The Future of Computer Interaction (and how will this affect learning?)

Jeff Han’s amazing work with how we interact with our technology is not a new item, the video and buzz has been circulating on the ‘Net for more than 9 months. Yet it took Tim Lauer’s post, Jeff Han article in FastCompany, and another on Touch Interfaces… last week for it to sink in.

My issue of FastCompany (February 2007) arrived this week and I’ve only just now gotten a chance to sit down and flip through it. The article about Jeff Han (available online here) and his work on the touch interface is amazing and as I reflect, it strikes me as a way to kinesthetically interact with our technology in a much more organic and natural way than we ever have before. I also took the opportunity to view the FastCompany video clip thanks to Bryan Alexander and the TEDtalks video linked to by Tim. What I have seen resonates within me. It makes me wonder how this interaction will affect our learners. Will it improve accessibility? Is it intuitive enough? Will it lead to advances in learning?

We all have those kinesthetic responses: your PIN at the ATM, your password on your computer, phone numbers that you can only remember when your fingers simulate the act of keying them in. We don’t really have to think about them, they happen almost autonomically. But this action involves only our fingers, what would happen if our interactions utilized and/or required more of our body? What if recollections were based on physical gestures? I envision a musician or rock climber for whom their knowledge manifests itself in a physical form. Consider the new opportunities for kinesthetic learning that could be incorporated into the Wii system. There is already talk of creating a surgery sim but what else could be developed which would tap into this new tool for learning?

Data is no longer uni-dimensional, and as Han has shown it can be now represented visually in three dimensions. Think Minority Report meets the Matrix where tables, graphs and data can have a physical structure. How will this new way of visualizing and physically manipulating information allow us to retain, reuse and reconstruct knowledge? With visionaries such as Han, we may well find out within the next few years.

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