Categorie archief: tel2

Continuing education : Alice programming environment

Today I went for a day continuing education on Alice at Centrum Nascholing Onderwijs, University Antwerp. Purpose was to find a solution for the problem that some students in our web design course for the unemployed had difficulty with programming because they had no previous knowledge. We are searching for something that can give a good introduction to them, teach them logical reasoning and that they can learn on themselves.

Alice is “a programming environment to support the creation of 3D animations, the Alice Project provides tools and materials for teaching and learning computational thinking, problem solving, and computer programming across a spectrum of ages and grade levels. It allows students to learn fundamental programming concepts in the context of creating animated movies and simple video games. In Alice, 3-D objects (e.g., people, animals, and vehicles) populate a virtual world and students create a program to animate the objects.”

It’s a good example of learning by gaming, Alice feels like a game, van create games, even simple actions can have great effects.


There was a course available online, consisting of mostly youtube videos. Unfortunately there was a problem with the videos, some could be played by some students, and others not. The teacher was able to go over the content demonstrating the main aspects of working with the interface and programming through easy manipulation of existing blocks of programming logic. We’ll have to evaluate it further to see if it is adequate for our students, since there is a lot of manipulation involved that is not directed to logical thinking itself.

Important message here : technology can fail, and a backup plan should exist, if possible.


Reflection on TEL2

My vision on the propositions:


collaboration in learning is correct, we learn from each other by seeing other and new views on things. It was not always easy to understand, someone telling something for a few minutes from his point of view, with his background in knowledge and understanding, is not always easy to follow if mine are very different. There often wasn’t enough time to ask for much elaboration.
We used the Blackboard platform, email, google+, google docs, prezi, programs for making diagrams,… to work together. I never was a fan of prezi, I always felt there was to much clutter around when focussing on one point that made you deviate, but I’ve seen some nice uses this semester.
The conversations in the chat were very playful, stimulating and creative, they brought a wide spectrum of related items to the topic.

Collaboration outside the online lessons could do better in my opinion. I had email sessions, live chat and video sessions that helped, but this could be more structured and/or more used. I certainly have an appreciation for people’s work outside this training and realise that agendas are hard to accord. Funny thing happened during a video session with Bram and Wendy: we all had the feeling that the description of the wiki tasks had changed during our working on it. I checked with the form I downloaded in the beginning of the semester and found no difference. Is it our understanding of the tasks that changed?

Self reflection

One of the biggest issues i had myself is the confrontation with an enormous amount of data. Going through papers, selecting appropriate ones, analysing them and taking the appropriate messages has surely taken a lot of self reflection emotionally and psychologically. e.g. motivating myself to hold on, taking the necessary rest and distance, taking walks in nature to clear my head.
Also checking from time to time if I wasn’t wandering of to much from the initial item (which happened easily and often)…

The biggest realization was when we kept on asking for more feedback and Richard said something that made me realise that in my school paradigm I had always expected assessment, the work wasn’t finished until somebody else told me how good it was. Now I’m not saying that feedback isn’t necessary ūüėČ Certainly as a novice in an area it’s hard to assess the work that has been done and your findings.


The guided readings were of a high difficulty level, what made that I had to reflect and research on how to handle them. They also were a good preparation on going through dozens of papers for the tasks since most papers are easier to understand, what lightened the work.
After a while it seemed that although differently formulated, the same messages were coming back in different papers. Sometimes there was one sentence in a paper that made the difference in my understanding of a subject.


Much of the work was self-steered, although there was guidance, many questions stayed unanswered. This made the learning more accidental, using google scholar and twitter with directed search words and whatever selection I made after skimming was the item I studied. Doing series of new searches on questions that arose from this made me sort of a rhizomatic learner.
In TEL2 this approach seems feasable, but can it be used in all courses? I still have the notion that some fields of study need a foundation where students can build there own learning on. Studying this way will require a great adjustment of students, teachers and staff, not to mention the legislative impositions, actually whole of society. Education has mostly followed on jobs that were necessary. Here we are making students ready to educate themselves. Either for existing jobs or for jobs that don’t exist yet, what I hear is exactly the point. Is this kind of learning for everybody? I have my doubts, it requires quite a lot of personal potentials. A great deal depends on passion and personal motivation. Maybe this is the most important foundation we have to lay for students, bring them in contact with the things they want? Giving them the freedom to explore this, then it could be for everybody.

Own research on developments in HCI

a.Everything is a Remix Case Study: The iPhone

This video shows how the iphone was a clever remix of a brilliant new idea, the functionality of existing phones with buttons and of the representation of traditional mechanics on a touchscreen. As concurrents adopted and improved on the first iOS functionality Apple itself also took the interesting functionality of it’s concurrents and implemented it in it’s successive versions of the OS.

b.Artificial Intelligence

An example of automated recording of human/computer interaction :
“Zuckerberg also spoke about the social network‚Äôs artificial-intelligence initiatives:
There is one more evolution in our strategy to understand the world that I want to mention. In September (2013), we formed the Facebook AI Group to do world-class artificial-intelligence research using all of the knowledge that people have shared on Facebook. The goal here is to use new approaches in AI to help make sense of all of the content that people share so we can generate new insights about the world to answer people‚Äôs questions.”

Adding to that “Facebook mulls silently tracking users’ cursor movements to see which ads we like best” ¬†and the fact that facebook could be tracking every keystroke, so even the messages you wrote but decided not to post could be recorded.(

Google is also doing “Deep learning” :
“Going from raw kinds of data and build up higher and higher level of features.”
E.g. speech recognition : from raw wave forms to what is actually said

Cognition as a service

CaaS powered apps will be able to think and interact with consumers like intelligent virtual assistants


Deep Learning, Self-Taught Learning and Unsupervised Feature Learning (Andrew Ng)
Some content :
– The “one learning algorithm” hypothesis
– Seeing with your tongue
– 2 biologists spending a year on an island documenting on different ways how monkeys pick up things

c.Game world

The game world is one af the frontrunners if it comes to HCI. Traditionally working with keyboard, mouse and hundreds of joysticks and controllers, one of the first great improvements on HCI I saw was on my playstation2 console : the Eye toy camera which could capture the player and project him inside the video game Kinetic. It was actually the reason I bought the console ūüôā

Then came Augmented Reality, which puts a layer over the real world.
For example the game Ingress (

An example of an Augmented Reality game with a 3D depth sensing :

In this example there is still the need of a screen, but with the combination of a google glass, the environment can be almost everywhere. No need to be at your computer or gaming console, and a much more active gaming experience can be possible. Take a first person shooter, instead of sitting on the couch pressing buttons to make a caracter move on a motionless tv, the gamer could actually be moving himself. Like a track in a paintball park yet virtually.

I found an example of other technology of this, GVX, and they call it extreme reality :


Peace of Mind Through Your Smartphone
For the first time, you can record your own ECG using the FDA cleared AliveCor System on your smartphone and use AliveInsights‚ĄĘ* analysis services to have a cardiac technician or cardiologist review your ECG recording in as little as 30 minutes.

Remote virtual surgery via Google Glass and telepresence

Body piercing controls wheelchair

e.Relation to the environment

In recent years more and more devices, sites, apps want to know where you are located, this to bring you tailored information.


f.Immediate future of interfaces

Spoken word, gestures, wearables, gaze, touch, holograms


The Siri trivia challenge: how many of these 50 things did you know Siri could do?

Robot system interpret speech and talk back :


inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way


Exoskeleton : A Real-Life Iron Man Suit That Could Be as Comfortable as Pajamas

Gaze – eye tracking

Tobii rex

Some research even suggests that our universe itself is only a hologram…

g.The next step in HCI is BCI : brain-computer interface


artist uses brainwaves to manipulate the motions of water

Burning Man’s next big thing is a 15-foot-tall brain-controlled brain


Surrealistic Mind-controlled Dress Changes Shape, Lights Up at Your Will

Taily : wearable moving tail

Cat ears


Operating the computer with your brain

Thought controlled bionic arm


Mind-reading wakamaru robot teachers keep students focused : Engagement levels were monitored using a $200 EEG sensor to monitor the FP1 area of the brain, which manages learning and concentration.


h.The future of HCI

Some points of the video:

  • Spoken interaction
  • multiple people interacting
  • eyetracking
  • the computational environment must be smart enough not to interrupt the flow of and between humans
  • we need to move to where computers can take actions for you

i.Distant future

BBI : Brain-to-brain interface

Non-invasively translate human intention to stimulate a rat’s brain motor area responsible for tail movement.


j. matrix ?


Distributed Cognition : Toward a new foundation for Human-Computer Interaction research (James Hollan, Edwin Hutchins, David Kirsh)

Take home message

The proposition is an integrated framework for research that combines ethnographic observation and controlled experimentation as a basis for theoretically informed design of digital work materials and collaborative workplaces. The research focussing on distributions of cognitive processes across members of social groups, coordination between internal and external structure, and how products of earlier events can transform the nature of later events.


Working on a single computer with local information is been quickly passed by with working in a complex networked world of information and computer-mediated interactions.

Distributed cognition(DC) theory is here proposed as a new foundation for human-computer interaction(HCI). The theory focusses on whole environments : what we really do in them and how we coordinate our activities in them.

Furthermore an intergrated research framework is sketched and selections of earlier work are used to demonstrate new opportunities in the design of digital work materials.

1. Introduction

DC studies the organization of cognitive systems, which goes beyond the individual and includes interactions between people and resources and materials in the environment.

Principle of boundaries :
traditionally individuals, DC looks for cognitive processes wherever they occur on the basis of functional relationships of elements that participate together in the process.
A system that can dynamically configure itself to bring subsystems into coordination to accomplish various functions. A cognitive process is delimited by the functional relationships among the elements that participate in it, rather than by the spatial bringing together of the elements.

Principle of range of mechanics :
traditional views look for cognitive events in the manipulation of symbols inside individual actors.
DC looks for a broader class of cognitive events and does not expect all such events to be encompassed by the skin or skull of an individual.

Applying principles to observation of human activity “in the wild”, 3 kinds of distribution of cognitive process become apparent :

– may be distributed across the members of a social group
– may involve coordination between internal and external (material or environmental) structure
– may be distributed through time in such a way that the products of earlier events can transform the nature of later events

2. A DC approach

2.1 Socially DC

Emerging idea : social organization is itself a form of cognitive architecture. (Images of a social/cognitive ant society come to mind)
ant contact networks
Cognitive processes involve trajectories of information (transmission and transformations), so the patterns of these information trajectories reflect some underlying architecture.
Since social organization‚ÄĒplus the structure added by the context of activity‚ÄĒlargely determines the way information flows through a group, social organization may itself be viewed as a form of cognitive architecture.
DC includes phenomena that emerge in social interactions as well as interactions between people and structure in their environments.

2.2 embodied cognition

cognition is the result of interactions between the internal (mind) and external (body, environment). The work environment can become part of the cognitive system.

2.3 culture and cognition

Distributed cognition is influenced by and influences itself the historical cultural environment, a reservoir of resources for learning, problem solving and reasoning. As such we are standing on the shoulders of giants, but are also blinded to other ways of thinking.
Rethink model of individual mind.

2.4 Ethnography of distributed cognitive systems

“The term ethnography has come to be equated with virtually any qualitative research project where the intent is to provide a detailed, in-depth description of everyday life and practice.” (

Study application of knowledge : how knowledge is used to perform action in/for certain events and how information is arranged in material and social world.
Participant observation is used to examine technical expertise.

Identifying critical features :
The airspeed tape on the left shows us a very narrow operating range at the top end of our altitude capability. That is, your range of acceptable airspeed is from about 212 to about 245. The ‚Äúchain‚ÄĚ above that shows the area of high speed buffet, meaning parts of the aircraft, above that speed, will begin to go supersonic.
On the bottom of the tape is the yellow line we call ‚Äúthe hook,‚ÄĚ which is the slow speed stall. If you go below that speed, your airfoil will stall, and you will fall.

3 An integrated framework for research

DC theory identifies a set of core principles that widely apply. For example,

  • people establish and coordinate different types of structure in their environment
  • it takes effort to maintain coordination
  • people off-load cognitive effort to the environment whenever practical
  • there are improved dynamics of cognitive load-balancing available in social organization.

Cognitive ethnography seeks to determine what things mean to participants in an activity and to document the means by which the meanings are created, often with revealing and surprising result. E.g. the use of structure that was not anticipated by the designers.
This can only be discovered by observation : real world observations, for which a rapport is needed, and experiments.
Creating a loop : from observation to theory to design to new tools.
Design proces can also reveal new aspects of behaviour to be included in the loop.

3.1 ship navigation

The true bearing to a point is the angle measured in degrees in a clockwise direction from the north line.

DV came into existence by the study of navigation aboard US Navy ships where outcomes that mattered to the ship were the product of the interactions of several navigators with each other and with a complex suite of tools. 

3.2 Airline Cockpit Automation

Pilots using electromechanical airspeed indicators develop perceptual strategies that rely on the perceptual salience of the spatial location of the airspeed indicator needle in a space of meaning- ful speeds. Our new instrument not only preserves this property; it makes it perceptually even more salient.

3.3 Beyond Direct Manipulation

In direct-manipulation interfaces the objects on-screen are meant to be so closely coupled to the actual computational objects we are dealing with that we are supposed to feel as if we are manipulating the real objects themselves and not just their stand-ins.

3.4 History-Enriched Digital Objects

Good examples of these are google search, where the websites that are visited by other users who searched the same topic are included in the search algorithm. And also google Analytics, whose job is to record the usage of a website.

4. Conclusions and future directions

HCI research focus is no longer confined to the desktop but reaches into a complex networked world of information and computer-mediated interactions

More info

Website distributed cognition and human-computer interaction laboratory

Related areas

interaction design, user interface, ergonomy, AI

Related papers

A Moving Target‚ÄĒThe Evolution of Human-Computer Interaction, Jonathan Grudin Microsoft Corporation, USA (

Project Streamer (

Brain-Computer Interfaces in Medicine (

Reflection on TEL2 session 4

Reflecting on the session last night, I have been thinking about Dave’s comment on the reading.

One analogy came to mind : while constructing a building one would have to take in account the Newtonian laws.


Study of quatummechanics on the other hand reveils a totally other paradigm. For instance Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that when observing a particle it’s possible to know the position or the momentum, but not both at the same time. Furthermore the simple act of looking at it would change it’s behaviour.

“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” Niels Bohr


These are no problem in a Newtonian way.

So, working in one field, one needs one set of rules, in another field another set of rules. And like in the example above, the rules can be quite contradictory and even not make any sense in the other field.

Another quote that came to mind is something I read this week, Henry Ford, the builder of the first car said : “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. My interpretation is that you have to “think outside the box” sometimes.

Critical reading : Mixing humans and non-humans together : The sociology of a door-closer. Bruno Latour

Quite tongue-in-cheek, I had a hunch from “Walla Walla University” :).

I fairly suspect Richard and Guy of making some covert advertisement for the reunion of Monty Python.


Some sort of analog deconstruction of the thought proces


Do androids dream of hitchhiking?

The paper reminds me of a book I read when i was pre-teen : “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick”.

do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep kopie

This book was the inspiration for the famous movie “Blade Runner”.
In the story robots are becoming almost human, the only difference is that the androids have less of an emotional response. So here a machine becomes a real social actor.

The statement that an nonhuman acts as an actor also evokes images of “The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy”, another absurd story where people transform in objects during a space travel/jump. In this paper the stage seems to be set for the reverse to take place.


Definition of sociology

After reading a bunch of them, this one made the most sense to me :

‚ÄúSociology is the systematic scientific study of human life in groups-which is to say, virtually all of human life. We study everything from the small, transitory interactions of two strangers passing on the street to the incredibly complex and persistent patterns of interactions among individuals in large organizations and even entire societies. We study families, neighborhoods, work groups, sports teams, bureaucracies, religions, governments, and every other kind of group-large or small-that humans have ever created.‚ÄĚ

Dr. Gerry Grzyb, Chair – Dept. of Sociology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Becoming social

Becoming social is a learning experience in which one can consciously choose. Some examples in the text are not quite correct, e.g.¬†disciplining the door closer : to discipline someone means that the person can choose either way. A door closer cannot consciously choose, it works, or it is broken. It can not interprete and learn new things. It can’t reflect on his own actions. Configured would be a more accurate word.


Connecting this paper with TEL2 content

I think the question here is : what is the sociology of current technology in learning ?

The statement that the disciplining of humans is more difficult than using a technological solution actually equates to more disciplining for humans on how to use the technology (in complexer solutions than a door-closer). Teachers/students using the latest technology must have a much greater technological understanding of their equipment than only necessary for the normal use of it, which in itself is quite substantial.¬†Also, just making sure the technology works can be quite time consuming and not a layman’s job.

In which way does technology add to the social becoming of men vs. how much does mankind have to take in account the workings of technology ? Or, are we becoming feeders to the machine, to the technological way of working ? Technology is becoming more human like while humans are becoming more machine like. (Haraway’s Cyborg-Manifesto)


Social becoming vs. becoming technological

Currently technology is positioned on a scale going for being an aid in teaching to being the teacher itself, e.g. tutorials on webdesign or a youtube movie about gardening.

Will technology eventually come to a point that the use of technology (to become social) will be totally transparent ?¬†What about technology that becomes part of a person ? An optical eye, pacemaker, implanted hearing aid ? Further down the line, with growing interconnectedness become¬†a step to accepting AI forms as a life form?¬†If an AI form is inside a box or inside a human-like form, is there a difference ?¬†When is a AI system (almost) human like ? When it is intelligent enough to have a conversation ? Or when it can read micro signs and changes in a human face to interpret emotions ? When the programmed routines are intelligent enough to make calculated choices ? When the programming routines can change themselves ? When there is an “I” consciousness ? Or does it need a soul ?

Benefits of technology

I choose here to speak only of the positive, yet I am very aware of other sides.

Luckily the days of carrying a heavy backpack with old stuffy books is over. The only thing the teacher has to do nowadays is to have his computer with him, ok, maybe a backup computer in the occasion that the former one breaks down. Maybe make sure the overhead projector is working and check the backup lamp. Helping students who bring their own laptop – with a range of operating systems and all kinds of funny system altering software- ¬†at the beginning of each class with their small problems is just a small challenge and a good way to wake up the cognitive brain. Maybe some backup in the most unlikely case a students computer breaks down, the internet fails or the learning platform with all the course’s material breaks down. But hey, can’t you print the material ?


The social influences of technology and social networks

So as humans are becoming more machine like, spend more time on machines, act social on soulless hardware, does technology and digital social networks actually make us more unsocial ? Is facebook making us lonely ?

anti social technology

anti social technology

Some interesting links

The Future of Social Interaction & How Technology Plays its Part (Prezi)

Critical reading : Teaching, as Learning, in Practice – Jean Lave

In one sentence : Learning, which is more than acquiring knowledge in a classroom,  is fundamentally a social process and we learn by changing identities and changing practices.

This was quite a hard critical reading. The language and constructions needed more than a few reads. I still don’t have the feeling that i fully grasp the whole content.


Initially Lave does a comparison of social practice theory and traditional psychological learning. The first by a study on the Vai and Gola tailors from Liberia and a mosque school Law practitioners in Egypt. Some keywords :

Social practice
informal learning
in context
demonstration, observation, mimesis
embeded in everyday activities
no general understanding
literal, context-bound understanding
given negative value
strong sense of worth, self respect, realistic take on live

Traditional psychological learning
individual, psychological, cognitivist
formal learning
out of context
abstraction, generalization
general understanding
broad learning transfer
given positive value
distance, perspective, and disengagement from immediately relevant practical concerns in order for powerful,knowledge-producing learning to occur

Research on apprenticeship

  • The generally accepted high value/low value given to the 2 systems is actually upside down.
  • Focus should be on learners, not teachers.
  • Learning is a socially situated activity

From Apprenticeship to Social Practice Theory

What is a theory of learning about ?
traditional :¬†individuals’ psychological processes : knowing, acquiring knowledge, beliefs, skills, changing the mind, moving from intuitions to rules, or the reverse.

What does a theory of learning  consist of ?
– Telos: that is, a direction of movement or change of learning
– Subject-world relation: a general specification of relations between subjects and the social world (not necessarily to be construed as learners and things to-be-learned),
РLearning mechanisms: ways by which learning comes about, diminishe in importance, people are becoming kinds of persons

What would happen if we took the collective social nature of our existence so seriously that we put it first ?
“Knowing” is a relation among communities of practice, participation in practice, and the generation of identities as part of becoming part of ongoing practice.

Teaching in Schools

Teaching is neither necessary nor sufficient to produce learning.

Supposed Identity change by bodies, trajectories, timetables, daily practices, and changing careers.
Actual identity formers : racialization, social class divisions, gender, sexual orientation.

What constitutes a great tacher ?
They should assume the identity, learn from their students and the proces, and also take part in the learning proces.


Why decontextualised learning  could be useful :
Vygotsky believed that “the ideal of knowledge is not only universal but abstract and decontextualised” (Piaget, &Vygotsky) It is when the person can transfer the newly learned skill to a different context, which may require abstract thought, that learning has become “decontextualised.” The skills and knowledge initially gained as a result of learning being scaffolded are an example of intermental learning, whereas, when the individual internalises the learning and can generalise and therefore decontextualise the learning they have accomplished intramental learning.

Being creative is an asset that many jobs require. This is a training that can do great with abstraction and can even flourish better with practices that are totally outside of the work to be fulfilled.

The countered assumption that apprenticeship can’t produce new creativity and knowledge is not sufficient supported. The knowledge that is learned from a direct consequence of the job is not entirely new knowledge.

For me, in my experience as a student, the social collaboration of students in classrooms is evident and much more wide and visible than in the example of the US students.

Social identification, power relations, interpersonal struggles, and other non-academic processes take place at the same time as academic activities in the classroom (e.g., Cazden, John, & Hymes, 1972; Luke & Freebody, 1997; Mehan, Villanueva, Hubbard, Lintz, & Okamoto, 1996; Varenne & McDermott, 1998)

Predisposition or talent for some manner of learning is more important than finding a universal method of teaching. Again the student is the main object here.

In what way does social pratice relate to social learning online and to social media ?

Reflections in own job

In my own experience in teaching elderly students informatics, they really ask for instruction based learning, often not seeing a greater whole.

In the web designer course i stimulate unofficial group work and teaching each other. Questions about websites that the students have found and are curious about how they work are treated as a group exercise in probing the underlaying principles.

Computer programming languages are usually learned as an abstract language first. This understanding can be transfered to different actual languages.

Connecting critical reading 1 and 2

Students should be able to take part and determine what and how they learn/teach in a social practice (co-design)

The identity people take on is part of the learning proces (identity).

Social interactions between people are strategies on learning (skills as strategies).

The two examples in the article have a very clear and – most important – a limited set of educational source material.
If i would project this on my webdesign students, the resources would be found on the internet and would be plenty. But it’s not so evident to find the right information with adequate significance. (Well-ordered Problems)
Yet this in itself could be a part of the learning process.

Abstraction can create a fish tank / sandbox environment to experiment in.