An Evaluation Method for Thinking in Technology Ecologies

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Virginia Tech


As technology progresses, we become surrounded with an ever increasing number of devices. Information can now be persistently represented beyond a single screen and a single session. In the educational context, we see a rapid adoption of the panoply of devices, but often without any careful thought. Devices in isolation are unlikely to enable effective learning.

This research explores how devices function in technological display and device ecologies or ecosystems to support human thinking, learning and sensemaking. Based on the theories of Vygotsky's sign mediation triangle, we contribute a method that may allow one to evaluate how technology configurations support (or hinder) students' thinking. Our method proposes the concept of objectification as a way to identify the potential or opportunity for learning in technology ecologies.

The significance of such an evaluation methodology is considerable, given the nascent field of sensemaking and the lack of consensus on evaluation in such contexts: our research advances a principled approach by which device ecologies can be examined for their potential to provide 'learning experiences', and enables one to articulate affordances for the design of technological spatial environments that can help to support higher thought. Our contribution thus is in terms of methodology, theory, evaluation and the design of technology ecologies.



Ecology, Technology, devices, displays, thinking, sensemaking, objectification, evaluation, Vygotsky, Design, embodied interaction