Seminar 5: Programme


The Disciplinary Bubble

9:45 – 16:00, Friday 18th March 2016
University of Sussex

Location: The location for the day is the conference centre on Floor 3, Bramber House on the University of Sussex campus at Falmer. Directions to the University and access information can be found here. The conference suite has full disabled access and hearing loop.

Work relevant to technology and autism is dispersed across diverse disciplines. This fifth seminar in the series explores what it is we are trying to achieve with technology and considers how we can collaborate constructively across these disciplines to realise our goals.

09:15 – 09:45: Arrival and Refreshments
09:45 – 10:00: Welcome and introduction

Dr Nicola Yuill & Dr Judith Good, University of Sussex

10:00 – 10:40: Do We Need Discipline?

Professor Yvonne Rogers, Director UCLIC, University College London

Much has been written about the potential benefits of being interdisciplinary. By bringing together distinctive components of two or more disciplines, traditional boundaries can be crossed resulting in new insights and technological advances – that arguably would not have emerged from working in one discipline alone. Talking with others who have been trained to frame, think about and solve problems differently from oneself can lead to new ideas, insights and disagreements. It is this combination of spark, aha and friction that encourages risk taking and daring to be different.
In my research, I have always worked with others – including developmental psychologists, engineers, philosophers, artists, computer scientists, choreographers, architects and professional designers. In a nutshell, we design, build and evaluate a diversity of innovative technologies, in-the-wild, with the aim of augmenting and extending people in their work, learning and everyday lives. Sometimes, we have showdowns and stubbornly refuse to see each other’s point of view, but mostly we end up combining our ideas, skills and know-how to promote new visions of what is possible and ways of achieving them. Such an unruly way of working often means losing the security blanket of conventional paradigms and ‘tried and tested’ methods. Instead, we err towards working more in terms of a mix of serendipity and invention where creative experimentation is what drives the research. To demonstrate how such a lack of discipline can be productive, knowledge advancing and even ground-breaking, I will illustrate my talk with some interdisciplinary projects that we are most proud of; many of which exhibit new forms of ‘ludic engineering’ that have promoted learning through novel, playful visions of technology.

10:40 – 11:00: Discussion in small groups and feedback
11:00 – 11:40: Designing a More Inclusive World

Ian Hosking, Engineering Design Centre, University of Cambridge

This talk will argue that it is “normal to be different” and that we need to design the World around us to take into account this inherent diversity. An overview of the inclusive design process will be given with reference to the Inclusive Design Toolkit. This toolkit has been developed over more than 10 years to help designers develop more inclusive products and services. Examples will be given of inclusively designed products. In addition the talk will expand upon how inclusive design has been taken into schools as part of the Design & Technology curriculum under the Designing Our Tomorrow initiative. Particular reference will be made to role of empathy in design and the use of empathy tools to help students understand user needs (link).

11:40 – 12:00: Discussion in small groups and feedback
12:00 – 13:00: LUNCH (posters & ASCmeIT display available)
13:00 – 13:40: What does education bring to the table in TEL research?

Dr Karen Guldberg, School of Education, University of Birmingham

“For educators and their world, it is the culture of doing, of practice, that needs to inform our laboratory (Thomas, 2012: 35).
Colleagues in Education may see themselves as sociologists, psychologists, historians or philosophers. Many would prefer to describe Education as a patchwork of different disciplines.
I would argue that Education is a science that is rooted in praxis and is crucial for informing the creation and subsequent use of meaningful technology-enhanced learning (TEL) environments. Yet despite the move towards research ‘in the wild’, Education does not have a strong enough voice in TEL research in autism.
Drawing on 3 TEL projects I focus on strengths that the Educational discipline/s can bring to the table in TEL research. These include theories, methodologies and methods that:

  • Examine the interaction between social, cultural, cognitive and practical complexities of contexts
  • Take into account practitioner knowledge and experience, including the craft and tacit knowledge of teachers
  • Enable understandings of pedagogy and the learning processes of pupils
  • Engage with the policy context and curriculum in a way that leads to better understandings of the practices, perspectives and needs of users

I highlight how the discipline/s of Education can ensure that TEL makes a difference to life ‘in the wild’, and can thus enhance learning and quality of life for the children, families and teachers for whom we seek to create these environments.
Thomas, G. (2012b) Changing our landscape of inquiry for a new science of education:
Harvard Educational Review, 82, 1, 26-51.

13:40 – 14:00: Discussion in small groups and feedback
14:00 – 14:20: The ASCmeIT app
14:20 – 14:40: TEA BREAK
14:40 – 15:20: ‘Research’ as a feature of children’s and young people’s everyday digital practice

Professor Rachel Thomson, Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth, University of Sussex

In this presentation I explore what it might mean to ‘research’ in a digital, even post-digital age – when the incitement to research is built into our platforms and tools, taking form as new structures of feeling as we ‘stalk’, ‘obsess’ and ‘curate’ for fun. The presentation draws on the ESRC funded Face to Face project that allowed researchers to document and represent the lives of children and teenagers over time, exploring how digital practices form part of everyday cultures of sociality and memory making. In this presentation I will explore how ‘research’ has become a popular and democratic practice, giving rise to new kinds of pleasures and perils for young people. I also consider the interface between the expert research practices of academics and those of our participants asking what the spaces in between can allow for in terms of creative and critical meaning making. Mindful of critiques of naïve approaches to multimedia methods I consider the specific affordances of the digital, its indexicality and potential to generate recursive movement between past and present and between cultural spaces. Far from collapsing the idea of research into everyday or commercial practice I am interested in thinking how a critical and ethically engaged research practice may play an important role in the creation of hybrid public spaces that are ephemeral yet networked and animated by logics that may be diverse and undetermined. To find out more about the study see our website.
Publications linked to the study include Berriman and Thomson ‘Spectacles on intimacy: mapping the moral landscape of teenage social media use’:
Journal of Youth Studies 18 (5). pp. 583-587. ISSN 1367-6261

15:20 – 15:40: Discussion in small groups and feedback
15:40 – 16:00: Concluding remarks and close

Yvonne Rogers is the director of the Interaction Centre at UCL (UCLIC) and a professor of Interaction Design. She is the Principal Investigator for the Intel-funded Cities collaborative research Institute ( at UCL. She is also an honorary professor at University Cape Town, visiting professor at Sussex University and has spent sabbaticals at Stanford, Apple, Queensland University, Melbourne University, University Cape Town and UCSD. Her research is in the areas of ubiquitous computing, interaction design and human-computer interaction. This involves informing, building and evaluating novel user experiences through creating and assembling a diversity of future technologies (e.g. tangibles, physical computing, internet of things) that augment everyday, learning, community engagement and collaborative work activities. She has been instrumental in promulgating new theories (e.g., external cognition), alternative methodologies (e.g., in the wild studies) and far-reaching research agendas (e.g., “Being Human: HCI in 2020” manifesto), and has pioneered an approach to innovation and ubiquitous learning. She is a fellow of the BCS and the ACM CHI Academy. She was also awarded a prestigious EPSRC dream fellowship concerned with rethinking the relationship between ageing, computing and creativity.

Rachel Thomson is Professor of Childhood and Youth Studies and co-director of the Sussex Humanities Lab, as well as being founder member of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth at the University of Sussex. She is a sociologist by discipline, and has worked at the University of Manchester, the National Children’s Bureau; London South Bank University and the Open University. Her research interests include the study of the life course and transitions, as well as the interdisciplinary fields of gender and sexuality studies. She is a methodological innovator and is especially interested in capturing lived experience, social processes and the interplay of biographical and historical time. She has worked extensively on Digital Childhoods: the impact of the shift from analog to digital cultures on the meanings and practices of childhood. Her collaboration with the Mass Observation Archive on Curating Childhoods established a new multi-media collection on ‘everyday childhoods’.

Ian Hosking is Senior Research Associate at the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre, University of Cambridge. He is a member of the Healthcare Design Group and the Inclusive Design Group. Ian began his academic career with a BSc in Physics, and then worked in industry for 20 years, before joining the Engineering Design Centre. His recent work has focused in particular on inclusive design in a wide range of real-world contexts, including teaching design and technology, healthcare and dementia screening and wireless technology for emergency communications.

Karen Guldberg is Director of the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) at the School of Education, University of Birmingham. She is a Senior Lecturer in Autism Studies in the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN). Her research interests are in the areas of Technology Enhanced Learning for children with autism; the training needs of practitioners in the field of autism and on notions of ‘good autism practice’. She applies social learning theory to her work, with a particular focus on communities of practice. She is also inspired and guided by theories around inter-subjectivity.