Playful education in Berlin

Before the year ended, with the play4innovation in Berlin I could attend another exciting event. Organized by the team of StrategicPlay, the open space format offered a variety of playful sessions on different topics by people from all over Europe. Besides manifold opportunities to socialize and the excellent, creative food provided by Daniel’s Eatery, the special event was truly amazing! We visited the interactive museum “The Story of Berlin” that provides a foray through the history of Berlin by using modern multimedia technology. As part of the guided tour, we even experienced the oppressive atmosphere in an original nuclear bomb shelter from the Cold War. I really got goosebumps down there, particularly when the guide explained that the shelter would never have worked in the case of emergency.

Going beyond disciplines

Emerging from the interdisciplinary collaboration in the Research Training Group “CrossWorlds”, together with colleagues from the computer science faculty I organized a workshop on “Computer Science & Cognition” for the INFORMATIK 2017 in Chemnitz. We addressed cognitive research from perspectives of both psychology and computer science by featuring projects on delay in a virtual speech-based memory training, the prediction of mental workload in an air traffic controller task, instructional design features in a robot construction task, or the classification of Twitter users with a machine learning approach. Our audience raised interesting questions and provided valuable ideas, particularly in the concluding discussion on benefits and challenges of interdisciplinarity.

European research excellence in Potsdam

In September 2017, I had the pleasure to attend an extraordinarily well organized 20th Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology in Potsdam and enlarge my professional network across Europe. For instance, during lunch I discussed issues in multitasking research with colleagues from Belgium, or issues in embodiment research with an Italian colleague currently residing in France. I could even see Alan Baddeley, who provided amusing anecdotes during his speech at the 20th ESCoP celebration ceremony on the last conference day. Altogether, the organizers had done an extremly good job – not only by organizing the most amazing vegan chocolate muffins that I ever tasted. The conference venue was located quite close to the beautiful scenery of lake Griebnitzsee and offered the chance to enjoy a nice walk between the sessions. In addition, during one bright and sunny day, I used the opportunity to visit the impressive and beautiful park of Sanssouci palace.

Visiting “The Big Smoke”

Proceeding further in the year 2017, I had the amazing opportunity to visit London on the occasion of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Aligned to the conference topic “Computational Foundations of Cognition”, I brought along some work-in-progress results on the ACT-R model that I develop within my PhD thesis. Since I also attended the ACT-R workshop the day prior to the main conference, the stay turned out to be a real benefit for my ongoing work. My personal highlight: I had the incredible honor to meet John Anderson in person just before the ACT-R workshop started! When I presented my poster, several established researchers from the community stepped by to provide me very helpful ideas and hints. Besides attending the conference, there was indeed some time left to explore the city, for instance by visiting the Royal Greenwich Observatory or enjoying a cold ale in front of the Thompson Reuters building in Canary Wharf.

Strenghtening ties

With reference to my conference visits, the speed of events did not slow down in 2017. As every year in early spring, the Conference of Experimental Psychologists took place. It was held for the 59th time this year and located at the University of Dresden. My colleagues from Berlin had organized a symposium on cognition and emotion in human-machine interaction and invited me to contribute a talk. Due to the more applied focus of the session, I chose a study that had been conducted within the bachelor thesis of one of my students and focused on interrupting features of hyperlinks in digital learning material.