• Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)
  • Ph.D. dissertation (primary researcher)


Problem: I wanted to learn about how people evolve in their usage of devices they use. I wanted to see how learning continues to happen even after participants figure out how to use the device.


  • People were given World of Warcraft, Photoshop, or an iPod Touch
  • I met with participants 3 times over the course of 2 months
  • During sessions, I interviewed and watched them use these software/devices
  • Participants recorded their learning experiences in an online journal outside interviews


  • Participants explore new aspects of an interface gradually once they have establish familiarity.
  • Learning is not planned out; they learn when and where it is most convenient, relying on social learning
  • Learning (not sticking to what one is familiar with) helps transform the way a user views an interface
  • Learning opens up new questions for exploration
  • People consolidate meaning to make new knowledge, occasionally facing conflicting information from past experience.


This framework inspired by research findings demonstrates aspects of an interface we can design for to support learning. They show a progression of areas a designer has increasingly indirect control over, including the design of A) the functions to fit needs, B) resources supporting a user learning process through shortcuts and workarounds, C) the suggested use for a device related to the way the artifact is actually used by users, D) an environment of possible actions supporting the skills needed to take advantage of those actions, E) the underlying meaning embedded in the device by the designer related to the meaning generated by the user in use, and finally F) the learning situation supporting the user experience.

Outcomes: This was my Ph.D. dissertation that was defended and accepted.

Related Documents:

Dissertation Document
Defense Presentation
Design Framework written based on findings


Dates: Jun 2007-Aug 2011

Research Methods Used: Ethnography, Experience Journals

My Roles: Research, Writing