Mediating between practitioner and developer communities: the Learning Activity Design in Education experience
The slow uptake by teachers in post-compulsory education of new technological tools and technology- enhanced teaching methods may be symptomatic of a general split in the e-learning community between development of tools, services and standards, and research into how teachers can use these most effectively (i.e. between the teaching practitioner and technical developer communities). This paper reflects on the experience of transferring knowledge and understanding between these two communities during the Learning Activity Design in Education project funded by the UK Joint Information Systems Committee. The discussion is situated within the literature on ‘mediating representations’ and ‘mediating artefacts’, and shows that the practical operation of mediating representations is far more complex than previously acknowledged. The experience suggests that for effective transfer of concepts between communities, the communities need to overlap to the extent that a single representation is comprehensible to both. This representation may be viewed as a boundary object that is used to negotiate understanding. If the communities do not overlap a chain of intermediate representations and communities may be necessary. Finally, a tentative distinction is drawn between mediating representations and mediating artefacts, based not in the nature of the resources, but in their mode and context of use.