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Artifacts Seminar

CSCI 7782-001 Topics in Cognitive Science

call # 84990   -- 3 credit hours

"Perspectives in CSCL:

Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning"

Instructor: Gerry Stahl            Contact: Gerry.Stahl@Colorado.edu

Time: Tuesdays 3:30-6:00 pm;     August 29-December 12;     Place: Stadium 140


go to WebGuide to discuss readings, video, etc. (you will have to download the Java 1.2 or 1.3 browser plug-in)

go to short download of WebGuide (you will have to download the Java Swing library)

user manual for WebGuide

WebGuide start-up instructions 

list of papers about WebGuide

list of readings and bibliography

list of participants

introductory narrative of SimRocket sessions

detailed log of SimRocket video Tape A

detailed log of SimRocket video Tape B

video clips & transcripts of SimRocket sessions

run SimRocket simulation

instructions for SimRocket experiment

student data from SimRocket experiment

the role of computational cognitive artifacts in a CSCL seminar

artifacts and the foundations of L3D

NSF proposal: the role of computational cognitive artifacts in collaborative learning and education

Artifact-Mediated Cognition by Gerry

Notes on Clip #6 (extended) by Gerry

Gestures, Knowledge and the World by Curt

Theses on Cognitive Artifacts by Gerry

Reading List


Course Description:

An interdisciplinary seminar on issues in the theory and practice of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). This is a theory and research approach to explore the potential future of the field, not a presentation of current educational technology applications. It is designed for graduate students, researchers, and faculty interested in cognitive theory, collaborative learning practices, and the design / development of innovative educational software. The seminar spans the disciplines of computer science, education, communication, philosophy, linguistics, and psychology. It is run collaboratively and diverse perspectives/backgrounds are welcome and valued. The course is approved for the ICS joint PhD program as an interdisciplinary course in the cognitive sciences. 

Focal Issue:

In Fall 2000, the seminar will explore the following focal issue:

How does a cognitive artifact embody meaning?

How is meaning socially constructed, perceived, recognized, and enacted in the use of cognitive artifacts? For instance, how do middle school students learn to use a software simulation artifact to engage in particular tasks of scientific inquiry?

The concept of the artifact is central to much contemporary theory -- including cultural psychology, situated action, activity theory, distributed cognition, phenomenology, post-modernism, anthropology. There is increasing recognition of the essential role of cultural symbols, external representations, and physical objects in human cognition. Within the field of CSCL, a pivotal question is how computational artifacts mediate group learning. Despite the importance of the concept of the artifact, there is no adequate description of how physical and symbolic objects come to embody socially shared meaning, how this meaning is preserved and transmitted, or how it is shared and reactivated. The seminar will study a number of approaches to investigating these phenomena.

Theoretical Perspectives:

We will engage in detailed textual interpretations of brief texts representing theoretical perspectives on the cognitive role of cultural artifacts. These will be excerpts (averaging 30 pages) from seminal primary sources in cognitive science, cultural theory, philosophy, and social theory.

Empirical Research:

We will engage in detailed videotape analysis of middle school students learning to use a computer simulation of rocket launches to design their own model rockets. We will look at how the students appropriate this complex socio-technical artifact -- including the simulation itself, instructions for the simulation, data sheets the students fill out, acceptable procedures for analysis, and patterned ways of talking about all these. 

Reflective Practice:

Our collaborative learning will be supported by a variety of artifacts, computational and otherwise: the theory texts, digitized video clips, and collaboration software. We will reflect on the implications for each other of (a) our interpretations of the various theoretical perspectives, (b) our analysis of the middle school learning, and (c) our own experience with on-line collaboration software.

Course Expectations:

The course will be an experiment in collaborative knowledge-building on the topic of cognitive artifacts. It is anticipated that we will build a deeper understanding of this topic from specific perspectives than has ever been expressed in the research literature, based on a careful reading of a wide variety of relevant seminal writings. In particular, we will be concerned with theoretical frameworks and empirical methodologies for studying the nature of cognitive artifacts. We will be especially concerned with computer-based technologies for CSCL, considered as cognitive artifacts, and their use in collaborative settings. It is hoped that research in the seminar will lead to professional publications and grant proposals. However, the only course requirement is participation in the on-line and (where possible) face-to-face discussion.

All seminar participants will be expected to read the theoretical texts and engage in on-line discussion of them. All participants will be expected to view the video clips and engage in on-line discussion of them. All students taking the seminar for credit will be expected to develop a theoretical perspective (based on one or more of the readings), to champion it within the seminar, to organize a coherent on-line reflection on the focal issue from that perspective, and to comment on other students' on-line perspectives.

There are no prerequisites, although good interdisciplinary reading skills will help. You will learn how to interpret theory texts, analyze video interactions, and collaborate on-line. Diverse backgrounds of participants will contribute to a successful seminar experience. A limited number of people will be invited to participate virtually -- from around the world.

The Instructor:

Gerry Stahl is a Research Professor in ICS (Institute of Cognitive Science), CS (Department of Computer Science), and L3D (the Center for LifeLong Learning & Design). He brings an interdisciplinary background to this course, having his undergraduate degree from MIT in math and humanities, a PhD from Northwestern in philosophy (with research on social theory at Frankfurt and Heidelberg), and a PhD from CU in Computer Science. He is currently developing the collaboration software (named WebGuide) that will be used in the seminar. See his home page for links to his publications, projects, background and interests. He is Program Chair of the international conference, CSCL 2002, which will be held in Boulder in January 2002.

This page last modified on August 11, 2003