Bresciaclass Report Long


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In collaboration with the Province of Brescia, Italy, we aim to redesign the relationship between four elements: information, the urban space, people and institutions. First, we will innovatively imagine new forms of communication and services to foster learning, knowledge and social inclusion. In particular, we will investigate the use of new media and communication technologies to promote social sustainability and cultural enrichment for location-based communities. Second, we will explore innovative designs for embedding electronics into the urban fabric, as well as into the public transportation system, so that they may promote ubiquitous accessibility to information, culture and knowledge. The ultimate goal of the project is to imagine how new media and mobile technologies can increase the younger population's awareness of environmental problems, foster learning and civic engagement.

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Bresciaclass Report Long

  1. 1. Brescia: Promoting Learning, Sustainability, and Civic Engagement through New Media MIT Mobile Experience Lab - Fall 2007
  2. 2. An educational workshop held at the Mobile Experience Lab, part of the Design Lab under the School of Architecture and Planning, at the Mas- sachusetts Institute of Technology, in collaboration with the Provincia di Brescia, Italy, Assessorato Innovazione, Giovani e Università, in Fall 2007.
  3. 3. TABLE OF CONTENTS 6 Foreword 8 Participants 10 Introduction 20 Methodology 32 Framework 46 Inspirational Material Brescia Project Table of Contents
  4. 4. 62 Design Interventions 66 Brescia 2.0 82 EcoPets 98 Reconfigured Bus 108 EcoWearables 120 Conclusions 124 References 128 Acknowledgements 5
  5. 5. Brescia Project Foreword
  6. 6. FOREWORD THE INTERACTION between individu- to the potential for the successful evolution of vices to the people, and to consider the public civic participation through new media. What transport system –inseparable from the urban, als, communities and institutions takes place is at stake is nothing less than the meaning of social and economic fabric of the city- as a in multiple contexts within a territory: public public space in the age of wireless technolo- suitable environment for the convergence of spaces and civic buildings give shelter to gies and augmented architectures. ubiquitous accessibility to digital information collective activities and physical presence to and participatory involvement of the com- institutions, public transportation systems Considering these elements, we ask: What will munities across Brescia’s territory. It became allow people to traverse a territory following be the future of public space? How will trans- apparent that this convergence is a powerful certain patterns, and internet and cell phone port systems make use of mobile technologies argument for attracting young population networks enable communication between to become a rich experience of encounters, into a hybrid space of community-building distant actors via personal computers and participation, learning and play? How will mo- and participation. Furthermore, a system that wireless mobile devices. Our project inves- bile wireless devices change the way people relates the public transport infrastructure with tigates the potential of a dialogue between navigate the city as well as access, produce emerging communication technologies in an these sub-systems to generate new kinds of and share information and goods? open and accessible way has the potential to urban experience, and new platforms for civic promote awareness of sustainable practices at engagement, participation and learning. The content of this report is based on the non-explicit levels, far from the pamphlet or educational design workshop “Learning the sermon. Our starting premise is that the interaction Sustainability: Promoting Learning and Civic between people and institutions is a rich Engagement through New Media”, held at the Defining a dynamic relationship between dialogue that encompasses multiple modes of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Design people, transportation and information, trig- communication (among individuals, between Lab, Fall 2007. MAS 551, in collaboration with gers a complex series of mutual effects that individual and community, and between Provincia di Brescia, Italy. This report, more require the design of the system to be tackled communities). This premise led us to project than a linear account of the workshop, should from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, the government’s presence in the Province of serve as an instrument to “think with” that from product and interface design to com- Brescia as an open platform for socio-cultural reflects the results of the collective efforts of puter science, architecture and sociology. The and economic encounter, rather than as a both MIT and the Provincia di Brescia. synergistic overlap of these elements relates distant source that delivers contents and ser- 7
  7. 7. Brescia Project Participants
  8. 8. PARTICIPANTS Class Instructors Federico Casalegno William J. Mitchell Course Collaborators Orkan Telhan Sebastian (Guz) Gutmann Students Colleen Kaman, Comparative Media Studies, MIT Lorenza Parisi, Sociology, Visiting Student, MIT Bo Stjerne Thomsen, Architecture, Research Fellow, MIT Daniel Cardoso, Design and Computation, MIT Michelle Petersen, Architecture, MIT Anthony Rizos, Urban Studies and Planning, MIT Solomon Bisker, Computer Science, MIT Joseph Brown, Mechanical Engineering, MIT Mingxi Li, Massachusetts College of Art and Design Zijian Li, Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design 9
  9. 9. Brescia Project Introduction
  10. 10. INTRODUCTION 11
  11. 11. SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY expert Chris engagement and learning. On one hand ex- ists the risk of increasing the so-called digital The interaction between these actors is a Zegras describes public transport systems as divide; but, on the other, exists the opportu- subject worthy of design and debate, and is one of many “subsystems” that a city is made nity to design interfaces that allow people to the driving concern of this investigation. Each of . Transport systems provide people with perceive and navigate the city while accessing of the proposals presented tackles a particular mobility, but other sub-systems like Internet the available electronic resources, and per- aspect of this interaction. As indicated above, and cell phone networks provide mobility haps creating and sharing new resources in a comprehensive design solution that fosters to information. The interplay between mov- novel and playful ways. a novel dialogue between the public transport ing people and ubiquitous digital informa- and wireless network infrastructures can be tion allowed by new technologies results in a This broad understanding lays out a working expected to enrich the urban experience, and revised notion of transportation, where a new framework for the manipulation of new media to increase both civic engagement and learn- set of actors needs to be considered among alongside common architectural and design ing in the Province of Brescia. Our understand- the old ones: 1) the bus, a public transporta- tools, while dismantling conventional-wisdom ing of civic engagement is thus broadened by tion device that acts also as a place for social disciplinary barriers that very often constrain a our view of technology as a bridge between encounters, access to information, sightseeing design approach to predictable solutions. The the collective realm of public space, travel and and travel; 2) the bus station, a physical space expression “augmented architecture”, used physical mobility and the individual realm of where passengers wait for the bus, access by Lev Manovich to refer to the specific case wireless personal media, data transmission information, rest and communicate; 3) the in- of interactive information display surfaces in and wearable computing. formation infra-structure, comprising both the buildings, serves us as a scaffold for the more intangible wireless networks and the devices general “augmented city”, or for our particu- Ubiquitous and pervasive access to informa- that connect to them (such as mobile phones, lar case in Brescia: an “augmented province”, tion reconfigure not only the way people portable and wearable computers, and build- where inhabitants interface with other in- perceive and travel through the territory, but ings); 4) the people, young and old, that uses habitants, with their communities, and with also the way people form societies, belong to the system, each with different needs and the larger scope of the province through new communities and access the resources that desires; 5) the province’s territory, as a politi- media. The virtual space defined by intangible the city offers. This is a fundamental aspect in cal and administrative entity, and as a cultural networks is superimposed to the physical the design of a system geared towards civic and social environment. Brescia Project Introduction
  12. 12. as an ecology of user-generated information These are not only a central part of the system territory of the province, creating an environ- travel and display across the Province of Bres- but they define new ways of mobility within ment of an entirely different nature. A new cia; (2) as a system of sub-cultures that clash, the city context. Techno-pessimists, rebels form of city topology (Mitchell, “e-topia”). play, compete and learn within the province, against the future, think of a dark universe (3) as a system of static and mobile spaces that where users, prisoners of the electric virtual The MIT Mobile Experience Lab takes a mul- enable the configuration of social and eco- sphere, tend to confine themselves in the tidisciplinary approach at understanding nomic exchanges, as well as learning and play, golden cages of the electronic bits and to be people’s experiences using wireless commu- and (4) as a system where the communication disconnected from the physical world. From a nication technologies, while exploring how between the individual and the collective different perspective -the one we put forward- mobile media impact societies, communities realms is channeled through clothes and the the always increasing presence of digital infor- and spaces. When designing a system that body itself. mation available in a wide variety of physical is to operate in such an environment, the places has the potential to enhance them correlation between the territory, the digital The main design proposals, as detailed in the and enrich them; the environment becomes a information and the people is crucial. Mobil- following pages, are: real interface of mobility, a connective tissue, ity happens equally from a physical and from where digital location-specific information a cognitive point of view. As Gregory Bateson 1_Brescia 2.0 enriches people’s experience of their naviga- had begun to realize, we are not fully con- 2_EcoPets tion through the city. tained within our skins, and our extended 3_Reconfigured Bus networks and fragmented habitats make us 4_EcoWearables Keeping in mind these aspects, this report spatially and temporally indefinite entities: de- considers the potential of new technologies signing from this standpoint implies giving co- and design strategies to promote learning and herence to a system that includes elements of civic engagement in the province of Brescia, very different sorts. In this system, the super- and makes several specific design proposals. imposition of the physical territory with the digital information is central. We deal with a In doing so, it puts forward the following dif- superimposition and not with a mutual exclu- ferent perspectives of Brescia’s civic realm: (1) sion between physical and electronic spaces. 13
  13. 13. 1_Brescia 2.0 An infrastructure of virtual services localized around bus stops and buses can act as an open platform for content generation and sharing, building bonds within communities, and –by intelligently propagating these con- tents- connecting otherwise distant communi- ties. Brescia Project Introduction
  14. 14. 2_EcoPets A system of personal interactive accessories for distributed pollution monitoring, social networking and transportation can foster play and healthy competition among the young, turning sustainable practices into status sym- bols. 15
  15. 15. 3_Reconfigured Bus By reshaping the experience of the bus trav- eler in Brescia through electronic games and displays and a re-configuration of its physical space, we can make transportation a more social and playful event, suitable for learning and play. Brescia Project Introduction
  16. 16. 4_EcoWearables Responsive tattoos and bracelets can reshape the dialogue between the bearer and its environment, while opening avenues for new kinds of social interaction. 17
  17. 17. Conclusions The evolution of the public space in cities and territories has yet to embrace the potential of new emergent technologies to enhance the participatory dialogue between people and institutions. Designing for the new urban topologies generated by the convergence of wireless networks and the physical structure of a territory requires discussion and cross-dis- ciplinary debate. Taken together, the propos- als presented here can produce a more flex- ible, agile, responsive environment that takes full advantage of the new possibilities opened up by current technologies to foster learning and civic engagement. Brescia Project Introduction
  18. 18. 19
  19. 19. Brescia Project Methodology
  20. 20. METHODOLOGY 21
  21. 21. THE EDUCATIONAL design workshop Students were from very different cultural backgrounds speaking English, Spanish, Ger- “Learning Sustainability: Promoting Learning man, Italian, Turkish, Chinese, and French. and Civic Engagement through New Media”, Moreover, the workshop is not curriculum took place during the 2007 Fall academic se- based but focused on a project-based educa- mester at MIT’s Mobile Experience Lab. Below tional approach. Critical to this project is the is a descriptive summary of how we formed construction of a core design team because the class team for the workshop, the class dy- as the project grows the students’ participa- namics and, finally the collaborative learning tion also changes based on academic require- environment we used to run the workshop. ments. The core team of the MIT Mobile Expe- rience Lab ( frames the 1_The Team design process by functioning as socialization agent by introducing new team members Choosing committed students with the about our design methodology. Student proper skills and talent to achieve the proj- selection allows us to form a highly motivated ects’ goals is a crucial step to set up effective multidisciplinary, multicultural and multilin- collaborative learning environments. One of gual team that maintains a high energy level the strengths of MIT Mobile Experience Lab throughout the course of the project. classes is the multidisciplinary composition of research groups. This diversity provides the 2_The Class flexibility to integrate not only students from different departments, but also emphasize Problem Definition cross-generational, cross-cultural collabora- In collaboration with representatives of the tion. We had very flexible credit requirements Province of Brescia, prior to start the work- that allowed a wide variety of students, shop, we defined the objectives, as well as the ranging from freshman to upperclassman to methodology and the collaboration strategy Masters to Doctoral and, finally, Post-Docs. Brescia Project Methodology
  22. 22. to achieve them during the design workshop. In our first class session we described the The Mobile Experience Lab as well as the Prov- structure of the design workshop, focus, and ince, have done lot of research on this domain: educational goals. We then asked perspec- creating a common knowledge background tive students to submit a short essay and their first, and, secondly, collaborating during the resume, and we completed the recruiting problem setting was a key factor to achieve process with face-to-face interviews. good results during the design workshop. We 3rd Step : Course Structure then started the workshop following the steps described below: In addition to formal class sessions every Monday, from 2.30 p.m. to 5 p.m., we also had 1st Step: Reaching Out to Multiple occasional Wednesday dinners —an informal Disciplines way to discuss ongoing projects and research. The class setting shifted as we alternated lec- The first step is to publicize and communicate tures with group work, student presentations, our design workshop within MIT and Harvard, discussions and reviews. Representatives of making sure to cover different departments, the Province of Brescia were constantly in- including the MIT School of Architecture and volved during all the workshop phases, regu- Planning and the Harvard Graduate School larly interacting with students and faculty, of Design, various Engineering Departments being present at key moments of the work- at MIT, the MIT Sloan School of Management, shop and through remote communication and the MIT Media Lab. We also had an “as- otherwise. Their support was extremely valu- sisted recruiting” system: faculty involved in able before, during and after the workshop. the project recommended talented students Collaboration happens via online web-based with particular skills in their respective depart- platform, but also via face-to-face meetings, in ments for the class before the term began. Boston and in Brescia. 2nd Step: Selection 23
  23. 23. Class Instructors and give directions for further work The goal is to evaluate the work done and to set the goals Their role is to dispense knowledge, but also before the final deliverable. to set up the overall goal of the class, set deadlines, frame the class, set the agenda for Work Time, Casual Work, Informal the class and set the guiding line for the proj- Meetings ect, both conceptually and administratively. This is a form of collaboration where students Expert Lectures work together in small groups. Casual meet- ings, not formally structured, but intense, free Similar to guest lectures, with the only dif- for brainstorming, for individual and groups. ference that they provide industry’s point of Fostering Peer-to-peer learning and group dy- views on the design problems. namics, informal communication and generat- Charettes or Collaborative Design Ses- ing social capital. sions Site Visit Fully intensive collaboration among students. In order for the workshop members to ap- The goal is to tackle a particular problem in propriately respond to the specificities of a multidisciplinary way. It is a very intensive the province of Brescia, visiting the city and focused innovation process. External Reviews traveling across the territory of the province Presentations of students work: it is important is crucial. The goal is to gain a deeper under- to have comments and to present the latest standing of the site, understood as the physi- developments of the projects to the entire cal, social and cultural environment of the learning community and engage a construc- province. The visit also serves as an important tive dialogue. Students are asked to synthesize check point for the design, key to adjust and their work and present their ideas in a cohe- caliber the design strategies in the light of the sive manner. Reviews are an efficient way to real conditions of the site. A series of meet- import knowledge from outside, to evaluate Brescia Project Methodology
  24. 24. posters and students were able to inform the ings with province’s representatives introduce class on their topics and collect comments students to the policies and programs that are and insights from the learning community. Af- currently implemented across the province ter the class discussion, posters were exposed in terms of transportation, sustainability, and in our studio space to populate the space with media, and become an important point of en- ideas and to be inspiration material for further counter between the initial ideas put forward iteration, discussions and projects. by the province and the solutions provided by the workshop. A series of trips within the city Silent Spaces and to different cities are devised to gain a col- lective breadth of knowledge of the province. Leave space for reflection and thinking. De- sign doesn’t’ happens mechanically, idea and Posters creativity needs time for sedimentation, reflec- tion, distractions, it is very difficult to have One of the techniques we used is a poster- “eureka moments” without time for reflection. based presentation. Lots of the sessions were brainstorm-oriented and students were asked 3_Collaborative Learning to, first, collect the information and then formalize this knowledge. Secondly, during Environment and Tools class, they were asked to do some group work divided and re-define the information they In order to foster learning and enhance com- just collected. Then, as an assignment, they munity, we use a variety of different tools, were asked to work together in order synthe- methodologies and educational software to size and formalize it by visualizing on big scale work, communicate, design and illustrate our posters. Posters were then discussed with the work during the course of a workshop. entire class and also with occasional extended group (like, visitors on the Lab). During the Studio Space class discussion, walls were covered with these A flexible and open physical place for interac- 25
  25. 25. tion provides a home for the project. Here we educational environment that complements had regular meetings and lunches. The studio the physical infrastructure of the institute. The space at the Mobile Experience Lab fosters Stellar site for the workshop supports design multiple kinds of interaction and knowledge and discussion activities for the students, sharing. The Studio is open and accessible to staff, and faculty. More than merely delivering students, and it became a second home for online content, the system includes mecha- the learning community. First, we set up the nisms for producing, managing, sharing and studio as a place for collaboration in order to adding value to these intellectual materials. create excitement about this ongoing design During the semester, the learning community workshop. Second, unexpected experts from used the Stellar site to share files, upload and different fields and disciplines often visit the download documents, build a mailing list, studio and enrich our work. They are a key ele- interact in discussion forums, communicate ment in the implementation of a collaborative and exchange project-related information. learning environment. Third, having an open Stellar is a very important tool that allows the space fosters chance encounters with visitors, members of a learning community to custom- students and experts that comment and pro- ize a virtual environment in order to create the vide useful ideas. We had visits from a variety most appropriate communication tools for of people from inside and outside of the MIT achieving the projects’ goals. Photographs of campus, that provided important insights into the trips made to Italy by the workshop mem- the project. Finally, with video connections, bers, presentations made by the students, web platforms and face-to-face meetings with and web casts of lectures were made available Province of Brescia representatives, we share and discussed through this medium. Stellar knowledge and explore innovative ideas. became a dynamic repository of the work- shop’s products and thoughts, and a valuable Stellar Site source of reference for future collaborators to quickly catch up on the intellectual content. Stellar is a MIT online initiative that acts as an Brescia Project Methodology
  26. 26. and structural and environmental analysis of This is important not only because students designs. As a general rule, a rich design pro- and partners could access and remotely follow cess undertaken by students make a creative the work in progress, but also because all the use of both computer and paper as means to content uploaded onto Stellar created shared discuss and advance ideas into a fully fleshed, knowledge and a common culture within the buildable project. learning community. Both spaces, the studio in the design lab and our Stellar space, are Among the digital media tools used for de- places to foster collaboration and interactions. veloping the designs in this report are Rhino A lot of the knowledge transmission takes and RhinoScript, a very flexible 3-D surface place precisely in the process of collaborating, modeler that can be controlled by means of a exchanging ideas, discussing related projects, graphical user interface, but also by means of criticizing works, and it was one of the most an end-user programming language based on significant ways to cross fertilize students and visual basic (RhinoScript). This programming Province of Brescia collaborators with mutual language allows for a greater control of geom- knowledge. etry through control structures, conditionals Design Media and routines, as well as for a direct connection between geometry and data. Other digi- Traditional design media like paper play an tal tools used during the workshop include important role in the development of con- AutoCAD and SketchUp, very useful for 2-D cepts and in the communication of these and 3-D geometry and visualization, such as within a community. The computer offers an the re-design of the bus and the bus-station, array of extended, modified environments and Flash, useful for creating quick interactive that enable a broad landscape of conceptual mock-ups of the mobile interfaces designed and detailed design that include three-dimen- in the workshop. In terms of rapid prototyp- sional modeling, rapid prototyping of physical ing, the design lab has access to a 3-D printing models, interactive simulations of systems, 27
  27. 27. dents to, first, define their subject, synthesize machine and a laser-cutter, as well as CNC and it, and find the most effective way to explain water-jet cutter. an idea to people that do not have particular insights about these concepts. Second, it is a Other complementary CAD (computer-aided great way to engage a discussion within the design) software is also used, such as 3Dstudio class and to play with ideas. Finally, the post- Max, and Generative Components. As a means ers must be well designed so they may remain for discussion and review, students present in our studio space for people to refer to, dis- their ongoing work to the class in slide shows. cuss and use for further investigations. This method is useful for the evolution of the workshop for two main reasons; first it re- 4_Building a Common quires students to structure their concepts in a transmissible, coherent way, and second, it Knowledge Base provides an excellent ground for discussion and constructive criticism. The slide shows Located in the region of Lombardy, northern created during the workshop become at the Italy, the Provincia di Brescia is an administra- same time a valuable record of the students’ tive region that is responsible for many admin- work. istrative tasks, attributed by the State or the corresponding Region. The most important Presentation Boards are the following. Students synthesize their work by illustrating ongoing concepts in presentation boards. - protection of the environment (ground, During classes, we have brainstormed and natural areas/parks etc.) we’ve played with ideas, constructing and de- - regulation of the use of waters and natural constructing concepts on smart mobility and energies urban transportation. Illustrating these ideas - transports and ways of communication with big posters is a good method for stu- - health services Brescia Project Methodology
  28. 28. · A on line service for substitute teachers - secondary education where they can find opportunities of job dur- - data processing and technical assistance to ing the all year in all the schools present on the local Authorities the territory. - coordination of economical, tourist, social, The description and current implementation cultural and sport activities. of these services can be viewed at the follow- ing web address: There are also many current projects in the technological innovation field. Some of the Brescia Digital Network (BDN) projects that the Province has started to implement as related to Learning and Tech- The basic idea for this project is to connect nology, involve: in digital way all the Communes present on the provincial territory. Presented around the Brescia Schools Network (BSN) end of 1998, the project started in 1999, after the reached agreement between Provincia di To improve communication among schools of Brescia and the Association of Brescia Com- similar/different level spread on all provincial munes. territory, Provincia di Brescia realized a series The main goal of the project is to give on line of services on line for schools. In particular, the services to citizens following similar criteria following services have been activated: and to promote the exchange of information · Internet connection, e-mail, web pages; between Communes and Provincia. · Access to a limited access area (called “Extra- There are no financial burdens between the net”) only for schools; two public bodies, but Provincia has respon- · A web space for students, teachers, families sibility for technical support of the on line and scholastic associations; services and, on the other side, Communes · Newsletter service (with articles, commentar- engaged themselves to use these services and ies about news and most important subjects to propose new ones. An important part of from the “scholastic universe”); 29
  29. 29. book is available for use. the project is the service called JORBA, which International criteria have been use to cata- is a on line consultation of the Public Register logue texts, modern means have been made of Enterprises. The Extranet Area gives other available to the libraries and to the users, to services like statistics, information about tour- improve the pleasure of reading and the on ist events, young people, documents etc. line consultation of texts. Since 2001, also the The description and current implementation Provincia of Cremona (a town 40 km far from of these services can be viewed at the follow- Brescia) was added to LSS, with its network of ing web address: local libraries. Library Services System (LSS): The description and current implementation of these services can be viewed at the follow- A project realized by the Provincia of Brescia ing web address: during the period 1999 – 2001, to update a library system more than ten years old. The SMS Tourism Info main goal of this service is to organize in a logical and efficient way the management of An agreement has been reached by the Prov- the library services on the territory of the Lo- ince with a national telephone company (Tim) cal Authority. The LLS network promotes the to send tourist information by SMS (short mes- cooperation among 180 libraries and supports sage service): the information concerns the the production, treatment and fast transmis- availability of hotels, camping and other kind sion of the information. of accommodations for tourists, as well as the The main service provided to local libraries calendar of the main seasonal events. consists in all kind of catalogue’s services, to economize costs and have uniform working strategies. In fact, only one database has been created where people can find a book they are interested in and the place where the same Brescia Project Methodology
  30. 30. 31
  31. 31. Brescia Project Feasibility Study
  32. 32. FRAMEWORK 33
  33. 33. 1_Introduction eral to face the future world? It is impossible Mobile technologies and new digital media to foretell what the future of education will be, today offer the possibility to improve civic but if we consider the evolution of informa- During the workshop we explored a variety participation and social inclusion in younger tion society and of technologies, one thing we of themes and concepts. Some ideas have citizens. In particular, they can increase aware- can be certain of is that it will be vastly differ- been explored more in depth, and some oth- ness in sustainable and environmental mat- ent from that of today. ers have been explored more broadly on the ters. Moreover, the opportunity of embedding surface. We began our exploration by con- electronic media and Wi-Fi connectivity into In 1958, Seymour Papert predicted that within ducting a preliminary study to determine and the urban fabric allows infinite possibilities in 20 years’ time, children would be able to pro- document the project’s viability. We started new forms of social and civic engagement. gram computers; as expected, reactions varied this process by first analyzing current issues in from amazement to great skepticism. As a Brescia regarding Sustainability, Civic Engage- In collaboration with the Province of Brescia, matter of fact, when Papert made his state- ment, and Education. We then identified pos- Italy, we want to understand how the educa- ment, computers referred to mainframe com- sible areas of intervention, and determined tional dynamic changes with the diffusion of puters that occupied the entirety of rooms the main directions for design while consid- new media, and we want to understand how and cost millions of dollars. Thus computers ering New Media as the venue. Finally, we to better design new media and communi- were restricted only to the elite. However, investigated techniques for intervention and cation technologies to foster learning and today we find that Papert was right, and com- examined related works and similar undertak- sustainable society. munication technologies are becoming more ings elsewhere in the world. and more “democratic” and available to the 2_Education and Learning average person. With the emergence of pervasive digital me- dia and networked communication, the way Today, the MIT initiative One Laptop Per Child Change today’s youth access information, create and (OLPC) aims to break the digital divide by share knowledge is changing dramatically. At The questions we seek to answer are: Can giving millions of laptops to children around the same time, we observe a change in the we imagine how education will be in twenty the world ( Increased way the younger sectors of society interact years’ time? How can our educational system broadband connectivity and wide-range Wi-Fi with their institutions and governments. best prepare our children and society in gen- Brescia Project Framework
  34. 34. becoming contextualized and globalized. broadband aim to challenge the digital divide in rural areas. Governmental free access or Learning ad-hoc mesh networking system aim to pro- vide ubiquitous free access to the network for From a theoretical point of view, the construc- every citizen. tionist notion theorized by Seymour Papert is key to the understanding the future of educa- If we consider how many people today actu- tion. His constructionist concept goes back ally have a career in the field for which they to Jean Piaget’s theory of constructivism: if studied while at school, we will realized that we think of the educational process, we have only a small minority can prove continuity to consider that knowledge cannot be simply between school, learning, and occupation in transmitted from a person to another with- today’s education system. We see then, that out a active and in depth processing of the the educational system has difficulties keep- information on the part of the receiver. No ing up with the rapid changes in the specific form of knowledge can be transmitted as a cultural and knowledge needs of our societies: “precooked” entity that the receiver can use as thus, learning to learn is crucial. they received it. Knowledge and information must necessarily pass through the receiver’s personal interpretation: this process is based Learning is gradually changing in our society upon personal experience and is filtered by today; from a vertical relationship between the interactions of people with other people, teacher and student, we are shifting to a hori- with the world, with objects and artifacts. The zontal structure where learners and teachers act of teaching and of transmitting knowledge are more closely and collaboratively involved does not occur in a direct, vertical, frontal pas- in the learning process. The older structur- sage, but instead always takes place following ally closed environment, such as “class” within an appropriating process. As Piaget puts it, schools, or “family” and domestic walls are teaching is always an indirect process--the gradually disappearing, and learning is now 35
  35. 35. to learn. In this way, the teacher is no longer one learning processes always the information the owner and transmitter of knowledge, but with their own mental categories, with stock rather a guide that helps the students; if we of knowledge and their own personal experi- think of the concept of a house then perhaps ences. students can access the Internet and build their own idea of a house. They can discover According to these principles, learning takes for themselves how the Eskimos live at the place when the person is actively involved in Pole, how nomad populations live in the Af- the processing of the information they receive rican desert, how some people live in Venice, and consequently adapting into their com- and others in New York’s skyscrapers, and prehension schemes. For instance, we can thereby build their own idea of a house. This imagine teaching the concept of a house: in is the process Jean Piaget defines as construc- the traditional scholastic system, the teacher tivist. transmits the information to a “passive” class/ mass of students that memorize the content Seymour Paper adds to this active learning with which they are presented. The teacher process the idea of construction. The learning will therefore say that the house has windows process is supported by the construction of and walls, rooms with different functions, artifacts, objects or entities that become real etc. The teacher is, in this case, the one who in the outside world. Mental and material con- has the knowledge and that transmits it to structions feed each other creating a circular the passive listeners. However, in the case dynamics that crystallize the learning process. of active teaching, on the contrary, we can In short, the learning process takes place not say that the teacher does not transmit their only when the one who’s learning is actively knowledge, but rather they lead the students building their learning and processing infor- to the personal construction of a knowledge mation, but also when they are expressing path, stimulating them to discover by them- the information to the outside world through selves the concept of what they are engaged Brescia Project Framework
  36. 36. simple building as cultivating a garden), and be different from traditional approaches while the construction of an “entity”. The learning by asking questions about the methods and simultaneously favoring real scholastic reform. process is based on the internalization of the material used.” external information and by the externaliza- The MIT Media Lab future of Learning direc- tion of the internal information, in a cyclic per- Environments tor, David Cavallo, proposed Emergent De- petual shape. If we consider the example of sign as an innovative educational approach: the house, students will not only be engaged When the educational system questions emergent design does not aim to accept in the active construction of the information, how it can design a better learning environ- everything that comes from the “bottom”, but to complete the learning process, they ment and pedagogical programs, it generally instead it systematically bases itself upon the will also have to “build a house” (be it through searches for the answer in the application of an highly structured teaching program, in the differences of teachers and students in order the means of their computers, Legos, sand, to trace the guidelines of teaching programs paper and pencil, or with any form or material creation of a precise pedagogical curriculum with standard procedures and universal teach- and learning principles. The Emergent De- that allows them to express their knowledge), sign approach fulfills these philosophical and constructing a sharable artifact. ing disciplines that can be applied to every practical requirements. This concept promotes situation and place. However, this top-down process in which the bureaucratic system does those learning environments that act and de- Papert himself writes, “Thus, constructionism, velop according to the needs of the learners my personal reconstruction of constructivism, not take into consideration local and diversi- fied peculiarities that characterize the territory without planning all the learning activities in a has as its main feature the fact that it looks of a nation or the specific needs of the people central way, according to the top-down mod- more closely than other educational –ism at el. At the same time, this disciplinary approach the idea of mental construction. It attaches to whom the teaching is directed. This ap- underlines specific methodologies, targeted special importance to the role of construc- proach seems obsolete to us, and in any case it is not exhaustive as for the role of the educa- educational activities, concrete means and tions in the world as a support for those in tion system or the needs of learning in present examples that characterize collaborative en- the head, thereby becoming less of a purely vironments and learning forms. In this sense, mentalist doctrine. It also takes the idea of societies. applying a curriculum and following a priori constructing in the head more seriously by Within this context we need an innovative issues without taking into consideration local recognizing more than one kind of construc- approach to the designing of learning envi- issues or the needs of those who are deeply tion (some of them as fare as removed from ronment and pedagogical programs; it must 37
  37. 37. of skills so that students can transform their culture. In this process, students learn starting involved in the learning process is not only knowledge into something different. Through from their local culture, from their interests against the basic premise of the pedagogy of computational tools, learners design and and their knowledge. They build bridges and education, but it is also a model that is unable construct and thereby generalize the forms of paths between fields of knowledge that once to benefit from all the advantages that can be the knowledge they posses. Developing tech- were differentiated and then finally learners brought by technologies. nological fluency enables students to break liberate their local knowledge from its specific out of a specific context and represent their embodiment. In this phase of change, the role Designing for this dialectical tension requires knowledge in forms that they can draw on in played by new technologies is fundamental. something vastly different than previous many contexts. The concept of Emergent De- design methodologies. In this case, we are sign, in the end, emphasizes a dynamic reso- For example, let us consider the case of the designing where human use and appropria- nance amongst the particular needs, the local book. We can remember how the invention tion is the critical element and is unpredict- of the book stratified the access to knowledge culture and the social knowledge combined able. Thus, the design must enable a wide separating learning from practice thus turning with the principles of learning environment range of possibilities, must be able to adapt “learning from doing” into “learning from read- and adaptable and programmable technologi- the situation, must be appropriable, and must cal tools. ing”. On the other hand, the book divided the deal with dynamic change. According to this audience into groups of defined ages to which approach, the learning environment design 3_Problems and General information is given. Television has changed must leave a series of opportunities open and this model by spreading the same message to it must be able to fit to the different complex Issues a differentiated public; communication dy- and local situations, constantly negotiat- namics in information highways have led to a ing its own forms with the emerging social further evolution in this paradigm. Communi- Sustainability dynamics. There is the need of favoring the cation technologies and robotics thus become The younger population is not aware of sus- methodologies that can design collaborative transitional objects that mediate the relation- tainable development problems. environments that are extremely sensitive to ships between learners, the world, and their the needs emerging from the “bottom”, from The goal is to improve younger population experience in the learning process. The role those who have to learn, combining learn- traffic and pollution awareness, and to provide of computer in this process is to provide a set ing environment design techniques and local tools to understand how this affects their life Brescia Project Framework
  38. 38. and the communities in which they live. Governmental communication Media Government broadcasts to youth are often Cyber-bullying, misbehavior and youtube not heard or ignored. Government cannot posting in classrooms show that society’s always adopt quickly enough to the rapid life- youth use and master new media, but not for style changes of the youth. Social broadcasts a socially beneficial purpose. are not heard enough Violence Democracy The younger population likes to show off by Youth are not involved in their communities; posting violent videos. This is not compatible there is no active participation or expression with a community life. of opinion. Youth need to see results come from their actions and behaviors, and be reas- General Communication sured that they have the power to bring about change Rural areas are isolated and poly-centric; mobile connection and Wi-Fi / ubiquitous Societal awareness connectivity can help rural areas to be better integrated. Youth are disconnected from each Awareness of the distance between people’s other in rural areas and cannot coordinate to judgment on youth and youth actual partici- save resources. pation into society. Visualization Public space Understanding and visualizing concepts is key Urban spaces don’t take full advantage of new to understand sustainable and socially ori- interactive media and electronics capabilities. ented issues. Visualize to understand and to People’s Needs behave differently. 39
  39. 39. 4_Suitable Areas of Intervention - People need to be part of the community - People need to be responsible for something bigger than the single, individual human - To increase civic engagement - People need to be connected with other - To empower users with new media people - To increase sense of community and belonging to a local territory - People need to be recognized by the society - To support the local environment - People need to understand the world that - To explore the potential for mobile communication surrounds them - To engage citizens in supporting and participating in governmental affairs - People need to see the impact of their action - To increase the information flow throughout communities and society in the society - To explore new sustainable living practices for a mobile generation - People need a feeling of success - To support social spaces - People need to rediscover the values of inter- - To help to eliminate physical barriers to youth cooperation and collaboration acting in physical space - To explore the potentialities of ubiquitous connectivity - People need to be aware of their resources - To enhancing the city-scape itself through new social interactions via digital architecture and their potential to improve living condi- - To explore potential of embedded electronics in the urban environment tions - People need to be aware of their resources and their potential to improve living condi- tions Brescia Project Framework
  40. 40. 5_Main Design Directions they have an understanding of the value of their actions. Complexity / Simplicity Promote Social and Civic Engagement Avoid complex architectures, information As a way to establish positive connections flows and interaction, and find the simplest, between youth and territory, and especially but not simplistic, way to delivery appropriate actively engage youth in local issues. and pertinent information. Local / Global Balance local versus global needs and action, moving toward a loco-centric vision that con- sider global issues Electronic Information / Urban Space Optimize synergies between the urban build space with electronic and sensing capabilities, and with the ubiquitous distributed connec- tivity. Playful Learning With digital media learning can be creative and engaging. Empowering Youth Actively engage youth in a way that they can see the results and impact of their action and 41
  41. 41. 6_Technology The alternative is that we can also provide mobile phones ourselves, which may allow for Recommendations more mobile, rich experiences. . Portable Device: User-provided phones are ideal for: mobile phones / PDAs / laptops - scenarios where the usefulness grows as the . Location Awareness and Positioning: number of users grows – this is particularly semacode / tags / GPS true of social networks and user-contributed . Web/Internet content . GPRS - needing to “search for” information, . Wi-Fi - needing information interjected in one’s . RFID daily life – “agent” systems (ambient Intelli- . Bluetooth gence); . LCD projectors, connected to a network for - where true mobility is required (the standard dynamic content phone user today will rarely use tethering . Interactive Media Terminals technologies like Bluetooth on the go) Portable Device Customized-provided phones are ideal for; Mobile platforms are quickly becoming a - projects that require rich visualization of data dominant means of communication and in- - needing to “browse” or “explore” information formation synthesis. We have two paths here. spaces The first is that we can assume every user has - projects where it is necessary to have all a mobile phone and design for a common members on a “level playingfield” (for in- subset of mobile technologies – this leads to stance, learning environments, a professional text and speech dominated interfaces, due to workflow tool or a mobile game) a lack of standard mobile GUI technologies, - rich mobile collaboration and leads to reliance on the phone network. Brescia Project Framework
  42. 42. could be explored further in this context. - situations where mobility can be traded off between phones and central servers as a for richness of experience network communication over telecoms net- As for GPS, we can see that the game FRE- works. GPRS also has powerful bandwidth QUENCY 1550 played with Nokia phones PDAs are suited particularly well for controlled capabilities (though not yet at Wi-Fi speeds), using GPS was able to be deployed city-wide environments, such as the Exploratorium’s and it is a technology being strongly pushed while still allowing teams to keep track of each indoor exhibit space [http://www.explorato- by telecoms such that phone companies can other’s members. That awareness lead to a]. They allow for rich sell “data plans.” This is an effort that will likely richer and truly mobile experience. GPS will multimedia interaction and a controlled ex- succeed, because unlike Wi-Fi, GPRS is a truly be useful as a tool for students to understand perience, but lack the true mobility of mobile diffused mobile technology – anywhere I can context and the context of his/her peers, with phones (for instance, while they were used in get a cell phone signal, I can get GPRS mobile the caveat that GPS will not work indoors. outdoor games like Savannah [http://www. communication. GPRS is still not present in], those all user provided phones, but is more com- Web/Internet games took place in a space on the order of mon than Wi-Fi, and can be easily added for meters, not kilometers.) We predict giving – or purposes of experiment by swapping a user’s Websites are useful in a mobile scenario for worse, lending – students PDAs is not particu- SIM card or adding data privileges to a phone before and after an event/keeping in touch. larly empowering and will not support the account. It’s most prohibitive feature, in our They may also be useful for creating interfaces sort of permanent change in lifestyle we hope opinion, is cost, but it could be deployed both that encourage changes to one’s mobility. to affect. in a controlled environment and with a subset While the phone will increase in importance, of user provided phones. we believe the traditional web will not fully go Location Awareness and Positioning away anytime soon – rather, mobile technol- Wi-Fi ogy can strengthen the usefulness, accurate- Mobile photo-tagging technology was pres- ness and richness of web information resourc- ent in some projects, particularly the mGBL Wi-Fi is beginning to be used as a communica- es such as those provided by the Province. (mobile game based learning) initiative. tion framework between phones and standard The ability for people to annotate the world PCs and the Internet. It is already the standard GPRS around them is a very empowering one, and for research projects using PDAs, but we have the uses of this technology are something that largely ruled out PDAs for our work. Wi-Fi has GPRS is increasingly becoming a standard 43