Hypermedia tools for organizing knowledge have long been designed to benefit how people think, learn, collaborate, and generate ideas. Contemporary iterations of these types of “tools for thought” build upon both technology and pedagogy that has been developing since the early days of personal computers. However, despite a multi-decade history of the development of hypermedia knowledge organization tools both within and outside of educational contexts, we see little transformation of the classroom connected to these types of tools today. In this thesis, I argue that examining the history of hypermedia knowledge organization tools by looking at both successful and failed experiments in bringing them into classrooms, one can more deeply understand the conceptual origins of the recent generation of networked knowledge tools and how to avoid challenges that have plagued them in the past when considering where they might fit into today’s classrooms. Looking across three distinctly different time periods, I examine technical, cultural, and pedagogical shifts that contributed to the changing designs and classroom applications of these tools. I develop a case study describing one application of contemporary hypermedia knowledge organization tools in a middle-school classroom during the Fall of 2020. This case study, a project called “Learning Dens,” builds upon lessons from the previously examined eras, and draws inspiration from contemporary uses of hypermedia knowledge organization tools outside of the classroom for sharing in-progress collections of ideas. Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, this case explores using hypermedia knowledge organization tools in the classroom to support social-emotional learning and reflection.
About Will Freudenheim
Will Freudenheim is a researcher and game designer. His work is focused on investigating how people read and ascribe meaning to their environments through emerging media platforms, and considering new applications of contextual media in the development of educational tools.
Will graduated from Wesleyan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Science in Society. His honors thesis presented a theoretical framework called the “embodied interface” to study the unique facets of augmented reality, examining the relationships between graphical interfaces, locative media, human environmental perception, and networks of human and algorithmic actors in the production of experiences of space. Recently, Will worked as a game designer and resident at NYU’s Game Center Incubator, where he co-led the development of a puzzle and exploration game called Crosshatch. At MIT, Will joins the Education Arcade, where he hopes to participate in creating games and systems to invite students to develop new understandings of their environments.
In his free time, Will likes to compose music and sound design for independent animators.