Constructivism in the Computer Age

Constructivism in the Computer Age

Constructivism in the Computer Age

Constructivism in the Computer Age


Discussing the future value of computers as tools for cognitive development, the volume reviews past literature and presents new data from a Piagetian perspective.

Constructivism in the Computer Ageincludes such topics as: teaching LOGO to children; the computers effects on social development; computer graphics as a new language; and computers as a means of enhancing reflective thinking.


In the Fall of 1983 the board of the Jean Piaget Society decided on the topic for the Fifteenth Annual Symposium to be held in June of 1985: Constructivism in the Computer Age. We stipulated, however, that this convention would be more than a computer fair to display the latest educational software. It was reasoned that computers will have a great effect on our research and our systems of education, and therefore needed to be evaluated in the light of developmental theory. Bill Damon (Clark University) helped draft a statement of purpose and the board recommended that it be sent to invited speakers. The following is a reprint of that statement of purpose for the 1985 symposium:

Intellectual development has always been interwoven with cultural progress. Breakthroughs in the science of knowledge representation and information processing, made possible by inspired individual advances, eventually transform the learning climate for all members of the culture. This dynamic interplay was apparent to Piaget in his studies of genetic epistemology. It was Piaget's cherished belief that cognitive achievements in society and in the individual go hand in hand, and should be studied in the light of one another.

At the present time we are witnessing a series of rapid cultural achievements resulting in an unusually sudden advance in our society's ability to process information. The source of this advance is the breakthrough in computer technology that has made powerful new computational skills and modes of representation available to wide sectors of the population. The miniaturization of memory storage devices, combined with inexpensive production techniques, has given the average person access to electronic tools for manipulating information and for representing events both physical and psychological. Just as paper and pencil make it possible to reason in ways that exceed the limits of our native short term memory, so too the microcomputer may allow us to extend our cognitive reach into further unexplored territories.

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