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Structure, Dialogue and Autonomy

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Online Interaction Continuum

Interaction Continuum

Interaction Continuum

The Interaction Continuum is a spectrum of ways of interacting defined between Divergent and Convergent interaction.

Interaction here includes communication, but is NOT LIMITED TO communication.

The higher the amount of online interactions, the more this continuum becomes relevant.

Divergent interaction happens when tasks and work are DIVIDED among people and information is exchanged in an exclusive, selective way between people, thus separating them into subgroups. Typical example: E-Mail interactions.

Convergent interaction happens, when tasks and work are SHARED among people and information is exchanged in an inclusive, open way between people, thus uniting them into one community. Typical example: E-Platform interactions.

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Basic Knowledge Sharing Model

In the context of our mission of promoting collaboration at FFHS, my team has developed a variation of the SECI model of knowledge conversion (Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995) in which we focus on the foundations of knowledge sharing and which, for this reason, is called “Basic Knowledge Sharing Model”.

Both  models  are  based  on  the  distinction  of  two  kinds  or  dimensions  of knowledge: a)  explicit  knowledge,  b)  tacit  knowledge.  Explicit  knowledge  is  knowledge that one could easily express or which is already expressed (by spoken  words, written in documents or by other means that make it perceivable). But this is  not the whole knowledge base. As Polanyi wrote: “one can know more than one can tell” (Polanyi 1966, p. 8) and this “more” is a second kind or dimension of knowledge called “tacit” knowledge, the knowledge that one cannot easily express and that has not  been  expressed  (because  we  are  not  able  to  do  it,  because  it  would  take  too much time, etc. ); notice that this is the larger part – maybe 80% or even more – of our knowledge base:  in fact, we are much faster in thinking and doing than in speaking and writing! Compare for example riding a bicycle with a spoken or written description of how to ride it.  Metaphorically we could also say that explicit knowledge is only the shadow of tacit knowledge.

Figure 1 Knowledge conversion v3Figure 1.  Basic Knowledge Sharing Model – IECS

Differently from the SECI model, in our knowledge sharing model we begin by explicitly considering two individuals, each with her knowledge base, and look at how knowledge conversions proceed first within the two persons and then between them. As a consequence we start within the individual (Fig. 1):

  1. by considering first the knowledge conversion from explicit to tacit, called “internalization” (1. to learn, to understand);
  2. then we consider as second the reverse knowledge conversion, from tacit to explicit, called “externalization”  (2.  to document).
  3. In a third  step  we  look at  the  knowledge conversion from explicit to explicit called “combination”, which in our case is seen as communication  in  the  sense  of  an  exchange  of  information  (3.  communicate) between two individuals;
  4. finally we come to the crucial, fourth step called “socialization” in which tacit knowledge is shared between the two individuals by means of interactions (4. apply, live).

Thus the sequence of our model is 1. Internalization >>> 2. Externalization >>>  3.  Combination  >>>  4.  Socialization,  or  abbreviated  IECS  by  using  the  initials  of  these steps, like in SECI.

Regarding socialization and collaboration it is important to notice that in these interactions tacit knowledge “is commonly and easily conveyed by narrative, although narrative exemplifies rather than exhaustively describes such knowledge” (Linde 2001). Other practical ways to share tacit knowledge are listed by Von Krogh et al. (2000:83): direct observation and narration, imitation, experimentation and comparison, joint execution. They also mention conversations as an enabler of  tacit  knowledge  sharing  (2000:125ff)  and  suggest  that  tacit  knowledge  can  be seen as the clay that participants of knowledge-creating conversations work with and form eventually arriving at new concepts (Von Krogh et al.: 135).



Bettoni, M., Bernhard, W., Bittel, N. & Mirata, V. (in press) Sharing Tacit Knowledge in Meetings: The OSG Approach. Paper presented at the 20th Knowledge Management Forum, Milan, 28 October 2015. In press: kappaemme 26, Speciale KM 2015, Pavia: Jekpot.

Linde, C. (2001) Narrative and Social Tacit Knowledge. Journal of Knowledge Management, Special Issue on Tacit Knowledge Exchange and Active Learning, 5 (2)

Nonaka, I. & Takeuchi, H. (1995) The knowledge creating company: how Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation, New York: Oxford University Press.

Polanyi, M. (1966) The Tacit Dimension, Gloucester (Mass.): Peter Smith

Von Krogh, G., Ichijo, K. & Nonaka, I. (2000) Enabling Knowledge Creation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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E-Collaboration: A knoweldge-oriented model

Our experience with the practice of E-Collaboration suggests that knowledge processes play an essential, relevant role in it. This is in line with the considerations of other authors who claim that knowledge processes serve as the basis of any form of cooperation (Endress & Wehner, 1996; Vollmer & Wehner, 2007), that knowledge should be considered as one of the key elements of E-Collaboration (Kock, 2005) or that the construction of shared knowledge constitutes one of its key processes (Dillenbourg & Fischer, 2007).
Unfortunately we do not see knowledge mentioned in most definitions of E-Collaboration and are lacking models of E-Collaboration with adequate emphasis on knowledge processes. This is why within our team (IFeL Team E-Collaboration) we have developed this approach and have made it available as a chapter of a book released end of 2015 at IGI.


  • Bettoni, M.,  Bittel, N., Bernhard W. & Mirata, V. (2016) eSF – An E-Collaboration System for Knowledge Workers. In: A. Kok & H. Lee (eds.) Cultural, Behavioral, and Social Considerations in Electronic Collaboration. Hershey (USA), IGI Global, Chapter 8, 157-172.


  • The aim of our chapter is to contribute to a better understanding of E-Collaboration, especially its intimate connection with knowledge and knowledge processes. We begin by presenting a knowledge-oriented understanding of E-Collaboration and an architecture of an E-Collaboration system (people, processes and technology) based on that understanding; then we describe the eSF system (an implementation of this architecture within our team), our experiences with it and what we have learned about the success factors of E-Collaboration.

You can access it at: http://www.igi-global.com/book/cultural-behavioral-social-considerations-electronic/134811


Dillenbourg, P. & Fischer, F. (2007). Basics of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. Zeitschrift für Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik. 21, 111-130.
Endress, E., & Wehner, T. (Eds.). (1996). Zwischenbetriebliche Kooperation. Die Gestaltung von Lieferbedingungen. Weinheim: Psychologie Verlags Union.
Kock, N. (2005). What is E-Collaboration? International Journal of e-Collaboration, 1(1), i–vii.
Vollmer, A., & Wehner, T. (2007). Innovation und wissensorientierte Kooperation. Profile, 13, 31–36.

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Collaborative Creativity with eCiC

Marco Bettoni, Willi Bernhard, Nicole Bittel, Collaborative Creativity with eCiC, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 174, 12 February 2015, Pages 3925-3932, ISSN 1877-0428, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.01.1135.


Students are often attentive highly motivated individuals who have good ideas which can provide successful solutions for all parties concerned, but mostly they have no way of bringing in and developing new ideas with other students in order to improve learning and educational processes. To enable collaborative creativity, the eCollaboration-Research Team at the Swiss Distance University of Applied Sciences has developed a solution whereby students or teachers can collaborate and nurture new creative ideas in a structured and guided way. In our solution, this nurturing takes place by means of a collaborative online process in which the “idea seed” will be “cultivated” during various interactive phases as defined by the eCIC method and supported by the eCIC online tool (eCiC = electronic Collaborative idea Cultivation). Together the method and tool constitute the eCIC system. The eCiC interaction method is a procedure which defines a creative collaboration session in three stages: 1) the setting up of a creative collaboration session, 2) ideas processing according to the “Stockalper model” as well as applying the Solution Finder Model (SFM) and 3) closing the creative collaboration session. Stage 2 contains the use of two relevant models, the “Stockalper Model” which guides the user through three different questions, symbolised by the moon (illuminate your way in the darkness), stars (search for new ideas) and sun (deploy your solution) as well as the Solution Finder Model, a problem-solving method which is based on the principle that in order to find a high quality solution, the 3 elements of need, objective and solution should always be identified and explicitly connected to build a coherent triad (the unity). This paper describes the eCiC approach, the method and models, the online tool as well as some applications in educational situations. As the eCiC system has already been used in distributed research teams, worldwide business companies and distant driven educational courses, a summary of experiences, possible applications and future developments will be made. Keywords: Creative collaboration; CSCL; Community of Practice; Continuous Improvement of Learning (CIL)

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E-collaboration: a knowledge-oriented definition

E-collaboration is a coordinated activity among different individuals who use electronic technologies to work on a single, common task and who, concurrently, are also mutually engaged in a conscious, continuous effort to construct and maintain an underlying shared knowledge structure as a basis for accomplishing their task.

ecollaboration team 200x200

Bettoni, M.,  Bittel, N., Bernhard W. & Mirata, V. (in press) eSF – An E-Collaboration System for Knowledge Workers. In: A. Kok & H. Lee (eds.) Cultural, Behavioral, and Social Considerations in Electronic Collaboration. IGI Global, 2015