Monday, February 10, 2003

I'm exploring some of the things I learned about "task-centered system design" from last week's talk by Dr. Saul Greenberg at the UofC. Tasks form the basis for "getting the job done." I love working with participants in SMART Master's sessions for the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard and discovering more about how our customers would like to use our products. We've been developing asynchronous problem- and task-based on-line activities for a while. We are now working on curricula for on-line delivery to customers.

It's already been proven that the BridgitTM format works (Damo -- good on ya mate!) and we look forward to leveraging our Australian friend's good work for the benefit of our customers. I see an introductory and follow-up role for the on-line sessions, in support of SMART Master's Event and On-site sessions.

We'll be able to introduce customers to system overviews and make sure we're all "speaking the same language" at the beginning of face-to-face (F2F) sessions. On-line "pre" sessions also mean we'll be able to dialog with "learners" about how they now use their SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard, assess their learning needs and suggest resources they might consider prior to the session. Follow-up sessions will allow us to make sure that any remaining questions and, I hope, go some way to growing a community for sharing and building knowledge about and with technology.

Regular readers of this page will know that I've long been a fan of Dr. David Wiley's "on-line self-organizing social systems" (OSOSS) and have been exploring the topic for a year or so. I've also wondered about the dynamic of having a group of individuals around an interactive whiteboard and they might be able to interact with other "remote" or "on-line" groups; so, I asked Dr. Greenberg what he thought and his response was something along the lines of "forget about the on-line part and focus on the 'social' part," or words to that effect.

How do groups of individuals share displays and input/output devices?

For instance imagine for a moment that you and three others are gathered around a letter-sized notebook with some "data" on the page, as the notebook lies on the desk in front of you. What issues are associated with the orientation of the page itself. How do you interact with the "data" when it is upside-down versus right-side-up? At 90 degrees left or right? What difference does it make?

What are the issues associated with horizontal versus upright displays. How do people interact with displays that are horizontal versus those that vertical? In my course at OISE/UT we've had some discussions about how different media (e.g., screen vs print) are interpreted by our brains, when it comes to output. I'm convinced that it makes a difference and am interested in learning more about both sides of the I/O equation.

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