Designing for Learning in Use of Everyday Artefacts

  • Marianne Graves Petersen


A new Bang & Olufsen system is installed in the living room of Paul and Sarah. The B&O sales people do the technical set-up, demonstrate the functionality of the new system for Paul and Sarah, and leave them to explore their new wonder. Not an unusual situation, but nevertheless a situation which fosters a set of concerns at B&O and indeed also for the field of Human Computer Interaction. B&O is concerned with making sure that their customers find B&O systems intuitive to use and over time learn to use the facilities offered by the system. Looking to the field of Human-Computer Interaction, this situation raises more questions than can be answered. These questions drive the work reported in this thesis.
The thesis deals with three general challenges for the area of Human-Computer Interaction. First, it investigates the consequences of the proliferation of computers from the workplace into our everyday lives. Secondly it examines the theoretical and practical implications of considering learning-in-use, as opposed to more static views on technology use. Finally, it examines how we can come to design for learning in use of everyday artefacts, i.e. it aims at approaching the first challenges from a design perspective.
The work presented in the following comes out of a tradition of action-oriented research. Thus the above problems emerged through collaboration with the interaction design group at Bang & Olufsen. The empirical part of the thesis consists of a long-term study of Bang & Olufsen television use in the home of two families. Furthermore, design workshops have been held with families in their homes, and experiments with design practice have been organised together with Bang & Olufsen. Theoretically, activity theory is explored as a basis for understanding learning-in-use. On this basis, a framework of learning artefacts is developed, and this framework is used to analyse the long-term study of B&O use.
The main contributions of this thesis is the framework of learning artefacts and a set of design principles for everyday artefacts, developed on the basis of this framework. In addition, it presents a further development of the perspective of design and use as strongly related and provides an example of how the framework of learning artefacts allow us to evaluate design, not only against use but also against the design practice, which produced it. Finally, the thesis offers a methodological cycle for designing for learning in use and the methods and techniques developed as part of this thesis are framed herein.

Author Biography

Marianne Graves Petersen
How to Cite
Petersen, M. (2002). Designing for Learning in Use of Everyday Artefacts. DAIMI Report Series, 32(568).