A Pattern Language for action-inquiry, work-focused learning

I started this Pattern Language project last February with Ian Tindal and Richard Millwood and have been making intermittent progress since then. It is based upon the Ultraversity project and aims to capture the key elements of the approach developed for a degree programme based on action research methodology supported entirely through online communities of inquiry.

An enthusiast when I started, I am now more circumspect about the approach has anything fundamental to offer other than as a presentation framework.

5 thoughts on “A Pattern Language for action-inquiry, work-focused learning

  1. Tom Smith

    I can see why you’re finding it difficult and/or uninspiring. Can I make some suggestions?

    a. You seem to have started with to many “big picture” patterns… As if you have an agenda rather than tips to share (I don’t mean that in a bad way). I’d recommend you throw in some smaller concepts (say tips that specifically help with “Team Teaching”… and see if they start to evolve the bigger picture for you…
    b. Try using a Wiki (with WikiWords) instead of a blog. Because related patterns aren’t automatically linked, it becomes a bit of a pain to navigat/author the content.
    c. Every pattern shouldn’t be related to every other pattern.
    d. Produce a lot more patterns, maybe using the “Barnstorming” pattern from here, http://www.wikipatterns.com/display/wikipatterns/Wikipatterns
    e. Provide more links as references.
    f. Put the “introduction” in the sidebar
    g. I found using VoodooPad (on my own) was more productive at the beginning of a project rather than an online tool, like a blog or wiki because it’s a much quicker editing process.
    h. Catchier titles always help 🙂

  2. Stephen Powell

    Hi Tom, you are right we had an agenda to describe Ultrvaversity and going through the process has enabled us to do this which was worthwhile I think. And yes, lots and lots of small ‘tips’ could readily hand off these patterns. The blog software was a pragmatic choice, you mentioned before a wiki but I had nothing to hand, the apps you suggest look like they might be of use.

    I thought they were “catchy titles” :^)

    Ta, Stephen.

  3. Adam Cooper

    An interesting read and I wouldn’t be so circumspect about the value of this. Yes, to a degree it is a presentation framework from the point of view of the author but it does usefully capture your wisdom and provides structure.

    I think explorations of pattern language applications like this are helpful to see how the hand-waving translates to hard written text and I think I’m in agreement with Tom that it is the smaller concepts that work better (for me as a reader). For example, “exhibition” seems clear, whereas “team teaching” is less so. Maybe this has something to do with the “team teaching” description cutting right across from admissions to marking or maybe it is because it has a lot more about the management of teaching and learning. Hmmm.

    Where I would differ from Tom is that I think a blog format is a useful means for gaining feedback on the exploration, whereas wikis (piggydb or semantic mediawiki) would be better in more of a production-mode.

    Your patterns would definitely help me to generate and talk about (as a language should) a planned course (etc) with either a learner or teacher speaking the same language. Without the logical grouping of stuff-that-works, we would have a lot more work to do. Imagine inviting someone to a dinner party without the widely understood, although undocumented, Dinner Party pattern, a derivative of the Party pattern.

    Are/were you in the practice of using the pattern names in the Ultraversity and Masters in Learning with Technology courses? It seems to me that, having exemplified the patterns in practice, you would have a language for teachers and learners to reflect on efficacy or negotiate etc


  4. Stephen Powell

    Hi Adam. We struggled long and hard about what might be called granularity – that is how far is it useful to break things down into sub-categories and also whether or not to use jargon like ‘team teaching’ that has a resonance with certain audiences but not with others. Point taken and when we attack the patterns again we will give it some thought – hopefully a paper published somewhere…

    The patterns emerged from Ultraversity and we are now ‘testing them’ against the MLWT experience.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s