Pedagogical Interaction: Reflections on “Design” – Graphic and Instructional – as agents of “dialogue” mediated by computer interfaces

The languages of pedagogical interaction: reflections on "design" data-graph and instrucional- as agents of "dialogue" mediated by computer interfaces


This work is built on ideas related to the graphic designer’s work in the process of developing materials for online courses, presented by Cristina Portugal in the latest issue of RBAAD (RBAAD, 2.1). Stefanelli extends the debate to a discussion of the interface between the graphic designer contribution, with skills and training on aspects of visual communication of knowledge, and instructional designer, whose skill and training are focused on the education / learning process design and use graphical representations of tools to know how existing instruments for the creation of new knowledge in the minds of students, and thus using this knowledge to develop new skills and competencies.


This paper builds on the ideas related to the role of the graphic designer in the process of online course materials development que Were presented by Cristina Portugal in the previous edition of the Review (RBAAD, 2.1). It extends the debate to a discussion of the interface between the contribution of the graphic designer with skills and training in aspects of visual communication of knowledge, and of the instructional designer, Whose skills and training focus on the design of the teaching-learning process que uses the graphic and other representations of existing knowledge the instruments for creating new knowledge in the minds of the learners and Then utilizing que knowledge to Develop new skills and competencies.


This work builds on online course materials that were presented by Cristina Portugal in the previous edition of the journal (RBAAD, 2.1) in the ideas related to the work of the graphic designer in the development process. Stefanelli extends the discussion to a discussion of the interface between the graphic designer’s contribution, with skills and training in aspects of visual communication of knowledge, and the educational designer whose skills and training focuses on designing the teaching-learning process that uses Graphics and other representations of existing knowledge as tools to create new knowledge in the minds of students and then use that knowledge to develop new skills and abilities.

The languages of pedagogical interaction: reflections on “design” – graphic and instructional – as agents of “dialogue” mediated by the computational interfaces.

I would like to start this text by congratulating Professor Cristina Portugal on the article ‘Distance education: the design as agent of the’ dialogue ‘mediated by the computational interfaces’ which, in a clear, elegant and eloquent way, addressed several points of great importance for education to Distance and education mediated by digital technologies. The article in question, published in RBAAD, Vol.2, No. 1 (available on the ABED website), begins in the form of a reflection on the path that distance learning mediated by computational interfaces has been going through. It covers in its scope aspects of computational systems and human interaction in the dissemination of knowledge. This article goes on to discuss issues of great relevance such as dialogue, language, human interaction, computational interfaces and the importance of designers, and in its conclusion there is the call of readers for a current and timely reflection.

However, I would like to provoke a discussion by shedding a new light on some of the points the author spoke about and presenting another one that, in my opinion, is of paramount importance in the scope of the theme “the design as agent of the ‘dialogue’ mediated by the computational interfaces “. One of the points I would like to discuss is that of human interaction. In its etymology, interaction is a reciprocal action between people or things. That is: it is when a person, or a thing, carries out an action on another person, or thing, suffering an action of this person, or thing. Thus, in education, this semantics allows for many meanings: the interaction between students, between students and teachers, between students and materials of teaching and learning, between students and evaluation systems among other possibilities of the present context. Considering that this interaction can happen synchronic or diachonically and can be mediated by digital technologies, it reinforces the importance of a design capable of creating an interface that seeks the common well-being. However, I did not find among the possibilities of interaction listed in Professor Cristina Portugal’s text one of the possibilities that, in our view, is of tremendous importance.

The great purpose of knowledge is not to know, but to act.
Thomas Henry Huxley

In the midst of a never end of factors influencing the process of learning / distance learning are a few considered as critical success factors (Pfromm Netto, 1998). One of these factors is the teaching and learning material. By minimizing the concept of ‘learning’ as the transition from the state of non-competence to that of competence and dismembering the concept of ‘competence’ as the superposition of ‘knowledge’, ‘skills’ and ‘attitudes’; -sob this optics competence is to know what to do, how to do it and be willing to do it (Diagram 1 – Competence as overlapping of concepts), we will see that for a wide range of human knowledge (Diagram 2 – Categorization of human knowledge – Romiszowski, 1986, p. 55) The materials of learning and teaching are fundamental as one of the mediators of the learning / teaching process.

diagrama de Competência - conhecimento, habilidade e atitude

Diagram – Power as overlapping concepts
It is evident that in some areas of human knowledge, like philosophy, learning will only happen if there are interactions between the student and the teacher and between the students. The acquisition of this competence will only happen if at any moment the teacher “enters the mind” of the student and confronts his ideas with the ideas, considered as classic, of the great thinkers, the German philosopher Kant preached that one does not learn philosophy what one learns Is philosophizing. By designing a course of philosophy mediated only by the interaction between student and materials, we would actually be creating a course in the history of philosophy (Socrates, Descartes, Kant). Contrary to this scenario is a course whose final competence to be acquired is purely algorithmic. As a crude example: a course that enables someone to change the flat tire of an automobile. Assuming that the students are able to discriminate if the tire is stuck and that they master the notions of safety, it seems to me that the fact that they meet in a “chat” at any given moment would not add value to their interaction with A well-planned material, developed by competent designers capable, for example, of replacing technical texts with clear and objective illustrations. If we include concepts such as ‘on-demand education’ in this analysis, the importance of a material drawn by specialists will become clear.
Encouraged by a convergent concern with that of Professor Cristina Portugal, I published in the VII International Congress of Distance Education, organized by ABED in 2000 and held in the city of São Paulo, the work: “The Importance of the Graphic Communication Professional in EAD” (copy of this work can be found on the ABED website) where I discuss the importance of graphic communication professionals in the production of educational materials for education mediated by digital technologies. In this work, the contribution of these professionals is to transform into visual language abstract concepts and physical products, to later use these visual images (and audiovisuals) in multimedia programs or on the Internet. The “pedagogically correct” use of these images goes from the field of graphic communication professionals to the domain of the teaching / learning professional, that is, the so-called “instructional designer”. This does not necessarily mean that two different people must practice these two professions, but it does mean that two distinct areas of competence are involved in the process.

This paper also discussed the revolution produced by the GUI, some of the benefits of its adoption and some of their problems. We also discuss the inversion of values observed in some educational hypermedia programs and the Internet whose appearance competes with the content. Finally we present the study of some cases where the graphic communications professional talent introduced a remarkable value to the subject matter. This work has the conclusion that the modernization of educational material production form is not excluding professional graphic communication, on the contrary, this phenomenon makes their work increasingly important. The article in question is illustrated with examples of treaties programs. Interactive Demos of these programs are available on my personal website: must be mentioned that the original programs were designed and produced to have to support the CD-ROM, so these we had some characteristics modified to conform to the Internet idiosyncrasies.

The programs discussed in the paper “Communication Professional Importance of Graphic in ODL” were developed by the Group of Media and Languages New Interactive Research Center of Communication Technologies Applied to Education – The School of the Future at the University of São Paulo, on request Hospitality Institute with the purpose of being used in educational programs and professional training for the hotel industry, restaurants and tourism. Also participating in the design effort and production of these programs the Federal Center of Technological Education of São Paulo – CEFET-SP and TTS. – Technology Training and Systems Development Ltd., Rio de Janeiro.

To complement this text I would like to describe another example of the design of the use as a substitute for verbal language teacher. This example is part of an educational program for the acquisition of knowledge and skills inherent to the geometric design, it is intended for students of second and third degree, your goal is to study the plane geometrical figures -which can be drawn with ruler aid and compasso- and solids whose faces form these figures -The Geometric Design in Multimedia. In this program the design allowed the acquisition of abstract concepts in a playful and eloquently.

Alexander Romiszowski divides human knowledge into two categories: the factual knowledge and conceptual knowledge. The conceptual knowledge, in turn, are also divided into two categories: principles and concepts; Finally the concepts are also divided into two categories: concrete concepts and abstract concepts (Diagram 2 – Categorization of human knowledge). The main difference between concrete and abstract concepts is that the former can be transmitted through concrete examples (the day-to-day) and the student uses his senses to acquire them. However, for the acquisition of abstract concepts it is necessary the use of language and the student’s capacity for abstraction (Romiszowski, 1981). The author exemplifies using concrete concepts of ‘red’, ‘green’, ‘blue’ or the difference between the ‘pink-orange’ and ‘red’. According to his studies, the student appropriates these concepts through their senses, using their life experience.
Diagram 2 – Categorization of human knowledge

But the abstract concept ‘color’ will only be seized if the student and the teacher to master a common language. In this case-as in all CONCEPTS teaching cases you need to present a number of appropriate examples. Examples that will lead the student to take ownership of the abstract concept ‘color’ are the concepts ‘concrete’ seized previously, like: red and orange.

To explain the concept ‘color’ the teacher needs verbally cite the examples and the student needs to understand the meaning of these words. According Romiszowski to teach the abstract concept ‘color’, no good point to red things, blue or any other color, or so-little mention color examples verbally to a student who has not previously acquired the understanding of these words. The abstract concept ‘color’ only makes sense if the student know the concrete examples and master the language used by the teacher to put it all together. Turning to more abstract and complex levels, for example the concept of the teaching of “physical property” where the concept (as abstract) a ‘color’ is one of the examples (together with others such as “weight”, “length”, “Density “and so forth) the role of common language becomes even more critical. However, there are several forms of language, verbal addition.

Geometric Design in Multimedia animations were used produced in “3D” -linguagem graphically as a partial substitute of verbal language. For example -without prejudice to the axioms and postulados- can adduce concrete concepts: point, line, cone, flat and others and subsequently using animations with language, take the student to abstract concepts of conic curves -pontos belonging both to the cone on the plane that seciona- (Screen 1 – environment Interface: Conical Curves – Geometric Design in Multimedia).
Screen 1 – Environment Interface: Conical Curves – Geometric Design in Multimedia

In this example the design partially replaced the verbal language as the same knowledge presented in graphical form are redundantly encoded in textual form, and the original design in the form of narration.

It is evident that the fundamentals of geometry are far from concrete, Nor concepts, however, using the principles of ‘Categorization of Human Knowledge’, together with an appropriate design, it has provided synergy between technology and art without prejudice to content.

As a final consideration, I would like to reiterate the praises of teacher Cristina Portugal and finish this text with universal words of Alan Webber: “In conclusion, the new economy is not in technology, whether the microchip or the global telecommunications network is the human mind. . ”


Portugal, C. (2003). Distance: design as an agent of “dialogue” mediated by computer interfaces, SP: ABED.

Pfromm Netto, S. (1998). Screens That Teach. Campinas, SP: Publisher Section.

Romiszowski, A.J. (1981). Designing Instructional Systems: decision-making in course planning nad curriculum design. London, U: Kogan Page.

Romiszowski, A.J. (1986). Developing Self-Instructional Materials: from programmed texts to interactive video. London, UK: Kogan Page.

Stefanellli, E. J. (2000). The Communication Professional Importance of Graphic EAD. São Paulo, SP: ABED.

Eduardo Stefanelli

Engenheiro por profissão, professor por vocação