Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sixth DATC Junto

Hi Everyone,

The Sixth DATC Junto will be in UMC 404 from 11:00 to 12:30 on Tuesday, October 3rd.

The readings are:

  1. (1996) Cooper, Alan, "Three Models of Computer Software." Technical Communication, Third Quarter, 1996. pp. 229-236.
  2. (1970) Young, Richard E., Alton L. Becker, and Kenneth L. Pike, "Rhetoric: Discovery and Change." Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. San Diego. Chapter 6, pp. 119-136.

The Young, Becker and Pike reading presents a heuristic for invention. I thought we could spend about half of the Junto talking about that. I've found their heuristic to be very helpful when my thinking gets stuck and I need to find a new perspective on a problem. I think this heuristic might be of use to DATCs as well. For this reading, don't worry too much about pp. 131-135; they go in-depth into a linguistic approach to the heuristic.

The Cooper reading presents models describing interface design. I think the concepts presented in the article could be quite helpful to DATCs as they work with faculty who are designing web spaces for their work.

Here are some things to think about as you read and prepare for Tuesday's discussion:

  • What is the relationship between wicked problems (defined by Horst Rittel in last month's reading) and ill-defined problems (in Young, Becker, and Pike)?
  • Please bring a problem you are working with to the Junto and be prepared to illustrate how working through the nine cells on p. 127 (Young, Becker, and Pike) could be helpful in giving you an idea on how to solve the problem.
  • In what way are DATCs interface designers (see Cooper)? In what way are they not interface designers?
  • Is it possible for DATCs to create a useful manifest model and share that with a professor so that he or she could better interact with software or a web site (see Cooper)?
  • Does the comment on p. 231 of Cooper illustrate why DATCs are needed? "There is a real communication gap between technical people who understand implementation models and non-technical users who think purely in terms of mental models."
  • How close do the manifest models found within WebCT CE 4.1 and WebCT CE 6 match the mental models of professors you work with? If there is a distance between the manifest models provided by WebCT and the mental models of professors, what can you do in your job to help bridge that distance?
  • Can Young, Becker, and Pike's heuristic procedure for shifting perspectives and defining characteristics of a unit help DATCs in creating a manifest model that reaches professors?
  • Is the shift from mechanical manifest models to information manifest models part of a natural process of change for users as they encounter computers
  • What would Prensky say to Cooper if they were talking about manifest models for digital natives vs. digital immigrants?

One way of thinking about DATC work is some assistance DATCs provide faculty members is helping them create analogs from the physical world to the information technology world. So for example, a DATC could help a professor create PowerPoint slides that match the overhead slides the professor used to use. Another method of assistance DATCs provide faculty members is in using information technologies in truly new and innovative ways. Here they move the professor out of the world of physical and mechanistic modes of using technologies into modes of using technologies that are possible because of the information technologies. One example might be working what-if scenarios in real time as professors analyze a data set. Another example might be creating a simulation that allows you to look at a data set from a perspective not seen before (for example the simulation Dave Underwood created where you fly towards a storm and then shift your perspective on the storm by 90 degrees nearly instantaneously). What do our readings tell you about helping faculty members in the latter mode? What methods can you use to engage faculty members in this more transformative use of information technologies?

I look forward to discussing these and other questions with you.

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