The general goal of the LEARNMIX project is twofold.

  • On one hand the goal is to advance interaction design and evaluation approaches by tackling the challenges of designing for ubiquitous computing interaction through the understanding of how humans interact with and through ecologies of artifacts when pursue their activities; and
  • On the other hand, the goal is to forge ahead on the design of learner-centered technology-enhanced learning experiences by moving away from replicating traditional classroom-based teaching practices (Hedberg, 2006) and knowledge transmission model.

As Intel announced in the early 2000s “computing, not computers, will characterize the next era of the computer age”. Although implicitly, this statement points to a key principle of the ongoing cultural shift on how we relate to technology: it is less and less about the devices and more about the activities we can accomplish with and through them. Information technology is becoming pervasive and computing is becoming ubiquitous (McCullough, 2004).

An ever-widening range of digital artifacts is transforming our daily lives as we communicate, locate, play, learn, and much more with and through them. As the inherent ubiquitous computing model allows us to do all that while moving across a wide variety of settings and contexts, thus, resulting in a new sense of self among users. It challenges our understanding of how humans interact with and through computers as, where previously there was one technology, one application, one user, all packaged into one fairly stable unit, there is now an ever changing configuration of technologies, applications and actor (Weiser, 1994; Bødker, 2011a).

Further, with the support of technology each of us can interpret, process, transform information and artifacts into various representational states, and decouple from and recouple with external resources and artifacts of various kinds on a regular and continuing interactive basis (Sutton, 2008). We exploit and integrate our internal cognition with external resources and artifacts (Kirsh, 2008) by dynamically coordinating and interacting between individuals, artifacts, technologies and the environment (Engeström, 2001), thus contributing to the knowledge-based society by modifying and improving existing information and artifacts to construct and build new knowledge and their representations (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2006).
It is during the knowledge building process that the “state of knowledge” materializes, takes shape, and advances; and new (physical, conceptual, digital) artifacts are created as a result of synthesis of ideas. These (epistemic) artifacts can be seen as externalizations of human constructions, representations of knowledge that serve in the further advancement of knowledge (Sterelny, 2005). As they go through continuous transformations; they can be designed or redesigned with respect to their intrinsic structure as well as with respect to specific situations of use.

As in this context, one recognizes that cognitive processing and knowledge building are not an individual matters being rather distributed among teacher, learners, and artifacts (Engeström, 2001), we should explore ways for enabling learners to become actively engaged constructors of their own experience and understanding of phenomena (Hedberg, 2006), building new knowledge by interacting with artifacts, people and environments. In this regard, the ecological approach, combined with information technology and digital artifacts, can open up a new way to understand learning and human interaction in (partially digital) learning ecosystems.

Currently the knowledge building process in schools is based on the transmission model (authoritative knowledge transmitted to learners) and supported with textbooks or converted into a digital, mainly PDF format (e-textbook) as logically ordered teaching and learning resource that matches the course requirements as far as possible providing a synthesis of current knowledge (Davy, 2007). Inherently such an approach leaves hardly any room for learners to construct and build their own knowledge through interacting with a collection of widely distributed artifacts, people and environments and not using rather inexhaustible potential of technology for different configurations.

Thus, in an abbreviated way, the goal is to re-conceptualize the e-Textbook as aggregations of both professionally authored and user-contributed content accessible through a wide range of artifacts by tackling the challenges of designing for ubiquitous computing interaction through the understanding of how humans interact with and through ecologies of artifacts when pursue their activities; and by advancing technology-enhanced learning experiences, moving away from the replication of traditional practices and models; thus targeting the “user interfaces” and the “research on the implementation of ICT in education” themes of this application round and being explicitly compliant with one of the sub-measure objectives “supporting the development of R&D of ICT”. The LEARNMIX project is going to focus on ubiquitous interaction design and ICT implementation in schools (on primary, secondary and gymnasium level) from the perspective of technology as mediators facilitating the active engagement of participants in knowledge building process. The project is not going to emphasize on and deploy a single extensive technological solution, but rather explores potentials for the use of pervasive information technology usage.