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ScienceCampus Tuebingen: Informational Environments
2009 - 2016
Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts, Baden-Württemberg, University of Tuebingen, Leibniz Association
As lifelong and life encompassing processes, human development, learning, and education are no longer restricted to formal and institutional contexts. The advent of the Internet brought about a wealth of information that is at the disposal of learners anywhere and anytime. The "information diet" which a learner employs for educational purposes results in an "informational environment" that may differ from the informational environments of other learners.
Informational environments feature an array of core characteristics that have an impact on processes of human development, learning and education: a) an enormous diversity of information both in institutional and informal contexts; b) innovations in the display of information; and c) a social embedment of learning processes. These core characteristics interact with the repertoire of available skills that we as learners have at our disposal within our educational processes. Pivotal research questions of the ScienceCampus arise regarding an understanding of these conditions and their barriers as well as aspects of medial and instructional design that support human development, learning, and education in formal and informal contexts.
The ScienceCampus Tübingen is an interdisciplinary research network linking all research areas and labs of the KMRC, several institutes of the University of Tuebingen, and external partner institutions from Freiburg and Mannheim. Research in this network revolves around three lines of investigation, each of which addresses one of the core characteristics of informational environments.
Educational processes in formal and informal informational environments
This research line studies the interaction of formal and informal informational environments. Initial point is that educational contexts will be increasingly replenished by elements stemming from informal contexts. The resulting interface will be addressed by three topical clusters:
One cluster accesses elements of informal educational contexts and adopts them in formal educational contexts. For example, an educational environment for analysis and intervention in terms of dyscalculia and dyslexia will be developed which uses elements of computer games.
In a next cluster, an online case laboratory with teaching videos will be established which can be used in the training of teachers. The objective of dealing with video tools is to gain understanding of typical teaching situations as well as competences of media to transfer in lessons.
In a third cluster, a longitudinal study (panel) will be designed which researches the part of formal and informal educational offers in student learning processes with different subjects, and how these use cases develop and change over the time. This information will be studied in connection with educational decisions and educational successes.
Design of interactive informational Environments
Educational processes require interaction of learners with their informational environment. This leads to the question how learning environments should be designed to optimally support these educational processes. This aspect is focused by the second research line.
Especially in case of informal informational environments it is important that learning contents are customized to the learners' needs. This requires an adjustment process either based on adaptivity (learning content adapts automatically to the learners) or adaptability (learners themselves choose the relevant parts out of the learning contents). The combination of adaptivity and adaptability concerning the design of multimedia educational environments is addressed by one cluster within this research line.
A second cluster deals with the idea of a system-based adaptivity and specifically applies it to physiological data (e.g. EEG). Resulting brain-computer-interfaces permit to investigate the degree of learners' stress through neurological data (brain waves) and to match accordingly with the learning contents.
In a third cluster, learners conceptualize and together develop online-videos dealing with overweight. Especially social stigmatization of obese people will be addressed. In that way, the corporate making of videos not only supports an acquisition of knowledge about the handling of media, but also leads to a higher awareness (of the problem) concerning an important topic of health education. Parallel, an exhibition will be conceptualized giving additional information to the visitors by mobile appliances (e.g. i-phones) to encourage their critical thinking about obesity.
A fourth cluster covers research of the design of virtual realities, which renders informational environments 'walkable' for learners. The question of design will be analyzed not only under technological aspects (how to make navigation easier through virtual rooms?) but also under educational aspects (how to support learners in exploration and knowledge acquisition?). Research focuses on how different narrative forms encourage the opening of virtual rooms.
Finally, a fifth cluster fosters the development of so-called multi-touch tables. Concrete application scenarios are museums, where you can 'collect' exhibits virtually by mobile appliances und - only by its simple depositing - transfer these on a large-area digital desk. When the objects will be on the table, different people at the same time can intuitively treat them there (augmented, transformed, cutted etc.). This application for informal learning contexts requires the development of new design principles.
Social aspects of informational environments
Knowledge acquisition is not a single-handed process, but a debate with other people or the products of other people. In informal informational environments this social aspect is intensified by the fact that not only a single author but a whole group of users creates educational-relevant content (e.g. Wikipedia). The analysis of these social aspects for the handling of informational environments is the topic of the third research line.
One cluster targets on simplifying the scientific analysis of educational processes in social networks. Up to now, mechanisms that encourage learners to construct knowledge in social networks are just little-known. To understand these mechanisms it is important to explore a large pack of data typically for such social networks and to identify its patterns. Supporting this process, an easy computer language will be developed allowing scientists to analyze complex data volume.
In informal educational contexts a social exchange often takes place in communities, every one characterized by a specific way how members construct an aspect of reality together. To be seen most notably in the field of health education, where a lot of online communities exist with a great variety of topics, most of them out of conventional mainstream medicine. Analyzing the processes of knowledge construction in such paramedical communities is addressed by another cluster of this research line.
In an third cluster, strategies of health-related information processing will be analyzed using the example of patients suffering from chronic flammable gastric diseases. It should be demonstrated that people with different degrees of subjectively-felt health threat use different strategies for searching information on the web. Furthermore, this cluster focuses on the medical ethic analysis of the self-concept of patients in online self-help groups.
- University of Tuebingen
- Institute of Education
- Institute of Psychology
- Institute of Sociology
- Institute of Sports Science
- Ludwig-Uhland-Institute for Empirical Cultural Studies
- Medical Faculty
- Wilhelm-Schickard-Institute of Informatics
- External affiliates: