Patterns, pedagogy, p2p play

Pattern languages are on my mind.

I’ve got a simmering side project I want to start soon, involving making a simple directory of as many great pattern languages as I can find, spanning disciplines from urbanism to software to design to pedagogy.

There are two families of patterns in particular I’ve been thinking about, for which I’ve yet to find comprehensive existing pattern languages: one around hosting and facilitating small group gatherings, and an adjacent one around collaborative social learning games and play.

My interest in the first emerged from hosting a bunch of dinner + show and tell events several years back, and trying to identify common themes and patterns in what made them work. I wrote up a blog post, and started brainstorming forms and factors that’d be useful for further experiments.

Last year, Hyperlink hosted a fun one-off event around pedagogical patterns — I’d found a whole great book of patterns from the perspective of teachers, but it included hardly any for learners. So we did a workshop generating a number of patterns relevant to self-directed learning and peer collaboration — patterns like “taking turns”, “combining forces”, “artifact adoption”, “mise en place”, and “workshop as classroom”.

More recently, we’ve been trying to better articulate the specific kind of activity we’re building Hyperlink for — collaboration where small groups focus on a specific goal for a scoped amount of time, constrained yet flexible and emergent. I found an interesting set of patterns on game design generally, and some pertaining to group dynamics. Along with Azlen we’ve started brainstorming some patterns at the intersection — patterns for collaborative learning games!

This feels like a fruitful framing for how we can think about spaces, tools, and interactions for complex processes like creative work and learning, that tend to span individual and collaborative activity.

I’ll write more at some point about why I find patterns an interesting and useful lens here, and further explore ideas for pattern hacking applied to learning. For now, I’m pulling together resources, and would love to hear any thoughts you have on the topic!

Open to pointers e.g. to specific pattern languages that may have flown under the radar, or that don’t identify themselves as such — but also here for meandering musings on patterns, their utility and poetic potential, ones you imagine could be cool to see in the future, etc. What comes to mind when you think about patterns, collaboration, and learning?