Learning by Design: Youth Building and Programming Robots
This research involves a robotics research camp where fourteen adolescents came together to design robots using Lego Mindstorms NXT technology. By leveraging Hutchins’ (1995, 2000, 2005) theory of distributed cognition and method of cognitive ethnography, I discuss initial findings from the video and audio data gathered during this research camp. In particular, I explore the cognitive implications of design-based learning by observing how adolescents followed a design model while building and programming robotic pets. I connect findings from my research to Cross’ (1986, 2006) designerly ways of knowing and expand this discussion into the realm of education by extending the idea to designerly ways of doing.
Relationality, Hybridity, Awareness: Being with AIBO
One objective of this research is to construct an ethnographic account of human-technology and human-robot relationships. Another objective is to explore the potentials of a curriculum design that involves self-observation processes in interactions with animalized artificial life robots. This work investigates whether animalized robots can stimulate relational awareness of technologies, ourselves, nonhuman animals, and environments. Key theorists that promote a hybrid understanding of relationships with technologies and nonhumans are Donna Haraway and Bruno Latour. Theories on hybridity, cyborgs, and companion species are major guides for the ethnographic account, methodology, analysis, and philosophy of this work. It has been shown in other studies, as well as in this study, that higher moral standing is often granted to animalized robots over other technologies.
Specifically, I question whether observation techniques in combination with human-robot interactions can affect participants’ perceptions of moral standing towards technologies. Methods employed to explore this question are autoethnography, ethnography, design-based research, phenomenological research, and narrative analysis. I draw from data generated by myself and five participants’ interactions with technologies and AIBO, a robotic dog. The data suggests that there is a diverse range of reflection and learning that occurs in human-technology and human-robot relationships.