Posts tagged “education”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Richard Eoin Nash, Social Publisher – What “social” means is that there’s going to be more information about books, more scope to interact with the books (your own commenting & annotating and reading others’), more scope to interact with the author, more scope to interact with one another. (This latter item, to get semi-techy for a sec, is something that the broad horizontal book social networks—Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari—do well, though, so we’re likely to focus on using their APIs rather than asking people to build their own bookshelves anew.)

    “Social” is taking the book and making it much easier to have a conversation with the book and its writer, and have conversations around the book and its writer.

  • L-Prize – Lighting Competition – I've written before in frustration about money spent to push the CFL at us instead of spending money solving the product problem. The DOE is sponsoring the L-Prize to create a low-energy bulb. "The competition also includes a rigorous evaluation process for proposed products, designed to detect and address product weaknesses before market introduction, to avoid problems with long-term market acceptance."
  • Princeton tests of Kindles for textbooks doesn’t go well for Kindle – “Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs,” he explained. “All these things have been lost, and if not lost they’re too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the ‘features’ have been rendered useless.”

    “For some people,” she explained, “electronic reading can never replace the functionality and ‘feel’ of reading off paper.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Bruce Sterling on the normalcy of the future – [See also our recent interactions piece: We Are Living In A Sci-Fi World]
    They’re phantom far-out notions gobbled up by the real world. They packed in there so deep that nobody notices them. So, yes, I can write about it. It’s just: it doesn’t look futuristic. It looks way too real.

    Why isn’t it grand? Why isn’t it as fantastically grand as the spectrum of all possibility? Well, why isn’t today grand? Why didn’t we wake up this morning in direct confrontation with the entirety of past and future? The present day is the only day we’re ever given.
    (via BoingBoing)

  • An interactive map of more than 52,000 prose-literacy profiles across Canada – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines the following five levels of literacy:

    * Level 1—Very poor literacy skills. An individual at this level may, for example, be unable to determine from a package label the correct amount of medicine to give a child.
    * Level 2—A capacity to deal only with simple, clear material involving uncomplicated tasks. People at this level may develop everyday coping skills, but their poor literacy makes it hard to conquer challenges such as learning new job skills.
    * Level 3—Adequate to cope with the demands of everyday life and work in an advanced society. It roughly denotes the skill level required for successful high-school completion and college entry.
    * Levels 4 and 5—Strong skills. An individual at these levels can process information of a complex and demanding nature.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • New England prep school Cushing Academy gets rid of printed books – With more than 20,000 books, officials decided the school no longer needs a traditional library. They have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks.

    “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster “This isn’t ‘Fahrenheit 451’. We’re not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology.’’

    They have spent $10K to buy 18 Sony and Amazon electronic readers which they’re stocking with digital material for students looking to spend more time with literature. Those who don’t have access to the electronic readers will do their research and peruse assigned texts on their computers.

  • Neil Gaiman’s Bookshelves – Photographs of author Gaiman's extensive collection of books (via BoingBoing)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Summer Reading Programs Gain Momentum for Students About to Enter College – Nationwide, hundreds of colleges and universities, large and small, public and private, assign first-year students a book to read over the summer, hoping to create a sense of community and engage students intellectually.

    While there are no reliable statistics on summer reading programs, a recent survey of more than 100 programs by a student researcher at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., found that most had started in the last four years, although a few go back decades.

    The range of books colleges use is enormous, covering fiction and nonfiction. Classics are largely absent, with most of the works chosen falling closer to Oprah than academic.

    Still, a certain canon of summer reading is emerging: books that are readable, short, engaging, cheap. Often, it helps if the book is a best seller dealing with some aspect of diversity, some multicultural encounter — and if the author will come to speak on campus.

  • Canada Reads — CBC Radio – Canada Reads celebrates five Canadian books for three months online, on the air and at public events. It all leads up to a week-long show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. In this annual title fight, five celebrity panelists defend their favourite work of Canadian fiction. One by one, books are voted off the list, until one panelist triumphs with the book for Canada to read this year.
  • Beyond the Book – Beyond the Book: Mass Reading Events and Contemporary Cultures of Reading in the UK, USA and Canada is a 3-year interdisciplinary research project.

    Our main objectives are to determine why and how people come together to share reading through a comparative study of selected mass reading events.

    The mass reading event is a new, proliferating literary phenomenon. Events typically focus on a work of literary fiction and employ the mass media as a means of promoting participation in the themed activities and discussions that take place around the selected book. Beyond the Book uses research methodologies drawn from both the humanities and social sciences to investigate whether mass reading events attract new readers and marginalized communities. We also wish to determine whether this contemporary version of shared reading fosters new reading practices and even whether it is capable of initiating social change.

  • "ONE BOOK" READING PROMOTION PROJECTS (Center for the Book: Library of Congress) – "One Book" projects (community-wide reading programs), initiated by the Washington Center for the Book in 1998, are being introduced across the U.S.A. and around the world. Here's lengthy list of authors, communities, and dates.
  • The Big Read – The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

    The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 30 selections from American and world literature. This initiative supports innovative reading programs in selected communities, providing engaging educational resources for discussing outstanding literature and conducting expansive outreach and publicity campaigns, and a Web site offering comprehensive information about the authors and their works.

  • Literary Reading in Dramatic Decline, According to National Endowment for the Arts Survey – (July 8, 2004) Literary reading is in dramatic decline with fewer than half of American adults now reading literature, according to a National Endowment for the Arts survey released today. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America reports drops in all groups studied, with the steepest rate of decline – 28 percent – occurring in the youngest age groups. The study also documents an overall decline of 10 percentage points in literary readers from 1982 to 2002, representing a loss of 20 million potential readers. The rate of decline is increasing and, according to the survey, has nearly tripled in the last decade.
  • 15 Books That Have Stuck With You (yet another of those Facebook etc. "memes" that are more like chain letters than memes) – Pick 15 books that will always stick with you. Don't take more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends including me because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose.
  • My pictures from Belgium 2009 (345 of 'em!) – Here's the whole set on Flickr. I'll continue to blog highlights from the trip.
  • Google book project far from settled – As the deadline draws near for authors and publishers to opt out of a proposed legal settlement allowing Google Inc. to forge ahead with plans to scan millions of books, more opponents of the landmark deal are stepping forward, and the local literary world is growing more perplexed.

    "Smart people, major players that are sophisticated in the ways of publishing, are still at loggerheads," said Ted Weinstein, a San Francisco literary agent. He said they're not just arguing whether the deal is good or bad, "but still expressing disagreement about what exactly it will do. That's a problem."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Sherry Turkle is Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and a sociologist. – She has focused her research on psychoanalysis and culture and on the psychology of people's relationship with technology, especially computer technology and computer addiction.
  • apophenia – danah boyd's blog – danah boyd is a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
  • Michael Wesch's IA Summit 09 Keynote – Even though the presentation itself uses a lot of visuals and YouTube examples, I found the podcast to be extremely interesting and provocative. Wesch takes many examples of Internet and social media culture that we're familiar with but wraps them together to create a new and exciting story about the kinds of new things that technology is enabling. While I might have thought I knew it all already via danah boyd and Sherry Turkle, I learned a lot (that's not to say that boyd and Turkle haven't covered this material, I have no idea; but for me this podcast was a huge leap forward in my grokking of the issues).

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The Nike Experiment: How the Shoe Giant Unleashed the Power of Personal Metrics – Using a flood of new tools and technologies, each of us now has the ability to collect granular information about our lives—what we eat, how much we sleep, when our mood changes.
    Not only can we collect that data, we can analyze it, looking for patterns, information that might help us change both the quality and the length of our lives. We can live longer and better by applying, on a personal scale, the same quantitative mindset that powers Google and medical research. Call it Living by Numbers—the ability to gather and analyze data about yourself, setting up a feedback loop that we can use to upgrade our lives, from better health to better habits to better performance.
    Nike has discovered that there's a magic number for a Nike+ user: 5. If someone uploads only a couple of runs to the site, they might just be trying it out. But once they hit 5 runs, they're massively more likely to keep running and uploading data. At 5 runs, they've gotten hooked on what their data tells them.
  • To Sleep, Perchance to Analyze Data: David Pogue on the Zeo sleep monitoring system – Just watching the Zeo track your sleep cycles doesn’t do anything to help you sleep better. Plotting your statistics on the Web doesn’t help, either.

    But the funny thing is, you do wind up getting better sleep — because of what I call the Personal Trainer Phenomenon. People who hire a personal trainer at the gym wind up attending more workouts than people who are just members. Why? Because after spending that much money and effort, you take the whole thing much more seriously.

    In the same way, the Zeo winds up focusing you so much on sleep that you wind up making some of the lifestyle changes that you could have made on your own, but didn’t. (“Otherwise,” a little voice in your head keeps arguing, “you’ve thrown away $400.”)

    That’s the punch line: that in the end, the Zeo does make you a better sleeper. Not through sleep science — but through psychology.

  • Baechtold's Best photo series – While they are framed as travel guides, they are really more visual anthropology. A range of topics and places captured and presented in a compelling and simple fashion, illustrating similarities and differences between people, artifacts, and the like.
  • It's girls-only at Fresno State engineering camp – This is the first year for the girls-only engineering camp. Its goal is to increase the number of female engineering majors at Fresno State, which lags behind the national average in graduating female engineers. Nationwide, about 20% of engineering graduates are women. 20 years ago the national average was 25%. At Fresno State, only 13% of engineering graduates are women.

    Jenkins said he hopes the camp will convince girls "who might not have thought about it" that engineering is fun, and entice them to major in engineering.
    (via @KathySierra)

  • Selling Tampax With Male Menstruation – This campaign, by Tampax, is in the form of a story featuring blog entries and short videos. The story is about a 16-year-old boy named Zack who suddenly wakes up with “girl parts.” He goes on to narrate what it’s like including, of course, his experience of menstruation and what a big help Tampax tampons were.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • UK teen sex education pamphlet emphasizes sex sex as healthy and pleasurable rather than warning about disease – "Health officials are trying to change the tone of sex education. The new pamphlet, called "Pleasure," has sparked some opposition from those who believe it encourages promiscuity among teens in a country that already has high rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases."

    Regardless of what you think of this morally, politically, etc., it's a powerful example of reframing a discussion and challenging closely-held beliefs in order to innovate.

  • Slides and audio posted for “Well, we did all this research … now what?” at BayCHI – BayCHI has relaunched podcasts and my recent BayCHI talk is among the first to be posted. You can listen to the audio, or you can watch the slides with embedded audio."Steve Portigal introduces a framework for synthesizing raw data into insights, and then creatively using those insights to develop a range of business concepts that respond to those insights and integrate a fresh, contextual understanding of a customer's unmet needs."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • FitFlops – the FlipFlop with the Gym Built In – What we girls really need is something like a flip flop that tones and trims our legs while we run errands. We have no free time…We Want a Workout While We Walk!” FitFlop midsoles incorporate patent-pending microwobbleboard ™ technology, to give you a workout while you walk. One woman reported feeling like she’d had a ‘bum-blasting’ workout after a half an hour of FitFlop-shod walking.

    (Thanks to CPT!)

  • Love Land, first sex theme park in China closed before construction completed – Photographs showed workers pulling down a pair of white plastic legs and hips that appear to be the bottom half of a giant female mannequin towering over the park entrance. The mannequin is wearing a red G-string. The park manager, Lu Xiaoqing, had planned to have on hand naked human sculptures, giant models of genitals, sex technique “workshops” and a photography exhibition about the history of sex. The displays would have included lessons on safe sex and the proper use of condoms. Mr. Lu told China Daily that the park was being built “for the good of the public.” Love Land would be useful for sex education, he said, and help adults “enjoy a harmonious sex life.”
  • Air Traveler Satisfaction Goes Up? Look Beyond The Data – The airline business scored 64 out of 100 in the first quarter of this year, a 3.2% increase over the same period a year ago. Airlines were still among the lowest-scoring businesses in the index, which measured customer satisfaction with the products or services of hotels, restaurants and 14 other sectors. Full-service restaurants scored highest at 84. Airlines scored far below their own index high of 72, achieved in 1994. "It certainly looks like most of these increases, if not all, are due to lower passenger load," says Claes Fornell, professor of business at the University of Michigan and index founder, noting that the recession has kept many Americans from traveling. The lower number of passengers "means more seat availability, shorter lines, more on-time arrival, fewer lost bags, and all that probably adds up to a slightly higher level of satisfaction." He noted that a reduction in the number of flights offered could erase the slight gains achieved in passenger satisfaction.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Percival Everett's short story, “The Appropriation of Cultures” – This is the second story in this podcast and is an entertaining and powerful piece of fiction about the meaning of symbols and the power that we might seize to change that meaning. Culture jamming as narrative device, in other words.
  • Ethnography is not an in-home interview – Grant McCracken considers the emerging finger-pointing as Tesco doesn't do as well in the US as they had hoped. Was research (or rather, poor research) to blame? I share his concern about people going through the motions and claiming they've done the research. A prospective client asked us the other day why they would hire us as opposed to simply borrowing a video camera from his brother and dropping into some of their target offices. It's an important question because it reveals a common mindset. My short answer was that they should definitely do that, but that the expertise we are bringing includes (but is not limited to) the ability to plan and execute those interviews so you really do get to something new, and the process for analyzing and synthesizing that data so that we can identify what it means to them and what the opportunities are. Perhaps, as McCracken suggests, Tesco failed to do just that.
  • Standing/adjustable height work surfaces, long available in workplaces, are being tried out – with seeming success – in schools – Teachers in Minnesota and Wisconsin say they know from experience that the desks help give children the flexibility they need to expend energy and, at the same time, focus better on their work rather than focusing on how to keep still.

    “We’re talking about furniture here,” she said, “plain old furniture. If it’s that simple, if it turns out to have the positive impacts everyone hopes for, wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?”

ChittahChattah Quickies

From Here to There: Design Research Symposium

Recently I was invited to ASU in Tempe, AZ, to participate in a Design Research Symposium called From Here To There, a reference (I think) to moving from questions to answers (or, perhaps, more questions).

I was pleased to be part of such a great lineup of speakers:

  • Dennis Doordan, Editor, Design Issues
  • Laura DeWitt, Research Director, laga Innovation Group
  • Dan Formosa, Smart Design Worldwide
  • Matthew Jordan, Director of Research and Interaction Design, Insight Product Development
  • David Alan Kopec – “DAK”, Associate Professor of Design, Newschool of Architecture and Design
  • Steve Portigal, Principal, Portigal Consulting
  • Meg Portillo, Chair of the Department of Interior Design, University of Florida
  • Altay Sendil, Design Researcher, IDEO
  • Jason Severs, Principal Designer, frog design
  • Susan Winchip, Professor of Interior and Environmental Design, Illinois State University
  • Matt Zabel, Human Factors and Design Research Manager, Brooks Stevens

We heard from people in academia and people in consulting practices, and we learned about culture, education, methodology, a day-in-the-life of a professional design researcher, quantitative approaches, and a lot more.

I gave a plenary address that built on Practicing Noticing Stuff and Telling Stories. The bulk of the talk was different examples of cultural norms and/or design requirements revealed through observations and photographs. Some of those pictures have appeared on this All This ChittahChattah. In a great bit of small-worldness, one of the students in attendance was the very person who had explained (in a previous blog post here) just what was going on in one of my Hong Kong pictures.

Steve talks about poo


I also ran an in-depth workshop on interviewing techniques. In our training work, we’re often using this same material in professional settings where our clients have a little or a lot of experience in using interviewing and observation as a method for gathering insights so it made for a point of contrast to have the discussion with people who are in student mode and who have had very few applied experiences with design research. I’m appreciative of these opportunities to teach a range of people with different skills levels and backgrounds as I think it keeps the material sharp and our approach always fresh.

A smattering of other conference images:
Questions, answers, and dialog

The Incredible Jason Severs


It was a great event, a good group, well organized, and good interactions. There’s a rumor that the talks may be podcast eventually. I’ll update this post if that happens.

Registration open: Design Research Methods on March 1

Registration is now open for the full-day Design Research Methods class that I’ll be teaching. It’s a full-day event on Saturday March 1, 2008 in at Involution Studios in Sunnyvale, CA. Not local to the Bay Area? Well, why not hop on a plane for the weekend?

This course will provide first-hand knowledge and training in core design research methods. At its root, design research emphasizes learning about people and using the insights gained to inform and inspire design. We will focus on exemplary models of what research is, what it looks like, its role in concept generation, and what it produces.

From the official announcement:
The Involution Master Academy recently released its Winter 2008 semester for open registration. A post-secondary education program designed for mid-career professionals, Involution Master Academy focuses on direct, one-to-one interaction and training between the instructor and students. To ensure maximum interaction and an intimate educational setting, each course only accepts nine participants.

The Winter 2008 course schedule features five courses taught by well-known user experience thought leaders:

Product Architecture Symposium
Instructor Andrei Herasimchuk
Saturday February 23, 2008
10:00 AM-6:00 PM

Design Research Methods

Instructor Steve Portigal
Saturday March 1, 2008
10:00 AM-6:00 PM

Applied Empathy: An Experience Design Framework
Instructor Dirk Knemeyer
Saturday March 8, 2008
10:00 AM-6:00 PM

Web Form Design Best Practices
Instructor Luke Wroblewski
Saturday March 15, 2008
10:00 AM-6:00 PM

Site Search Analytics for a Better User Experience
Instructor Lou Rosenfeld
Tuesday March 18, 2008
10:00 AM-6:00 PM

Past courses have sold out. Given the small class sizes, you are
encouraged to register well in advance.

Japan’s new education model is India?

Excerpted from this story

Japan is suffering a crisis of confidence about its ability to compete with its emerging Asian rivals, China and India. One result has been a growing craze for Indian education.

Many are looking for lessons from India, seen by many in Japan as the world’s ascendant education superpower.

Bookstores are filled with titles like “Extreme Indian Arithmetic Drills” and “The Unknown Secrets of the Indians.” Newspapers carry reports of Indian children memorizing multiplication tables far beyond nine times nine, the standard in Japan. And the few Indian international schools in Japan are reporting a surge in applications from Japanese families.

At the Little Angels English Academy & International Kindergarten, the textbooks are from India, most of the teachers are South Asian, and classroom posters depict animals out of Indian tales, including dancing elephants in plumed turbans.

Little Angels is in Mikata, a Tokyo suburb. Only 1 of its 45 students is Indian. Most are Japanese.

As with many new things in Japan, the interest in Indian-style education has become a social fad, with everyone suddenly piling on.

Indian education is a frequent topic in public forums, from talk shows to conferences on education. Popular books claim to reveal the Indian secrets for multiplying and dividing multiple-digit numbers.

Interesting to see how “foreign” India may be to the Japanese, such that a mythology emerges. Reminds me of the tantric sex mythology (one of many, no doubt, over the centuries) that the West has built up around India.

Learn Design Research Methods from Steve Portigal

On Tuesday nights from October 9 to November 13 I’ll be teaching a weekly two hour class, aimed at providing first-hand knowledge and training in core design research methods.

This course is part of the Involution Master Academy (an educational program for experienced professionals in design and related fields) in Sunnyvale, CA. Class size is being kept quite small to make sure that participants get significant hands-on time with instructors. Registration opens today, so sign up soon!

Full Description
This course will provide first-hand knowledge and training in core design research methods. At its root, design research emphasizes learning about people and using the insights gained to inform and inspire design. We will focus on exemplary models of what research is, what it looks like, its role in concept generation, and what it produces.

Students will develop their own design research philosophy, learn how to think about people, behavior, and culture, as well as the importance of being open to new perspectives. They will also learn tactical skills they can immediately put into practice: how to conduct observations and interviews, find research participants, and interpret and synthesize results as fodder for design and storytelling.

The schedule includes:

Week 1 – Introduction to Research
Week 2 – Methods and Research Planning
Week 3 – Problem Refinement, Interviewing & Fieldwork Planning
Week 4 – Analysis & Synthesis
Week 5 – Ideation
Week 6 – Presentation

Additional Involution Master Academy Courses:

Product Architecture Symposium
Instructor Andrei Herasimchuk
Saturday October 27, 2007
10:00 AM-6:00 PM

Strategic Influence by Design
Instructors Luke Wroblewski and Tom Chi
Saturday November 17, 2007
10:00 AM-6:00 PM


About Steve