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Beyond Rationality: Affective and Motional Effects on External Representations In Seamless Learning

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Beyond Rationality: Affective and Motional Effects on External Representations In Seamless Learning
  Kong, S.C., Ogata, H., Arnseth, H.C., Chan, C.K.K., Hirashima, T., Klett, F., Lee, J.H.M., Liu, C.C., Looi, C.K., Milrad, M., Mitrovic,A., Nakabayashi, K., Wong, S.L., Yang, S.J.H. (eds.) (2009).  Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Computers in Education [CDROM] . Hong Kong: Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education. 564 Beyond Rationality: Affective and motionalEffects on External Representations inSeamless Learning Nuno OTERO a , Marcelo MILRAD b , António J. SANTOS c , Manuela VERÍSSIMO c ,Nuno TORRES c a  Department of Information Systems, University of Minho, Portugal  b  Department of Computer Science, Växjö University, Sweden c UIPCDE, Institute of Applied Psychology (ISPA), Portugal Abstract: In this paper, we re-visit different theoretical and conceptual issues that have been influencing the design of educational technology artifacts. In particular, we take intoconsideration recent perspectives in cognitive science that acknowledge the importanteffects of external representations in learning and discuss the challenges regarding theapplicability of these ideas in connection to seamless learning environments. Extending the previous work revised here, the current paper suggests that in order to further understandthe nature of learning in these novel contexts, research needs to investigate howsocio-affective factors come to the fore and influence the co-construction and use of external representations “in the wild”. Keywords: External representations, collaborative learning, seamless learning, ubiquitoussystems, affects, emotions, group dynamics 1. Introduction The design of educational technologies has been informed by a wide range of distincttheoretical approaches (Spikol & Milrad, 2008). The recent use and integration of one-to-one computer-to-learner models of technology access with wireless mobilecomputing has provided important new ways to integrate indoor and outdoor learningexperiences (Rogers & Price, 2009).Chan and colleagues (2006) have proposed to use the term “seamless learning” for activities marked by a continuity of learning experiences across different learning contexts.Seamless learning implies that students can learn whenever they are curious in a variety of situations and that they can switch from one scenario to another easily and quickly usingtheir personal mobile device as a mediator. These scenarios may include learningindividually, with another student, a small group, or a large online community, with possible involvement of teachers, relatives, experts and members of other supportivecommunities, face-to-face or in different modes of interaction and at a distance in placessuch as classroom, outdoors, parks and museums. These contexts comprised of configurations of activities, material resources, and relationships that are found inco-located physical or virtual spaces, provide novel opportunities for supporting learning.Mobile devices and applications play an important part in seamless learningscenarios. This new type of collaborative tools can potentially emphasize the role that body and experience play in learning processes, providing continuity between learningexperiences, as well as enabling learners to make connections between what they areobserving, collecting and accessing, and thinking about over time, place and people(Rogers & Price, 2009). In fact, one important characteristic of seamless learning is the potential to facilitate the establishment of connections between concrete and hands-on  Kong, S.C., Ogata, H., Arnseth, H.C., Chan, C.K.K., Hirashima, T., Klett, F., Lee, J.H.M., Liu, C.C., Looi, C.K., Milrad, M., Mitrovic,A., Nakabayashi, K., Wong, S.L., Yang, S.J.H. (eds.) (2009).  Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Computers in Education [CDROM] . Hong Kong: Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education. 565 experiences, formalisms, symbolic representations and semantic concepts across differentlearning situations outside and inside the classroom (Spikol & Milrad, 2008; Sharples etal., 2009). From this perspective, learners are given the opportunity to collaborate andinteractive in new ways within their peers and the physical world, as well as the physicalworld can be augmented through the use of digital technologies. Different learningactivities and digital materials should then be designed in order to promote collaborativeactivities in authentic situations including collecting data, solving problems and creatingrich digital content outside the boundaries of the school classroom.However, the design of efficient representations for computational artifacts tosupport the learning is, on itself, a challenge. From a Cognitive Science point of view,external representations (ERs) can be defined as structure and knowledge in the world,like physical symbols, objects and dimensions, external rules, constraints for action or embedded relations in physical configurations (Zhang, 1997). Several studies focused onthe role ERs (static versus interactive diagrams, animations, virtual environments) can play in learning activities (see, for example, Ainsworth, Wood, and O'Malley, 1998;Arcavi, 2003; Hegarty, 2004; Lowe, 2004). But demonstrating the effects and details of the complex interactions between ERs and learning activities has been elusive (see for example, Tversky et al., (2002), where the authors review the literature on the use of animation for learning, and argue that not enough evidence has been produced to clearlyestablish the putative benefits of animation over static diagrams). More research is neededin order to find appropriate conceptual frameworks that enable design validation and, atthe same time, facilitate efficient collaboration between theory and practice within thedesign of educational technologies.In addition, the design of technological tools and digital media to supportcollaboration and communication in seamless learning environments is challenging notonly because the learners may be separated by time and space, but also because they may be also not sharing the same learning physical context and representations. Establishingcommon ground and mutual understanding, two important ingredients for collaborativelearning, become key points.In this paper, we explore how socio-affective issues present “in the wild” might havean effect on use and co-construction of external representations. These ideas are exploredconsidering seamless learning scenarios. The next section describes some conceptualaspects related to external representations and the possible influence affective andemotional factors may have in ERs use and co-construction. Section three presents somechallenges facing the design of computational tools to support seamless learning,emphasizing the need to acknowledge the possible effects of different types of externalrepresentations and the rich socio-affective dynamics in which the learning activities areembedded. 2. Background Vygotsky (1978) argued for the socio-cultural srcins of cognitive development. From his perspective, children's cognitive experience is socially rooted because it occurs first in aninterpersonal context and only later becomes integrated on a personal psychological plane.The collaborative use, mentoring, and sharing of external objects in groups can beseen as partially determined by the social competence of the actors (children, adolescentsor adults), in the sense that social competence mediates conflicts between individuals andits successful resolution. Operational models for developmental research of socialcompetence have defined it as a broad-band of correlated emotional, cognitive and behavioral attributes that result in the readiness to respond to the complex constraints andopportunities afforded by social situations, and adequately balancing the goals of the self   Kong, S.C., Ogata, H., Arnseth, H.C., Chan, C.K.K., Hirashima, T., Klett, F., Lee, J.H.M., Liu, C.C., Looi, C.K., Milrad, M., Mitrovic,A., Nakabayashi, K., Wong, S.L., Yang, S.J.H. (eds.) (2009).  Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Computers in Education [CDROM] . Hong Kong: Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education. 566 and others (Waters & Sroufe, 1983; Bost et al., 1998). Jones & Issroff (2005) also stressthis point by suggesting that research on collaborative learning and educationaltechnologies needs to take into account the interaction between cognitive, social andaffective/emotional factors.External representations can be seen as environmental resources of a specific context.For example, its use can be addressed also in the perspective of strategies for resourcecontrol and social domination in groups of children; such as aggressive behaviour strategy(monopolising, threatening, assaulting), and prosocial behaviour strategy (reciprocation,alliance formation, cooperation) (Hawley, 2002; Vaughn & Santos, 2008). Healey et al.,(2002) strongly suggest that group interactions influence the creation and interpretation of ERs. Considering that the co-construction of learning involves social negotiation,collaborative sense making, mentoring and joint knowledge construction (Borthick et al.,2003; Zhu, 1998), peer interaction becomes crucial. Peer interaction sets up circumstancesin which actors bring together different perspectives to resolve conflicts and members of agroup are actively involved in elaboration and critical evaluation of each other'scontributions (Vygotsky; 1978, 1986; Piaget, 1977; Hausmann, Chi and Roy, 2004).Seamless learning will probably need to take into account the factors just described.Socio-affective issues shape collaborative learning activities and interact with the use andco-construction of the ERs. In the next section, we will try to identify a set of designchallenges for seamless learning, bringing together the conceptual issues covered and our  perspective on possible seamless learning scenarios. 3 Challenges for seamless learning scenarios We assume that mobile and ubiquitous technologies seem to be particularly suited for supporting embodied learning activities in diverse physical and social contexts and promote seamless learning experiences. Mobile learning tools will enhance learningexperiences “on the move” fostering learning outside constrained environments of classroom teaching and facilitate continuity across learning experiences and contexts(Sharples et al., 2009). Furthermore, Rogers & Price (2009) suggest the following threemain benefits of utilizing mobile tools for learning: using mobile devices in the “wild” canfoster learners’ motivation and engagement; these tools might increase children’s participation in the on-going learning activities and develop social and cognitive processes; mobile tools increase children exposure to different forms of information flowand management. However, in their paper, Rogers & Price (2009) also highlight threemain challenges as described below: •   Avoiding information overload: When to bring critical information to the learner’s attention? How to facilitate the integration of information from multiple sources, contexts or even dispersed in time? How to encourage meaningful collection of information (grounded in thechildren’s experiences) and support relevant abstractions (giving the “big  picture”)? •   Avoiding children being distracted by the devices per se:  How should the learning activities be designed in order to minimize the risk of  focusing the children’s attention in the novelty of the device? How to design the activity in order to take into account the children’s own pace of reflection? The devices should not be constantly demanding attention and distract  from content.  Kong, S.C., Ogata, H., Arnseth, H.C., Chan, C.K.K., Hirashima, T., Klett, F., Lee, J.H.M., Liu, C.C., Looi, C.K., Milrad, M., Mitrovic,A., Nakabayashi, K., Wong, S.L., Yang, S.J.H. (eds.) (2009).  Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Computers in Education [CDROM] . Hong Kong: Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education. 567 •   Understand how to constraint the learning experience in order to encouragecollaboration in naturally open social contexts:  How to design the learning activity so that it reflects some kind of strategy for device sharing and structuring of distinct children’s roles in order to encouragecollaboration and all socio-cognitive processes associated with it? In addition to the challenges identified by Rogers and Price (2009), we would like tostress the importance of understanding how socio-affective processes may have an effecton collaborative learning situations that take place in seamless learning scenarios. We believe that the very own nature of seamless learning makes socio-affective processesmore prominent since different physical and social constraints occur across distinctcontexts, at different times. Moreover, learners, teachers and learning facilitators will probably have to engage in complex social interactions using a variety of tools/artifacts inorder to find common ground and foster learning activities. In order to take full advantageof the benefits of seamless learning these aspects need to be better understood so better supporting tools/artifacts can be devised. The envisioned research questions we intend toinitially pursue to kick-start this line of investigation are the following: •   How do friendship relationships affect the collaborative process, use andco-construction of ERs? Will these possible effects have an impact on thelearning? How? What mechanisms can be implemented to facilitate the learning? •   Is it possible that the groups' socio-affective dynamics influences the perceptionof the group members’ cognitive abilities? If yes, then it is also plausible thatsuch phenomena might have an effect on how the group chooses the type andexplicitness of the ERs. How can computational artifacts trace such issues andfacilitate group management? •   Different levels of affinity might lead to distinct strategies of group co-ordinationand collaboration. To what extent is it possible to create artifacts (andcorresponding supporting ERs) that encourage participation and maintainknowledge coherence? •   The type of ER and its corresponding levels of explicitness and ambiguity that agroup chooses for a certain problem/task might reflect the dynamics of thesocio-affective factors. For example, will a group tend to “cover” divergentopinions regarding the solution to a problem by constructing less explicit ERs?Summarizing, seamless learning takes advantage of the opportunities of mobiletechnologies for providing rich contextual information during the learning experienceacross a variety of learning settings. Furthermore, we will also explore how recent pedagogical ideas; namely situated embodiment (Barab, et al., 2007) can inform theinvestigation of the above questions. In fact, this particular pedagogical approach seeks toengage learners to explore and experiment with multiple representations of the causalinteractions and functional relationships in the topics of study, as a way of promoting adeeper understanding of the domains under exploration and to advance their interest,social engagement and motivation to learn more about these topics in the future.  Kong, S.C., Ogata, H., Arnseth, H.C., Chan, C.K.K., Hirashima, T., Klett, F., Lee, J.H.M., Liu, C.C., Looi, C.K., Milrad, M., Mitrovic,A., Nakabayashi, K., Wong, S.L., Yang, S.J.H. (eds.) (2009).  Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Computers in Education [CDROM] . Hong Kong: Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education. 568 References [1]   Ainsworth, S., Wood, D., and O'Malley, C. (1998). 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