Exploring the material conditions of learning: Opportunities and challenges for CSCL

Within the learning sciences, the field of CSCL has continually raised the importance of the material conditions of learning. Reinvigorating this focus in this time of rapidly expanding forms of social, cognitive and technical mediation is particularly important. The proliferation of digitized information, the affordances of digital technology and the current changes in the media ecology affect society at all levels. Not only do these material conditions influence the way we learn or what is considered relevant knowledge in the many social contexts of our lives, but they also set the premises for how knowledge is formed, how it is organised, made use of and communicated. Changing patterns of collaboration, authority and legitimacy of knowledge in society and its institutions have important implications for learning and cognitive processes and outcomes, and these changes are consequential for education, production, social administration and the public.

The material conditions of learning can be explored in numerous ways, including, but not limited to: basic research of collaboration, learning processes, knowledge formation and media ecology; applied research and design studies of how specific tools, applications and activities are used and modified for the benefit of relevant fields of practice; and theoretical approaches to the development of the interdisciplinary field CSCL and the learning sciences and their manifestations in society. Reflecting these different analytical approaches to CSCL, the subthemes are divided in three strands. The list below is illustrative, not exhaustive.

CSCL in context

Design for CSCL

The theory of CSCL