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Academic Papers

Articulating our Thoughts and Practice

Shadow Element

Practical Strategies for International Criminal Court Outreach

Werby, C., Werby, O. (Feb. 17, 2015). “Practical Strategies for ICC Outreach” Human Rights & International Criminal Law Forum (ICC Forum).

Online

A response to a question posed by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court: “How can the ICC and its stakeholders more fully address challenges to outreach and public information, better utilize technology and other methods to enhance understanding of the Court’s mandate and activities, and promote support for its work?”

Health and Human Rights

Werby, O. (Nov. 2013). “Health and Human Rights” Health Foo, Boston, USA.

Online

“We are the futurists of health. And as such, we have to think about health globally—we can’t shy away from discussions of human rights in a context of health.”

Socio-Technical System Design

Werby, O. (May 2013). “Socio-Technical System Design” National Institute of Health, Citizen Science Engagement Think Tank, Washington, D.C., USA.

Online

A presentation on the lessons learned from designing complex socio-technical systems that required intense participation from their users.

Ushahidi for Global Development and Disaster Response

Werby, O. (Jan. 24, 2013). “Ushahidi for Global Development and Disaster Response” CITRIS: Streams, Gardens, and Clouds: Visualizing Dynamic Data for Engagement, Education and the Environment, Berkeley, USA.

Abstract to come.

ICT & ICC OTP Case Study

Steinberg, R., Werby, O. & Werby, C. (Jun. 10, 2012) “ICT & ICC OTP Case Study,” Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy; Vol 6, Issue 4.

Discussion of ICCForum.com: design, development, and impact of the project. Human Rights and International Criminal Online Forum is an example of how OTP can be used to allow members of the legal community, governments, academics, and others to debate complex issues of international criminal law faced by the Office of the Prosecutor in the course of its work at the ICC. This Forum, previously called at UCLAForum.com, is run by Dr. Richard H. Steinberg of the Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project at UCLA School of Law (UCLA Law) with the support of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC OTP).

Using Digital Storytelling to Advance Scientific Comprehension and Retention in a Middle School Science Course

Werby, O. (2012). “Using Digital Storytelling to Advance Scientific Comprehension and Retention in a Middle School Science Course” International Journal of Computer Information Systems and Industrial Management Applications. ISSN 2150-7988 Volume 4.

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As computers, digital cameras, and video editing software tools become ubiquitous in schools across the United States, teachers expand their roles from educators to producers as they take on digital storytelling projects. Unfortunately, current teacher education and experience does little to prepare teachers for this new role. The job of a producer is not only to understand the subject matter of the video project, but to also know the technologies necessary to execute the vision and the pitfalls likely to be encountered along the way. In short, teachers are asked to teach not only their subject matter (e.g. science, math, history, and language arts), but to also help students navigate a technically complicated environment of digital movie making, as well as help them translate their story ideas into an audio-visual-temporal format. Inadequate preparation creates situations where some students who are able to get outside technical support create far superior movies then their classmates without such resources. And teachers and students often have unreasonable expectations as to the necessary time and effort these projects require, as well as the quality of the output. This paper explores the difficulties teachers face when they become producers of digital stories and why it’s still worth it.

Ushahidi in Haiti: The Use of Crisis Mapping During the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti

Meier, P., Werby, O. (2011). “Ushahidi in Haiti: The Use of Crisis Mapping During the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti” IADIS: ICT, Society and Human Beings Round Table, Rome, Italy.

Ushahidi, “witness” in Swahili, is a free and open source mapping tool. It is completely public and makes use of mobile phones to collect (or crowdsource) reports of human rights abuses. In the case of 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ushahidi was used to assist the search and rescue operations and help deliver aide to where it was needed most. Ushahidi and volunteers at The Fletcher School used the mapping software to create a live map of Haiti just hours after the earthquake struck. Days later, a coalition of partners set up a short-code for Haiti—a project called Mission 4636—to allow anyone in the country to text in their location and most urgent needs while thousands of volunteers rallied to translate these text messages from Kreyol to English. Volunteers at Fletcher then identified the most pressing translated messages and added those directly to the live map of Haiti, a process called “crisis mapping.” This entire initiative was volunteer-based and thus organized outside all official channels. The live map was the best source of information about ground conditions in Haiti.

UCLA Online Law Forum

Werby, O. (2011). “UCLA Online Law Forum” Advancing the New Machine Conference, Diffusion of Innovation Panel, University of California at Berkeley Human Rights Center, Berkeley, USA.

From phones to cameras, from crisis mapping to photo editing, from news papers to forums, we manipulate and use tools and features to accomplish what we want, what we need. And we don’t necessarily use those tools for what they were designed for originally. How can designers develop systems that work for users and for producers of complex ICT project?

ICT & Human Rights

Werby, O. (2011). “ICT & Human Rights” IADIS: ICT, Society and Human Beings Round Table, Rome, Italy.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)—Internet, web, and social media—are fast becoming a comprehensive repository and soon an archive of (most) human knowledge. With access to ICT, an individual can become informed on everything from healthcare issues to civic problems to legal concerns. One hundred years ago, people were discussing the need for basic literacy and its impact on the human condition. Today, we should be discussing digital literacy and access in the same way. Digital literacy can be seen as a basic human right. Individuals can impact society, react, and reach out with the aid of technology. ICT is a powerful tool for encouraging, teaching, and protecting human rights.

Cognitive Blindness—Looking for Sources of Human Errors with Product Interactions & Interfaces

Werby, O., Werby, C. (2010). “Cognitive Blindness—Looking for Sources of Human Errors with Product Interactions & Interfaces.” IADIS: ITC, Society and Human Beings 2010 Conference, Freiburg, Germany.

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While it’s easy to determine the physical characteristics of users (at least in a face-to-face situation), their cognitive characteristics are elusive. Most individuals don’t even know if they have less than average working memory capacity or if their personality undermines their ability to notice detailed information. As product designers, we tend to design for ourselves first—if we can’t use it, chances are it won’t work for others as well. But even if the product’s interface serves its designer well, it’s no guarantee that it will serve its audience with equal success. “Cognitive blindness” is a term used here to express the difficulty we all face when it comes to knowing how others think and how their cognitive processes are different from our own. For a simple example, consider the ability to remember a photographic image. Are you better than most at this task? How can we compare and judge the quality of visual memory? Did a person focus on details or the overall effect? Was the composition or color scheme more memorable? Did everyone see the same color? But while judging the quality of memory is difficult, finding errors is easier—did the person remember the color of the butterfly spots or not? This paper analyzes some common sources of human errors and provides a few suggestions for design compensations. The main theme is to design with human errors in mind: every product will fail, but designers can minimize and mitigate the most common errors and those with the worse outcomes.

Understanding “Doability”—When Teachers Become Digital Movie Producers

Werby, O. (2010). “Understanding ‘Doability’—When Teachers Become Digital Movie Producers.” IADIS: e-Learning Conference, Freiburg, Germany.

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As computers, digital cameras, and video editing software tools become ubiquitous in schools across the United States, teachers expand their roles from educators to producers as they take on digital storytelling projects. Unfortunately, current teacher education and experience do little to prepare teachers for this new role. The job of a producer is not only to understand the subject matter of the video project, but to also know the technologies necessary to execute the vision and the pitfalls likely to be encountered along the way. In short, teachers are asked to teach not only their subject matter (e.g. science, math, history, and language arts), but to also help students navigate a technically complicated environment of digital movie making, as well as help them translate their story ideas into an audio-visual-temporal format. Inadequate preparation creates situations where some students who are able to get outside technical support create far superior movies than their classmates without such resources. And teachers and students often underestimate the necessary time and effort these projects require, as well as have unreasonable expectations for the final product. This paper explores the difficulties teachers face when they become producers of digital stories and why it’s still worth it.

Designing Optimal Educational Experiences

Werby, O. (2009). “Designing Optimal Educational Experiences,” AACE ED-MEDIA 2009 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia, & Telecommunications, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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“Flow” is an optimal experience, where a participant is so positively engaged with the activity that he loses all sense of time. Product designers have introduced the concept of “flow” to improve the experience that users have with their products. Can the same concepts used by product designers be applied to the development of instructional materials to improve their effectiveness? This paper discusses these concepts as variables and provides a useful framework to utilize these variables in curriculum design. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. The unusual comic book style used to present this paper is an illustration of the use of media to promote flow in reading complex information. Even serious work can be presented in formats that grab attention and provoke memory formation in its readers.

Characteristics of a Successful Online Learning Experience; a Case Study of Internet-based, Adult, Cooperative, Creative Writing Group Project

Werby, O. (2009). “Characteristics of a Successful Online Learning Experience; a Case Study of Internet-based, Adult, Cooperative, Creative Writing Group Project,” AACE ED-MEDIA 2009 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia, & Telecommunications, Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Internet is now an important medium for the delivery of educational content, and its influence in this area is likely to significantly increase in the future. The Internet allows a much wider variety of learners to access educational materials. And these educational materials themselves are exceptionally diverse and likely to vary widely in their effectiveness and quality. There are benefits and drawbacks to using the Internet to deliver educational opportunities. The structure of the curriculum can greatly increase the former and reduce the latter.

This paper focuses on one example of online learning: The Company Therapist project—an adult cooperative group creative writing project. It uses Jonassen et al. (2003) criteria for meaningful learning: technology should be used to engage students in active, constructive, intentional, authentic, and cooperative learning. My main goal was to design and develop an instructional structure that supports meaningful learning as defined above, takes full advantage of this medium, and caters to the needs of adult students that choose it as their preferred method for getting their education. The result of this design and development effort was The Company Therapist project, which ran continuously from 1996 to 1999. While the project is 10 years old now, the strategies used to design it are as instructionally valid today as they were then. The product of this course can be found at www.TheTherapist.com. Using the data from this project, I discuss the instructional structures necessary to support meaningful learning and student motivation.

Visual Symbolic Processing in Modern Times

Werby, O. (2008). “Visual Symbolic Processing in Modern Times,” AACE ED-MEDIA 2008 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia, & Telecommunications, Vienna, Austria.

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Personal computers make diagram, chart, and graph creation technically a lot easier: just plug in some data, choose one of the pre-defined presentation styles, and the software application churns out a pretty looking illustration. The result is a proliferation of abstract visual information, miscomprehension of which might have serious personal and civic implications. The general consensus is that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” But is it really true? In this paper, I examine the results from a small preliminary study which analyzes how much information individuals are able to extract from a set of complex diagrams and cross-reference it with public school instructional goals. In particular, visual symbolic processing is broken down into the ability to find information in a diagram; to use data in the diagram to generate new information; to create explanations of graphically presented information; to compare the usefulness of two diagrams presenting similar information; and to summarize the main ideas of a complex diagram. The subjects of this study ranged greatly in age and in levels of education. Yet, it was still apparent that higher level visual symbolic processing skills required in summarization and generation and inference of new information from existing data were the most difficult and led to the most numbers of communication failures. A surprising secondary result was a gender discrepancy in performance outcome, with female participants scoring significantly lower than their male counterparts. A planned larger study might shed more light on both outcomes.

Examination of Student Motivation and Group Dynamics in Internet-based Learning Experiences

Werby, O. (2007). “Examination of Student Motivation and Group Dynamics in Internet-based Learning Experiences,” AACE ED-MEDIA 2007 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia, & Telecommunications, Vancouver, British Columbia.

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In this paper, I examine student motivation and group dynamics for Internet-based learning materials. Student motivation and group dynamics play an important role in an instructional design. Student motivation can be improved through procedural goal alignment. Group dynamics specify whether the learning situation is collaborative, competitive, or cooperative. It notes the important conditions for these environments: the size of a group, the duration of the project, the scope of work, the individual time availability, the distribution of expertise among the group, the social status of group members, rate of communication/interaction among group members, and the distribution of work among members of the group. Online learning environments allow for collaboration, competition, and cooperation, but negotiating these interactions has to be more explicit since face to face meetings between members of a group are not possible. Recognizing the different forms of group dynamics and symmetries of member interactions is a necessary part of Internet-based learning environment design.

The Situational Learning Matrix: a Design Tool for Creation of Internet-based Learning Experiences

Werby, O. (2007). “The Situational Learning Matrix: a Design Tool for Creation of Internet-based Learning Experiences,” AACE ED-MEDIA 2007 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia, & Telecommunications, Vancouver, British Columbia.

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In this paper, I examine a taxonomy of internet-based learning materials and introduce The Situational Learning Matrix. The Situational Learning Matrix considers students’ goals for engaging with online educational materials versus the motivations of producers of those materials. I further discuss goal misalignment as a possible reason for failure of an online educational experience and provide an inventory of computer-based interactional and instructional objects.

Development of Internet-based Learning Experiences; The Company Therapist Project

Werby, O. (2005). “Development of Internet-based Learning Experiences; The Company Therapist Project,” Doctoral Dissertation, University of California at Berkeley.

This dissertation analyzes The Company Therapist project, an adult online group cooperative creative writing class. It uses Jonassen et al. (2003) criteria for meaningful learning: technology should be used to engage students in active, constructive, intentional, authentic, and cooperative learning. It examines a taxonomy of internet-based learning materials using The Situational Learning Matrix and focuses on the differences between cooperation and collaboration using the following variables (partly based on Dillenbourg (1999)): total project time, individual time, total work, individual work, group size, interaction symmetries, individual motivation, and rate of interaction. The dissertation further discusses the possible reasons for failure or success of an online educational experience and provides an inventory of computer-based interactional and instructional objects.

There are benefits and drawbacks to using the Internet to deliver educational opportunities. The structure of the curriculum can greatly increase the former and reduce the latter. My main goal was to design and develop an instructional structure that supports meaningful learning as defined above, takes full advantage of this medium, and caters to the needs of adult students that choose it as their preferred method for getting their education. The result of this design and development effort was The Company Therapist project, which ran continuously from 1996 to 1999. The product of this course can be found at www.TheTherapist.com. Using the data from this project, I’ve examined the differences between cooperative and collaborative group projects, student motivation, and goal alignment. I then discusses the instructional structures necessary to support these. I use The Company Therapist project as model of the design, development, and execution of an online course to teach creative writing to a group. I then explore taking this curriculum structure and applying it to a different circumstance with a different audience, creating a proposal for the “History in The Making” project.

An Online Strategy for Early College High Schools

Werby, O. (2003). “An Online Strategy for Early College High Schools,” 2003 Foundation for California Community Colleges Conference on Early College High Schools Initiative.

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Many high schools use the web poorly. We’ve all seen “brochureware” where the material could easily be replaced with a piece of paper, or “shovelware” where content is posted on the web with little thought as to how it is to be used. More insidious are the offerings of a number of commercial vendors which focus on the needs of the administration or faculty (i.e. tracking and assessment) rather than the real needs of individual students.

We envision the creation of an online workspace which wraps content with a collection of standardized tools and meta cognitive templates. For reasons of economies of scale, we think that this work should be developed with the input of each of the high schools and then shared among the schools rather than being developed from scratch by each institution. But each high school, and each instructor, would make their schools online space their own by filling it with their own curriculum-related content. This is particularly important when the curriculum-related content may have been originally developed for an older college-age audience.

We encourage serious attention to be paid to the opportunities of integrating online tools with traditional curricula. The online opportunity presented by the Early College High Schools is just too good to pass up.

Online Learning

Werby, O. (2003). “Online Learning,” Learning in the Palm of Your Hand Workshop SMETE—Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology Education.

Dr. Alan Kay provided the industry keynote for the workshop held January 17, 2003 at the University of California at Berkeley. Participants investigated both the technical and sociotechnical barriers and enablers associated with the use of multimedia, wireless technologies and other information technologies in education digital libraries and knowledge management.

The Relationship Between Changes in Perceptual Focus and Understanding

Werby, O. (1994). “The Relationship Between Changes in Perceptual Focus and Understanding,” 1994 AERA Conference, ERIC #: ED370971.

This paper examines how temporal and spatial observation variables can drastically alter a visitor’s comprehension of the phenomena depicted by a museum exhibit. The focus is on a tornado exhibit at the Exploratorium, a museum of science and human perception in San Francisco (California). Videotaped recordings of 10 children interacting with the simulated tornado, field observations made at the museum, and an interview with a museum employee provide data. The 10 cases show how visitors can develop misperceptions about the exhibits and the phenomena they demonstrate. Some misconceptions were based on the faulty scripts of interactions with the exhibits. Some of the scripts were observed to be derived from observing other visitors and appropriating their ideas for interactions. Observations made by visitors are influenced by numerous factors, such as vantage point and time during which the observations are made. The visitors’ backgrounds in science and their general understanding of the phenomena are also important influences on perceptual focus. Eleven figures present case data. Appendix 1 classifies the visitors, Appendix 2 presents the theoretical background, and Appendix 3 contains nine sample screens from the exhibit.

What Kids Know About Research

Werby, O. (1993). “What Kids Know About Research,” Master’s Thesis, University of California at Berkeley.

Although research is an essential function in modern society, it is rarely taught explicitly in schools. To find out what beliefs are held and what strategies are used by sixth and seventh grade students in connection with their research skills repertoire, a set of written questions, interviews, and activities were designed. This thesis offers a detailed description of this study and some conclusions reached on the basis of the data obtained. In particular, I’ve found that some students do not remember ever being asked to do research in school. No two students in this study had the same idea of what is involved in doing research, and many believed it had something to do with taking notes. Several intuitive notions—p-prims—about the validity of data held by the majority of the students are described in this paper. For example: “bigger books are better,” “all text books are better,” “books written by white men with beards are better,” are all ideas expressed by children asked to decribe the best source of valid information and rate books according to the quality of information found within.