Shared understanding and hard facts

In 1999 I started working for the University of Professional Education in Amsterdam and through this institution I was involved in the design of the Digital University of the Netherlands. In the educational realm in the Netherlands at the end of the nineties the understanding of the impact of information and communication technologies had hardly been explored, so there was no shared language whatsoever for discussing what would be good to carry out. Through organizing the OrO/OrO Teacherslab in 2001, a networked event in which all 1000 teachers and professors participated, I attempted to create a foundation for such a shared understanding. note 7 It was greatly appreciated by the participants and was judged to be an inspirational event that provided people with a better understanding of what the evolving information and communication technologies could signify for their work. Nevertheless, when designing for a few thousand people at the University of Professional Education in Amsterdam, or when designing for thousands of students at the Digital University, such a shared understanding is not sufficient. Large budgets have to be made available, and intense reorganizations have to take place before information and communication technologies have their full impact on the standard organization. No 'hard facts' were available yet in arguments in these large organizations about strategies to invest in information and communication technologies, nor a conceptual framework to legitimise intentions. This study hopes to contribute to the development of such a conceptual framework.