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Orientation

Making construals can be viewed from four perspectives:

  • the thinker's
  • the maker's
  • the teacher's
  • the learner's

The thinker

- awareness of an alternative semantic framework, relevance to the nature and scope of computing (in my mind related to complementarity to computational thinking), relevance to practices in experimental science, concern for philosophical underpinnings (for me best represented in William James).

The maker

- able to develop construals by applying EM principles based on the concepts of ODA, acquainted with the alternative perspective on development in which the traditional roles of the designer, developer, user etc and the nature of the development activity itself are transformed, requiring some confidence in the use of symbols and technical competence in basic procedural programming skills, personal qualities in respect of patience and persistence in the face of confusion, tolerance of messiness and uncertainty, experience of making as a situated contingent activity.

The teacher

- aware of the unusual characteristics of construals, and the potential for modifying them with modest technical skill through applying expert domain knowledge, familiar with a range of techniques that are supported by construals for developing OERs and other learning activities and environments, equipped to develop construals in collaboration with expert makers in a mode of distributed participatory design, familiar with the potential for incremental open-ended development in parallel with traditional teaching activities, able to exploit construals in the classroom situation both as a way of documenting personal understanding and practice, and as a way of engaging learners.

The learner

- attuned to the concept of TEL that goes beyond interaction with a learning environment where meanings have been preconceived and pre-programmed, able to recognise the possibility of taking control within the learning context and modifying the environment, prepared to engage with an environment in which they potentially encounter confusion and conflict and have to exercise their imagination in exploratory and creative ways, appreciative of the essentially personal nature of their learning experience, open to the need for collaboration with teachers and makers in the elaboration of learning resources and processes.

Established computing principles and practice are of course in many respects an enabling technology, but, in the context of the above agenda, it is important to appreciate that they are in some respects a disabling technology. This acknowledgement of a fundamental difference in orientation is essential in all three roles, because it changes expectations so radically.


Exceptional qualities of making constuals

... for teachers ...

... highlighting pragmatic advantages:

  • basis for deriving OERs, as exemplified by the shopping construal
  • providing a collaborative framework for learning - allowing independent views of the same artefact
  • blending (cf. buying colours, Hamish isomorphism - noughts-and-crosses and sum-to-15 game, abstraction)
  • open to many kinds of agency
  • congenial modes of development afforded cf. incremental, state timeline, state retrieval, retrospective debugging

... highlighting conceptual advantages:

  • support for experiment cf. construal in science
  • modes of observation are unbounded
  • open to many modes of extension and closure
  • congenial modes of development afforded cf. incremental, state timeline, state retrieval, retrospective debugging
  • 'reflective practitioner' design perspectives
  • orientation towards understanding as emergent from initially simple steps

... highlighting conceptual advantages:

  • support for experiment cf. construal in science
  • modes off observation are unbounded
  • open to many modes of extension and closure
  • empirical basis of undderstanding cf. adjPosList[] observables
  • congenial modes of development afforded cf. incremental, state timeline, state retrieval, retrospective debugging
  • reflective practitioner desig perspective
  • orientation towards understanding as emergent from initially simple steps

... for learners ...

... highlighting pragmatic advantages:

  • scope for customisation / personalisation and adaptation
  • maintaining dependency
  • empirical basis of undderstanding cf. adjPosList[] observables
  • user as developer transition afforded
  • correlation between actual and virtual environments
  • correlation between two virtual environments
  • supporting child-like engagement without understanding: creative interpretation of a construal in some essential respects is in the maaker's imagination

Implications

  • The evaluation of a program-like learning activity cannot be conceived without reference to a goal. By contrast, the quality of a construal can only be assessed according to how well it can be adapted for many goals and to unforeseen scenarios. On this basis, making construals relates to TEL in a most unusual way.
  • Ignorance about the nature and limitations of conventional / hybrid programming principles prevents non-specialists from appreciating how much these obstruct the well-conceived and enlightened learning concepts they promote (e.g. constructionist approaches, distributed participatory design and collaboratve learning, narrative. informal learning etc).

Relevant EM papers are:

  • W.M.Beynon and Chris Roe. Computer support for constructionism in context. In Proc. of ICALT'04, Joensuu, Finland, August 2004, 216-220. [080]
    - construction is not well-matched to conventional use or program development
  • Meurig Beynon. Towards Technology for Learning in a Developing World. In Proc. IEEE 4th International Workshop on Technology for Education in Developing Countries, Iringa, Tanzania, July 2006, 88-92. [092]
    - learning need not be focused on activities that are referred to the formal aspects of the Experiential Framework for Learning

Exercises for the writer - relate to claims ... haven't touched on some that are relevant to teacher perspective above, such as concern evaluation

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/dcs/research/em/wj_re_em/WJquotes/#C4
"Experiences come on an enormous scale, and if we take them all together, they come in a chaos of incommensurable relations that we can not straighten out. We have to abstract different groups of them, and handle these separately if we are to talk of them at all."