Skip to main content

Coronavirus situation at the University of Eastern Finland

Students working on computers.

Doctoral defence of Björn Stockleben, MA, 26 Nov 2021: Collaborative online creativity for interdisciplinary design processes

The doctoral dissertation in the field of Computer Science will be examined at the Faculty of Science and Forestry online.

MA Björn Stockleben, what is the topic of your doctoral research? Why is it important to study the topic?

Creative processes are often associated with intense discourse and sparkling inspiration in a vibrant atmosphere of brilliant minds packed into a stimulating space. Yet today we see emerging online environments and smart creativity tools shaping the future of creative collaboration. In my thesis I discuss their influence on creative processes in media, arts and design and gives recommendations on how they can be implemented in both professional contexts and university education. It investigates the applicability of common creative process models, the effect of scaling on collaboration, and the influence of increasingly smart creativity support technologies up to the level of artificial intelligence (AI) actors. The research presented in my dissertation introduces both conceptual models of interdisciplinary creative collaboration in online environments and useful practical guidelines for the implementation of such models in university contexts.

What are the key findings or observations of your doctoral research?

One of the most important observations is that students, as well as stakeholders from the industry, already collaborate creatively online in a variety of fields and use cases. In many cases, they do not rely on ready-made tools, but environments for creative online collaboration evolve and grow along with the experience of their users. Also, these collaborations are surprisingly resilient, and the users quickly search for workarounds to any technical glitches or shortcomings of the respective platform.

Building on the analysis of 16 online courses and literature-based analytical work, I propose a collaboration model centred around of the communication through digital creative artefacts within mash-up online environments comprised of a main platform and auxiliary tools and services. It builds on the concept of boundary objects by Leigh Star and evolutionary socio-technical systems in the sense of Gerhard Fischer. In this sense, existing models of collaborative creativity were considered and extended to encompass the particular case of online creativity and include the interaction with artificial intelligence tools and actors.

The findings suggest that communicating with AI tools bears is in a certain way similar to communication in interdisciplinary work: A lack of common vocabulary and context puts the apprehension of the creative artefact (e.g., a sketch or a prototype) in the centre of the interdisciplinary discourse. Only concrete manipulations of the artefact enable the collaboration partners to evaluate the collaboration process from their respective perspectives and backgrounds. The model is completed by formulating the relation between learning paradigms, suitable creative process model and the design of the socio-technical platform to support the process, giving a frame for concrete implementation of the findings of the thesis into practice.

How can the results of your doctoral research be utilised in practice?

On the applied level, the research provided several examples of good practice and recommendations for online collaboration in creative projects as diverse as television format development, social media content creation, game design, visual branding design, and storytelling. The examples demonstrate how different kinds of creative processes can be applied in international and interdisciplinary student projects and how appropriate social-technical collaboration environments can be established in a university context. They also inform professional practice in the respective fields in terms of creative team collaboration processes and methods.

What are the key research methods and materials used in your doctoral research?

The work began in the domains of computer science and interaction design but adopted an interdisciplinary and integrative approach relatively early in the research process. At the core of the research was the design and evaluation of 16 online courses from different creative disciplines in a consortium of ten university partners from Germany, Finland, Denmark, Slovenia, Turkey and the UK. In an iterative process over 3 years transnational project-based learning courses were conceived, tested, and improved to develop good practice models. In a multi-method approach, this research was complemented by qualitative interviews on practices in creative online collaboration among stakeholders inside and outside the consortium, including representatives of the creative industries. An additional case study on artificial intelligence co-creation and literature research informed the analytical part of the thesis, which integrated the findings from the different interdisciplinary research strands.

A major part of the research was conducted in the context of the OnCreate Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership project, which the author conceived and headed between 2014–2017. The author is a member of the EdTech research group at University of Eastern Finland.

The doctoral dissertation of MA Björn Stocklebe, MSc, entitled Collaborative Online Creativity for Interdisciplinary Design Processes: A framework for supporting online creative processes through socio-technical environments will be examined at the Faculty of Science and Forestry, online, 26 November at 12 noon. The opponent will be Docent in Cognitive Science Mauri Kaipainen, PhD, University of Helsinki, and the custos will be Professor Matti Tedre, University of Eastern Finland. Language of the public defence is English.

For further information, please contact:

Björn Stockleben, bjornsto (a)

Public examination
Photo available for download 
Dissertation book online