Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World

By Yasmin Kafai; Mitchel Resnick | Go to book overview

In chapter 12, "New Paradigms for Computing, New Paradigms for Thinking," Mitchel Resnick argues that new computational paradigms (such as object- oriented programming and parallelism) can significantly influence not only how people use computers, but how they make sense of the world. In particular, he describes a parallel-programming language called StarLogo that he designed to help students explore decentralized systems such as bird flocks, traffic jams, and market economies. By building models with StarLogo, students can move beyond the "centralized mindset" and develop a deeper understanding of decentralized systems.

Uri Wilensky (chapter 13) directs StarLogo toward a different goal: to help learners develop their intuitive conceptions of probabilistic ideas. In the chapter, "Making Sense of Probability Through Paradox and Programming," Wilensky presents a case study of a learner who uses programming to help resolve a probability paradox, and in the process develops stronger intuitions about randomness and distribution--and the connections between them. Wilensky's study illustrates that the primary obstacles to learning probability are conceptual and epistemological, and it shows how programming can play a powerful role in learning mathematics by making hidden assumptions explicit and concrete.

In the final chapter, "Ideal and Real Systems," Fred Martin probes students' thinking about systems in the context of a robot-design competition that he helped to design for MIT undergraduates. Martin analyzes how and why undergraduates have trouble developing effective strategies for controlling their robots. He shows that students tend to build robots that perform properly only under ideal conditions, not in the "messiness" of the real world. Martin calls for a change in undergraduate engineering education, arguing that the standard curriculum encourages design strategies that are not appropriate for many real-world technological systems.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This book would not have been possible without the help of many people. All of the authors made major contributions of time, thought, and energy. Our current work benefits from the past and continuing contributions of the extended Logo community, including many former members of the Epistemology and Learning Group at the MIT Media Lab. We are grateful to Wanda Gleason and Florence D. Williams for helping with many organizational and editing tasks, and to Jacqueline Karaaslanian and Mai Cleary for providing general administrative support. The National Science Foundation (Grants 9153719-MDR and 9358519- RED), the LEGO Group, IBM, Nintendo Inc., and the Media Lab's News in the Future consortium have generously supported this research. Finally, we thank Seymour Papert for inspiring all of us to think in new ways about learning, children, minds, and computers.

-8-

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Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Contributors xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Acknowledgments 8
  • Part I - Perspectives in Constructionism 8a
  • 1 - A Word for Learning 9
  • References 24
  • 2 - Perspective-Taking and Object Construction 25
  • Conclusion 32
  • Acknowledgments 34
  • References 34
  • 3 - Elementary School Children's Images of Science 37
  • Introduction 37
  • Conclusions 62
  • Acknowledgments 64
  • Acknowledgments 65
  • Appendix B - Image of Science Interview Guideline 65
  • Part II - Learning Through Design 70a
  • 4 - Learning Design by Making Games Children's Development of Design Strategies in the Creation of a Complex Computational Artifact 71
  • Conclusion 93
  • Acknowledgments 94
  • References 94
  • 5 - Electronic Play Worlds 97
  • Conclusions 119
  • Acknowledgments 121
  • References 121
  • 6 - The Art of Design 125
  • Foreword 125
  • References 158
  • 7 - Building and Learning with Programmable Bricks 161
  • Introduction 161
  • References 172
  • Part III - Learning in Communities *
  • 8 - Social Constructionism and the Inner City Designing Environments for Social Development and Urban Renewal 175
  • Introduction 175
  • Acknowledgments 204
  • Appendix - Statistical Data About the Four Corners Neighborhood 204
  • References 205
  • 9 - The MediaMOO Project Constructionism and Professional Community 207
  • Conclusion - Constructionism and Virtual Reality 220
  • Acknowledgments 221
  • References 221
  • 10 - A Community of Designers Learning Through Exchanging Questions and Answers 223
  • Introduction 223
  • References 239
  • 11 - They Have Their Own Thoughts 241
  • Introduction 241
  • Conclusion 251
  • Acknowledgments 252
  • References 253
  • Part IV - Learning About Systems 254a
  • 12 - New Paradigms for Computing, New Paradigms for Thinking 255
  • Introduction 255
  • Acknowledgments 266
  • References 267
  • 13 - Making Sense of Probability Through Paradox and Programming A Case Study in a Connected Mathematics Framework 269
  • Introduction 269
  • Concluding Remarks 290
  • Acknowledgments 292
  • References 293
  • 14 - Ideal and Real Systems 297
  • Introduction 297
  • Analysis and Conclusions 318
  • Acknowledgments 322
  • References 322
  • Author Index 323
  • Subject Index 329
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