Archive for the ‘Theoretical concepts’ Category


ProPEL Conference 2014: Professional Matters: materialities and virtualities of professional learning

July 2, 2014

It_is_all_in_the_questions_we_ask_fenwick_propel2014Last week I attended the very inspirering ProPEL Conference 2014: Professional Matters: materialities and virtualities of professional learning. 

I recommend tjecking out the programme booklet with abstracts as well as the ProPEL homepage with (among other) link to their new blog.

Going back home from attending a conference allways make me think: “what was the important stuff I bring with me back?”

In this case it has different forms, some of which was gained through participation in the conference twitter #2014propel dialogues. For instance: “Pedagogies of noticing” was something I had never heard of before. I definitely will look more into this, as I believe that this relates very much to the paper I presented at ProPEL, and furthermore to the paper I have presented in May 2014 at the Designs for Learning Conference.

Also, I brought a new book “Reconceptualising Professional Learning – Sociomaterial knowledges, practices and responsibilities” (Fenwick & Nerland, 2014) back with me. At a glance it looks extremely relevant and interesting. The introduction has already convinced me that it is going to be a read worth while.

Tara Fenwick held a captivating opening speech emphasizing the importance of the questions we ask as researchers. I noted two important questions:

– What is professional knowledge and capability becoming in this era of rapidly changing work?

– How can education better support this becoming?

I was happy that the paper I presented at ProPEL seemed to fit right in, and it also received quite positive response and spured interesting questions to pursue further. The paper is related to our VIOL project, focusing on welfare technology, innovation, care and learning:


Welfare technology is taking up increasing space in health care debates, policies and professions in Denmark and worldwide. In Denmark, recent national and municipal health care strategies emphasize a radical refurnishment of the health care sector. Telemedicine, telehealth and homecare, empowerment and citizen-centric approaches are invoked as passages to the innovation of future health care practices.New actors in these health care movements are concepts like “epital” (virtual hospital), “telemedicine”,“telemonitoring”, “outmitted” and “self treating” patients. All of these movements are associated with what it implies to be working with and focusing on welfare technology. Digital technologies are seen as central actors in working with welfare technology in the professions, and central actors in forwarding the so-called new health care paradigm. In Denmark, recent research into developments of the nurse profession state that nurses increasingly experience rapid introduction of new digital technologies into their daily work practices. When it comes to the physiotherapy profession, there is a lack of knowledge about recent developments in the health care sector, and its implications for the physiotherapy profession.

In 2002 empirical philosopher Annemarie Mol stated that the new meaning of “is” is situated. Being is situated. In this spirit, welfare technology is basically about (rapidly and digitally) changing the sociomaterial configurations of health care situations – that is moving the “is” of health care practices.This paper places professional sensibility towards sociomaterially shifting contexts of knowledges and engagements as a central literacy related to the new emphasis on digitally/tele supported health care practices. With the new health care movement, we foresee increasing needs for professionals that are able to navigate between and continuously develop new professional sensibilities, related to the rapid changing situations of the professional knowledge and engagement spaces.This foregrounds being able to professionally sense and provide answers to this question as increasingly important: what are the specific implications for the professional knowledge and engagement spaces,when introducing this or that digital technology into the health care situation? Engaging with this question presupposes professional relational sensibility towards practical (sociomaterial) arrangements of alternative health care practices, and towards their implications for enacting variations of good and bad passages to the “is” of health care practices. In other words, this paper also places an argument for the increasing importance of comparative literacy in the health care profession. This is presented as“professional relational comparative sensibility”.

The paper refers to a large ongoing professional education development project at University College Zealand (UCSJ) in Denmark. The project is called Welfare Technology, Innovation, Care and Learning. It runs from January 2013 – December 2014, and includes developing welfare technology related teaching and learning practices in and across eight professional bachelor programmes at UCSJ. The project’s ambition is to further develop educational programmes in order to better raise students’ “technological literacy”.

This paper takes point of departure in the ongoing refurnishment of the health care sector, and relates these movements to two case examples from the first empirical phase of the project (January 2013–August 2013). The two cases provide different analogies to what it means to “refurnish sensitivity buttons”. The first case “health clinic and digital patient portfolios” is from module eight at the Bachelor of Physiotherapy Degree Programme. The second case “virtual rehabilitation” is from a Danish health center. The empirical gatherings are methodologically inspired by Annemarie Mol’s approach to praxiography. After a discussion of praxiography as a methodological approach to engaging with technological literacy (in this instance), the paper places technological literacy in relation to professional education in general, and more closely to the Physiotherapy Degree Programme in Denmark and at UCSJ. Thereafter, the paper presents the two cases, and refers to Moser and Law’s concepts of “extension”, “specificity”,“passages”, “bad passages”, “better passages”, as a means to engage in a relational comparative sensibility towards the shifting contexts of knowledges and engagements in physiotherapy practices.”


Virtual Worlds – SERIOUSLY

October 7, 2010

As previously mentioned here, last week I did a presentation at the Virtual Worlds project’s workshop “Augmenting Reality in the Public Domain”.

It was an interesting day with good discussions on amon other the constructions of the “serious” in serious games and serious virtual worlds. I deliberately turned my title around to “Virtual Worlds – SERIOUSLY” because I wanted to indicate that there exist many ways to engage with virtual worlds seriously. I also wanted to insert that the boundaries between what makes a virtual world and a serious game are not very clear. They might in fact become partially contained in each other.

In my talk, the focus was on assemblages of relationships between education and virtual worlds. As previously mentioned here, CarrieLynn Reinhard and I went to Singapore in June where we met up with representatives from the InfoComm Development Association and people from two schools working with various initiatives to engage with and construct virtual worlds for both educational and gaming purposes.

CarrieLynn’s presentation at the workshop introduced how the government in Singapore is thinking strategically in terms of virtual worlds for tourism, and my presentation was more focused on what seems to mark the Singaporean mergers between education and virtual worlds (with the limited knowledge we have). I supplemented this with a focus on my research following how a particular virtual universe moves and becomes moved in and out of schools, homes and other contexts dealing with education ‘in the world’ (i.e. in Vietnam, Singapore, Finland, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Chile, Nigeria, China).

(Too) Briefly put, I suggested (and this is very much to be considered work in progress) that we are dealing with many different constructions of what it means to work seriously with virtual worlds (e.g.):

  • Built/designed/structured around/for serious purposes with learning goals/purposes
  • Used for serious purposes for learning goals / purposes
  • The imaginary that learning transfer happens from the serious game/gaming/virtual world engagements to other situations.

Furthermore, I explicited three variations as examples of approaches to serious engagements in virtual worlds:

  • Virtual worlds used for / engaged in  local/regional/periodic educational situations (e.g. and the Singaporean virtual world constructed for education and youth olympic games engagements. See CarrieLynn’s and my slides for examples and elaborations).
  • Virtual world / learning environment developed locally (e.g. for a school) with more long-term serious aims (e.g. several examples can be found in Singapore’s Future Schools projects that merge serious games, virtual world elements and LMS/VLE elements).
  • Serious games /virtual worlds developed for serious purposes with a broader scope/market (e.g. the world as market) and more broad educational aim – ‘educational oxygens’ (e.g. and the Serious Games Interactive series). Those may include both shorter periodic activities and more long-term engagements.

These examples represent quite different ways to construct hybridities between serious games and virtual worlds, and how these can in various ways adress and become actors that augment different aspects of educational activities and thereby assist in solving/supporting various educational challenges in the world.

 I would love to get comments on my attempts to describe these matters.


PhD thesis and defense

May 20, 2010

Yihaa, I am defending my PhD thesis on 3 June 2010. See and download the announcement here at the Danish Association of Science and Technology Studies’ homepage. Hope to see you at the defense :-).

Download the thesis: Hansbøl, Mikala (2009) Researching Relationships between ICTs and Education: Suggestions for a Science ‘of’ Movements, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University

I just stumpled upon this fun blogpost about different ways to conduct PhD defenses in the world. This is actually kind of interesting.


Another incredible STS resource

September 1, 2008

I just want to share this link to another recent incredible STS resource. Here you will find an interesting debate about whether we can talk about the turn to ontology in STS?  The page includes links to the different speakers speaches as well as comments. Ï’ve really enjoyed reading these resources. You’ll find  STS people like Mike Lynch , Noortje Marres, Arie Rip, Ted Schatzki, Steve Brown, Geof Cooper, Mariam Fraser, Rosalind Gill, Alain Pottage, Brian Rappert, Paul Roth, Andy Stirling, and Sally Wyatt participating in the debate. Simply an incredible resource for anyone interested in STS as well as the concept of ontology and its multiple heterogeneous entanglements with STS researchers workings! 

One-day workshop “A turn to ontology?” arranged by the STS group at the James Martin Institute:



November 21, 2007

Blackboxing means backgrounding, making opaque, being invisible, taken-for-granted.

The tacit/silenced aspects of our everyday lives may be said to exist as black boxes. When opening black boxes (assuming here that they can be opened) we are questioning some-thing’s or some-one’s existence as such. Questioning how is it, that this/they/it becomes practiced as a natural, somewhat established and stabilizing aspect of everyday life?

Taking-‘things’-out-of-the-black-box: Unfolding black boxes means trying to unfold the kinds of efforts put into the establishments of certain objects. E.g. ‘pioneers’ (in Danish: Ildsjæle) may be appointed in practice and no one may discuss these enrolments of particular persons as pioneers in practice. However, questioning the taken-for-grantedness and naturalization of the existence of such pioneers means (trying to) taking ‘pioneers’ out of the black box and investigating how pioneers enact and become enacted in practice. Questioning: what is a pioneer? How does someone become a pioneer? How are ‘pioneers’ done?

Another example could be cultural patterns of structuring learning, which we take for granted – like academic lessons and the age-segregation of learners in school. 

The black box is often referrred to in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Actor-network Theory (ANT). When I use the term black box, I use it inspired by Latour:

“Objects that exist simply as objects, detached from a collective life, are unknown, buried in the ground… Real artifacts are always parts of institutions, trembling in their mixed status as mediators, mobilizing faraway lands and people, ready to become people or things, not knowing if they are composed of one or many, of a black box counting for one or of a labyrinth concealing multitudes…” (Pandoras Hope, Latour, 1999, p. 192-93 )

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e.g. Hansbøl, Mikala: “Blackboxing”, published at Mikala’s Klumme – A researcher’s blog: . Version 11th December 2007. 


Internet as culture and cultural artifact

September 25, 2007

Christine Hine (2000) stresses that the Internet is both culture and a cultural artifact.

”The meaningfulness of the technology does not exist before the uses themselves, but is worked out at the time of use. At the same time, making the use of the Internet meaningful involves representing it to others as valuable in recognizable ways.” (Hine, 2000, p.29)

Hine’s approach means taking a turn away from looking at technologies as such – as mere static tools with certain predescribable meaning and purpose. Instead it becomes as important to look at how technologies become enacted in practice as how practices are performed with technologies.  

Hine, Christine (2000):  Virtual ethnography. Sage Publications.  


Everyday life

September 25, 2007

My point of departure for engaging in and researching practices with ICT is through education. Still, I claim to focus on everyday life and activities with ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) in the PhD project. Part of my motivation for doing this is related to the fact that when dealing with new digital technologies it becomes clear that traditional distinctions between e.g. working life, school life, private life – viewed as separate spheres of life, does no longer make sense. Traditional boundaries become blurred and new boundaries are created. In order to analytically grasp the new cross-contextual practices that evolve from the use of ICT, I choose to use the concept of everyday life and activities with ICT. I get inspiration for working with this concept in e.g.  Jean Laves book ”Cognition in Practice” (1988):  

””Everyday” is not a time of day, a social role, nor a set of activities, particular social occasions, or settings for activity. Instead, the everyday world is just that: what people do in daily, weekly, monthly, ordinary cycles of activity. A schoolteacher and pupils in the classroom are engaged in “everyday activity” in the same sense as a person shopping for groceries in the supermarket after work and a scientist in the laboratory.” (p. 15)

Lave, Jean (1988): Cognition in Practice: Mind, Mathematics and Culture in Everyday Life. Cambridge University Press.