Saturday, September 17, 2011

Experience Mining and Dialogues Workshop @ COINs2011

Last week, my students and I attended to the Third International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs2011) held in Basel, Switzerland.

We held a two-hour workshop entitled "Experience Mining and Dialogues with a Pattern Language for Creative Learning." In that workshop, participants talk about their experience of learning each other with using the Learning Patterns. The Learning Patterns is a pattern language for creative learning, namely the collection of practical knowledge of problem-finding and problem-solving in learning.

The goals of this workshop were as follows: first, understanding what a pattern language is like, especially the Learning Patterns, a pattern language for creative learning. Second, reflecting on, talking about, and (re-) designing your own learning. Third, becoming future facilitators of this type of workshop in their own community.

We had more than twenty participants from diverse fields and different countries. While it was our first time to hold a workshop in such an international setting, we enjoyed the facilitation thanks to the eager participants. Not only participants, but also the place of workshop was so nice, because the place of the workshop was the terrace of the Old University offering a wonderful view of the Rhine.

I'm really happy since participants said they enjoyed the workshop and it was eye-opening for them. Furthermore, we learned several hints from their feedback. I greatly appreciate their joining and I would like to thank my team members.


The Place of Workshop on the Rhine




Introduction Session







Demonstration of Dialogue



Dialogue Session












 Reflection Session




Workshop Organizing Team




The video of our presentation is available at the Livestream coninsconference page. Also, the following is the presentation slides posted into the SlideShare.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Completed the Learning Patterns Card Game

We've just finished making a card game containing the contents of the Learning Patterns, a pattern language for creative learning.

While the Learning Pattern has been originally published in a form of booklet, we now propose a new way to organize and learn them; that is a form of collectable card game, which we name "Learning Patterns Card Game." Our aim of designing this card game is to help learners understand how to learn more enjoyably and also to make opportunities to talk it with others.

We'll present the card game at the upcoming conference, International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs2011) held in Basel, Switzerland, Sep. 8-10, 2011.







Just completed the English edition of Learning Patterns


I have great news to share with you.

We've just finished to write the English edition of Learning Patterns! :)

The Learning Patterns is a pattern language for creative learning. Pattern language was originally proposed as a method for sharing knowledge of architectural design, and it applied and became famous in the field of software design. What we've written is an application of the method of pattern languages into a new field, learning design.

In our little book of the Learning Patterns, 40 patterns of practical knowledge for designing creative learning are introduced, focusing on problem finding and problem solving in various learning situations. This book is written and organized, intended to support learners in some ways. First, it helps learners to reflect on their ways of learning. Second, it provides opportunities for learners to know better ways they have not experienced. Third, it encourages learners to talk about their own ways of learning with their friends, colleagues, and mentors.

The Japanese edition of Learning Patterns were developed by the Learning Patterns Project consisting of undergraduate students and me, an associate professor of creative systems and methodology, at Keio University, Japan, in 2008. We have actually used the edition at our university, and more than 5,000 copies of this books have been handed out. Thus, learning patterns were originally developed in order to support learning of college students, however we believe that it can be applied to any learners living in various situations like business persons, engineers, scientists, artists, creators, and life-long learners. And now we are almost ready to show you the English edition of the Learning Patterns.

We'll hand out the book at the upcoming conference, International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs2011) held in Basel, Switzerland, Sep. 8-10, 2011. Then, after the conference, we'll upload the PDF online soon.









Friday, July 22, 2011

Pattern Language 3.0

Recently, I'm thinking about the methodological evolution of pattern languages, which is a method to describe design knowledge in a certain domain from the viewpoint of problem finding and problem solving (Alexander, 1979). 


I call the emerging stage Pattern Language 3.0 (PL3.0), distinguishing from the previous stages, which we call here Pattern Language 1.0 (PL1.0) and Pattern Language 2.0 (PL2.0). In what follows, I will presents the evolution of pattern languages and clarifying the difference among these stages.

In what follows, I will explain the evolution of pattern languages from the following three viewpoints: the object of design which pattern languages help, why to make pattern languages, and how to make pattern languages. 


The first viewpoint is the object of design which pattern languages help. The object of design with the PL1.0 is physical form like architecture; the object of design with the PL2.0 is non-physical form such as software, interface, and organization; and the object of design with the PL3.0 is form of human action such as learning, collaboration, facilitation, and change agents. The PL3.0 is quite different from others, since the object of design is same to the subject of design only in the PL3.0; there is a self-referential circulation for designing, and accordingly the meta-cognition for designing becomes more important than before.

The second viewpoint is why to make pattern languages. In the PL1.0, a pattern language was used as media for bridging the gap between designers and users: in the case of Alexander’s case, architects and residents; He considered his pattern language helps residents to participate their community development. In the PL2.0, pattern languages were used as media for bridging the gap between expert and non-expert designers: in the case of software design, expert software engineers and non-expert software engineers; It has been common use of pattern languages for software development that non-expert engineers learn the knack of good practice by reading the book. In the PL3.0, a pattern language was used as a media for connecting people who have different experiences: in the case of the Learning Patterns, the workshop are held, where participants talk about their experiences in the light of patterns each other.

The third viewpoint is why to make pattern languages. In the PL1.0, mining and writing of design knowledge are done by expert designers; for example, Alexander made the pattern language in architecture with his fellow architects, and then published as a book. In the PL2.0, collaborative improvement of patterns is introduced: shepherding system and writer’s workshop; while the improvement process is opened, the process of mining and writing is still closed in the expert designers. In the PL3.0, pattern languages are made through collaborative mining, writing, and improvement; finally, all process is opened. Thus, the history of development process of patterns is the history of involving otherness.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Brief Summary of the History of Systems Theory

In the current academic context, there are several theories under the name of "systems theory". In this post, I shall overview a history of the systems theory. We adopt, here, a categorization suggested by Hideo Kawamoto (1995), where the development of the systems theory is divided into three generation (See the Table below).





First generation is summarized as the theories for dynamic equilibrium systems, and their key concept is "homeostatis". They focused on the mechanism how a system maintains itself under the fluctuation from the environment. Leading scholars in this generation are Walter Bradford Cannon of "homeostasis" (Cannon 1932), Ludwig von Bertalanffy of "general systems theory" (Bertalanffy 1968), Norbert Wiener and W. Ross Ashby of "cybernetics" (Wiener 1948; Ashby 1956). The sociologist who applies this generation theory is Talcott Parsons as "social systems theory" (Parsons 1951).

Second generation is the theories for dynamic nonequilibrium systems, and their key concept is "self-organization". They focused on the mechanism how a structure of system is crystallized from disorders. Leading scholars in this generation are Ilya Prigogine of "dissipative structure" (Prigogine & Nicolis 1977), Manfred Eigen of "hypercycle" (Eigen & Schuster 1979), and Hermann Haken of "synergetics" (Haken 1977).

Third generation is the theories for self-production system, and their key concept is "autopoiesis". They focused on the mechanism how a system itself is realized over time. Autopoietic system means a unity whose organization is defined by a particular network of production processes of elements. Leading scholars in this generation are Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela of "autopoiesis" (Maturana & Varela 1972, 1980; Varela & Maturana, 1974). The sociologist who applies this generation theory is Niklas Luhmann as "social systems theory" (Luhmann 1984).

Note that there is a clear distinction between "self-organization" and "autopoiesis" after the revolution caused by third generation. In this context, self-organization is focused on structural formation, but autopoiesis is focused on system formation. Luhmann emphasizes this distinction as follows:

"Autopoietic systems, then, are not only self-organizing systems, they not only produce and eventually change their own structures; their self-reference applies to the production of other components as well. This is the decisive conceptual innovation. […] Thus, everything that is used as a unit by the system is produced as a unit by the system itself. This applies to elements, processes, boundaries, and other structures and, last but not least, to the unity of the system itself." (Luhmann 1990: p.3)
"In order to clarify how much this concept of basal self-reference differs from an earlier discussion of "self-organization", Maturana and Varela have proposed the designation `autopoiesis’ for it." (Luhmann 1984: p.34).

As just quoted, the difference between "self-organization" and "autopoiesis" is of decisive importance for understanding the conceptual innovation of the systems theory.


References
Ashby W. R. (1956). Introduction to Cybernetics, Methuen.
Bertalanffy, L. v. (1968). General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications, George Braziller
Cannon, W. B. (1932). The Wisdom of the Body, W. W. Norton.
Eigen M. & Schuster P.(1979) The Hypercycle: A principle of natural self-organization, Springer
Haken, H. (1977). Synagetics, An Introduction. Nonequilibrium Phase-Transitions and Self-Organization in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Springer.
Kawamoto, H. (1995) Autopoiesis: The Third Generation System (in Japanese), Seido-sha Publishers.
Luhmann, N. (1984). Soziale Systeme: GrundriƟ einer allgemeinen Theorie, Suhrkamp. (English translation: Social Systems, John Bednarz Jr., Dirk Baecker (translator), Stanford University Press, 1995)
Luhmann, N. (1990). Essays on Self-Reference, Columbia University Press.
Maturana, H. R. & Varela, F. J. (1972). De Maquinas y Seres Vivos, Editorial Universitaria S.A.
Maturana, H. R. & Varela, F. J. (1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition: The realization of The Living, D. Reidel Publishing Company.
Parsons, T. (1951). The Social System, Free Press.
Prigogine, I. & Nicolis, G. (1977). Self-Organization in Non-Equilibrium Systems, Wiley.
Varela, F.J., Maturana, H.R. & Uribe, R. (1974). "Autopoiesis: the organization of living systems, its characterization and a model", Biosystems, Vol.5, No.4, pp.187-196.
Wiener, N. (1948; 1965). Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, 2nd edition, MIT Press.