In the opening keynote Howard Rheingold proclaimed that we are in a time for learners and he outlined the possibilities that arise from the interactive media that is available to us. In particular he highlighted the fact that people share and link content and to him this is at the heart of learning. Learning as a joined process where contributions by students – in different forms of media – become major a resource was one example.
I best liked his analogy on how little innovation there is in teaching. “If you take a warrior from 1000 years ago on a battlefield today – they will die – quickly. If you take a surgeon from a 1000 years ago and put them in a modern hospital – they will be lost. If you take a professor from 1000 years ago and put them in a University today he will exactly know what to do. ” I am not sure about the 1000 years but it by 100 years the story works just as well. In essence he argued that there is a lot of potential for new approaches for teaching and learning.
After initially agreeing I gave it some more thoughts and perhaps the little change in learning and teaching shows that learning is very fundamental and technology is overrated in this domain? What is more effective than a teachers discussing in an exciting topic face to face with a small set of students – perhaps even while on a walk? Reminds me about things I read about the Greek teachers and there practices several thousand years ago … and it makes me looking forward to our summer school in the Italian Alps (http://www.ferienakademie.de/).
I found the SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award lectures very exciting and educational. Especially the talk by Larry Tesler provided deep insight into how innovation works in user interfaces – beyond the academic environment. He talked about the “invention” of cut and paste – very enjoyable!
This year we had a number of papers describing our research in CHI:
- Elba reported on the field study in Panama using mobile phones to enhance teaching and learning 
- Ali presented work on how to increase the connectedness between people by simple means of iconic communication in the context of a sports game 
- Tanja showed how touch and gestural input on a steering wheel can reduce the visual distraction for a driver , and
- Gilbert (from LMU Munich) presented work on interaction with cylindrical screens .
The most inspiring and at the same time the most controversial paper for me was the possessed hand by Jun Rekimoto et al. . He reported their results in using electro stimulation in order to move fingers of a hand.
Bill Buxton showed throughout the conference his collection of input and output devices (Buxton Collection). Seeing the collection physically is really exciting, but for all who did not have the chance there is a comprehensive online version with photos and details available at micosoft research: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/bibuxton/buxtoncollection/
 Elba del Carmen Valderrama Bahamondez, Christian Winkler, and Albrecht Schmidt. 2011. Utilizing multimedia capabilities of mobile phones to support teaching in schools in rural panama. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 935-944. DOI=10.1145/1978942.1979081 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1978942.1979081
 Alireza Sahami Shirazi, Michael Rohs, Robert Schleicher, Sven Kratz, Alexander Müller, and Albrecht Schmidt. 2011. Real-time nonverbal opinion sharing through mobile phones during sports events. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 307-310. DOI=10.1145/1978942.1978985 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1978942.1978985
 Tanja Döring, Dagmar Kern, Paul Marshall, Max Pfeiffer, Johannes Schöning, Volker Gruhn, and Albrecht Schmidt. 2011. Gestural interaction on the steering wheel: reducing the visual demand. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 483-492. DOI=10.1145/1978942.1979010 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1978942.1979010
 Gilbert Beyer, Florian Alt, Jörg Müller, Albrecht Schmidt, Karsten Isakovic, Stefan Klose, Manuel Schiewe, and Ivo Haulsen. 2011. Audience behavior around large interactive cylindrical screens. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1021-1030. DOI=10.1145/1978942.1979095 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1978942.1979095
 Emi Tamaki, Takashi Miyaki, and Jun Rekimoto. 2011. PossessedHand: techniques for controlling human hands using electrical muscles stimuli. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 543-552. DOI=10.1145/1978942.1979018 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1978942.1979018