Tactile Technology and the Development of the Halle Numérique

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This dissertation is part of the Cré@tion Project, which is a partnership between the University of Lille (UL), the Université de Technologie de Compiègne (UTC) and the Académie d’Amiens (the board of education for the regions of Somme, Oise and Aisne, France). The project uses technology available at UTC in the Halle Numérique (Digital Hall) platform, a collection of technological devices consisting of tactile, multi-user tables and boards (described in greater detail in Chapter 2). The platform was developed as part of a series of research projects aimed at facilitating collaborative design processes for engineers. Our goal is to ascertain the role that such technology can play in the development of collaboration skills.
The Halle Numérique currently contains five cubicles with the system (Figure 1). The table surface is made up of an Ultra High Definition (UHD) screen, (3840×2160 pixels) at 84” (1860×1046 mm). The size allows for a comfortable space for each individual user at the table, making individual reflection, research and note taking with a virtual keyboard possible within a common space. While there is no software limitation to the number of keyboards that can be opened on the screen, designers indicate that the space is ideal for six adults. These spaces allow for face-to-face work, with perceptive crossing (non-verbal communication) and is used most frequently for the production of information, and the proliferation and divergence of ideas (Jones et al., 2012). The board also has an UHD screen (3840×2160 pixels) at 86” (2042x1151mm). According to previous research, the board space is most used as a space for convergence. It allows group members to have the same view of the information they have produced, facilitating decision making processes (Jones et al., 2012; Rogers & Lindley, 2004).


In this section, we explain the socioeconomic and political context in which this research is situated. We will examine cultural changes, work-place changes, new political policies and finally we explore some of the technological changes in these environments relative to our study.
The MacArthur Foundation launched an initiative in 2006 with the aim of understanding “how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life” (Jenkins et al., 2009). Jenkins et al., have termed today’s cultural space a “participatory culture.” This refers to a culture with:
“relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creations and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices. A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection to one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created.)”
This takes several forms including: participation in online communities; producing “new creative forms,” such as digital sampling; collaborative problem-solving, defined as working in teams to complete tasks and develop knowledge; and circulations, shaping the flow of media. They go on to identify a number of skills related to this participatory culture, including distributed cognition, collective intelligence and networking (Jenkins et al., 2009). With today’s technologies and platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, etc.) the barriers to contribute and be heard have been dropped, online communities are the “new normal” and the skills necessary to engage in them are not the same as the cultural skills which were necessary only 30 years ago.
Similar changes are occurring in the workplace, with some companies flattening (Rajan & Wulf, 2006) or decentralizing the decision making processes. For structures such as holacracies, this means that employees are expected to participate more, making the organization more democratic (Kumar S. & Mukherjee, 2018). Other organizations are moving towards management-by-project systems, but keeping hierarchy in place (Gareis, 1989). These changes in companies reflect the changing technology and culture, as those who have grown up in a “participatory culture” have been joining the workforce. These new systems of working are calling on employees to be autonomous in their own work, but they are also considered to be “collaborative,” asking employees to work together to solve complex problems and create innovative solutions. While technical skills are still necessary, these new structures have led to a change in strategy for recruitment and training, with HR departments favoring soft skills such as collaboration.
In regard to the political context, a number of changes have been introduced by the National Education Ministry in France and the European Union related to collaboration skills development, especially in relation to digital literacy. This has been spurred on by the recent publication of a study carried out by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
In France, the minister of education publishes documents relating to teaching and learning priorities at each grade level and in different domains (such as languages, literature, art, mathematics, etc..). In 2015, the program for cycles two, three and four included 23 mentions of collaboration, 42 for cooperation and 174 for collective activity. References appeared on 174 pages of the 382-page document. These were most often qualified with words such as tool, support, environment, device, creation, technology and resource (Villemonteix et al., 2018).

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Learning through Experience: Positioning

This research uses notions of collaboration coming from essentially cognitivist theories, in terms of their social dimension, and from progressive education, where experience is at the heart of teaching practices. Beginning in the early 20th century, Russian psychologist Vygotsky (1930), who was writing primarily during the 1920s and early 1930s, began describing learning as a personal and social processes, with development being tightly interwoven with speech. Around the same time in the United States, Dewey, an American philosopher, also began down a similar path. He believed that development occurs during social interactions, “reciprocal give-and-take,” arguing that “all human 13 experience is ultimately social […] it involves contact and communication.” It is thus through “co-operative enterprise” and using “social intelligence” to generate purpose that learning occurs (Dewey, 1938a). In their research, Doise and Mugny (1978), have demonstrated that one of the key mechanisms for cognitive development is epistemic conflict between individuals and according to Perret-Clermont (2001), personal experience leads to learning, but requires social validation.
Moving beyond groups in the classroom, Dewey believed that education and “co-operative” inquiry played an important role in developing active participants in democratic processes. (Dewey, 1938a) Likewise, Célestin Freinet believed that “it is through living and working in a team or in a group that you learn to live in a group.” (Freinet, 1964) In their research on communities, Lave and Wenger also observed a similar transformation: “As an aspect of social practice, learning involves the whole person: […] not only a relation to specific activities, but a relation to social communities […] becoming a full participant, a member, a kind of person” (1991).
This socio-constructivist movement is central to how we have approached the topic of learning to collaborate in an instrumented environment. Engaging students in collective activities should permit them to learn about not only the topic at the forefront of the activity, but also ways to work together.
How this takes place, the role played by others, and the tools used has long been a subject of discussion and the formation of several models of activity mediation. The principal objective of the Cré@tion project, in which this dissertation is embedded, is to understand the impact multi-user devices have on students’ collaboration skills, returning us to the fundamental question of how these objects can be put to the service of their users (Rabardel, 1995).

Table of contents :

Learning to Collaborate: The Influence of Physical Digital Workspaces on the Development of Collaborative Competencies
Table of Content
Table of Charts
Table of Figures
Cré@tion Project and the Halle Numérique Platform
Learning to Collaborate: An Economic and Political Injunction – Introduction to our Research Question
Chapter Organization
PART ONE: Positioning our Research
Part One Introduction
Chapter 1 Theoretical Framework 
1.1 Learning through experience: Positioning
1.2 Activity Mediation
1.3 Paradigms of Collaboration
1.4 Cooperation or Collaboration
1.5 Globally Collaborative Work
1.6 Collaborative Competencies
1.7 Physical-digital space
Part One Conclusion and Summary 
Part Two Introduction 
Chapter 2 Tactile Technology and the Development of the Halle Numérique
Chapter Introduction
2.1 Tactile Technology
2.2 The Development of the Halle Numérique Platform
2.3 Platform functionalities
Chapter 2 Conclusion: What Role for Educational Sciences?
Chapter 3 Research Question and Methodology
Chapter Introduction
3.1 Object of Study
3.2 Methodological Choices: An Intersectional Approach
3.3 Research Protocol
Chapter 3 Conclusion
Part Two Conclusion and Summary
Part Three Introduction
Chapter 4 Collaborative Interaction Analysis Framework
Chapter Introduction
4.1 CIAO: An Analysis Framework
4.2 CIAO: Verbal Starting Points
4.3 CIAO: Non-verbal Starting Points
4.4 CIAO: Other Coding Elements
Chapter 4 Conclusion: Using CIAO
Chapter 5 Usage of Physical-Digital Workspaces during Globally Collaborative Work
Chapter Introduction
5.1 Table & Board Modality
5.2 Tablets & Board Modality
5.3 Board Only Modality
Chapter 5 Conclusion
Part Three Conclusion and Summary
Part Four Introduction
Chapter 6 CO2: A Framework for Evaluating Collaborative Competency and Engagement
Chapter Introduction
6.1 Linking Collaborative Competencies to Modes of Interaction
6.2 CO2: A Framework for Collaborative Competency and Engagement
Chapter 6 Conclusion: Limitations
Chapter 7 The Impact of Physical-Digital Workspaces on Student Engagement in Collaboration and Collaborative Competency Development
Chapter Introduction
7.1 Quantitative Results: Engagement & Competency Activation
7.2 The Impact of Individual Space on Student Engagement
7.3 Collaborative Competency Activation
Chapter 7 Conclusion
Part Four Conclusion and Summary
Research Overview
Methodology and Research Limitations


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