Beyond access: informed participation and empowerment

Ernesto Arias, Hal Eden, Gerhard Fischer, Andrew Gorman, Eric Scharff
1999 International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning  
This paper is based on the fundamental claim that one of the major roles of new media is not to deliver predigested information to individuals, but to provide the opportunity and resources for social debate and discussion. For most design problems (ranging from urban design to graphics design and software design) that we have studied over many years, the knowledge to understand, frame, and solve these problems does not exist, but is constructed and evolved during the process of solving them,
more » ... loiting the power of the "symmetry of ignorance" and "breakdowns." From this perspective, access to existing information and knowledge (often seen as the major advance of new media) is a very limiting concept. Many social and technological innovations are limited to provide primarily better access, leading to "consumer" cultures. Our approach focuses and creates support for lifelong learning activities grounded in informed participation and empowerment, allowing learners to incrementally acquire ownership in problems and contribute actively to their solution. To illustrate our approach, we present the Envisionment and Discovery Collaboratory (EDC), an integrated physical and computational environment supporting informed participation through new forms of knowledge creation, integration, and dissemination. The EDC empowers users to act as designers in situated learning and collaborative problemsolving activities. It addresses the integration of the userís consumer and designer roles, not by translating them into an "either-or" type of support, but rather by providing users with the flexibility to move along this spectrum according to needs, opportunities, and personal interest and engagement in particular learning situations.
dblp:conf/cscl/AriasEFGS99 fatcat:iy7bmm6ucbb4jfmkfibesyyrsu