‘Pedagogical infrastructures’ in the present context is intended to refer to the elementary preconditions designed to shape and support collaborative knowledge practices in educational settings.

The pedagogical design of collaborative knowledge practices should be seen more as providing basic supporting structures that establish the elementary preconditions for the inquiry culture to emerge. They do not explicitly determine the modes of action or learning results, but are designed to offer affordances for the eligible activity (Kozma, 2003) and “to promote a self-organizing process in which ideas keep getting better” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2006, 31).

Some recent studies have given a central focus to the notion of infrastructure in discussing the pedagogical design of knowledge-creation practices (Guribye, 2005; Lakkala et al., 2005; Lipponen & Lallimo, 2004). We have operationalized the ideas as a framework of pedagogical infrastructures that can be used to analyze and design educational settings aiming at advancing collaborative knowledge practices (Lakkala et al., submitted). Based on previous studies, we suggest the framework include the following four elements:

  • Technical infrastructure is based on the technology that enables and facilitates co-construction and elaboration of common knowledge artefacts; organization of the use of technology in the educational setting; and necessary technical support for using it.
  • Social infrastructure is based on the explicit arrangements to advance and organize collaboration; social interaction and activities around shared knowledge objects; openness and sharing of the process and outcomes; and the integration of face-to-face and technology-mediated activity (Bielaczyc, 2001, 2006).
  • Epistemological infrastructure is based on the conception of knowledge that the practices reflect; the role of knowledge sources used; students’ and teachers’ role in creating and sharing knowledge; and the explicitness of knowledge-creating inquiry and object-orientedness in the process (Paavola et al., 2002).
  • Cognitive infrastructure is based on explicit modelling of the strategies of inquiry and collaborative knowledge work; guidance provided for the students; methods used to promote metacognitive thinking and meta-level reflection of inquiry process and practices; and cognitive scaffolding for collaborative inquiry embedded in tools.

Social infrastructure

  • Cultural beliefs
  • Practices
  • Socio-techno-spatial relations
  • Interaction with the outside world (Bielaczyc, 2006).


Bielaczyc, K. (2001). Designing social infrastructure: the challenge of building computer-supported learning communities. In P. Dillenbourg, A. Eurelings and K. Hakkarainen (Eds.), European perspectives on computer-supported collaborative learning (106-114). Maastricht: Maastricht McLuhan Institute. Available online: http://www.ll.unimaas.nl/euro-cscl/Papers/15.doc

Bielaczyc, K. (2006). Designing social infrastructure: Critical issues in creating learning environments with technology. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(3), 301-329.

Guribye, F. (2005). Infrastructures for learning: Ethnographic inquiries into the social and technical conditions of education and training. Doctoral dissertation, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway. Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/1956/859 (December 4, 2006).

Kozma, R. (2003). The material features of multiple representations and their cognitive and social affordances for science understanding. Learning and Instruction, 13(2), 205-226.

Lakkala, M., Lallimo, J., & Hakkarainen, K. (2005). Teachers’ pedagogical designs for technology-supported collective inquiry: a national case study. Computers and Education , 45(3), 337-356. Available online: http://www.helsinki.fi/science/networkedlearning/material/LakkalaLallimoHakkarainen2005.pdf.

Lakkala, M., Muukkonen, H., Paavola, S., & Hakkarainen, K. (submitted). Designing pedagogical infrastructures in university courses for technology-enhanced collaborative inquiry. A manuscript submitted for publication.

Lipponen, L., & Lallimo, J. (2004). From collaborative technology to collaborative use of technology: Designing learning oriented infrastructures. Educational Media International, 41(2), 111-116.

Paavola, S., Lipponen, L., & Hakkarainen, K. (2002). Epistemological foundations for CSCL: a comparison of three models of innovative knowledge communities. In G. Stahl (Ed.) Computer support for collaborative learning: foundations for a CSCL community (pp. 24-32). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2006). Does Education for the Knowledge Age Need a New Science? European Journal of School Psychology, 3(1), 21-40.


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