Designing reality-based interfaces for experiential bio-design

Orit Shaer, Consuelo Valdes, Sirui Liu, Kara Lu, Kimberly Chang, Wendy Xu, Traci L. Haddock, Swapnil Bhatia, Douglas Densmore, Robert Kincaid
<span title="2013-11-27">2013</span> <i title="Springer Nature"> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/container/yubpzzxtazfhzllyyxylnnu7ru" style="color: black;">Personal and Ubiquitous Computing</a> </i> &nbsp;
Reality-based interfaces (RBIs) such as tabletop and tangible user interfaces draw upon ideas from embodied-cognition to offer a more natural, intuitive, and accessible form of interaction that reduces the mental effort required to learn and operate computational systems. However, to date, little research has been devoted to investigating the strengths and limitations of applying reality-based interaction for promoting learning of complex scientific concepts at the college level. We propose
more &raquo; ... RBIs offer unique opportunities for enhancing college-level science education. This paper presents three main contributions: 1) design considerations and participatory design process for enhancing college-level science education through reality-based interaction, 2) reflections on the design, implementation, and validation of two case studies -RBIs for learning synthetic biology, and 3) discussion of opportunities and challenges for advancing learning of college-level sciences through next generation interfaces. DRAFT Educational Interfaces Software and Technology 2 reality-based interaction for enhancing inquiry-based learning in data-intensive areas such as genomics [84, 87, 88] , phylogeny [81] and phenology [94] . Our recent work, which we present in this paper, examines how reality-based interaction techniques can be applied to facilitate problem-driven learning and understanding in synthetic biology. We chose to focus on synthetic biology since it is a new area of research where interactive tools currently remain immature. Also, designing for problem-driven learning at the intersection of science and engineering can help move forward the theory and practice of educational interfaces, software, and technology. Synthetic biology is an emerging research area that couples engineering and biology with the goal of building sophisticated biological circuits for novel applications [15] . For example, synthetic biology is used in the development of low-cost drugs for Malaria [59] , in the creation of toxin and explosive compound sensing bacteria [52] , and in the production of energy from bacteria [51]. The bottlenecks and challenges along the path to realizing the full potential of this field are formidable and numerous. For one, synthetic biology designs are currently implemented using a complex ad-hoc process that limits their scale and complexity [101]. As a result, undergraduate students in synthetic biology typically have limited opportunity to develop design competencies DRAFT Educational Interfaces Software and Technology DOI XX.XXXX/sXXXXX-XXX-XXXX-X 3 [62]. Providing students with opportunities to develop synthetic biology projects poses a challenge due to the cost and skills required for using biological technologies. Synthetic biology solutions have the potential to impact public policy decisions as well as environmental and personal choices. Thereby, in addition to training future scientists, it is important to make core concepts of synthetic biology accessible and understandable to non-scientists. This goal is often challenged by the limited access to biological technologies. In this paper, we present two case studies of applying reality-based interaction for learning in synthetic biology. Using these case studies as a starting point, we discuss how ideas from realitybased interaction can be applied to facilitate problem-driven learning and understanding of collegelevel science. Our contribution in this work is threefold. First, we describe a set of design considerations and a participatory design process for facilitating problem-driven learning in synthetic biology through reality-based interaction. Second, we reflect on the design, implementation, and validation of two case studies of RBIs for synthetic biology: 1) MoClo Planner -a multi-touch interface for collaborative bio-design; 2) SynFlo -a tangible and embodied interface for communicating core synthetic biology concepts to non-scientists. Finally, drawing on our described experiences, we discuss opportunities and challenges for advancing learning in college-level sciences through reality-based interaction. We begin by revisiting reality-based interaction and core ideas of embodied cognition, followed with a brief survey of RBIs for scientific discovery and education, and design frameworks for RBI. We also survey related work on bioinformatics tools for bio-design. Background Reality-Based Interaction Reality-Based Interaction (RBI) is a descriptive framework [48] that highlights salient commonalities of emerging interaction styles that diverge from the traditional window, icon, menu, pointing device (WIMP) interaction style. RBIs draw strength by building on users' pre-existing knowledge of the real, non-digital world to a much greater extent than before. In particular, they leverage four aspects of interaction with the non-digital world: • Naïve physics -the informal human perception of basic physical principles such as gravity, friction, velocity, the persistence of objects, and relative scale. DRAFT Educational Interfaces Software and Technology • Thinking through action: Various studies have demonstrated how physical artifacts support cognition by serving as "thinking props". Probably, most well-known are Kirsh's [53, 54] investigations of epistemic actions, which are not functional but help explore options and support memory. Thus, epistemic actions can reduce the complexity of activities. Interfaces that make epistemic actions such as pointing, turning, and arranging easier support cognition.
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