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Blurring the Boundaries between
Learning, Enjoying and Working

A One-Day Critical Computing 2005 Workshop

Critical Computing
20-24 August 2005
Aarhus, Denmark


Aug 1 Position papers due
Aug 8 Notification of acceptance (let me know if you need to know sooner)
Aug 20 Workshop takes place in Aarhus, Denmark

For further information email .


Interested individuals are invited to send a position paper of at most 2500 words to by end-of-day (anywhere) Aug 1, 2005. pdf, html or interactive formats are preferred, but any generally accessible format will be accepted. Position papers should describe


Figure 1 Spheres of purpose defining different technologies. Most research and development has been in segregated non-overlapping regions. The workshop seeks to explore benefits and implications of research and development of technologies in overlapping regions.

Figure 2 Type of design expertise associated with different spheres of purpose. The workshop seeks to explore ways of helping designers and researchers to cross boundaries.

Boundaries between Learning, Enjoying and Working

The words “Ej blot til lyst” (“Not for pleasure alone”) grace the proscenium arch of the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. They can be read as an admonition to the audience to seek edification as well as entertainment from the works presented. They can also be taken as a reminder that the theatre is a place of business in which cast and crew conduct their livelihoods. Whatever the interpretation, the phrase hints at a natural human predilection for mixing tasks and reflects a multiplicity of purpose shared by many human activities.

In contrast to theatrical presentations, information technology is typically partitioned by purpose: educational technology is distinct from entertainment software, and both are separate from productivity tools (Figure 1). This single-mindedness of purpose may seem to simplify development and marketing, but may, in the end, undermine the effectiveness of individual technologies: People are more productive and learn better when they are enjoying them-selves, enjoy learning and frequently need to learn to be productive, and experience pleasure and learn better when they are being productive.

Norman [6] describes three levels of design, corresponding to three levels of human processing: Visceral design “is about … appearance, touch, and feel” [ibid., p37], in other words, about perceptible aesthetics. Behavioral design “is about use, about experience” [ibid.], in other words, about usability. Finally, reflective design is about “interpretation, understanding and reasoning” [ibid., p. 38], in other words, about self-image and learning.

The segregation of information technology by purpose has yielded a corresponding segregation of design communities and expertise (Figure 2). Designers of entertainment technologies have traditionally focused on and excel at visceral design, while designers of productivity tools dominate in behavioral design and designers of educational technologies are experts at reflective design.

As information technology matures, becomes more diverse and enters new dimensions of human existence, boundary-blurring technologies that serve multiple purposes and succeed at multiple levels of design will be increasingly critical. This need is evinced by an emerging interest in integrated design, e.g., incorporating “fun” as a design goal for productivity tools [9], understanding and solving real-world problems with educational technologies [1], and doing actual work by playing a game [3]. Calls have already been made for designers to integrate needs [4] and to exchange experiences across boundaries [7, 8].

The purpose of the workshop is to examine, systematically, opportunities for and implications of research, design and development of integrated technologies, and to explore ways of helping designers and researchers to cross boundaries. The objectives of the workshop are to develop an understanding of the opportunities for, limitations of and issues raised by blurring boundaries, and to outline a research agenda for technologies that allow people simultaneously to learn, enjoy themselves and be productive, and to do so across all the settingswork, home, playin which they conduct their lives.


This one-day workshop is aimed at exploring the means and implications of blurring the boundaries between educational, entertainment and productivity technologies.

Topics for discussion will primarily be derived from participants’ suggestions and interests, however, they might include:

Implications and Opportunities


Process and methodological changes

Research Agenda


The workshop is a traditional discussion-based workshop. During the morning, each participant will be expected to offer a ten-minute presentation of their own work and thoughts with an ensuing five-minute general discussion. The afternoon will be devoted to three one-hour discussion sessions. Topics and formats (plenary or breakout) of discussions for the first two of the afternoon sessions will be decided by the group as a whole based on the morning’s discussions, while the third session will be devoted to outlining a research agenda. Participants will be encouraged to participate in both a group lunch and dinner to allow unstructured time for discussion between individuals.

Preliminary Schedule



9 - 9:15 Workshop Overview
Workshop format, game plan
9:15 - 10:30 Individual Presentations
10:30 - 10:45 Coffee Break
10:45 - 12:00 Individual Presentations (continued)
12:00 - 12:15 Review and Discussion Planning
Review of issues and important points raised in individual presentations
Group decision on topics for afternoon discussion sessions
12:15 - 13:30 Group Lunch
13:30 – 14:30 Discussion 1
Topic to be determined on-site
13:30 – 15:30 Discussion 2
Topic to be determined on-site
15:30 - 15:45 Coffee Break
15:45 – 16:45 Discussion 3
Research Agenda
16:45 – 17:30 Reflection and Wrap-up
Review of issues, answers and important points raised
Planning of workshop follow-up activities and actions
18:00 Group Dinner


Participation will be limited to 15 participants, including the organizer. Selection will be based on submitted position papers of 2500 words or less covering the applicant's understanding and views on the topic and a brief description of the applicant's background. The primary selection criteria will be

Secondary selection criteria will be aimed at creating diversity among participants across

Prior to the workshop, participants will be expected to read the position papers of all participants and invited to prepare a ten-minute presentation. They will be encouraged to read Chapter 2 of Norman’s book Emotional Design [6], describing the three levels of design, and Card’s short story Ender’s Game [2], which exemplifies technological integration. After the workshop, participants will be expected to review a report on the workshop and to contribute to articles identified during the workshop.


Results of the workshop will be disseminated through a workshop report in the SIGCHI bulletin and other venues representing other spheres of purpose (e.g., SIGGraph, ICALT), and an article targeted for broader publication, e.g., Communications of the ACM.

the Organizer

I have recently completed my PhD in Computer Science at the University of Michigan, USA. The ultimate goal of my research is to understand the design of computational tools that foster "collateral learning"learning by doingand make development of such learning-enhancing tools commercially viable. My primary interest is in productivity tools, i.e., in developing tools that allow people to accomplish a task even though they lack some of the skills or knowledge necessary to performing that task, and, in the course of performing that task, to acquire such skills and knowledge. I am particularly interested in experimenting with such multi-purpose tools in the context of disaster response and relief effortsa domain in which many people often perform unfamiliar tasks.

Prior to returning to school, I spent six years in the software industry, first as a software engineer, later as a user interface designer and manager. I have been active in the CHI community since 1990, as reviewer for CHI and related conferences and as occasional author. I have served the UIST conference as registration chair, demos chair and program committee member. I organized and co-chaired the Basic Research Symposium at CHI97. I have co-organized two CHI workshops: Navigation in Electronic Worlds (1997) and Designing for Learning (2003). Both were highly rated by participants and the report from the former [5] continues to be cited frequently.

In addition to my professional activities, I am active with the American Red Cross Disaster Services. I specialize in Operations Management (planning and directing relief operations) and Response Technology (supporting operations technology ranging from satellite-based telephony and wireless networks to helping users understand GUI interaction and hand-held radios). As a FEMA-trained exercise planner, I plan and conduct hands-on disaster exercises and drills, and prepare and lead response planning and coordination workshops within the Red Cross as well as in collaboration with partner agencies. Although I have resided in the United States for many years, I am a native of Denmark.


  1. Bransford, J., Brown, A. L., Cocking, R. R., (Eds.) (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. National Research Council.  Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

  2. Card, O. S. (1977). Ender’s Game. Analog, Aug. 1977. Reprinted in Maps in a Mirror: The Short Fiction of Orson Scott Card. TOR, 1990.

  3. Chao, D. (2001). Doom as an Interface for Process Management. Proceedings of ACM CHI 2001 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2001. p.152-157.

  4. Hassenzahl, M. (2004). Emotions Can Be Quite Ephemeral; We Cannot Design Them. interactions v. 11, n.5  September + October. ACM Press, 46-48.

  5.  Jul, S., Furnas, G. W. (1997). Navigation in Electronic Worlds. SIGCHI Bulletin, 29, 4 (Oct), 44-49.

  6. Norman, D. A. (2004). Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Everyday Things. New York : Basic Books.

  7. Pausch, R. (2005). CHI2005 Keynote address.

  8. Pausch, R., Gold, R., Skelly, T., Thiel, D. (1994). What HCI Designers Can Learn from Video Game Designers. Conference Companion on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM Press. 177-178.

  9. Shneiderman, Ben  (2004). Designing for Fun: How Can We Design User Interfaces to Be More Fun? interactions v. 11, n.5  September + October. ACM Press, 48-50.

Last updated 19-Jul-2005