Human Computer Information Interaction and Information Processing

Efforts to attenuate information processing difficulties

Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in Blog, Human Computer Information Interaction and Information Processing

Efforts to Attenuate Information Processing Difficulties

Human capacity to process information is limited by the capacity of the working memory. Overloading the working memory interferes with information processing. The Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) has been proposed as a framework to control and adjust the cognitive demands imposed upon an individual exposed to print materials or electronic materials accessible through complex digital environments. Hollender, Hoftmann, Deneke, & Schmitz (2010) identified three types of cognitive loads:

  • Intrinsic cognitive load: The intrinsic complexity of the information to be processed;
  • Extraneous cognitive load: The extraneous cognitive load is the result of being exposed to too much superficial information from various sources; as a result, the performer must devote considerable effort to extract and integrate the relevant information since “information from one source has to be maintained in working memory in order to integrate it with information from the other sources (Hollender, Hofmann, Deneke, & Schmitz, 2010, p. 1279) citing (Ayres & Sweller, 2005);
  • Germane cognitive load: Cognitive load is increased when providing too much variation in work example (Hollender et al., 2010).

The ICT usability standard is designed to ascertain that a satisfied user can use the technology to perform a task effectively and efficiently. There are five common dimensions of usability: learnability, memorability, efficiency, low error rate, and user satisfaction. Over the years, User Experience has evolved as a more holistic concept of usability, which encapsulates four desirable dimensions for a digital tool: enjoyable, motivating, aesthetically pleasing, and supportive of creativity (Hollender et al., 2010).

Given the increasing use of technology for learning, the human-computer interface research focused on the learner as a user. The priority of HCI and learning is on learnability and the effectiveness and efficiency of technology-based instructional materials (Hollender et al., 2010). Instructional design and development efforts are directed to the adaptation of instructional materials to fit learners’ needs. The Aptitude by Treatment Interaction (ATI) research indicates that instructional treatments differ in the information processing demand they place on learners. A learner may fail to master an instructional task, simply because of a deficit in information processing skills (Chinien & Boutin, 1993). Instructions are often adapted to circumvent low ability learners on the basis of a fundamental assumption that learnability is improved as instruction takes over more of the information processing burden (Crono & Snow, 1986). Robertson (1985) has suggested that in order to achieve successful human-computer interface: “both the information-processing systems and the strategies used by the machine and also the cognitive systems and strategies deployed by human need to be appropriate” (Robertson, 1985, p. 19).

Technology and software engineers and researchers have for a long time realized the importance of human information processing for the human-computer interface:

“The major problems that confront users of advanced information technology are not legibility and keyboard design but instead concern information management, problem description, process representation and the like…that this interaction takes place through computers and their peripheral devices should not be allowed to obscure the fact that it is essentially cognitive and that the most important issues are cognitive” (Storrs, Rivers, & Canter, 1984, p. 62), cited by (Robertson, 1985, p.19).

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Human-Information Interaction 0

Human-Information Interaction

Posted by on Dec 7, 2013 in Blog, Human Computer Information Interaction and Information Processing

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Digital Skills for All

Human-Information Interaction

The concept of information processing has move beyond the context of text to image and screen literacy. Eshet-Alkalai has argued that in current digital environments to which people are exposed:

a large flux of stimuli that “bombard” their cognition in real-time, at very high speed and in random temporal and spatial distribution. In all these situations the key to the users’ successful performance is their ability to process these stimuli effectively by splitting their attention to different places in the monitor, reacting to simultaneous stimuli, executing different tasks simultaneously (multi-tasking), rapidly changing their angle of view and perspective of the environment, processing multiple representations of information, and responding to feedback that appears in real-time. And above all – they have to quickly and effectively synchronize the chaotic multimedia stimuli into one coherent action or body of knowledge (Eshet-Alkalai, 2007, p. 57).

Eshet-Alkalai has expanded the concept of digital literacy to include not only photo-visual thinking, reproduction thinking, non-linear thinking, information thinking, and social-emotional thinking, but also real-time thinking skills (Eshet-Alkalai, 2007).

Given the significant importance of information for performing the great majority of occupations, the computer is increasingly becoming a means to an end. As a consequence there is a reassessment of Human-Computer Interaction as an area of research and development. The term Human-Information Interaction (HII) has already been used by researchers from the field of Library and Information Science. The emphasis is on User Experience, that is, how humans interact with information rather than with the computer (Jones, Pirolli, Card, Fidel, Gershon, Morville, Nardi, & Russell, 2006).

Increased demands are being placed on users of digital tools and technologies for processing large amounts of information quickly, effectively, and efficiently. People have gradually realized that working with digital systems and tools to perform most job tasks involves complex cognitive and metacognitive skills, over and above the basic ICT skills necessary for operating a computer. In the information society, information and strategic internet skills will determine people’s ability to succeed in the labour market and in society. Some people may not have the necessary cognitive information processing skills to properly interact with the digital systems and tools and struggle to try to acquire these skills (Deursen & Dijk, 2010). The digital divide, which was once essentially rooted in physical access to technology, has evolved into a widening divide that is focused on skills deficiencies in using technology (Chinien & Boutin, 2011, Deursen & Dijk, 2010). Chinien & Boutin have coined the term “cognitive divide” to describe this information processing skills deficit (Chinien & Boutin, 2003). After studying the internet skills of the Dutch population, researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands concluded that due to the digital skills gap: “large parts of the population will be excluded from actual and effective internet use. This especially goes for less educated populations. While these groups have always been socially disadvantaged, their life chances are now further in danger. They are increasingly excluded from the benefits the internet now has to offer” (Deursen & Dijk, 2010, p. 908). The researchers expressed some doubt as to whether this cognitive skills divide can be closed at all.

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