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

By Yasmin Kafai; Mitchel Resnick | Go to book overview

FUTURE DIRECTIONS: A MUD FOR KIDS

The MediaMOO Project was conceived in part as preparation for a MUD for kids, "MOOSE Crossing," which is currently under development. We believe that this technology can provide an authentic context in which children can learn reading, writing, and programming. In these virtual worlds, writing and programming become means of self-expression to a community of peers. MUDs are a constructionist playground.

Developing good MUD objects reflects as much creative writing as programming. One hypothesis of this research is that divisions between the humanities and the sciences are often too sharply drawn and counterproductive, and a more integrative approach has advantages for many children. A second hypothesis is that the social and contextual nature of these worlds may help young girls to be more comfortable with computers and programming.

If kids are really to make good use of MUDS, however, it will be necessary to improve the programming language and the interface. We are currently developing a new programming language called MOOSE designed to make it easier for children to program new objects. (MOOSE stands for "MOO Scripting Environment." The MOOSE language is built on top of Pavel Curtis's MOO software.) We are also developing a multiple-window client program called MacMOOSE, which we hope will make the system more usable. We hope to apply lessons learned in the development and use of the Logo language to make a MUD language more accessible to kids.

At the conclusion of Mindstorms, Seymour Papert ( 1980) described his vision of a technological samba school. In samba schools in Brazil, members of a community gather to prepare a performance for Carnival. Everyone is learning and teaching--even the leads need to learn their parts. People of all ages learn and play together as a community. Papert believes that computers can create a kind of technological samba school, and we believe MUDs may begin to realize that vision.


CONCLUSION: CONSTRUCTIONISM AND VIRTUAL REALITY

Many current virtual reality projects, particularly those intended for entertainment, are like Disneyland: Artists and programmers design wondrous creations for users to experience. If this technology is "interactive," it is in the limited sense that most hypertext systems are interactive: There are multiple paths through the material, and the system has a limited ability to react to the user. However, the ways in which the system reacts are designed by the artists and engineers who constructed it and not by the users.

-220-

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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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