Posts Tagged ‘IFI7144’

Task 14: Final reflections

Finally I would like you to reflect back on the entire course and think of what you have learned during these weeks. What is it you are going to take with you from this course, be it negative or positive experience, content-related or organizational aspects and so on?

I liked:

  • the new way of learning which implied to be more interactive and get to know a lot of new tools like video conferences or investigating similar courses (plenk) in the net
  • I got some alternative ideas how to change the plan of activities and improve them
  • learned about activity systems and activity theory
  • understood better the definition of interactivity


I didn’t like:

  • not meeting course participants in real
  • too much of information and not being able to keep up, lack of time
  • not getting any feed back that doesn’t let you know if you should improve or no
  • sometimes the tasks were published with not enough time for doing them well and I think it would be better the quality than the quantity
  • too strict deadlines

Task 13: Redesigning and re-instrumentalising activities

Think of one activity. It can be anything, from different fields, from your every day life, etc. How is it carried out now? Is it possible to redesign this activity to make its outcome more efficient, more reasonable? Is it possible to re-instrumentalise and re-organise it with the help of emerging digital technology?

Describe your activity and explain how would you redesign it, re-instrumentalise it and re-organised it to be more efficient, enjoyable, etc.

I would chose the most common activity that I do here – shopping in a supermarket. Now it is not carried that perfectly. I don’t make a shopping list and usually forget something or buy unnecessary things just because they are in a promotion. Also it is harder as I am living in Tallinn without knowing Estonian so sometimes mistakes happen like if a box has a painting of a cow it doesn’t mean that inside there is a milk (buying cream instead of milk).

First of all I could reorganize the process by making an exact list at home and sticking to it. Also trying to avoid the influence of big adds announcing discounts. As usually it is quite difficult (especially for women 😉 ) I would prefer not to go to the supermarket personally. And with the modern technology it is actually possible. First of all there are plenty of online shops or real shops that have online services and you can buy starting from make up and ending up on a car.

Also the online supermarkets are becoming more and more popular. As far as I know in Estonia they are not functioning yet but in the UK (like and Germany are more and more popular. It has some really good advantages – for example the delivery  service to your door. It is perfect for older or disabled people or moms that are occupied with the house tasks – it really spears them some time.

Nevertheless there still is the temptation of buying unneeded products as the adds are really well expressed on the internet pages.

Probably the best solution would be a smart fridge that orders special items of food when run out of them. We don’t have to worry about anything at all and we are safe considering the advertisements. Also there is a function where the smart fridge gives you a recipe based on the food that you have inside. As for a person that doesn’t know how to cook it would be perfect 🙂 I no longer need to find a well cooking husband 😀

Task 11

Did we come up with all the necessary components for analyzing and describing interactive systems?

I think that there are more than enough of the components.

– what components seem irrelevant? Why?

For me irrelevant are the components that I was unable to fit into the activity theory framework. That would be:

The 5 of them don’t actually say anything about the process, they just describe it and in my eyes it’s not necessary:
location (located)
model / modelling
And with the following 2 I don’t think it’s needed to state them, for me they are obvious:
start  – the beginning of a task/process/activity
end – the end of a task/process/activity


– do what degree the list of components is concurrent with the components of the activity theory framework?

I tried to divide the elements according to the activity system’s graphics and this is what i got:


project manager – a person responsible for creating an activity plan (project plan) and carrying it out


actors; participants

Mediating artefacts

restrictions / limitations (time,money, budget…); tools; resource

software – technological means for achieving a goal and planning activities
methodology – a collection of tools/means for organizing a processes/activity
options – considerations and variations regarding a process/task/activity


rules – a process may be defined by a set of rules (e.g. a degree is handed after completion of a specific curriculum)
control – a process/task/activity is controlled some entity
timeframe – every task has a timeframe (the length of a task, a start time and an end time).
schedule – every task must be scheduled to occur while taking into account other tasks
time management – the process of creating a schedule in which a task may occur is called time management
evaluation criteria


not defined

Division of labour

role, plan – by them the division of the labour should be defined


-are there components which are not covered by the activity theory framework, but the activity theory framework could benefit from?

In my opinion the following elements are not covered by the activity theory framework:
location (located)
model / modelling
start  – the beginning of a task/process/activity
end – the end of a task/process/activity
They are more like adjectives that describe the activity theory framework and probably it would be useful just to know them.

– currently we have a long list of components, which can be definitely shorten. How would you do that?

I would shorten them respectively:


project manager – a person responsible for creating an activity plan (project plan) and carrying it out


participants – the “workers”

Mediating artefacts

methodology – a collection of tools/means for organizing a processes/activity


rules – a process may be defined by a set of rules (e.g. a degree is handed after completion of a specific curriculum)


IMKE students and professors

Division of labour

role, plan – by them the division of the labour should be defined

Task 10

Description of the courses according to the activity theory:

  1. PLENK2010
  2. New interactive environments


  1. to clarify and substantiate the concepts of personal learning environments and networks.
  2. (re-)design of new interactive environments for collaborative work and study. Particular attention is paid to the analysis, representation, and (re-)instrumentalisation of human activities and activity systems with networked tools and services.


  1. the learning in the course results from the activities students undertake, and will be different for each person.
  2. Participants acquire conceptual knowledge and procedural skills on how to analyse, represent, and (re-)instrumentalise human activities and activity systems with networked tools and services.

Mediating artefacts

  1. Tools available in PLE used for complementing the tasks but also for intercourse communication: wiki, blogs, twitter, skype discussions, facebook page, daily newsletters, Sunday readings and resources, forum, Elluminate sessions twice a week. It has to mentioned that the activities are freely chosen and course members may remain their anonymity. I suppose the facilitators follow the following rule that was quoted in the course forum:

“I did not give birth to any of these students and I am, therefore, not responsible for their ability or inability to learn anything.”

Also I would agree with one course participant’s (George Siemens) opinion that  It’s not about tools. It’s about change.

It’s the change underlying these tools that I’m trying to emphasize. Forget blogs
think open dialogue. Forget wikis
think collaboration. Forget podcasts
think democracy of voice. Forget RSS/aggregation
think personal networks. Forget any of the tools
and think instead of the fundamental restructuring of how knowledge is created, disseminated, shared, and validated.

2. Tools: blogs, video-conferences, wikiversity, readings, time scheduling, twitter.


  1. The four basic rules for the course participants:
  • Aggregate – choose the information that is interesting for them
  • Remix – keep the information in your online place
  • Repurpose – interpret the information and create something by yourself using the tools that have been presented to you
  • Feed forward – share your work and be interested in the work of your colleagues

2. Rules are more strict as the students are being evaluated and have to follow the deadlines. Nevertheless, the same rules as before might be applied to the course activities.


    1. This course is a joint venture between the National Research Council of Canada (Institute for Information Technology, Learning and collaborative Technologies Group, PLE Project), The Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University and the University of Prince Edward Island. Facilitators: George Siemens, TEKRI, Stephen Downes, NRC, Dave Cormier, UPEI, Rita Kop, NRC. You’ll find their bios here: Facilitator Bios  + students (The course has 900 participants but far away not all of them are active)
    2. Facilitators: Terje VĂ€ljataga (Tallinn University) & Sebastian H.D. Fiedler (Centre for Social Innovation) + 27 registered students

    Division of labour

    1. Course facilitators and participants will analyze the research literature and evaluate it against their own experience with the intent of developing a comprehensive understanding of personal learning environments and networks.
    2. tools and information investigation, task accomplishment, feedback from the facilitators or colleague students

    Also, I would like to mention some disadvantages of the PLENK2010 course seen by its participants:

    • lack of depth
    • lack of data structure
    • too much of information and not being able to keep up, lack of time

    About New interactive environments I would complain the same – lack of time as there are too many tasks coming from other subjects.

    In general both courses have same objectives and similar methods. I suppose it’s caused by the new learning style that is really needed in our societies as the old one falls short of expectations. We do not need a knowledge but the skills and these types of the online courses can really teach how to gain them.

    Task 9

    Put out a post summarizing your understanding of activity theory and its potential for describing activity systems.

    For analyzing the term I have chosen these two articles:

    1. Published in B. Nardi (ed.): Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human
      Computer Interaction, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995, pp. 17-44.

    According to them:

    • the term “Activity Theory” may be misleading because the term “activity” does not carry the essential connotation “doing in order to transform something”, nor it is a theory;
    • was first born within Soviet psychology,
    • Activity Theory is a philosophical and cross-disciplinary framework for
      studying different forms of human practices as development processes, both individual and
      social levels interlinked at the same time.

    • the activity system can be best represented by the previous graphics that I have found in the internet. Here we may see that the activities are divided in certain point as: community, rules, object, subject, tools… For completing an activity at least two individuals are needed and they work is always mediated – they use special tools, follow certain rules and divide their labor according to their specialization. The subject requires the community specialized in producing some object. The community divides the process of production into separate actions and each its member is responsible for one of them.
    • Engeström talks about ‘runaway objects’- objects that have the ability to expand up to a global scale of influence (like Linux). It is hard to control them and they may have unexpected effects.
    • there are plenty of activity systems that are based on runaway objects and it is hard to describe exact relation between them (as seen in the graphics).

    Task 8

    In the article I have fond interesting Luhmann’s idea about Ego and Alter selections. Earlier people knew their Ego, they knew who is going to read their messages. Because of the digitalization people lose their receivers, posting in a blog or in a web page we never know who is going to read it and we’ll never see their reactions. The author states:

    This is arguably the most fundamental change which has occurred, and explains how personal media forms may take on mass communication characteristics.

    I would definitely agree with her first of all because I have seen the change and I have experienced it by myself. Maybe, before the message producing was more boring as you knew that only one person (or more, but you always knew the receivers circle)  would receive it, and now you may expect anything – maybe someone will read your poem and offer you to publish it or maybe someone will steal it and say that it’s his. There is always the risk and one may stay confused for a longer time: if to share my ideas and wait for a critical feedback or just save them for himself and be sure that nobody will copy them.

    However, whereas mass media comprise their own function-system, the internet works within all of society’s social systems, increasing levels of self-reflection (Rasmussen, 2002).

    — I like this statement as it perfectly mirror the situation in our society. I think since 2002 it has become ever more relevant. It is quite hard to see how our society changes only by living our lives – we pay too much attention to our world not seeing what surrounds us. In the internet it’s much easier – one may just read comments under some popular video on you tube and investigate the level of ethics and education of the commentators (that seems to be less and less important). This way we may get a perfect reflection of the society all around the world, as it states McLuhan – the world is becoming our skin and we feel every change on it.

    The article tries to strictly distinguish between personal and mass media and somehow achieves it by the graphic. Even though it is explained in a clear way it will have exceptional cases when the distinction might be more than confusing. With the constant development of new technologies followed by new means creation it can’t be defined in a permanent way. There are plenty of blogs that may be made only for a certain circle of readers but are not protected with any password and this way become a mean for mass media – anyone may read it and the author will never receive eventual response. The distinction between an author and a reader has disappeared and probably will never come back. It might be seen as a positive phenomena as the freedom of speech is increasing and discussions may lead to faster alterations but from the other point of view the internet is being filled with ignorant comments and obliges to follow the pattern…

    Task 7

    For the next task we would like you to look back at the concept of interactivity presented in these two articles and ponder whether the concept has gotten a new meaning 10 years later? How and in what ways the concept has changed, if at all, from your point of view? Is there something in these articles you find useful and valid nowadays? These are just some guiding questions. Finding more recent articles, Weblog posts, etc. to base your thoughts on is strongly recommended.

    In my opinion interactivity is best understood by the examples of interactive media. As the term changes every day we may only follow the development of new technologies and prescribe new meanings to its definition.

    The first time the term interactive was introduced to me while participating in the course of the Theories of Media and analyzing McLuhan’s book “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man”. According to the author there are two types of medias – cold and hot. The cold ones don’t need any participation from the audience, they are just transmitted and according to the first article they would be described as transmission type (TV, radio). These are becoming overwhelmed by newer media with higher degree of interaction (the hot media). Starting with conversation, consultation and registration types of media, which were being developed together with the advance of new technologies that were supposed to give more power for the users. Nowadays it is all that is counting – the individual wants to feel like the choice is laying in his hands and all depends on him. It is like divine power. Nevertheless, while improving the new technologies the border between humans and computers starts to blur out.

    In order to preserve cold media their owners try to make them as interactive as possible. You can vote for your favorite singer sending an sms to the TV program, record the videos etc.

    Talking about written word the first hyper-textual book was published 1963: a novel by Argentine author Julio CortĂĄzar called Hopscotch (Spanish: Rayuela). It is different in the way that you read it – you may continue reading it page by page or go to the chapter that is indicated in the end of every previous chapter (like jumping through the chapters).

    Rayuela is one of the first examples where interaction is being introduced to the media that by the definition should be not interactive. The other example from the newest technologies might be found on the following web page:

    the paper printed magazine is made interactive and this way will keep it’s popularity. How to use it:

    The similar thing is happening with web pages. The designers try to make them as interesting as possible giving more and more freedom to the surfers. An example:

    • – it’s different because it requires not to click but chose sub-contexts using the movements of the mouse.

    Another phenomena may be observed especially in youtube. There are more and more videos where you chose the plot of the story, you decide what the main characters should do. Two interactive videos as examples:

    • The Birthday Party: An Interactive Adventure!
    • NSFW. A hunter shoots a bear! – this one is especially interesting as there are as many options as you may think of (almost).

    The most popular field of interactions are of course games. There are more and more inventions that help you enjoy the stimulated reality. Here goes one example of the game that I never thought would be designed:

    In order to make other spaces more interactive – not only the internet – lots of original projects are being launched. Most of them are used for publicity, obviously, as the field requires drawing as much attention as possible.  In spite of that here goes an example of quite interesting project originated in Poland:

    project realized thanks to MOOV.PL.interactive media. created especially for the interior of ‘stara drukarnia’ live visuals, that react to the shadow dropped on ‘the buttons’. each ‘button’ triggers different part of mapped animation, that mixed together gives unique impression. project and animation by szymon kabala, software by mateusz azi marchwicki

    There is another field of interaction that overcomes all the previously mentioned. The Implant technology – for me it is the highest level of interaction because the border between human and computer disappears.

    Kevin Warwick, the first human-cyborg, had a chip connected to his neurons and by means of the implant, his nervous system was connected onto the internet in Columbia University, New York. From there he was able to control the robot arm in the University of Reading and to obtain feedback from sensors in the finger tips. He also successfully connected ultrasonic sensors on a baseball cap and experienced a form of extra sensory input. A highly publicized extension to the experiment, in which a simpler array was implanted into the arm of Warwick’s wife—with the aim of creating a form of telepathy or empathy using the Internet to communicate the signal from afar—was also successful, resulting in the first purely electronic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans. Finally, the effect of the implant on Warwick’s hand function was measured using the University of Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP). It was feared that directly interfacing with the nervous system might cause some form of damage or interference, but no measurable effect nor rejection was found. Indeed, nerve tissue was seen to grow around the electrode array, enclosing the sensor. (from wiki)

    These technological advances make us believe that everything is possible, and by the same time make us fear of the unknown powers that are coming up to the surface. Now the storyline of Futurama becomes less and less ridiculous…