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hw12-westdb: Summary & Analysis

Briefly discuss the following issues:

1. what do you consider the main argument of the article?

The main argument of the article was, by consensus, understood to be that users should participate as active producers. People also understood the article to say that technology should be open and should apply the principles of meta-design and the SER model. People also stated that the social context plays an important role in this, and that there should be more multidisiplinary interaction between social groups in a social context that prizes public collaboration. Finally the importance of learning was addressed, as well as the idea that users get more out of a system that they create as opposed to a system that they passively consume as couch potatoes.

2. do you agree or disagree with the main argument? give a answer based on your own experiences?

The complete consensus was that people agreed with the main argument. They agreed for these reasons:
  • The success of open source projects like Firefox
  • The effect of an active role in education on future learning experiences
  • The benefit meta-design would have afforded in a consulting situation
  • The idea that nothing can replace real learning from real experience
  • The idea that classes that involve a great deal of participation are the most effective
  • Greater satisfaction from producing and listening to music one makes him or herself
  • From personal experiences with using self constructed objects designed to custom specifications
  • Based on the idea that tayloring programs to one's own needs can be very beneficial
  • The idea that it would be better for the end users.

Finally, there was one person who agreed, but with a word of caution. She said that it may be hard to strike an appropriate balance between a society of generalists and a society of specialists.

3. enumerate in which situations

3.1. you acted as a designer/active contributor

People acted as active contributors in a number of ways:
  • By teaching
  • By Building their own computers
  • By composing music
  • By participating in the EDC project
  • By participating in this swiki
  • By developing robots for urban speech and rescue projects
  • By producing websites
  • By creating messaging systems
  • By modifying the Macintosh operating system
  • By designing a 3d rendering engine

3.2. you acted as a (passive) consumer

People acted passively by

  • Using a laptop created by someone else
  • Passively consuming information given to them in computer science classes
  • Watching television, watching movies, or reading someone else's work
  • Using i-Pods to listen to music
  • Enjoying professional sports
  • Not participating very much in High School classes

3.3. situations in which you believe you should have acted differently

People regretted
  • Not participating in High School
  • Being a passive traveller (following a guidebook)
  • Not complaining about lousy service
  • Not helping to shape their curricula
  • Not participating in extr-curricular groups or events
  • Passively accepting errors in projects or bad 'work-arounds'
  • Not fully engaging in schoolwork
  • Being shy, not contributing to the social atmosphere of a school. Both in class and out of class

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

1. Will the Flight Time Change?

1.1. An airplane is flying from Denver to Frankfurt and back (round trip) with its own average speed of 500 miles/hour (for all trips). On its first trip, there is a no wind in both directions. On its second trip, going from Denver to Frankfurt, there is a tale wind of 100 miles/hour. Returning from Frankfurt to Denver, there is a head wind of 100 miles/hour.

1.2. Question: will the flight time be the same or different (if different: shorter or longer for the trip with wind)?

2. The Rope around the Earth

2.1. There is a steel ring around the earth at the equator touching the (flat) earth everywhere. We extend the steel ring by 1 yard in length and form a concentric circle around the earth (i.e., the distance between earth and steel ring is the same everywhere.

2.2. Question: Will a small cat be able to sneak through between the earth and the steel ring?

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?

There were varying solutions for each of the different problems.

2. what did you learn solving (or thinking about) the problem?

Some people said they learned nothing but useless facts. Others said they learned that there are key moments or breakthroughs in solving problems, that solutions can be counter-intuitive or that problems sometimes have insufficient specifications.

3. what kind of knowledge was most important for solving the problem?

Many people listed specifics.

Others said these particular kinds of knowledge were important:
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Situational knowledge
  • Named Specifics
  • Language comprehension
  • Cultural assumptions

4. are (or would be) computers helpful in solving these problems?

Most people said computers would be useful, a few said maybe, and one said no.

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