Change that is triggered by human intention is at the heart of design. It is a hallmark of design that human intention is essential and central to the instigation of change in the real world. Human intention is, therefore, a singularly important and consequential cause of change. The idea of cause is complex but key to understanding designed change. Cause is natural (as defined by science, through the conceptualization of chance and necessity). Design, therefore, must accommodate change brought about by natural causes; but the most challenging forms of cause are those that are rooted in human agency. These intentional forms of cause are diverse. The type of intentional cause that is of particular interest here is design cause. Design cause is the consequence of human volition and the capacity for humans to be proactive and purposeful in their interaction with the real world. Design cause is essential both for initiating change that brings new things into existence and for modifying those things that are already in existence… (p. 38).

Reference: Nelson, H. G. & Stolterman, E. (2012). The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World. London: MIT Press

“In sum, stupidity management involves a wide range of actors seeking to restrict and distort communicative action through the exercise of power. This can occur through direct interventions, agenda setting, propagating broader ideological beliefs, and creat- ing subject positions. However, two points of qualification are worth adding. First, these processes of stupidity management are not mutually exclusive: they may work in tandem. Returning to the IT consultancy study mentioned above (Alvesson, 1995), we see that all four modes of power are at work simultaneously. The managerial assertion that employ- ees should criticize only if they have constructive proposals for solutions, can be seen as a direct expression of power (shut up!), agenda controlling (‘postpone raising the issue until you have come up with a solution’), an assertion of ideology (‘be positive and constructive, don’t complain’), and a form of identity creation (‘be a good organizational citizen’). Second, the forms of stupidity management we mention can work through episodic interventions as well as developing more systemic restrictions on communicative action (Lawrence et al., 2012). The former are interventions in specific situations; the latter refer to developing and maintaining the cultural and institutional grounding that supports socialized and/or organizationally ingrained capacities for functional stupidity…” (p. 1207).

Reference: Alvesson, M. & Spicer, A. (2012). A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations. Journal of Mangement Studies, 49(7), p. 1195-1220.

“Functional stupidity is organizationally-supported lack of reflexivity, substantive rea- soning, and justification. It entails a refusal to use intellectual resources outside a narrow and ‘safe’ terrain. It can provide a sense of certainty that allows organizations to function smoothly. This can save the organization and its members from the frictions provoked by doubt and reflection. Functional stupidity contributes to maintaining and strengthening organizational order. It can also motivate people, help them to cultivate their careers, and subordinate them to socially acceptable forms of management and leadership. Such positive outcomes can further reinforce functional stupidity. However, functional stu- pidity can also have negative consequences such as trapping individuals and organiza- tions into problematic patterns of thinking, which engender the conditions for individual and organizational dissonance. These negative outcomes may prompt individual and collective reflexivity in a way that can undermine functional stupidity…” (p. 1196).

Reference: Alvesson, M. & Spicer, A. (2012). A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations. Journal of Mangement Studies, 49(7), p. 1195-1220.

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler Our EDeR – Educational Design Research Journal project is moving along quite nicely. Some contributions for the first issue have now made it through the mentoring process and have been submitted for Phase II (blind peer review) of our workflow model. We will have to see how well the OJS system is playing along.

Our Editorial Review Board is also growing and getting more diverse. The most recent additions have been Thomas C. Reeves from the University of Georgia, USA, Kalle Juuti from the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Mònica Feixas from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler We have two papers accepted for the the British Educational Research Association’s BERA Annual Conference 2016 in Leeds, UK.

The paper titled “Educational Design Research as a mode of knowledge production” is co-authored with my HUL colleague Tobias Schmohl.

The other paper is titled “Emancipating learning activity in the light of the digital transformation” and tries to link back to some work that I did around my PhD.

It has been a good while since I have been presenting anything in the UK. So, I am kind of looking forward to this.

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler As part of our ongoing effort to develop a research collaboration with colleagues at the Institute of Education at Tartu University, Estonia, Tobias Schmohl, Emanuele Bardone, and myself put in separate proposals for the “Reflective Minds and Communities” conference in Tartu. The conference is organised by the EARLI SIGs 10, 21 & 25 and will take place on August 28 and 29.

All three papers passed the review process. Now we are trying to set up a shared session at the conference for our contributions.

We are also pondering to run an Advanced Research Seminar on Educational Design Research in Higher Education before the conference at Tartu Uni. In fact, we are currently waiting to hear about a small funding proposal we have submitted in March for this purpose. Let’s see…

“Students in the having mode of existence will listen to a lecture, hearing the words and understanding their logical structure and their meaning and, as best they can, will write down every word in their looseleaf notebooks-so that, later on, they can memorize their notes and thus pass an examination. But the content does not become part of their own individual system of thought, enriching and widening it. Instead, they transform the words they hear into fixed clusters of thought, or whole theories, which they store up. The students and the content of the lectures remain strangers to each other, except that each student has become the owner of a collection of statements made by somebody else (who had either created them or taken them over from another source).

Students in the having mode have but one aim: to hold onto what they “learned,” either by entrusting it firmly to their memories or by carefully guarding their notes. They do not have to produce or create something new. In fact, the having-type individuals feel rather disturbed by new thoughts or ideas about a subject. because the new puts into question the fixed sum of information they have. Indeed, to one for whom having is the main form of relatedness to the world, ideas that cannot easily be pinned down (or penned down) are frightening-like everything else that grows and changes, and thus is not controllable.”

Reference: Fromm, E. (1976). To have or to be? London: Continuum

“The student has her educational being only insofar as she has a will to learn. The will to learn may not be everything, but without it nothing is possible, no knowing of any profundity, no acting with any seriousness, no meant engagement with those around her…(p.67)”

Reference: Barnett, R. (2007). A will to learn. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill

“…assimilation and accommodation are aspects of every human activity. Cognitive conflict is ubiquitous, as multiple action-cum-experience schemes organize and are brought to bear on every novel encounter in life, and the novel aspects of those encounters challenge the schemes to accommodate to each other and to the environment. Furthermore, all this activity occurs in the context of social relations, social systems, and cultures that are simultaneously organizing, maintaining, and affecting each individual’s activity. Social partners using culturally shared mediational tools evoke and direct one another’s attention to (a) novel experiences that conflict with prior assumptions, (b) conflicting understandings of experience, and (c) unanswered questions. Whenever there is conflict, there are opportunities for the construction of novel syntheses, which represent development. So adaptive challenges, developmental opportunities, and developmental processes are ubiquitous too” (p.55).


Basseches, M., & Mascolo, M. F. (2010). Psychotherapy as a developmental process. New York: Routledge.

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler Well, 2015 turned out to be a year full of transitions, tensions, dislocations, and quite a bit of disbalance altogether… from a personal level all the way up to global affairs.

I truly wish for a more peaceful 2016!
For me… and you… and your loved ones.