Appendix A



The Institute for Research on Learning (IRL) were a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from anthropology, education, linguistics, computer science and psychology, that John Seely Brown and David Kearns, then CEO of Xerox Corporation, co-founded beginning in 1986 to study learning in a wide variety of settings, including schools, workplaces, and informal ones. Prior to this most instructional design for technology-enhanced learning was based in behaviourist or cognitive theories of learning (Conole & Fill, 2005). Adopting ethnography as its main research method the Institute forged new understandings of how individuals enter and join learning communities, achieve acceptance, then themselves grow and evolve as vessels of community knowledge (Lave & Wenger, 1991) (Lave, 1996). Alan Collins and others have built upon this work in both theoretical and practical directions (Collins et al., 1989) (Ghefaili, 2003).

IRL's Seven Principles of Learning

  1. Learning is fundamentally social.
  2. Knowledge is integrated in the life of communities.
  3. Learning is an act of membership.
  4. Knowing depends on engagement in practice.
  5. Engagement is inseparable from empowerment.
  6. “Failure to Learn” is the normal result of exclusion from participation.
  7. We already have a society of lifelong learners.

IRL’s Core Capabilities

IRL saw its core capabilities to lie in these four areas:

  • Learning to see Learning
  • Design for Learning
  • Learning and Work Design
  • Learning, Identity and Diversity

IRL’s project were grouped into

  1. Research of Learning in the Classroom
    • Funding from Education Grants. (NSF, Hearst Foundation and others)
    • Researchers: Shelley Goldman, Jim Greeno, Jennifer Knudsen, Ray McDermott, Angela Booker, Karen Cole, Ralph Manak, Judit Moschkovich, Tina Sayer, and more.
    • Partners and clients: NSF, Dep. of Education, Hearst Foundation Spencer Foundation, Stanford University, Middle Schools in the Bay Area and more.
    • Research focused on Learning in the K 8- 12 classroom, with special emphasis on mathematics as the greatest hurdle to school success. Researchers developed alternatives to, and support of, traditional math modules by embedding mathematical topics in practical tasks (e.g. design of a building) executed in groups and with computers.
  2. Research on Learning in the Workplace
    • Financed through corporate sponsorship.
    • Research projects for corporate clients. Research topics were co-developed with the corporate clients to have academic and corporate relevance. Results were shared with the client and a network of affiliates in the form of articles, reports and presentations.
    • Researchers: Libby Bishop, Melissa Cefkin, Bill Clancey, Chris Darrouzet, Gitte Jordan, Ted Kahn, Charlotte Linde, Patricia Sachs, Susan Stucky, Eric Vinkhuyzen, Etienne Wenger, Marilyn and Jack Whalen, Helga Wild, and more.
    • Partners and clients: e.g. Xerox Corporation, State Farm Insurance, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Nynex, Steelcase, Hermann Miller, IDEO, Stanford University, and more.
  3. Research Initiative on Learning, Identity and Diversity.
    • Researchers: Penny Eckert, Charlotte Linde, working on social identity and memory through sociolinguistic analysis and the analysis of an organization’s (his)tories.