Configuring Places for Learning — Participatory Development of Learning Practices at Work

  • Thomas Binder
  • Erling Björgvinsson
  • Per-Anders Hillgren


Participatory approaches to the development of new practices at work have been widespread in Scandinavia, due largely to the tradition of collaboration and collective agreements on the labour market. Since the late 1980s, participation and change have increasingly been coupled to various notions of learning and learning organizations (for an overview, see Sandberg, 1992). Similarly, technological change became increasingly addressed as an issue of design rather than as a given precondition for changes in working life (Bjerknes et al., 1987). In the so-called Scandinavian tradition of systems design, IT systems for a particular customer organization are developed through a process of participatory design (Greenbaum & Kyng, 1991). Existing work practices are studied in a mixture of ethnographically inspired fieldwork, interviews and dialogue sessions. New IT systems are developed in iterative design cycles involving representative users in drafting and evaluating system prototypes. And a final system is typically put in place with the involved users acting as strong proponents for the chosen design. This tradition of user-oriented design of IT systems has shed new light on the relation between participation, learning and change and in particular the literature on computer supported cooperative work has contributed to the study of how practices at work evolve around communication artefacts.


Work Practice Work Organization Informal Learning Participatory Design Workplace Learning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Benner, P. (1984). From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  2. Berg, M. (1999). Accumulating and Coordinating: Occasions for Information Technologies in Medical Work. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 8(4), 373–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beyer, H., & Holtzblatt, K. (1998). Contextual Design: Defining Customer-Centered Systems. San Francisco: Morgan Kauffman.Google Scholar
  4. Binder, T. (1995). Designing for workplace learning, AI & Society, 9(3), 218–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Binder, T. (1996). Participation and reification in design of artifacts: An interview with Etienne Wenger. In T. Binder, M. Fischer & J. Nilsson (eds), Learning with artifacts, special issue of AI & Society, 10(1), 101–106.Google Scholar
  6. Binder, T. (2002). Intent, Form and Materiality in the Design of Interaction Technology. In C. Floyd et al. (eds), Social Thinking Software Practice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  7. Binder, T., Fischer, M., & Rasmussen, L. (1998). What does computerization change in the industrial work place. Paper presented at the first Whole-workshop in Leuven, 15–17 June 1998.Google Scholar
  8. Bjerknes G., Ehn, P., & Kyng, M. (eds). (1987). Computers and democracy: a Scandinavian challenge. Aldershot: Avebury.Google Scholar
  9. Blomberg, J., Suchman L., & Trigg, R. (1996). Reflections on a work-oriented design project. Human-Computer Interaction, 11, 237–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Böhle, F. & Helmuth, R. (1992). Technik und erfarung, Arbeit in hochautomatisierten Systemen. New York: Campus Verlag.Google Scholar
  11. Buur, J., Binder, T., & Brandt, E. (2000). Taking Video beyond ‘Hard Data’ in User Centered Design. Proceedings of the Participatoty Design Conference 2000, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Engeström, Y. (1999). Expansive Visibilization of Work: An Activity-Theoretical Perspective, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 8(1–2), 63–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fischer, G. (2000). Lifelong Learning — More Than Training, Special Issue on Intelligent Systems/Tools. In Riichiro Mizoguchi & Piet A. M. Kommers (eds), Training and Life-Long Learning (eds), Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 11(3/4), 265–94.Google Scholar
  14. Greenbaum J., & Kyng, M. (eds). (1991). Design at work: Cooperative design of computer systems. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  15. Hartswood, M., et al. (2000). Being there and doing IT in the workplace: A case study of a co-development approach in healthcare. Proceedings of the Participatory Design Conference 2000, New York, pp. 96–105.Google Scholar
  16. Henderson, K. (1999). On line and on paper: Visual Representations, Visual Culture and Computer Graphics in Design Engineering. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Josefsson, I. (1995). A confrontation between Different Traditions of Knowledge. In B. Göranzon (ed.), Skill, Technology and Enlightment — on Practical Philosophy. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  18. Josefsson, I. (1988). The nurse as Engineer — the Theory of knowledge in Research in the Care Sector. In B. Göranzon & I. Josefson (eds), Knowledge, Skill and Artificial Intelligence. Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  19. Karasti, H. (2001). Bridging Work Practice and System Design: Integrating Systemic Analysis, Appreciative Intervention and Practitioner Participation. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 10(2), 211–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kensing, F. (2003). Methods and Practices in Participatory Design. Copenhagen: ITU Press.Google Scholar
  21. Lanzara, G. F. (1991). Shifting Stories: Learning from a reflective Experiment in a Design Process. In D. A. Schön (ed.), The Reflective Turn: Case Studies in an Educational Practice (pp. 285–320). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  22. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Luff, P., Hindmarsh, J., & Heath, C. (2000). Workplace studies, recovering work practice and informing systems design. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Meier, F. (1998). Lœring er indviklet i praksis! — et speciale om lœringsbegreber, uformelle lœreprocesser og fjedervikling. [Learning is complex in Practice]. Roskilde: Tek-Sam Forlaget. Rapportserien, 1998, nr. 63.Google Scholar
  25. Minneman, S. L. (1991). The social Construction of a Technical Reality: Empirical Studies of Group Engineering design Practice. Doctoral dissertation, Stanford, Department of Mechanical Engineering.Google Scholar
  26. Orr, J. E. (1996). Talking about machines. An ethnography of a modern job. Ithaca: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  27. Passarge, L., & Binder, T. (1996). Supporting Reflection and Dialogue in a Community of Machine Setters. AI & Society, 10(1), pp. 79–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Resnick, M., & Kafai, Y. (1994). Constructionism in Practice: Rethinking the Roles of Technology in Learning. Research report. Cambridge, MA: MIT Media Lab.Google Scholar
  29. Sandberg, Å. (1992). Technological change and co-determination in Sweden. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the Reflective Practitioner — Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  31. Star, S. L. (1995). The Politics of Formal Representations: Wizards, Gurus and Organizational Complexity. In S. L. Star (ed.), Ecologies of Knowledge. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  32. Suchman, L. A. (1987). Plans and situated actions: the problem of human-machine communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice — Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Thomas Binder, Erling Björgvinsson and Per-Anders Hillgren 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Binder
  • Erling Björgvinsson
  • Per-Anders Hillgren

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations