Coevolution of Design and Pedagogy in an Online Learning Community

November 19, 2002

The design of any piece of technology intended for human use—whether for entertainment, work, or education— is ideally iterative and user-centered. Designers can not anticipate all the needs of users, but most begin with a prototype and revise it based on user feedback. This is even more true of online learning communities, where designers must understand the needs not just of individual users, but of groups of users and their complex inter-relationships, as facilitated by the technology. Designers begin with theory, prototype, test, and then revise. However, it is not just the technology that can be revised, but also the underlying theory. Technological design and pedagogy have the potential to co-evolve in this new medium.

In this chapter, I will describe in detail one example of this co-evolution:

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