Learning, Co-Construction, and Socio-Technical Systems: Advancing Classic Individual Learning and Contemporary Ventriloquism

John Damm Scheuer*, Jesper Simonsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter revisits Peter Jarvis’s classic model of individual learning (Jarvis 2006) and introduces a contemporary ventriloquist perspective on the communicative constitution of organizations (Cooren 2010) in order to answer the following research question: How may Peter Jarvis’s classic model of individual learning and ventriloquism be advanced and contribute to our understanding of learning as it unfolds during the co-construction of socio-technical systems? The case presented in this chapter focuses on a participatory design project in a hospital emergency department. The project group are trying to design an IT-based flow monitor that could be used to monitor and intervene in patient flow. The dialogue analyzed originates from co-design workshop meetings. The analysis suggests that human learning processes in socio-technical co-design situations unfold through ventriloquist processes of dialogues. During these dialogues, humans learn on the basis of relating to, interacting with and learning about design-related body-external humans and things/objects present in the design situation and about design-related body-internal actants originating from participants’ reflections about wished-for future states, past experiences, knowledge, history, and feelings. The chapter shows how Jarvis’s classic model of learning and the ventriloquist perspective supplement and may each contribute to further develop the other.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent Practices in Workplace and Organizational Learning : Revisiting the Classics and Advancing Knowledge
EditorsBente Elkjaer, Maja Marie Lotz, Niels Christian Mossfeldt Nickelsen
Number of pages15
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date1 Jan 2022
ISBN (Print)9783030850593 (hbk), 9783030850623 (pbk)
ISBN (Electronic)9783030850609
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Participatory Design
  • Mutual learning
  • Co-construction
  • Socio-technical systems
  • Effects-driven development

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