[hackerspaces] Hackerspaces as postmodern learning spheres beyond the virtual

Armin Medosch armin at easynet.co.uk
Tue Apr 20 09:18:01 CEST 2010

Hi David,

I have read your expose of your future thesis on hackerspaces and
learning and congratulate you for taking a very good approach. I have
recently done quite a bit of research myself into similar topics for a
research paper commissioned by an educational agency. It is not yet
finished and publishable (and it would be in German anyway) but I can
share some key points. 

One chapter I also dedicate to "learning in the open lab" - assuming
that "open lab" would go down better with an institution than
"hackerspace". My own experience with such spaces is that they do indeed
foster a culture of learning and enable people to learn very quickly as
individuals as well as groups. so, how could ways of working be made
fruitful for the educational system? I am interested in finding more
support for this idea. One result of my literature review was that there
is very little literature directly relevant for the topic. If this
project is pursued it would be good to have more evidence and empirical
support for the idea of learning in open labs. 

With regard to learning theories you are listing already quite a few
good ones. I am slightly wary of the near automatic link between
constructivist learning theories and the use of ICT. What seems to fit
very well is the notion of "situated learning" (Lave and Wenger 1991)
which is related to the concept of "learning communities" and
"communities of practitioners", as those approaches go beyond the
individualsm inscribed in constructivism and emphasises the collective
nature of the process. Other learning theories of interest appear to be
"media literacy", "digital literacy" and in particular "multiliteracies"
by the New London School. Multiliteracies means that there is no one
single standard of what literacy means (everybody having to read
Shakespeare or Goethe) but different literacies based on cultural and
ethnical backgrounds and technologies and practices involved. A good
overview of learning theories with literature references that lead to
good further study materials is
I also particularly like this site http://www.infed.org/

I have also conducted about 23 biographic interviews with
hackers/tinkerers/makers and the results support the "learning in the
open lab" theory. my own study also matches a very big US empirical
field study which resulted in a number of publications:

Ito et al. 2009. Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids
Living and Learning with New Media. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. MIT Press. Summary and
White Paper online:
This study is interesting because it did not start from analytical
categories but used an approach similar to grounded theory where you
formulate categories out of the research. Interesting catgegories in
this regard are "genres of participation" "participative knowledge
production", "networked publics" and "peer-learning". 

Something also to be looked at maybe is the notion of Connectivism as a
learning theory by George Siemens

And by the way I am running this website http://www.thenextlayer.org/
where we try to apply some of the principles of free and open source
software to collaborative knowledge generation. feel free to subscribe
and maybe submit some draft paper or share some raw thoughts and ideas -
the site is not just for finished papers but also for sharing of early
stage ideas, methods and processes



On Sun, 2010-04-18 at 17:11 +0200, David Raison wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Good day,
> I've finally published my prospectus for a future diploma thesis in
> educational science/media studies, named "Hackerspaces, postmodern
> learning spheres beyond the virtual?" [0]
> I thought some of you might be interested in the short paper and its
> ideas.
> Also, I would appreciate any kind of feedback you might want to give.
> Though it might not prove just as controversial as the monochrom piece
> from a while ago (though I quoted from it and the subsequent
> discussion), I still hope that it will incite some type of response.
> Cheers,
> David
> [0] http://david.raison.lu/hackerspaces_online.pdf
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