with somesolutions to user problems; theory provides an explanatory frame that facilitates ananalysis of what works and what does not work across multiple contexts that arecomplex and different. ‘Users’ are of course all important and their involvement cannot be underestimated. ‘Technology’ - The Network section of the MoLE app3is provided by Layers partnerTribal; this provides the possibility to create a set of relevant contacts to assist anindividual during the ‘building, maintaining and activating Personal and ProfessionalLearning Networks’. ‘Multi-layered project’ (see Cook, 2013 and diagram below, from Learning Layers) ‘Learning’ – the adapted MoLE app could provide the possibility to create a set ofrelevant contacts to assist an individual during the ‘building, maintaining andactivating Personal and Professional Learning Networks.In the fourth phase Design decisions are made, particularly in terms of ‘Routinizing’(Rogers, 1983, p. 392), whereby the “innovation becomes an ongoing element in theorganization’s activities, and loses its identity”. Other key concepts for us based on ourexperience are: Co-design Empirical work Theory Check Design artefacts PrototypesOur fifth and final phase is Diffusion at scale. ‘Generalizing’ is a process whereby designseeking takes place to ascertain whether a solution to a systemic pain point in one sector3 3:
  5. 5. could be used for the other sectors, e.g. in construction where parallel systemic pain pointsappear to exist. Other key concepts for us based on our experience are: ‘Clusters’ (see Figure 4, from Learning Layers) and discussion above. ‘Evaluation’ (for example see Bannan-Ritland, 2009).Figure 4: Scaling through ClustersThe double headed arrow coming out of our phase five in our model (Figure 1) back to phaseone allows us to check our assumptions. The arrow to phase four is iterative feedback loop toinform scaling. The arrow to phase three is a feedback loop to inform theory.Keys research questions If scaling is to work, does the model drive us to think about how to engage and buildup trust and relationships? Does the model represent the non-sequential nature of design seeking and scaling? Please add …Next stepPlease contact: with comments and etcReferencesBannan-Ritland, B. (2009). The Integrative Learning Design Framework: An IllustratedExample from the Domain of Instructional Technology. In T. Plomp & N. Nieveen (Eds.),An Introduction to Educational Design Research. Enschede, Netherlands; SLO NetherlandsInstitute for Curriculum Development.Cook, J. (2000). Cooperative Problem-Seeking Dialogues in Learning. In Gauthier, G.,Frasson, C. and VanLehn, K. (Eds.) Intelligent Tutoring Systems: 5th InternationalConference, ITS 2000 Montréal, Canada, June 2000 Proceedings, p. 615–624. BerlinHeidelberg New York: Springer-Verlag.Available:
  6. 6. Cook, J. (2013). Reshaping workplace design to facilitate better learning, Invited talk 24thApril, Division of Learning Technologies, George Mason University, USA. Slides areavailable:, J. and Pachler, N. (2012). Online People Tagging: Social (Mobile) Network(ing)Services and Work-based Learning. British Journal of Education Technology, 43(5), 711–725. Link to paper, M. (2001). Problem Frames: Analysing and Structuring Software DevelopmentProblems. Addison-Wesley.Ley, T., Cook, J., Dennerlein, S., Kravcik, M., Kunzmann, ., Laanpere, M., Pata, K., Purma,J., Sandars, J., Santos, P. and Schmidt, A. (2013). Scaling Technologies for InformalLearning: A Multilevel Theoretical Analysis of Scaffolding at the Workplace. Short paper tobe presented at EC-TEL (European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning), 18-20September, Cyprus.Porter, M. E. (2008). Clusters, Innovation, and Competitiveness: New Findings andImplications for Policy. Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness Harvard Business School.Presentation Stockholm, Sweden.Rogers, E. M. (1983). Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press.