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Scaffolding

January 3, 2008 4 comments

Today I read a book titled Modern Information Retrieval written by Ricardo Baeza-Yates and Berthier Ribeiro-Neto. It’s an old book published in 1999, and I thought I need to read this book first before exploring other books with similar topic. Unfortunately, I got only Chapter 10-part of the book, about User Interfaces and Visualizations.

At the beginning in this chapter, the authors give explanations about Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). I found a unique word -which i’ve never heard before- called “Scaffolding” in the section when the authors explain on how to provide alternative interfaces for novice and expert users, as a part of design principles in HCI. It is stated that an important tradeoff in all user interface design is that Simplicity vs Powers. And a common solution is to use a “Scaffolding” technique.

"The novice user is presented with a simple interface that can be learned quickly and that provides the basic functionality of the application, but is restricted in power and flexibility. Alternative interfaces are offered for more experienced users, giving them more control, more options, and more features, or potentially even entirely different interaction models. Good user interfaces design provides intuitive bridges between the simple and the advanced interfaces."

I tried to find any resources about this Scaffolding thing and found two links which interested me more, and just knew that it is closely related to teaching method. From the North Central Regional Education Laboratory website it is said that:

"Scaffolding is an instructional technique whereby the teacher models the desired learning strategy or task, then gradually shifts responsibility to the students."

The second link is from FNO The Educational Journal. The page is about an article excerpted from Jamie McKenzie’s book titled “Beyond Technology: Questioning, Research and the Information Literate School”. In Chapter 19 – Scaffolding For Success, McKenzie describes Characteristics of Education Scaffolding. There are at least eight characteristics of scaffolding:

  1. Scaffolding provides clear directions;
  2. Scaffolding clarifies purpose;
  3. Scaffolding keeps students on task;
  4. Scaffolding offers assesment to clarify expectations;
  5. Scaffolding points students to worthy sources;
  6. Scaffolding reduces uncertainty, surprise, and disappointment;
  7. Scaffolding delivers efficiency;
  8. Scaffolding creates momentum.

For full description on the excerpt, please refer to this website.