Participatory design in open education: a workshop model for developing a pattern language

Yishay Mor, Niall Winters


Technologically enhanced learning environments raise complex challenges for their designers, developers and users. Design patterns and pattern languages have recently emerged as a potential framework for addressing some of these challenges. However, the uptake of design patterns has been slow outside of the computer science community. We argue that this is largely a consequence of a weak positioning of pattern languages, as a form of delivering expert knowledge to layperson, and suggest an alternative view: the development of a pattern language as a community endeavour. In terms of open education, the workshop model can be viewed as an open production process for developing educational resources, in our case design patterns. We propose a model of pattern elicitation workshops, in which collaborative development of a pattern language provides a framework for sharing design knowledge within interdisciplinary communities. This model was iteratively developed at five international conferences. It was then postulated as a design pattern itself, encompassing a series of practices and a set of supporting tools. We believe this model could be applied in a broad range of communities concerned with the development of open digital educational resources.

Editor: Stephen Godwin (Open University, UK).

Reviewers: Stephen Carson (MIT, USA) and Alexandra Okada (Open University, UK).

Interactive elements: A video course demonstrating the workshop model is available at:

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How to cite: Mor, Y.. and Winters, N.. 2008. Participatory design in open education: a workshop model for developing a pattern language. Journal of Interactive Media in Education 2008(1):12, DOI:

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Published on 20 May 2008.

ISSN: 1365-893X | Published by Ubiquity Press | Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.