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, Towards a comprehensive theory of human learning. Routledge, 2006) and introduce a contemporary ventriloquist perspective on the communicative constitution of organizations (Cooren, Action and agency in dialogue. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 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 co-construction of socio-technical systems? The case follows a participatory design project in a hospital emergency department. The project group try to design an IT-based flow-monitor that may be used to monitor and intervene in the flow of patients. The dialogue being analysed originates from co-design workshop meetings. The analysis suggests that human learning processes in socio-technical co-design situations unfolds 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 Peter Jarvis’s classic model of learning and the ventriloquist perspective supplements and may contribute to further develop each 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
  • Learning
  • Participatory design
  • Ventriloquism

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