Saturday, February 15, 2003

!Hola from Mexico!

Nuevo Vallarta to be exact. Landed yesterday afternoon and the sand, sun, food and margueritas have been great. Spent today taking it easy and getting aclimatized. Nice to have to get used to daytime highs of ~85 degrees fahrenheit and bright sunshine, let me tell ya.

Along with this post, I've also had a chance to use the 'net cafe to check-in with classmates at OISE/UT. One of the posts I made had to do with my experience. In essence, the benefits of an interface that is entirely web-based, rather than requiring a client download, became obvious once again.

In essence, if I hadn't been able to connect via the web, I wouldn't have been "doing any school work" this week. Sure I brought my laptop (which has the client in question -- First Class -- installed) but phone rates from our hotel room of $3.50 USD/min mean I'll not be using dialup from the room. Another selling feature of web/HTML-based interfaces.

Picture posts will have to wait 'till we get home for the same reason.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

It's been a busy week. Both work and school have been busy as I continue to explore how to apply the notion of "community" to both. As mentioned earlier in the week, I should "forget about on-line and focus on the social. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of "forgetting" about on-line because that's where my grad school is and my work is going.

That said, I'm still having fun on-line. Today I had a NetMeeting with the gang at ADHS and attended a webcast from the KMDI at the University of Toronto. Both were a lot of fun and I managed to "attend" both at once. I listed to the talk by Steve Jones as I watched the shared desktop from Arnprior.

It was fun to be able to have the audio stream of the 'cast from Toronto in my headphones, while looking at the shared images from the desktop and chatting with James, Dan, Peter and Chris -- hope I've got everyone's name right and that I haven't missed anybody in Arnprior, as I sat at my desk in Calgary.

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.