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Redefining collaboration: The idea of demand sharing in a professional environment

This is the story of how the authors initiated a collaboration to develop competencies and skills both academically enriching and relevant to future careers.


Merja Alanko-Turunen

Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Karla Vittori

professor of artificial intelligence
Federal University of ABC, Brazil

Published : 01.11.2023

Karla’s story

As a professor of Artificial Intelligence at the Federal University of ABC in Brazil, I found myself captivated by a webinar on AI in Education – Revolutionizing learning and teaching, potential uses and implications of AI in the field of education. The webinar was delivered by Merja as a part of the Ulysseus AI Innovation Hub’s online sessions.

It was a watershed moment that catalyzed a shift in my pedagogical perspectives. The webinar provided precisely the insight I had been searching for—a modern, effective approach to designing learning.

Merja’s story

Specializing in the design of learning environments, particularly in a framework known as Learning Arch Design (LAD), I recognized the potential for its implementation in various academic courses.

Learning Arch Design aims to create what are known as Learning Arches (LAs). These arches provide an approach for designing collaborative and experiential learning journeys. The goal is to maximize engagement, ownership, confidence, and relevance (Kavanagh 2019).

Most importantly, these learning journeys encourage dialogue between learners and teachers, who are the key stakeholders in the learning process. By using LAD, we can shift students from being passive recipients of knowledge to active collaborators and creators.

Building the bridge for collaborative development

Karla reached out to Merja, inquiring with the utmost courtesy if there was any way she could assist her. This initiated a series of virtual meetings to discuss our respective approaches and learn from each other. Our joint objective is to collaboratively develop competencies and skills that are not only academically enriching but also relevant to future careers.

Merja presented the fundamentals of Learning Arch Design, touching upon the creation of learning journeys, setting, holding and landing learning arches. She shared how collaborative learning and flipped classrooms could be integrated. Karla reciprocated by giving an overview of courses in Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Life in Computer Science at Federal University of ABC.

During the conversations, Karla revealed how difficult it is to reach out to another academic individual when it comes to asking for help. Highly educated individuals may hesitate to ask for help due to societal expectations, fear of reputational damage, and personal inhibitions. In the course of our discussion, the principle of ‘demand sharing’ emerged.

Sharing knowledge and practices

Demand sharing (Caron 2019) is an anthropological concept that describes a specific way of distributing resources within a community, distinct from Western notions of ownership and exchange. In demand sharing, individuals can request or demand resources from others without the obligation of future repayment. This form of sharing is common in hunter-gatherer societies and is often deeply embedded in cultural norms, extending to both material and immaterial resources.

Demand sharing essentially involves, in our case, sharing the most valuable knowledge we have accumulated in our professional journeys.

Demand sharing can be understood as the essence of professional collaboration. When sharing, one signals the desire to be included in the community. What one must then learn, are the guidelines for demanding resources. The problem is not one of deciding what to give to whom but rather what to demand of whom (Caron 2019).

As defined by Thomas and Brown (2011), collectives are dynamic communities formed around shared beliefs, practices, and values, and they serve as a framework for demand sharing by fostering an environment where professionals can request and offer resources without hesitation.

Karla’s transformation

The virtual sessions with Merja fundamentally changed my approach to teaching and learning. I started to see education from the students’ viewpoint—understanding their expectations and the kind of feedback that could foster their development.

The end-of-course assessments were overwhelmingly positive, with students particularly enjoying the dynamic, collaborative aspects of the new pedagogical approach. I am committed to incorporating these ideas into all my future courses.

The best learning outcomes are achieved when we learn from each other

Bringing pedagogical change requires reflective consideration of the educator’s role, the willpower to implement new methodologies, and yes—a touch of serendipity. In this increasingly digital and interconnected world, both educators and students must be actively involved before, during, and after the educational process.

Our partnership has illuminated the path forward, and we are excited to continue this journey of pedagogical innovations. Embracing the principle of demand sharing has enriched our collaboration as we continue facilitating free exchange of insights.


Kavanagh, S.2019. Learning Arch Design: Users Manual. Academia.

Thomas, D. & Brown, J., S. 2011. New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace.

Editing: MarianneWegmüller

Picture: Shutterstock