The Long Tail Framework: Understanding, Fostering, and Supporting Interest-Driven and Passion-Based Learning

InterMedia and the Nordforsk network Teaching problem based learning in virtual environments (ScandEL) invites to an open lecture with Professor Gerhard Fischer, University of Colorado, Boulder

The lecture is part of a week assembly for the network 1 - 4 March which also include the PhD course Teaching Problem-based Learning in Virtual Learning Environments: Scaffolding Critical Reflection taking place 2 - 3 March.

Contact person: Anders Mørch.


The concept of the Long Tail (as it originated in the business world) postulates that economies are increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of products in the head (selling in large quantities) toward a huge number of low-selling products in the tail. This presentation will reinterpret the Long Tail theory in the context of learning by exploring, creating, supporting, and assessing a transformative framework for human learning with new media.

By building on previous research in supporting innovative approaches to learning (such as learning on demand, integration of working and learning) with new media (such as domain-oriented design environments and critiquing systems), the presentation will discuss challenges including how to:

  • understand and assess the opportunities for Long Tail learning provided by large-scale, related developments that allow learners to actively engage in and contribute to personally meaningful problems for which they have a deep interest and passion;
  • articulate, define, and assess conceptual frameworks for transformative models for knowledge creation, accumulation, and sharing;
  • employ user and task models that capture the interests and background knowledge of learners  to support personalized information access and delivery; and
  • support cultures of participation with meta-design environments in which all learners can act as active contributors in articulating and sharing their own knowledge.

These broad objectives will be grounded and assessed in the application context of energy sustainability by describing theoretically grounded, empirically informed socio-technical environments that will allow people to understand and change their energy consumption.


Gerhard Fischer is a Professor of Computer Science, a Fellow of the Institute of Cognitive Science, and the Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning and Design (L3D) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a member of the Computer Human Interaction (CHI) Academy and a Fellow of ACM. His research is focused on: (1) learning, working, and collaborating with new media; (2) human-computer interaction; (3) cognitive science; (4) assistive technologies; and (5) transdisciplinary collaboration and education.

Published Jan. 31, 2011 8:20 PM - Last modified Oct. 15, 2019 10:47 AM