EDITH K. ACKERMANN

edith (at) media.mit.edu

Edith
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Projects

Minerva

With University of Siena: EU-Funded IT-Minerva Project: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/static/Bots/docbots/TCP/Compendia/documents/Compendium_Minerva_2006_EN.pdf. [229600-CP-1-2006-1-IT-MINERVA-M].

 





PUENTE (2006-2009) -  Public spaces for inter-generational learning

Project leader: Giulio Toccafondi, University of Siena, Italy. Partners:  University of Siena, IT; University of Liège, BE;  Campo Rosso, BE; University of Barcelona, SP; FUTURELAB, UK; CER., UK; and University of Bucharest.

Visit website: http://www.saul.unisi.it/puente/

“PUENTE” stands for bridge and, in this case, the bridge connects the young and the old or, more generally, newcomers and old-timers to a place, or community: PUENTE identifies conditions that may draw folks who wouldn’t otherwise meet to do things they couldn’t otherwise dream of [learn from each other, respect one another, broaden their views]. Combining different approaches, such as case studies and participatory design tehniques, we imagine events and activities that enable participants to unveil aspects of their  “personae” otherwise untapped, and we create settings and places reflective of the changing identities and dreams of its members.

My role:

Help the team pin-down conditions conducive to convivial and learning-rich encounters, in ways that are natural and non-imposing. Help team design and evaluate experientially rich and stimulating activities, events, and spaces.  Help team identify and spread good practices that foster IG learning. 

   

With University of Siena / Kaleidoscope: Concepts and methods for exploring the future of learning with digital technologies: http://www.noe-kaleidoscope.org

 



La Piazza (2006) - Convivial space, transitional zone, living stage

Project leader: Rossella Magli, Campo Rosso    Partners:  Campo Rosso, NESTA Future Lab, UBARCELONA, ULIEGE, UNISI. LEGO

Visit website: http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/project_flyers/la_piazza.pdf

A  “piazza” is a place where it feels good to be together. It is also a place where people, like actors on a stage, play out their dramas and unveil aspects of their “personae” otherwise untapped. Lastly, a “piazza” is a living memory p(a)lace, structured by the community and reflective of the changing identities and dreams of its members. Our research team investigates existing third-places, identifies qualities that make for convivial spaces, and imagines scenarios for the “piazza” of the future. Three questions drive the inquiry: 1. How to create a climate conducive to meaningful encounters between young and old. 2. How to merge digital and physical, or brick and click, in the design of sensorially rich and stimulating places. 3. How to preserve the poetic quality of place beyond functionality?

My role: Help build a vocabulary to capture the qualities of good-enough piazzas. Help imagine scenarios conducive to casual learning. Help merge physical and digital in the design of experiencially-rich event/ambient spaces. 

   

 


MIT Media Laboratory.

With Future of Learning Group. David Cavallo, Seymour Papert. Learning in a digital world. Kids designers. Constructionism. Website: http://learning.media.mit.edu/projects.html/ or www.media.mit.edu/research/56

 





RoBallet (2003) - Kids designers, dancers, choreographers

David Cavallo, Seymour Papert, Arnan Sipitakiat, Shaundra Bryant Daily, Cynthia Solomon, Edith Ackermann, Jacques d'Amboise, Dufftin Garcia and National Dance Institute

Visit the web log: http://weblogs.media.mit.edu/roballet/

RoBallet is a project that brings together the arts, learning, and technology. In RoBallet, children extend the joy and creativity of expression through dance. They are encouraged to set their own stage by programming interactive robots, animation, music, light, and images in their dance space. The children are both dancers and choreographers. They outfit their bodies and the environment with small mobile computational devices and sensors so that their bodies can generate the activity of the space. Central to our vision is that children should control technology to serve their imaginations, and not be driven by it. The experience results in a deeper understanding of arts as expression, technology as a means to serve expression, and learning as "hard fun"—creative and enjoyable yet disciplined and mindful.

Alumni Contributor(s): Anindita Basu, Luke Ouko and Larissa Welti-Santos

 




The City that We Want/A Cidade que a Gente Quer (2003-2007)

Agencia Estado, Bradesco Foundation, Municipal Education Secretariats of Curitiba and São Paulo, David Cavallo, Alicia Cavallo, Luke Ouko, Shaundra Bryant Daily, Edith Ackermann, Ron MacNeil and Arnan Sipitakiat

Visit website: http://learning.media.mit.edu/projects.html

In this project, learners create tangible models of the cities they dream up. The basic premise is that students will engage in a critical inquiry into the life, culture, and functioning of their cities, and imagine desirable improvements. Students can either address something they perceive as problematic (waste recycling, transportation, energy generation and consumption, violence), or they can propose a working model for a playful utopia, a humorous intervention, or a grand new idea (public entertainment spaces, instant playgrounds, a chocolate factory). The teams work in a variety of computational and traditional media. We are facilitating their process, providing them with the support and tools they need to achieve their goals, and building new technologies for distance support and collaboration. The project also serves as a model for alternative-learning environments and for teacher development.

Alumni Contributor(s): Georgina Echániz Pellicer, Anindita Basu, Paulo Blikstein and Luke Ouko

 




Learning Hubs (2000-2007) - Living apart, growing together

David Cavallo, Seymour Papert, Arnan Sipitakiat, Jacqueline Karaaslanian, Edith Ackermann and Alice Mello Cavallo.

Visit website: http://www.media.mit.edu/research/56

We are creating a network of initially small entities called "Learning Hubs." Local Learning Hubs will serve as public access technology and learning centers, schools, centers for community development, incubators for small technology-based businesses, sites for professional development of educators, and centers for intellectual and political discussion. Initial sites include locations in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand, Ireland, and Senegal. The form differs in each country but the network provides a means to learn from each other. This international network of projects and activists is an essential part of the project, allowing the leveraging of each other's projects and the constitution of a critical mass of concrete examples and instantiations of innovative learning environments.

Alumni Contributor(s): Georgina Echániz Pellicer, Anindita Basu, Paulo Blikstein and Luke Ouko
 




Mega-Change in Learning? (2002-2007) - Sustainable development

Seymour Papert, David Cavallo, Shaundra Bryant Daily, Arnan Sipitakiat, Cynthia Solomon, Edith Ackermann, Laura Nichols and Mel King.

http://www.media.mit.edu/research/56

Rethinking learning is important. Sustainability is vital. Yet what can we do, as a group, to help tap into the potential of children worldwide and provide opportunities for every child (and adult) to enjoy the living and learning conditions they deserve? In our projects, we develop very low-cost digital solutions in areas that unlock possibilities otherwise not achievable, and we favor platforms that can be owned and shaped for local uses. We develop content and support materials that combine low and high tech, and take advantage of access. We create demonstration projects to explicate new ideas for practice, we show what is possible, and we facilitate the process.

Alumni contributors:  Georgina Echániz Pellicer, Anindita Basu, Paulo Blikstein

My role as a collaborator of the Future of Learning projects:

I focus on children’s learning and development. I am interested in how any person's epistemological believes (deeply held convictions on what it means and takes to be smart, or grow as a person) inform their ways of learning and teaching. I tap into my experience as a psychologist to rethink learning in specific domains. I imagine and design engaging tools and activities. I help facilitate teamwork, and I serve as a mentor to many graduate students.

   

 

With INVIVIA Inc. (Design firm). Founders: Allen Sayegh, Peter Mabardi [works I participated in include: Machine & Geist, Tulipomania, Wink, Anemones, Path-finder, Keeping touch, Calendar, Prove it! cf.   http://www.invivia.com/ ]

Selected Projects

 



Keeping Touch (2006) – Smart surface for families and homes

Team: INVIVIA. Client: Hewlett-Packard, 2006

Visit website: http://www.invivia.com/v3/

This project brings the tradition of white boards a step further by providing families with a digital “magnetic frig kit” to help it members touch base and keep in touch. Conceived of as a shared “doodling” surface, the board allows users to easily jog down, edit, and group personal notes, pictures, and recorded voice notes on digital post-its. Post-its can be addressed, dated, and used as reminders. While designed to help families manage their time and orchestrate their chores, the tool fosters creative exchanges and reflects a family’s identity. It is ultimately these hidden qualities of the “doodling” board that users may fall in love with.

My role: Help INVIVIA team keep-alive end-users’ needs and wants. Turn research findings (personae, user studies) into scenarios that capture key aspects of [actual and desired] user experience. Make sure users’ preferences don’t get lost along the way. Allow designers to offer innovative solutions that users can’t express, yet will love once they see it. Invent techniques (ex: rapid prototyping) to check relevance of proposed solutions.

   
 

Nano within Reach - A Children’s Museum Science Project

Team: INVIVIA. Client: Gyeonggi Children’s Museum, Seoul, Korea

Space design and technology come together to provide museum goers with a highly engaging and a fully immersive experience into the intangible - and invisible - worlds of nano: Changes in scale, powers of ten, and active features of nano textures and nano-bots are brought to mind’s reach through a variety of hands-on, heads in, and play-back activities. Activities are woven into a continuous journey in and out of a magic nano-room. INVIVIA’s proposed Travels into the Tiny devises unedited “transforming” mechanisms, to help young visitors “see”, feel, and grasp the world of the tiny, as they themselves are made to shrink and grow.

My role:  I am responsible for the learning philosophy and interaction principles behind the design of the exhibit.  Drawing from my work with children, I help craft a metaphorical journey that captures young visitors’ imagination and sustains mindful engagement, beyond “wow”.

 

        

Tulipomania (2005) - Interactive spaces, ambient presence

Team: INVIVIA. Client: Darty, Torino, Italy

This is an interactive installation for the entrance of a retail store at the heart of Torino’s elegant downtown shopping gallerias. Colorful animations are projected onto an “alee” of sandblasted glass panels, while sensors detect the proximity of passers-by. Animations move gently, as if animated by a breeze, when visitors pass close by. In addition to the responsive panels, INVIVIA designed the lighting and the interior physical space of the entrance. The idea was to create an ambient mood of welcoming serenity as a counter-point to the bazaar-like buzz of usual shopping centers.

Visit website: http://www.invivia.com/v3/

My role: I am responsible for interaction design. I visit the site. I help align client’s requests and visitors’ enjoyment. I participate in the overall design process.

 




Path Finder (2005) -  Dynamic Maps,  Beirut City Center

Team: INVIVIA. Client: Solidere

New comers and residents of a city like to find their way around by zooming in and out and navigating to find their favorite and new restaurants, events, museums, shops, arts, history and life. They like to map distances, learn about Beirut’s archeological history, and be connected to others in their communities.  INVIVIA provides an interactive map of downtown Beirut as well as the ability for users to zoom in to see a detailed view of the street façades, the type of business, cultural spaces and events. The proposed interface draws our distant-travelers into the map and lets them “mouse” their way around while the map unveil otherwise missed secrets, at their hands’ passage: The map becomes the territory! Users can tell the system about their moods and the map will unveil what pleases them. It will help them casually run into what they want!

My role: I help devise navigational metaphor for current interface design.

 


School of Architecture.

Host: William Porter. Design inquiry. http://dcg.mit.edu

Project

 

E-WALL— A computational framework for human decision making

PIs: William Porter, Patrick Winston. Researchers: Paul Keel, Matthew Sither; Consultants: Edith Ackermann, Jeffrey Huang. Sponsors and Collaborators: ONR, SPAWAR, NAVAIR, NPS, Saab Aerospace.

Visit website: http://ewall.mit.edu/

EWall introduces a computational framework for the formation of ideas in a collective brainstorming process. EWall is a web-based environment that allows users to collect, organize and view graphical and contextual information. It introduces new methodologies for brainstorming, supports the negotiation process among multiple users and provides mechanisms to arrange data in various ways. The objective is to reduce the necessary amount of verbal communication during a brainstorming process in order to improve efficiency, allow more people to collaborate and encourage asynchronous and remote participation.

My role: I identify the psychological mechanisms, socio-relational processes, and situational constraints that shape the ways humans collaborate. I gauge E-Wall’s affordances, or potential to help individuals and teams build on each other’s contributions, leverage their process, and better their outcomes.

 


MERL (Completed)

A Mitsubishi Electric Research  Laboratory, Cambridge.For motivated basic research and advanced  development in computer and communication technologies:  http://www.merl.com/

Projects

 




Experience Journals: A Web-based Tool for Sharing Stories

Team: MERL: Dennis Bromley, Carol Strohecker, Joe Marks, Edith Ackermann, Sarah Gibson, Chia Shen, and Marina Umaschi. Department of Psychiatry, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School: Joseph Gonzalez-Heydrich, David Ray DeMaso, Julie Dahlmeier Erickson, Kevin M. Brooks, Beth Donegan, Sarah Lualdi, and Judith Karlin. Sponsors: The Noonan Fund is supporting clinical trials of the software and study of trial results.

Visit website: http://www.merl.com/projects/xpjournal/

Researchers at MERL and Boston's Children's Hospital join forces to produce an application that records, organizes, and displays stories. Stories are written by people who share problems or interests, such as coping with the illness of a loved one. Characteristics of these communities and their recorded experiences have led us to experiment with an initial algorithm toward the vision of a self-organizing, self-evolving, web-based system. With support from the Noonan Fund, psychologists at Children's Hospital are conducting studies to ascertain the software's usability and its usefulness in helping people cope with illness.

My role: Usability, interaction design.
 




PatternMagix: Exploring Emergent Effects of Geometric Symmetries

Team: MERL researchers Edith Ackermann and Carol Strohecker, in cooperation with Kazuo Kyuma and Shinji Komori of MELCO, Adrienne Slaughter, and Aseem Agarwala of MIT

Visit websites: http://www.merl.com/projects/pmagix/      

View storyboard
http://www.open-video.org/details.php?videoid=4988&surrogate=storyboard

PatternMagix is one of a series of prototype environments in which learners experiment with part-whole relationships by composing objects and observing effects that emerge when the objects combine in a larger context. Such experimentation can support development of scientific understandings in the domain of multivariate systems. In PatternMagix, learners play in a world of colorful tiles and geometric operations, from which they create mosaic-like patterns. Interactions take the form of a dialog as learners use different modes of the dynamic interface. Play areas change size to reflect the dialogic turn-taking as constructions proceed.

My role: Project leader, with Carole Srohecker.

Motivation and objective: Like Dewey, Piaget, and Papert, we believe that learners construct their own knowledge, rather than absorbing what others present to them. We observe that learning happens particularly well when the learner is making something personally meaningful, which others can appreciate. Our aim is to provide tools for creation and appreciation in exploratory learning.

 




AnimMagix: Learning about Emergent Effects of Behavioral Attributes

Collaboration:  MERL researchers Edith Ackermann and Carol Strohecker, in cooperation with Kazuo Kyuma and Shinji Komori of MELCO, and Adrienne Slaughter, Aseem Agarwala, and Daniel Gilman.

 Visit website: http://www.merl.com/projects/amagix/

AnimMagix is one of a series of prototype environments in which learners experiment with part-whole relationships by composing objects and observing effects that emerge when the objects combine in a larger context. Such experimentation can support development of scientific understandings in the domain of multivariate systems.

In AnimMagix, learners play in a world of whimsical creatures and social behaviors, from which they create groups of dynamic, mutually responsive beings. Interactions take the form of a dialog as learners use different modes of the dynamic interface. Play areas change size to reflect the dialogic turn-taking as constructions proceed.
    
Users construct creatures by adjusting three behavioral attributes: perceptivity, sociability, and motility. Interactions among these attributes affect the creatures' movements as they "dance" together.

My role: Project leader, with Carol Strohecker.

Motivation and objective: Like Dewey, Piaget, and Papert, we believe that learners construct their own knowledge, rather than absorbing what others present to them. We observe that learning happens particularly well when the learner is making something personally meaningful, which others can appreciate. Our aim is to provide tools for creation and appreciation in exploratory learning.