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Berkeley Institute of Design.

Learning is moving in new ways

Designing for the emergence of proto-mathematical sensorimotor perceptual structures

Dor Abrahamson, Professor at University of California, Berkeley

The embodied turn in the cognitive sciences poses that human reasoning is perceptuomotor activity. For mathematics educators, this, in turn, poses the design problem of how we might foster students’ development of sensorimotor perceptions that would ground targeted curricular content. What might it even mean to speak of the sensorimotor perception of a ratio, parabola, or Cartesian coordinate system? At Berkeley’s Embodied Design Research Laboratory, in collaboration with Utrecht University’s Freudenthal Institute, we have been engineering, implementing, and evaluating a novel embodied-interaction activity architecture, in which students learn to move in new ways before formalizing these movement forms (“conceptual choreographies”) as mathematical notions. I will report on results from eye-tracking studies that have enabled us to witness the micro-process of students inventing new perceptual structures as their spontaneous pragmatic solution to the sensorimotor problem of coordinating the bimanual enactment of a challenging movement.

Scaled Humanity

computational scaffolds for pro-social interaction in-the-large

Mark Whiting, Post-doc at Stanford University

Can computational scaffolds unlock improved interaction? Failures to achieve collective goals are rarely caused by a lack of ability or interest — these failures increasingly stem from interpersonal friction. In this talk, I explore how computational mediation can be designed to minimize negative social behavior and support prosocial coordination. I will introduce one scaffold that improves reputation signals through peer feedback and another that studies the causes of team fracture. My work takes the position that with suitable computational scaffolds, we can design interactions enabling us to thrive together.

A Conversation with Actuators

An Exploratory Design Environment for Hybrid Materials

César Torres, PhD Candidate at University of California, Berkeley

An exciting, expanding palette of hybrid materials is emerging that can be programmed to actuate by a range of external and internal stimuli. However, there exists a dichotomy between the physicality of the actuators and the intangible computational signal that is used to program them. For material practitioners, this lack of physical cues limits their ability to engage in a “conversation with materials” (CwM). This paper presents a creative workstation for supporting this epistemological style by bringing a stronger physicality to the computational signal and balance the conversation between physical and digital actors. The station utilizes a streaming architecture to distribute control across multiple devices and leverage the rich spatial cognition that a physical space affords. Through a formal user study, we characterize the actuation design practice supported by the CwM workstation and discuss opportunities for tangible interfaces to hybrid materials.

Managing Messes

The Use of Computational Notebooks

Andrew Head, PhD Candidate at University of California, Berkeley

Data analysts use computational notebooks to write code for analyzing and visualizing data. Notebooks help analysts iteratively write analysis code by letting them interleave code with output, and selectively execute cells. However, as analysis progresses, analysts leave behind old code and outputs, and overwrite important code, producing cluttered and inconsistent notebooks. In this talk, I will introduce code gathering tools, extensions to computational notebooks that help analysts find, clean, recover, and compare versions of code in cluttered, inconsistent notebooks. The tools archive all versions of code outputs, allowing analysts to review these versions and recover the subsets of code that produced them. These subsets can serve as succinct summaries of analysis activity or starting points for new analyses. In a qualitative usability study, 12 professional analysts found the tools useful for cleaning notebooks and writing analysis code, and discovered new ways to use them, like generating personal documentation and lightweight versioning.