Transcending the Individual Human Mind: Creating Shared Understanding through Collaborative Design

Gerhard Fischer, University of Colorado, Boulder

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University April 23, 1999


Based on our past work and a critical assessment of other approaches and systems, we are tackling the challenges now faced by what we see as the limiting factors for future collaborative human-computer systems. We are developing new approaches to support distributed cognition in which human processes such thinking, working, learning and collaborating are redistributed in new ways among stakeholders, and their physical and computational artifacts when these are used as media for collaboration. Collaborative human-computer systems need to be rethought in the context of the wicked nature of most problems confronting society where the human processes above need to be supported.

We have been developing the Envisionment and Discovery Collaboratory (EDC) as an integrated physical and computational environment representing the convergence of simulation games, action spaces, and reflection spaces. The EDC is based on new conceptual frameworks such as creating shared understanding among various stakeholders, contextualizing information to the task at hand, evolution of system through use, and creating objects-to-think-with in collaborative design activities which take place around the table and beyond.

Gerhard Fischer is professor of Computer Science, a member of the Institute of Cognitive Science, and the director of the Center for LifeLong Learning& Design (L3D) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Current research interests include education and computers (including learning on demand and organizational learning), human-human and human-computer collaboration, (software) design, and domain-oriented design environments.


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