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liquid thoughts Posts

Richly Interactive Text for Education

I met with my thesis advisors Wendy Hall and Les Carr today. Below is my intro to them followed by notes from the meeting:

I want to revolutionise education, starting with how students and teachers interact with each other via documents, with a particular focus on interacting with citations.

{ When people are passionate about what they are doing they want a lot of control. Conversely, when people are given real control they are more likely to develop a passion. The Author Project is about nurturing this passion for working with knowledge through supporting and enabling rich interaction, giving students and teacher much more real control }

Primary areas for improvement includes

• Supporting students to produce well thought-out, thoroughly researched and correctly cited documents which are clearly and persuasively presented
• Reducing the time it takes teachers to go through large volumes of student writing and give thoughtful feedback effectively

There are several known opportunities which need realising including work by my mentor Doug Engelbart, and in realising these we stand to gain further insights as to further improvement.

Notes from The Meeting

I will look at how pieces of information can hang together/connect. This relates strongly to linking and citations, allowing the student to string together various sources into coherent, references documents. Non-text media, including audio and video should be considered.

How can a document be a (frozen, versioned) frame for a human perspective yet stay connected with source material and be dynamic?

The first work I will carry out will be to read the proceedings of the previous Hypertext conferences and Craig Tashman’s thesis on LiquidText. I will continue to build the interactive text glossary while learning.

I will spend at lest 2 days a week in Southampton, making sure I get involved in the community.

I will continue on Author, in a background capacity, hopefully having a public, useable release by end of 2016, with good citation support and the opportunity to implement fundings from the PhD research.

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Re-Inventing Student-Teacher Document Dialogue

I aim to make the dialogue students and teachers have via documents much more effective, in terms of increasing student mental movements and decreasing clerical work for both students and teachers. I propose that The Author Project is a useful base for this. 

By documents I mean a ‘frozen’ set of text and other media bound in a document format.

By mental movements I mean increasing the student’s ability to think, manipulate and understand the material in order to actively reflect upon it and compare it with other information and then to communicate insights in a clear and well cited manner. 

By decreasing clerical work I mean reducing the amount of steps/reducing the complexity needed to carry out any of the useful tasks to a point where are you have a fluid workflow rather than a system where the student or teacher will spend time and effort and energy to decide whether to even carry out the tasks.

By clerical tasks I mean any task that is not directly related to the communication between student and teacher such as issues related to the computer system or the institution.

This encompasses support for the following in a fluid, connected flow:

  • Input research, active reading and citation checking
  • Analysis comparisons, contextualisation, dialogue with peers & experts and evaluation
  • Output effective note taking, writing, editing, integrating and citing

The results should be that the student has a much greater mental freedom of movement and the teacher more easily gets a much better understanding of what the student is communicating and spends less time dealing with clerical tasks. 

Other current text projects such as Craig Tashman’s LiquidText focuses on one aspect of the reading/writing experience (active reading, in particular ). His PhD thesis is very informative for the potential model for that of Author however. 

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Liquid Information

Some say information wants to be free.

The reality is that power of information comes from the fact that information is interaction – information on its own is dead and useless and in a very real sense not information at all.

Liquid Information is therefore about freely interacting with information, letting information interact with other information and ultimately, for the users themselves to become liquid within the information, to themselves flow amongst the information, not to just skim the surface.

Being liquid means that wherever the user’s curiosity is sparked the user can interact with any information to question it, find out more, see it differently, compare and contrast it, change it, share it and more, more than we can possibly imagine at this very early point of the digital evolution.

When information is freed, it is we who become free.

This is the philosophy as developed by Frode Hegland with Sarah Walton.

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