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Talk by Prof. Dr. Dillenbourg

Prof.Dr. Pierre Dillenbourg, professor of pedagogy and learning technologies in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) gave a lecture on "Modest computing: Technologies for classroom orchestration" on February 10, 2011.


The lecture was attended by around 50 visitors: students, doctoral students, university professors and international guests.

Abstract: How do learning technologies, designed for virtual learning spaces, fit with physical classrooms? Where are the computers placed? Are there computers or other devices? Does the teacher see what students are doing? Do students see what other students are doing? Can the teacher change in real time the activities conducted by the groups? When does the teacher change the group composition? Can the activity be segmented in 50 minutes slides? Does the technology increase discipline problems? These concerns are usually addressed in sociological terms: culture, practices, norms, adoption,... I will argue that these concerns can also be addressed in the design of learning technologies. I will present a certain number of studies that illustrate how the design of an educational artefact can take into account the constraints of classroom life: curriculum constraints, time constraints, etc.
Designing for classroom orchestration matches the evolution of computer science in two directions. On the one hand, novel interfaces are more physical than virtual: students manipulate tangible objects, teachers handle paper sheets, .... They are very engaging for students. On the other hand, technologies can be designed in a "modest way": not smart, with a low resolution, using ambient displays. Matching these novel design features with classroom constraints defines a new HCI concept: usability at the classroom level or the assessment of usability considering the classroom as the user. I will illustrate this evolution with examples in primary schools, vocational secondary education as well as university classes.

To see the video of this lecture, please visit the following website: