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Nathan Balasubramanian's Response to Assignment 3

Read the article

Arias, E. G., Eden, H., Fischer, G., Gorman, A., & Scharff, E. (2000) "Transcending the Individual Human Mind—Creating Shared Understanding through Collaborative Design," ACM Transactions on Computer Human-Interaction, 7(1), pp. 84-113. available at

Briefly discuss the following issues for the paper that you have read:

1.1 What did you find interesting about the article?

What I found interesting about the article was a clear articulation of the need to transcend the limits of bounded rationality, an idea proposed by Simon – a Renaissance man himself and pioneer of the HCI movement. Also, empowering stakeholders throughout the design process; recording the design process and design rationale; and integrating assessment throughout the design and practice stages were noteworthy.

1.2 What did you find not interesting about the article?

I struggled when I sought to extend the EDC framework to learning and K-12 education. Yet, the issues related to the overall challenge of creating “new forms of citizen participation,” and the two illustrative examples described (pp. 6-7) have an uncanny resemblance to the overall educational goals of developing active, informed, lifelong learners. Looking at Figure 11, I wondered, how might we motivate learners and stakeholders to become invested in what they do? Rewarding them per Grudin’s recommendations (p. 8) appeared to be one option advocated in this article.

2. What do you consider the main message of the article?

I think the main message of the article is the call for a paradigm shift in future HCI research - to understand the human, social, and cultural elements in HCI and not be confined to computer-centered approaches. And it is this vision that has guided EDC’s efforts towards discovering, framing, and resolving problems.

3. Are themes discussed in the article which you would like to know more about?

The idea of “symmetry” of ignorance piqued my interest.

4. What did you find interesting about the “EDC” system?

What I found interesting about the EDC system was the importance of simulations and physical games in the action space. Although I am not very familiar with AgentSheets, I wondered if the underlying substrates might limit “EDC as an Open System.”

5. Do you know of other papers, ideas, and systems which are closely related to the article and the “EDC” system?

The gaming ideas are similar to playing with SimCity and it might be interesting to compare EDC’s efforts with playing with Sims. The evolutionary nature of EDC however, makes it value-added. At any rate, to cope with the shortcomings elaborated on in response to Q 1.2 in Assignment 2, I have been trying to conceptualize an innovative methods of teaching and learning science and engineering through inquiry (illustrated as a “STRONG” model in the figure below), combining both computational and physical environments, to foster greater intentionality during learning.


6. What do the article and the associated system say about

6.1. Design

That the knowledge bases should not only include knowledge about the design process but also “knowledge about the artifacts of that process.” Besides, design problems being wicked problems by their very nature will be best served when they are approached for resolutions rather than cast iron solutions.

6.2. Learning

Learning is better viewed as collaborative knowledge construction between teacher and learner rather than one acting as an all-knower and the other a mere receiver. Also breakdowns, can catalyze learning through reflection, purposeful exploration, and just-in-time on-demand pointers/supports.

6.3. Collaboration

Open systems are essential components of supportive collaborative designs. The multiple perspectives that various stakeholders bring might help “uncover tacit aspects of problems” (p. 5).

6.4. Innovative media to support these activities?

The use of simulations through “what-if” games and scenarios would not only provide greater interactivity but also promote greater ownership and understanding.

7. Do you have any ideas how this research could / should be extended (based on your own knowledge and experience)?

As an educator, I am fascinated when such research promises better understanding of complexities of teaching and learning.

Nathan Balasubramanian

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