From technology to activity development: the challenge of using students as participants in a PD project
The interest of evaluating new information technologies in real-life conditions "in the wild" has recently been increasing. For this new direction, researchers and technology developers need to find the real-life context in which to intervene and the users willing to test the prototype technologies in their everyday practices. Additional complications follow from the ecology of several applications used together. In this paper, experiences from a complex real-life experiment with a set of three research prototypes are analyzed. Based on the results, master-level students are competent users when evaluating individual prototypes but less suitable for integrating separate prototypes into meaningful ecology and envisioning a transition from a traditional way of working to a new one. For this task, users are needed who have a vision of the new and who recognize the problems and tensions between the old and the nascent new.