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Assignment 14: User Modeling, Learning on Demand, and HFAs

source: Fischer, G. (2001) "User Modeling in Human-Computer Interaction," User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction (UMUAI), Kluwer Academic Publishers, 11(2), pp. 65-86.

Briefly discuss the following issues:

1. what did you find
1.1. interesting about the article?
1.2. not interesting about the article?
I think the most challenging concept is the idea of "writing software for millions of users while making it work as if it were designed for each individual user". How do you do this? Just like teaching, how can you design a course, a lesson, etc for a whole class or multiple classes while understanding, remembering, and accommodating for the unique needs of each individual student you encounter. It is quite a challenge. I am still learning a lot about language within the computer science realm and so several times, I had to go back and look at what HCI and HFA mean which isn't too interesting.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?
I think the ultimate message is directed for designers of user modeling to truly keep in the forefront of their minds, both the general user and particular users of their sytem and how they can effectively interact with the technology designers are attempting to create without knowing every situation for every user who might encounter the system.

3. to which other previous articles / discussion topics of the course is this article related?
It reminded me of the article we read about critics in design environments such as the kitchen design system we read about and saw a video on. I think it is also related to the excerpt from How People Learn and is a powerful reminder to designers to remember their users/codesigners.

4. choose MS-Word (or another HFA) as an example:
4.1. how much (in percent) of the functionality of the HFA do you know?
4.2. how do you learn new functionality?
4.3. for MS-Word users: is there a command in MS-Word which “transposes two characters” (e.g., “leanr” becomes “learn” by positioning the cursor between n and r and executing the command)?
I think I know about 50% of MS-Word. I typically learn new functionalities from other people by either seeing them do something and then asking them about it or by them telling me about something they figured out how to do. I didn't know how you could transpose two characters. I know that my version of Word automatically corrects a lot of words, but I discovered also that putting the cursor on a word and pressing F7 takes you to the spell checker or right clicking on a word will take you to multiple spellings of the word.

5. what have YOU learnt “on demand” in YOUR life? Briefly describe the most prominent example.
I have learned a lot "on demand" as a teacher, as a student on Outward Bound trips, and especially moving to a new city. I think moving to a new city, like when I moved here a year and a half ago and I had to find my way not only around campus, but around Boulder, Louisville, etc. I had to find places for everything I needed to places for entertainment. I had to learn about the culture of the city as well as the school. It is amazing to learn a new area and to discover things usually slowly about the area and about the people who live there.

6. what do people have to know to be able to learn on demand?
They have to know what they want or need to know and what resources or tools they have available to them for their learning experience.

7. why should one “learn on demand” instead of relying on “use on demand”?
Using something does not necessarily mean that you understand what you are doing while learning implies some sense of understanding which then offers the potential for one to transfer that learning to new situations and to adapt and use the knowledge whenever and wherever they want to.

8. which computer systems have you encountered which
8.1. have a User Modeling Component?
8.2. support learning on demand?
MS Word has a user modeling component; articles published on the Internet support using on demand by being able to access definitions of keywords or access references in or to the article

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