EILAB Experience 1: ScriptNarrated by April Stauffer | Written by Todd J.B. Blayone
Welcome to the EILab, a university-based, research facility coexisting as both a physical and virtual space, designed for research at the intersection of education and informatics.
It is also a dynamic virtual space, inhabited by the digitally connected minds of international researchers, sharing ideas, interests and practices in the emerging domain of educational informatics.
So what is educational informatics?
Educational informatics is an emerging academic domain still very much in the process of defining itself. It is attracting the attention of a growing group of diverse kinds of researchers. Their guiding interest is understanding and improving the human experience of using digital information and communication technologies. Computers, smart phones, gaming consoles, tablets, “phablets” and more.
How do these affect learning and education? How can we use them for learning and education?
This is, first and foremost, a human-centric exploration where technologies are viewed not merely for their own sake, but as cognitive, physical, sensory and functional “extensions” of human senses and the human mind.
Research in this field is conducted as a social science. Therefore, it focuses on rigorous observation and analysis, while committing to bold exploration.
This enterprise attracts many types of researchers eager to ask questions and test hypotheses, using a variety of highly specialized, digital-research tools. Such tools perform a number of powerful, and highly specialized, functions like:
• recording and synchronizing multiple streams of human activity
• tagging and analyzing significant behaviours
• tracking emotional responses and eye movements
• and even, in the case of EEG systems, peering inside the brain.
According to Professor Phillippa Levy, at the University of Sheffield, educational informatics draws from three major fields:
• information science
• and computer science
and numerous sub-fields, including:
• information systems
• digital and information literacy
• educational psychology
• learning technology
• instructional design.
In addition, as Dr. Levy’s own academic background in French drama and literature suggests, educational informatics also incorporates approaches and theoretical insights from the arts and humanities. Such is the rich and diverse texture of an academic field dedicated to the study of human experience.
And this is the exciting context in which our EILab story begins.