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Understanding misunderstandings

I'm reviewing this short article called "Communicability evaluation" (content also available as HTML here).  It focuses on communication through artifacts, but I think many of the ideas could be applied to regular old communication (which increasingly uses text artifacts anyway).

The text discusses the following tags: (1) Where is it? (2) What now? (2) What’s this? (3) Oops! (4) Where am I? (5) I can’t do it this way. (6) Why doesn't it?  (7) What happened? (8) Looks fine to me. (9) I give up. (10) I can do otherwise. (11) Thanks but no thanks. -- and, (12) Help!

The sheer quantity of these tags indicates that "misunderstandings" are diverse and likely very prevalant - otherwise we probably wouldn't have so many words - and so many different ways to talk about them.

There are several references included in the short article, the most central being The semiotic engineering of human-computer interaction.  The ideas seem useful for learning design (whether or not computer mediated).

Task Discussion

  • Joe Corneli   May 28, 2011, 8:23 a.m.

    I think the catalog of misunderstandings would go nicely with the questions by Dan Suthers (overview page) that Stian highlighted in a recent blog post, namely:


    • What activities does a given representational notation suggest or prompt for?
    • Do the actions that can be performed on a shared representation in this notation correspond to the potential ideas that we want learners to negotiate and distinctions we want them to attend to?
    • Do the resulting representations express and make salient the ideas and relationships that learners should revisit and relate to new information?
    • Are the needs that should be addressed by subsequent activity, such the lack of information, made obvious?
    • Do the representations capture important aspects of learners’ thinking and expose conflicts between alternative solutions or perspectives?
    • Stepping beyond the scope of the studies reported here, one might ask: does the notation provide the preferred vocabularies and representational perspectives that constitute both the target skill to be learned as an aspiring member of a community, and focus learning activity on ways of approaching a problem that are productive?