, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 71–97 | Cite as

Collaborative information environments to support knowledge construction by communities



Computer-based design environments for skilled domain workers have recently graduated from research prototypes to commercial products, supporting the learning of individual designers. Such systems do not, however, adequately support the collaborative nature of work or the evolution of knowledge within communities of practice. If innovation is to be supported within collaborative efforts, thesedomain-oriented design environments (DODEs) must be extended to becomecollaborative information environments (CIEs), capable of providing effective community memories for managing information and learning within constantly evolving collaborative contexts. In particular, CIEs must provide functionality that facilitates the construction of new knowledge and the shared understanding necessary to use this knowledge effectively within communities of practice.

This paper reviews three stages of work on artificial (computer-based and Web-based) systems that augment the intelligence of people and organisations. NetSuite illustrates the DODE approach to supporting the work of individual designers with learning-on-demand. WebNet extends this model to CIEs that support collaborative learning by groups of designers. Finally, WebGuide shows how a computational perspectives mechanism for CIEs can support the construction of knowledge and of shared understanding within groups. According to recent theories of cognition, human intelligence is the product of tool use and of social mediations as well as of biological development; CIEs are designed to enhance this intelligence by providing computationally powerful tools that are supportive of social relations.


Collaborative learning Communities of practice Construction of knowledge Perspectives mechanism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ackerman, M.S. and McDonald, D.W. (1996). Answer Garden 2: Merging Organizational Memory with Collaborative Help,CSCW '96, ACM, Boston, MA. 97–105.Google Scholar
  2. Argyris, C. and Schön, D.A. (1978). Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.Google Scholar
  3. Bakhtin, M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.Google Scholar
  4. Blumenfeld, P., Soloway, E., Marx, R.J.K., Guzdial, M. and Palincsar, A. (1991). Motivating Project-Based Learning: Sustaining the Doing, Supporting the Learning,Educational Psychologist. 26 369–398.Google Scholar
  5. Boland, R.J. and Tenkasi, R.V. (1995). Perspective Making and Perspective Taking in Communities of Knowing.Organization Science. 6(4). 350–372.Google Scholar
  6. Borghoff, U. and Parechi, R. (1998). Information Technology for Knowledge Management. Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P. (1972). Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, J.S. and Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational Learning and Communities-of-Practice: Toward a Unified View of Working, Learning, and Innovation,Organization Science. 2(1). 40–57.Google Scholar
  9. Buckingham Shum, S. (1998). Negotiating the Construction of Organizational Memories. In Borghoff, U. and Parechi, R. (eds)Information Technology for Knowledge Management. Springer, Berlin, 55–78.Google Scholar
  10. Buckingham Shum, S. and Hammond, N. (1994). Argumentation-Based Design Rationale: What Use at What Cost?,International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. 40(4). 603–652.Google Scholar
  11. Bush, V. (1945). As We May Think,Atlantic Monthly. 176(1), 101–108.Google Scholar
  12. Crook, C. (1994). Computers and the Collaborative Experience of Learning, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  13. Donald, M. (1991). Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  14. Fischer, G., Nakakoji, K., Ostwald, J., Stahl, G. and Sumner, T. (1993). Embedding Computer-Based Critics in the Contexts of Design. InConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (INTERChi '93), Addison Wesley, Amsterdam. 157–164.Google Scholar
  15. Fischer, G., Nakakoji, K., Ostwald, J., Stahl, G. and Sumner, T. (1993/1998). Embedding Critics in Design Environments. In Maybury, M. and Wahlster, W. (eds)Readings in Intelligent User Interfaces. Morgan-Kaufmann, San Francisco, CA, 537–561.Google Scholar
  16. Fischer, G., Lemke, A.C., McCall, R. and Morch, A. (1996). Making Argumentation Serve Design. In Moran, T. and Carrol, J. (eds)Design Rationale: Concepts, Techniques, and Use. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, 267–293.Google Scholar
  17. Fischer, G., Grudin, J., McCall, R. et al. (1999). Seeding, Evolutionary Growth and Reseeding: The Incremental Development of Collaborative Design Environments. In Olson, G.M., Malone, T.W. and Smith, J.B. (eds)Coordination Theory and Collaboration Technology. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ.Google Scholar
  18. Floyd, C. (1992). Software Development and Reality Construction. In Floyd, C., Zuellinghoven, H., Budde, R. and Keil-Slawik, R. (eds)Software Development and Reality Construction. Springer, Berlin, 86–100.Google Scholar
  19. Fu, M.C., Hayes, C.C. and East, E.W. (1997). SEDAR: Expert Critiquing System for Flat and Low-Slope Roof Design and Review,Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering.11(1). 60–68.Google Scholar
  20. Gadamer, H.-G. (1960/1988). Truth and Method. Crossroads, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Giddens, A. (1984). The Constitution of Society. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.Google Scholar
  22. Grudin, J. (1990). Why CSCW Applications Fail: Problems in Design and Evaluation,CSCW '90, Los Angeles, ACM. 85–93.Google Scholar
  23. Habermas, J. (1981). Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns, Vol. 1. Suhrkamp, Berlin.Google Scholar
  24. Heidegger, M. (1927/1996). Being and Time: A Translation of Sein und Zeit (Stambaugh, J., trans.). SUNY Press, Albany, NY.Google Scholar
  25. Koschmann, T. (ed.) (1996). CSCL: Theory and Practice of an Emerging Paradigm. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.Google Scholar
  26. Landauer, T.K. and Dumais, S.T. (1997). A Solution to Plato's Problem: The Latent Semantic Analysis Theory of Acquisition, Induction and Representation Of Knowledge,Psychological Review.104(2). 211–240.Google Scholar
  27. Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  28. Lindstaedt, S. (1996). Towards Organizational Learning: Growing Group Memories in the Workplace,CHI '96, Doctoral Consortium, Vancouver, Adisson Wesley. 14–18.Google Scholar
  29. Lindstaedt, S. and Schneider, K. (1997). Bridging the Gap Between Face-to-Face Communication and Long-Term Collaboration. InInternational ACM SigGroup Conference on Supporting Group Work, Phoenix, ACM. 331–340.Google Scholar
  30. Marx, K. (1867/1976). Capital, Vol. I (Fowkes, B., trans.). Penguin, New York.Google Scholar
  31. McCall, R., Bennett, P., d'Oronzio, P., Ostwald, J., Shipman, F. and Wallace, N. (1990). PHIDIAS: Integrating CAD Graphics into Dynamic Hypertext. In A. Rizk, N. Streitz, J. Andre (eds)Hypertext: Concepts, Systems and Applications. Cambridge U. Press, Cambridge. 152–165.Google Scholar
  32. Miller, P.L. (1986). Expert Critiquing Systems: Practice-Based Medical Consultation by Computer. Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  33. Mittal, S., Bobrow, D. and Kahn, K. (1986). Virtual Copies at the Boundary Between Classes and Instances. InObject-Oriented Programming Systems, Languages and Applications (OOPSLA '86), 159–166. Portland, ACM.Google Scholar
  34. Nelson, T. (1981). Literary Machines. Mindful Press, New York.Google Scholar
  35. Norman, D.A. (1993). Things That Make Us Smart. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.Google Scholar
  36. O'Malley, C. (1995). Computer Supported Collaborative Learning. Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  37. Orlikowski, W. (1992). Learning from Notes: Organizational issues in groupware Implementation. InCSCW '92, Toronto, ACM. 362–369.Google Scholar
  38. Orlikowski, W., Yates, Y., Okamura, K. and Fujimoto, M. (1995). Shaping Electronic Communication: The Metastructuring of Technology in the Context of Use,Organization Science. 6(4). 423–369.Google Scholar
  39. Orr, J. (1990). Sharing Knowledge, Celebrating Identity: War Stories and Community Memory in a Service Culture. In Middleton, D.S. and Edwards, D. (eds)Collective Remembering: Memory in Society. Sage, Beverly Hills, CA.Google Scholar
  40. Polanyi, M. (1962). Personal Knowledge. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.Google Scholar
  41. Repenning, A. (1994). Programming Substrates to Create Interactive Learning Environments,Journal of Interactive Learning Environments, Special Issue on End-User Environments.4(1). 45–74.Google Scholar
  42. Rittel, H. and Webber, M.M. (1984). Planning Problems Are Wicked Problems. In Cross, N. (ed.)Developments in Design Methodology. Wiley, New York, 135–144.Google Scholar
  43. Robbins, J.E. and Redmiles, D.F. (1998). Software Architecture Critics in the Argo Design Environment,Knowledge-Based Systems pp. 47–60.Google Scholar
  44. Scardamalia, M. and Bereiter, C. (1991). Higher Levels of Agency in Knowledge Building: A Challenge for the Design of New Knowledge Media,Journal of the Learning Sciences. 1. 37–68.Google Scholar
  45. Scardamalia, M. and Bereiter, C. (1996). Computer Support for Knowledge-Building Communities. In Koschmann, T. (ed.)CSCL: Computer Supported Collaborative Learning. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 249–268.Google Scholar
  46. Schön, D.A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar
  47. Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Currency Doubleday, New York.Google Scholar
  48. Stahl, G. (1993a).Interpretation in Design: The Problem of Tacit and Explicit Understanding in Computer Support of Cooperative Design. Ph.D. Dissertation, Technical Report No. CU-CS-688-93, Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  49. Stahl, G. (1993b). Supporting Situated Interpretation. InProceedings of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci '93), Boulder, CO, Lawrence Erlbaum. 965–970.Google Scholar
  50. Stahl, G. (1995).Supporting Personalizable Learning. Technical Report No. CU-CS-788-95, Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  51. Stahl, G. (1998). WebGuide: Guiding Collaborative Learning on the Web with Perspectives. InAERA '99. Montreal, ERIC.Google Scholar
  52. Stahl, G., Sumner, T. and Owen, R. (1995). Share Globally, Adapt Locally: Software to Create and Distribute Student-Centered Curriculum,Computers and Education. Special Issue on Education and the Internet.24(3). 237–246.Google Scholar
  53. Tomasello, M., Kruger, A.C. and Ratner, H. (1993). Cultural Learning,Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 16. 495–552.Google Scholar
  54. Vygotsky, L. (1930/1978). Mind in Society. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  55. Winograd, T. and Flores, E. (1986). Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation of Design. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.Google Scholar
  56. Yates, J. and Orlikowski, W. (1992). Genres of Organizational Communication: A Structurational Approach to Studying Communication and Media,Academy of Management Review.17(2). 299–326.Google Scholar
  57. Zuboff, S. (1988). In the Age of the Smart Machine. Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Life Long Learning and Design and Institute of Cognitive ScienceUniversity of Colorado at BoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations