Assignment 12, Phong

1. what do you consider the main argument of the article? The fundamental challenge that HCI faces is to create computational systems that help people to actively learn from and engage with their environment by enabling them to (1) where appropriate, be designers rather than consumers and (2) take advantage of learning through group collaboration. To be successful these systems must be architected as open systems that allow easy extendibility by users and provide high perceived value relative to the effort needed to learn and contribute to the system. Finally, these systems do must be integrated with a social context that prizes public contributions.

2. do you agree or disagree with the main argument? give a answer based on your own experiences? Yes I agree with the main argument. I'm much happier when given an opportunity to tailor an educational program (e.g. a computer science undergraduate program requirements) or computer program (e.g. a computer desktop appearance) to my own needs and taste. In addition, I'm more motivated to tailor a program if the perceived benefit of customization is greater than the cost. And specifically I would prefers that applications provide an option to act as a consumer, especially when I'm a novice user, but provide a smooth migration path to a power-user. But fundamentally I would agree that applications / systems function in a social context and they need to be designed and constructed to function within that social system. Indeed, it is the changing conception of learning that drives the emergence of meta-design.

3. enumerate in which situations

3.1. you acted as a designer/active contributor. I have used the Macintosh operating system for a few years now and I'm just getting to the point of customizing the systemm to my own taste and work habit by exploiting user preferences and third party additions to change the system's capabilities.

3.2. you acted as a (passive) consumer. In certain computer science classes I have acted more as a passive consumer of information rather than active participants (in the way that I approached the material) mainly because at that time I thought that the topic had little relevance to my own personal learning goal.

3.3. situations in which you believe you should have acted differently. There are times that I wished that I had put more effort toward learning in certain classes or project. But most of those cases I made a conscious choice to be a consumer rather than an active engaged participants. In rare cases, I wanted to be more engaged but felt that the group dynamic was a bigger challenge than I could tackle at that time. So there are time that I wished that I had acted differently but the perceived value/effort ratio was too high.

An exercise in learning for understanding — pick one of the following problems and try to solve it

3. How Old are the Children

3.1. A person visits a family with 3 children and would like to know the ages of the children. The mother tells the visitor: “Their ages multiplied with each other is 36. Their age added is equal to the number on the house.” The visitor goes in front of the house and looks at the number (and she knows now the number). She comes back and says: “I still do not know the age of the children.” The mother then tells her: “The oldest son plays the piano”. Now the visitor knew the age of the children.

3.2. Question: How old are the children? (note: the ages of all children are integers!)

answer briefly the following questions:

1. describe your solution (if you found one) or why you were unable to find one? The children ages are 6, 6, and 1 years old. I started the problem by listing the different combination of ages that would multiply to 36 and also added their them together. The combinations and their sum are: 36/1/1 = 38, 18/2/1= 21, 6/3/2=11, 9/4/1=14, 9/2/2=13, 12/3/1=16, 4/3/3=10, and 6/6/1=13. Since there are two possible combinations that add to 13 it became clearer to me why the visitor could not tell the ages of the children. So the children must either be 9, 2, and 2 or 6, 6, and 1 year old. But at this point which is correct depends on the interpretation of the statement about the oldest son being able to play the piano. The oldest son statement could fit either of these two choices. So I am able to narrow the solution field but can't provide a definitive answer without further contextual info.

2. what did you learn solving (or thinking about) the problem? That we bring tacit information and assumption to problem solving. And that we may notice clues that we don't verbally articulate.

3. what kind of knowledge was most important for solving the problem? Formal algebraic skills, language comprehension, and cultural assumptions.

4. are (or would be) computers helpful in solving these problems? To the extent that it can programmed to factor a number, yes. But not so much in situations like these unless the computer has been explicitly programmed to tease out these assumptions.