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Learning through digitallyaugmented physical experiences Partners: Sussex, Bristol, Notts, Southampt

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Title: Learning through digitallyaugmented physical experiences Partners: Sussex, Bristol, Notts, Southampt


1
Learning through digitally-augmented physical
experiencesPartners Sussex, Bristol, Notts,
Southampton, RCA
Reflections on the Ambient wood project
2
Overview
  • Learning challenges
  • Design challenges
  • Technical challenges
  • Lessons learned

3
Learning challenges
  • Move beyond classroom - conventional PC-based,
    curriculum-bound learning
  • Support playful, collaborative learning
  • Create provocative learning experiences outdoors
  • Get children to take part in scientific enquiry,
    through discovering, reflecting and
    experimenting

4
From Snark to Park
  • Snark project was concerned with creating novel
    playful experiences in the lab
  • Highly exploratory, experimenting with new
    concepts, technologies and infrastructures
  • Ambient wood project much more ambitious
  • Technical challenges
  • Conceptual ideas
  • Complexity of design
  • Collaboration with partners
  • Working outdoors

5
Overview of Ambient Wood
  • Created a field trip with a difference
  • Groups of children had to discover, hypothesize
    and experiment
  • with the physical processes occurring in a wood
    (what, where, when and why do certain organisms
    lives in different habitats)
  • The wood is naturally filled with living and
    inanimate things, but also augmented with digital
    representations
  • A variety of devices and multi-modal displays
    were used to trigger, track and present the
    added digital information
  • some triggered by childrens exploratory
    movements
  • others collected by the children using mobile
    devices
  • others were inconspicuously tracked over time
    using GPRS

6
Scientific enquiry
  • To provoke the children to wonder, reflect and
    synthesize, by
  • Discovering information about the wood for
    themselves and re-representing this in different
    modalities
  • Experimenting with and hypothesizing about
    different physical states of the wood
  • Collaborating with different people in different
    settings (remote, local, peer, adult facilitator)
  • Very different from conventional field trip model
  • Field trip - task-driven with clear set of
    goals, and checklist mentality
  • Ambient wood - Unknown, unexpected,
    discovery-based learning experience

7
Design challenges
  • What kinds of physical-digital couplings could we
    create that are novel and provocative?
  • What kinds of learning experiences could we
    design that enable the children to
  • Reflect upon the different kinds of information
    and representations they encounter
  • What design aesthetics are important and how can
    we design for them?

8
Designing the learning experience
  • Three distinct stages
  • Exploring and discovering
  • Reporting back, consolidating and hypothesizing
  • Experimenting and reflecting
  • Each stage was supported with different
    physical-digital couplings
  • enable aspects of the world to be perceived that
    are not normally possible using conventional
    technologies
  • enable integration of knowledge across
    experiences not normally encountered

9
Stage 1 - exploring and discovering
  • Purpose of physical-digital couplings is to
    reveal
  • Making the invisible visible
  • Bringing the far to the near
  • Seeing the past and future in the present
  • Devices and displays used for this augmentation
  • 1. Probing devices to collect readings of
    moisture and light
  • 2. PDAs and wireless speakers to provide
    context-relevant information
  • 3. A periscope device showing information related
    to part of woodland over time
  • 4. Software visualisations showing readings
    collected over time

10
1. Probing device
  • Combined probing tool and PDA display used by
    pairs of children
  • Instant feedback showing relative levels of
    moisture and light
  • Mobile handheld devices children are in control
    of and understand purpose

11
Reading the digital outcome of probing
High light level reading

Medium moisture level reading
12
Collaborative scientific enquiry
  • Blue Prods ground with probe
  • White Looks at PDA screen and says Yer, its
    much higher
  • Blue Oh right, so its much wetter
  • Blue ltwalking over to treegtShall we try a leaf?
  • White ltturns aroundgt Do it, do it here again. To
    see if it is different
  • Blue turns back and prods where White wants.
  • WhiteThats exactly the same
  • Blue Oh right. Thats because they are the same
    kind.
  • White Yer.
  • Blue turns back to tree and White follows, How
    about we try a dry leaf?

13
Collaborative scientific enquiry
  • Blue Prods ground with probe
  • White Looks at PDA screen and says Yer, its
    much higher
  • Blue Oh, right so its much wetter
  • Blue ltwalking over to treegtShall we try a leaf?
  • White ltturns aroundgt Do it, do it here again. To
    see if it is different
  • Blue turns back and prods where White wants.
  • WhiteThats exactly the same
  • Blue Oh right. Thats because they are the same
    kind.
  • White Yer.
  • Blue turns back to tree and White follows, How
    about we try a dry leaf?
  • Blue experimenting
  • White Confirming hypothesis
  • Blue Makes deduction, based on premise
  • Blue and White generate different hypotheses
    simulataneously
  • Blue delays her hypothesis in support of working
    with White
  • Blue tests, White confirms, Blue explains reason,
    White approves
  • Blue then has her turn to test her alternative
    hypothesis

14
Probing in action
  • Probing devicePDA enables pairs of children to
    predict moisture and light levels for different
    parts of the wood
  • Self-initiated, creative and pleasurable learning
    activity
  • Shows much collaborative and reflective
    hypothesizing and testing
  • Often try out extremes (e.g. wettest, lightest
    area)
  • Explain their reasoning to each other
    spontaneously
  • Tight physical-digital coupling - feedback
    immediate and obvious in response to action

15
2. Pervasive digital information
  • Sounds and images, representing processes in
    wood, appear via speakers and on PDA, as children
    walk past pingers (carefully hidden in plastic
    cups)
  • These represent aspects of the habitat and their
    interdependencies
  • e.g. butterfly sipping nectar
  • Pervasive physical-digital coupling, depending on
    childrens movements

Southampton design
16
Pinged information
  • Receiving pinged information is largely a passive
    activity
  • Made more interactive with remote facilitator
    asking questions about the pinged information
    over walkie-talkie (and also local facilitator
    joining in)

17
Childrens response to pinged information
  • Surprise and pleasure at receiving digital
    information on PDA screen (image plus voice-over)
  • A Reads the info received on the PDA aloud (the
    Chiff Chaff lives here from March to September
    and then it migrates)
  • B Relays this information to remote facilitator
  • A shows and relays same information to local
    facilitator
  • Facilitator responds by asking them what else
    found and a direct question relating to it

18
Pinging in action
  • Delivers context relevant information about
    habitat
  • Evidence that pinged information primes the
    children to discover actual examples in the
    physical wood
  • Provides element of surprise but can be
    distracting
  • Children are not in control of where and when
    pinged information arrives
  • Much looser physical-digital coupling (cf probing
    for information)
  • Tendency to use PDA as if it was a metal detector

19
3. The periscope - a design challenge
  • Designed a stand-alone information, navigation
    device
  • 6.5 flat screen TV mounted on an adjustable
    tubular steel stem
  • Shows a panorama of wood
  • Navigates via handle bars, potentiometers from
    USB joystick connected to laptop
  • Crosswires aim at thumbnail images, video
    material shows future and past in context of
    wooded area (e.g. life cycle of blue-bells)
  • Additional information is accessed through tagged
    objects on petri dish (RFID tag reader)

20
The design aesthetic
  • Design a high-tech organic hybrid form, with
    branches of petri-dishes coming from metal stem
  • Periscope was conceived of as a portal into the
    woods hidden life
  • The design was to be a pervasive part of the
    wood, became physically present piece of
    unfamiliar technology
  • Studies showed children fascinated by advanced
    technology, so capitalized on this

21
Childrens initial response to periscope
  • Children found the periscope when exploring the
    wood
  • Very wary at first but totally intrigued by it
  • Able to readily discover how to interact with it
    without any intervention or instructions
  • Provided information about the invisible that was
    readily understood

22
Assumptions about technology where the virtual
becomes real
  • Both children look at panorama
  • One moves to back to see if the other boy can see
    him through the periscope camera
  • Perception of the virtual becomes real

23
Technical Challenges
  • Tracking
  • GPS, augmented with Pingers, conflict on airspace
  • Collated information for dead reckoning, still
    under analysis
  • Networking
  • 802.11 networks plus moisture equals trouble
  • Used two laptops to relay 802.11 traffic, one in
    a tree (line of sight)
  • Batteries
  • 3 laptops, receivers for remote mikes, periscope,
    and nowhere to charge a box-full of batteries

24
Nowhere to fix anything
25
Stage 2Integrating, comparing and hypothesizing
  • Pairs of children came together and shared
    experiences in den
  • Unaware that their probe readings had been
    tracked
  • Fascinated by visualization of both sets of data
    on birds-eye view of areas of wood visited
  • Engrossed in predicting each of their readings
    before interacting with data

26
Stage 3 Experimenting and reflecting
  • Return to the periscope with tagged objects
  • Had to predict what would happen if x and/or y
    were added to habitat (e.g. spider and/or fungus)
  • Then able to see different outcomes on screen
  • Also further probing in same habitat, but which
    they had to imagine had been flooded (given
    fixed readings)
  • Had to predict and explain why got different
    readings than before

27
Main findings
  • Beyond the classroom and checklist
  • Sense of wonderment and awe brought back into
    learning
  • Novelty provoked thought
  • Fascination with novel technologies, both
    pervasive and highly visible
  • Scientific enquiry in the wild worked
  • Children spent a lot of time spontaneously
    hypothesizing, experimenting, confirming and
    explaining
  • Collaboration very evident
  • Highly enthusiastic, excited, comfortable with
    talking to each other and facilitators

28
Lessons learned
  • Type of physical-digital coupling
  • Tight couplings in the field most effective for
    discovery activities
  • Loose couplings less obvious as to how they
    relate
  • Integrated couplings over time and space
    effective for reflection
  • Mode of delivery of augmented digital content
  • Visuals were more effective at getting childrens
    attention
  • Realistic sounds often went unnoticed, as did
    genuine sounds
  • Normally inaudible sounds when amplified were
    considered believable once explained
  • Device versus no device makes for believability

29
Digital delivery - Pinging versus probing?
  • Pinged information provides element of surprise
    and can be context-relevant but timing critical
    as can be ignored or missed
  • Probing entails more active involvement and
    better integration with on-going scientific
    activity
  • Immediate feedback from probing is well received
    together with opportunity later to consolidate
    and reflect upon data collected

30
Outcomes
  • Developed new conceptual framework for analysing
    and designing collaborative learning
  • Insight into how to design physical-digital
    couplings that provoke reflection
  • Understanding of the design aesthetic involved in
    creating novel experiences for children of
    certain age (genre effects)
  • Developing new devices for tracking and
    communication outdoors (augmenting 802.11 and GPS)
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