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Themes for discussion

1. Existing online educational resources. There are a vast number of online educational resources out there. It would be useful to informally review some of the educational resources for schools that exist. How are the resources we can offer or develop distinctive/exceptional (we hope that they are!)? This is a good question to pose in relation to well-established and polished resources that make very effective use of dependency, such as Geogebra. Another interesting source of topical examples is the journal Spreadsheets in Education. Other inspiration can be drawn from Logo resources and from the Bebras competition.

2. Learning theories. Piet has drawn attention to the need to contextualise making construals within the setting of established learning theories (such as constructionism and Kolb's experiential learning cycle). How is making construals oriented towards these theories? In the broader practical context of societal educational needs, what can making construals deliver? Hamish highlighted the potential role of making construals in supporting specific learning tasks in contrast to applications that address a wide spectrum of topics in a way that demands a monolithic investment of effort and resorces. See the notes associated with the Pedagogy Interim Review we had at Warwick at the end of March, Piet's slides and the abstract submitted to the ALT-C conference taking place in Warwick in September 2016. Reviewing the PhD theses by Chris Roe and Antony Harfield could be helpful here (see links in the right hand column).

3, Making the MCE accessible online. Much needs to be done to make the MCE more useable and expand the learner base. There are currently three items on the Help menu (including another Getting Started with JS-Eden) that need to be reviewed and further developed. The project repository is in principle an excellent resource, but serious thought needs to be given to how best to use it. A construal of the state that is involved in this exercise most fascinating, with issues for version control ranging over local and server browser storage, private public ownership, variant of the MCE used to interpret and a variety of logistic matters arising. Issues to consider - and act upon! - include developing the Welcome page, introductory examples (e.g. for the Walkthrough, to be embedded in the browser for applications like SciFest) as well as introductory 'publications'.

4. The Computing at School perspective. The relationship between making construals and the traditional computer science curriculum, and that between making construals and programming is a rich topic. Our understanding has been evolving through interaction with the CAS commuity in the UK (two more events including a workshop at the annual CAS conference in Birmingham in June are in prospect). Peter's observation at C1 that you already have to know some programming in order to make construals is still something to reflect on, The advent of the new MCE has had some impact here - through scoping in particular, which can eliminate the need for functions in some contexts, and through the use of when-clauses in place of procedures. It would be timely to review the impact of these changes - which may involve a careful appraisal of how they should be exploited (there is a sense in which when-clauses can be abused). There is a yet broader issue here concerned with what the most appropriate long-term goal for the MCE may be. Nick Pope has prototyped a visual interface (similar to Scratch) and his own personal environment (more powerful and general than JS-EDEN) called JS-Cadence. These developments are certainly beyond the scope of CONSTRUIT! but are relevant to issues such as realising the expressive power that special-purpose notations afforded in the earlier variants of EDEN (including the soon to be obsolete Web EDEN interpreter). Other topics relating to this theme are the Unplugged/Barefoot computing agendas and the prospects for a (successful?) submission to WiPSCE 2016 based on principles for revising the computing curriculum discussed in previous WiPSCE conferences.

5. An open online course for schools education. As far as the goals for CONSTRUIT! are concened, the primary reason for considering the above themes is to inform the practical agenda of establishing an open online course that can benefit schools education. We need resources, both by way of accessible words and demonstrations, that can attract a teacher or pupil's initial interest. Helpful notions to inform the development of such an OOC are: that we only need to focus on relatively simple construals - the idea being that knowing how to make simple construals and being highly motivated may be enough to enable someone to make construals of their own. Related to this idea is Hamish's vision for three kinds of engagement: Use / Modify / Create whereby it may be enough in the first instance to produce cameo construals that fulfill a modest specific educational need (cf. Nick's triangles worksheet). Related to this objective is trying to make the tools for creating worksheets and presentations easier / more convenent to use (cf. what might be involved in giving computer support to a stream-of-thought presentation such as is found here). Steve and his Thai visitor Heng have done some valuable dissemination work with the UK maths teaching community over the last few months - they have explored potential links with 'mathematical resilience' and with inquiry-based learning. The Warwick-based International Gateway for Gifted Youth (IGGY) approach is of interest - it is focused on profiling short videos on selected topics. We would like to contribute to this, and in general could consider whether we can provide a similar resource in which the topics were pointers to 'worksheets' that could be succesfully tackled online. The doctoral theses by Harfield, Roe and Rungrattanaubol may be a useful source of ideas for topics of this kind. The Piano construal might also be a candidate for exposure in this way. We would like to recruit teachers to assist us in this development - candidates include an experienced maths teacher who attended C5 in December 2014, two others from Eastern Finland who expressed interest at SciFest 2015 and a freelance UK music teacher who works with pupils with learning difficulties who has collaborated with Jonny and Elizabeth on providing interfaces for music applications. The construals we developed for Scifest in 2015 (cf. Chris's sketch for a virtual workshop on the hex colouring construal) and those we are currently developing for Scifest 2016 may also have a role to play here.

6. Upcoming events: strategic agenda. Some time at C15 must be devoted to appraising the status of the project overall. At a high-level, we should be preparing the Interim Report for the EU, which apparently has not been superseded by the Online Mobility Tool via which the final report on the project will be submitted. In general, we should be paying more attention to generating materals to advertise the project (such as variants of the 'sunflower' poster) and resolving issues to do with the security and current status of the website. The project repository is acquiring 'official versions' of projects that should be useful both in relation to the open online course and as target links for the official website. We should also revisit the plans for the final conference (now scheduled to take place at Warwick from July 13th-16th 2017) and consider what progress has been made towards identifying how best this can be organised.

Miscellanous links

Educational Technology and EM

Constructionism 2016 proceedings

  • Bebras
  • Construit!-related talks

iTAG workshop and tutorial

Adventures in a Lift

Computers and Commonsense


Web EM


Relevant PhD theses:

Flyer for CONSTRUIT! (in Greek)

Flyer for CONSTRUIT! (in English)