Study guide

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Back to New interactive environments


Welcome to “New Interactive Environments” course.

This is a course about thinking and more precisely about new interactive environments and various related concepts that will emerge during the course. The course facilitator and participants will analyze the literature and evaluate it against their own experience with the intent of developing a comprehensive understanding of new interactive environments and some of the related concepts. During the course the work of a number of different thinkers, scholars and researchers will be discussed. The purpose of this course is to ponder about what constitutes 'an interactive environmentʼ, and to explore the ways in which 'interactive environments” are used for communication, consumption and control. A series of theories, concepts and ideas will be employed that help to understand different aspects of new interactive environments. The general framework of the course defines a set of selected topics and a list of resources and material is provided. These function as signposts for an iterative process of search, practice and reflection, but otherwise the course is open for changes suggested by participants. The course participants are encouraged to complement the course, its structure, material, topics and supporting networked tools and services as the course progresses. Thus, this is not a traditional course in a sense that the facilitator provides a rigid structure and predefined topics and tasks, in which the participants are expected to be instructed. The roles of the facilitator and the participants are diffused and both the facilitator and the participants are going to explore the topic and its related concepts. The participants are expected to be interactive. During the course the participants are going to reconstruct the picture of new interactive environments in the middle of the continuous digital development. Interactivity and the possibilities to create oneʼs own interactions is central to this change, however, this concept has to be carefully examined to explore its full potential.

The course is a full-time e-course and all activities will be carried out online. Of course local participants are permitted to contact the facilitator.

The course "New interactive environments" is roughly divided into three parts:

  • Exploration – analysis of human activities, its systems and interactions
  • Elaboration – representation of human activities, its systems and interactions
  • Creation & Integration - (re-)instrumentalisation of human activities, activity systems and interactions with a set of digital technology and new media.

Keywords/concepts of the course content include but are not limited to:

  • interactivity
  • human-to-human interaction
  • affordances
  • computer supported collaborative environments
  • activity theory
  • activity system
  • networked tools and services
  • re-instrumentalisation of activities
  • personal and mass media
  • ...

The course focuses on the (re-)design of new interactive environments for collaborative work and study. Particular attention is paid to the analysis, representation, and (re-) instrumentalisation of human activities and activity systems with networked tools and services. Artefacts that are typically produced from such a perspective can feed into various design processes and fields of application, such as information architecture, educational (intervention) design, interface and system design, or the design of evaluation frameworks.

The course will be conducted online and uses a variety of individual assignment and collaboration formats.

Course tools and services

The course is not conduceted in a single place or environment. It is distributed across the web. The course facilitator provides the following list of networked tools and services that will be used during the course:

  • General static information about the course and a study guide - course Wikiversity

It contains a large number of useful resources, short descriptions of the weekly topics that will be covered during the course, assessment criteria and a large bibliography, which lists books, articles and online resources that will be needed to consult whilst working on the topics in the course. This bibliography will be updated throughout the course by the course facilitator and also the participants are more than welcomed to complement this page with relevant literature as new material becomes available online or some of the participants have found an interesting resource to share. So, the participants are encouraged to keep checking back.

The course Wikiversity page can be used in order to find out what will be discussed each week, and, in the unlikely event that someone leaves behind the course schedule, can check what happened and what is needed to do to catch up.

Wikiversity is an open tool, thus the course information is available for everybody. The course Wikiversity page links directly to the course central Weblog (see below), where many of the weekly themes and ideas will be discussed; and to other networked tools and services that might be used in order to support this online course.

Learning materials in Wikiverisy have a free license Creative Commons BY-SA license (

  • Participants personal reflections and assignments - personal Weblogs

In order to participate in this course, a personal Weblog is required. Experienced Weblog users can use their existing ones, setting up a specific subsection (i.e. a category or use tags). Participants with no Weblogs can create one. There are numerous free blogging services, the most popular are perhaps Blogger and Wordpress. In case of many participants with no previous experience on blogging, some time will be spent on introducing it.

The tasks, announcements, reflections, summaries of the weekly topics and homeworks, and emerging information about the course will be published on the course weblog on a regular basis to support the collaborative effort and to ensure a steady flow of (inter-)action. It is the participants’ responsibility to check the information flow on this Weblog on a daily basis. It is recommend the use of a Webfeed reader (either online or desktop based) for monitoring the course Weblog. If you don’t know how to do this get in contact with the facilitator or ask your peers.

  • Weblogs aggregation and monitoring - Edufeedr

Everybody has to register his/her Weblog in Edufeedr. EduFeedr is a feed reader for online courses, where each participant is using his/her personal Weblog to publish thoughts on course readings, answers to assignments and other course related posts. Course participants do not need user accounts in EduFeedr, however, they can follow a particular course in Edufeedr. In order to enroll to the course you must have a Weblog in the supported blogging platform. Currently it supports Blogger and Wordpress. As Edufeedr is currently work in progress, the participants are not obliged to create a new Weblog in case they are not using neither Blogger nor platforms. Weblogs created with other platforms wouldn't be shown in Edufeedr.

  • Videoconferences - Flashmeeting

Flashmeeting is an academic research project aimed at understanding the nature of online events and helping users to meet and work more effectively. The Flashmeeting Project includes an application based on the Adobe Flash 'plug in' and Flash Media Server. Running in a standard web browser window, it allows a dispersed group of people to meet from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Typically a meeting is pre-booked by a registered user and a url, containing a unique password for the meeting, is returned by the server. The 'booker' passes this on to the people they wish to participate, who simply click on the link to enter into the meeting at the arranged time.

  • Time scheduling - Doodle

This tool helps the participants to find the most suitable meeting time for videoconferences.

  • ...

How to use the aforementioned tools and services, have a look at the tools tutorial for more specific information. However, the list of tools and services are rather intuitive and don’t require high level technological skills to operate with them.

The tag for this course is NIE2012 (in Twitter #NIE2012).

Despite of aforementioned networked tools and services provided by the course facilitator it is expected from participants to take their activities all over the internet. It is strongly recommended to visit other people's Web pages, Weblogs, tweets, etc.


The course is built up in a way that it requires constant contribution during the course. The course consists of several tasks individually and in groups. Throughout the course there is one predefined task in every week (either individual reading or participating in discussions). In addition to the predefined topics and tasks, a few extra small tasks will be published gradually during the course depending on the overall progress and interests of the participants.


Tasks have always a clear deadline, which is Sunday (although it is not expected that you work on the course tasks during weekends). Tasks carry 10 points. If a task is fulfilled in an “adequate” form before the deadline then all 10 points will be received. Every 24 hours passed the deadline 2 points are deducted. Five days passed the deadline means 0 points. If the task “solution” is handed in early (at least 24 hours before the assigned deadline) preliminary feedback from the facilitator can be received and re-submission is possible (if necessary) again (before the deadline) without consequences. A steady flow of tasks is wanted and to be expected.

General quality criteria for task solutions remain “undefined” (on purpose) but the facilitators keep the right to reject solutions on the basis of obvious quality issues. As the tasks will be published in personal Weblogs, forums and in other public spaces the general criteria for them is the following: the task is completed if one is not ashamed of what he/she publishes. So considering the resources I have at my hand at a given point of time this is the maximum I can come up with. This is a quite fair criteria for adult learners in an online course. However, whenever the facilitators consider the quality of the task not acceptable, the participants will be notified. Rejected task solutions remain attached to the original task deadline.

It should be clear that the passing criteria (and point system) is supposed to define (and guide for) a “minimal” engagement level. Meeting the deadlines of accomplishing a task is participants responsibility. If one chooses to miss a task deadline and hand in the solution later is just fine. No hard feelings or allegations from the facilitator’s side. But the participants have to take responsibility for their decision! No excuses of one’s personal reasons for missed deadlines are expected.

If one has very good reasons why he/she cannot meet an assigned deadline, it is his/her responsibility to contact the facilitator immediately (and at least 24 h before the deadline). If one fails to do so the logic for dealing with missed deadlines will be applied that is described above. As the course ends with a pass/fail assessment there will be no formal examination. A final decision on whether the course is passed or failed will be based on the points collected during the course. The “pass” criteria for the course is 70% of all points one can receive until the end of the course ( for example, if 10 tasks = 100 points then 70 points = pass).


The course facilitators will maintain the following levels of support and facilitation during the course:

  • control over the course Wikiversity page, which however may be edited and compelemented by participants
  • weekly summary of the tasks’ solutions feedback to the individual tasks whenever it is considered appropriate (participants should not expect individual feedback on every task)
  • control over the course Weblog, in which the weekly topics and tasks will be posted
  • organising videoconferences and disucssion sessions

However, being a rather flexibly structured course the facilitation from the facilitators is not limited to this level of support as participants are encouraged to develop their own course supports and to share those supports with other participants. For examples own face-to-face or online meetings and discussion groups, additional networked tools and services and more are welcomed and encouraged.