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Representations and languages


There are a number of dimensions along which it is possible to classify the existing representations in the field of design for learning: the format and type of representations, the degree of formalism, the degree of abstraction, the purpose and focus of the representation and the producer/receiver of the representation itself.

Broadly speaking, representations may vary in format: there are textual representations (languages) and visual representations. Following Conole’s suggestion (2012), textual representations can use artificial language or natural language (narratives), while visual representations are basically in a graphical format (charts of graphs).

The table below illustrates some of the main dimensions along which it is possible to categorize design representations.

 format typedegree of forma-
lism
 degree of abstra-
ction
purposeproducer receiver
TEXT-
UAL (langua-
ges)
artificial languages
very high
 high, no comtext. info
deliversoftware developer/ /highly skilled designerstudents  
TEXT-
UAL
 (langua-
ges)
natural languages
medium, low
may vary, typic. more detailed
generate, commu-
nicate
designer/ teacherself/
other 
teachers/
designers/
researchers/
students
VISUAL
(represem-tations)

graphsmediumhighgenerate, commu-
nicate
designer/ teacher 
self/
other 
teachers/
designers/
researchers/
students
VISUAL
(represem-
tations)
chartsmediumhighcommu-
nicate,
reflect
designer/ teacherself/
other 
teachers/
designers/
researchers/
students

For a complete map of representations and languages see Pozzi & Persico (forthcoming).

Contact:

Francesca Pozzi (pozzi@itd.cnr.it)
Donatella Persico (persico@itd.cnr.it)