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Designing Computer-supported Collaborative Learning at Work for Rural IT Workers: Learning Ensembles and Geographic Isolation

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Goggins, Sean


British Journal of Educational Technology, Volume accepted (2014)


CSCL at Work., geography case study, Group Informatics, regional science, Rural, social worlds, socio-technical, working spheres


This paper presents the results of a 9-month ethnographic and action research study of rural technology workers where computer support for collaborative learning through workplace technologies was introduced to a US-based technology firm. Throughout the implementation of this support and participation, issues related to geographic isolation are contrasted with the
information and learning needs of 89 employees. The development of information seeking, cataloguing, and coordination practices through technology are described. Resulting insights have led to the identification of learning ensembles as an informal, socio-technical unit of organization within geographically isolated firms. Learning ensembles are hypothesized as a bridge between the mid-level, limited knowledge required in order to perform particular duties at the firm, and the greater potential of individual team members that is enabled by participation in the firm’s technologically mediated, geographically dispersed customer teams. The discussion calls for future research on learning ensembles to further inform technologically mediated workplace learning.