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Monday afternoon 21st March

Present: PK, HM, NP, JF, WMB, SBR

Hamish identified three levels of potential use of construals by teachers: Use as an OER, Use + Modify, Use + Modify + Create. We would expect most teachers (perhaps 90%) merely to use, some of the rest (perhaps 9%) to be ready to modify and some few exceptional teachers (perhaps 1%) to venture to create. These U-M-C categories were helpful, and appreciating them represents progress for the project. The relevant claim for making construals in this context is that building construals is a form of construction that can support the transition U->M->C to an unprecedented degree.

Developing resources for the purpose of promoting U->M->C was a good target for the project. This doesn't need to have been on a large scale - one lesson would be a valuable achievement.

Relevant questions: what can six year olds do with LOGO?

Piet: playing with simple construals / success only when embedded in context - relevance of wider orbit such as creativity - mapping level of involvement against complexity

teachers take initiative - bring their own problems - based on familiarity with e.g. simulation, spreadsheets, databases etc

Who are our constituency?

  • not so much the teachers as the teacher trainers
  • designers of didactics ("the obstetrics department for educational design" / "didacticising")

[SBR primary teachers have been the most receptive in the mathematics education field]

Piet objective is not solely / primarily to make systems work - but how to contextualise

- countering the perception that what we have to offer is a 'not too friendly programming language'


Responding to WMB's question re how our project can relate to / compete with existing resources (such as MineCraft for education, GeoGebra, Scratch), pointed out that making construals may achieve different objectives:

  • enabling cameos of learning to be supported - the small elements, such as 'triangle'
  • motivating teachers to design for themselves
  • giving more autonomy to teachers where educational technology is concerned

The 'more' menu as an alternative name for the traffic lights, the three dots etc.

SBR left at this point to attend another meeting and WMB led a brief presentation of the three ways of contextualising making construals in the spirit of Piet's 'designing didactics' that are discussed in the Interim Review agenda (section D). These three ways D/1, D/2, D/3 related to

  • a resource that might be used to expose the concrete [personal] experience that informs [WMB's] understanding of arithmetic and elementary number theory.
  • resources that might be developed to inform the connections in experience that link abstract numbers to concrete applications in which e,g, time, money, geometry, ratio and proportion are featured.
  • a fanciful detective game [derived from a number puzzle] that might be developed in order to surreptitiously familiarise learners with connections in experience that underlie understanding of arithmetic and elementary number theory.

Variants of a number representation construal feature in all three contextualisations.

Tuesday morning 22nd March

"Evaluation / Athens planning" meeting 11.30 am with Rene on Skype

Present: PK, HM, NP, JF, WMB, SBR, TT, CH, RA (by Skype)


Who is the real user - educational designer

designer --> developer

total kind of learning that is to emerge might e.g.

  • be building on v personal concerns
  • cater for learners with different backgrounds
  • help people to get to be better learners

History of the project

academic --> teachers --> learners, but need to tackle this bottom-up


designer as a teacher orchestrating the learning for a class

take existing sketch / modifying

epistemological proposing: start with the using

need to demonstrate the capacity to modify [Piet: essential role for 'mentor']


'we both need a new understanding' rather than 'do you understand what I did?' - learning the unknown

Hamish - is this then a community/cooperation conception?


preparatory scenarios
converting user to maker


scaffolding metaphor - guided tour

teacher as a co-learner

who makes template for the teacher: 'instructional designers'

should refer to previous attempts (such as in Logo)
small narratives about what is going on in schools


mathematical resilience

teacher trainers
primary school : shopping and giving change

challenges in promoting materials that teachers can use
we are not qualified to create these


giving change as illustrating how the instructional designer can cooperate
on account of what the current environment affords by way of direct correspondence
between scenarios for observation and states of a construal

Heng as positive response to MENACE / difficulty in constructing construals
(bearing out Hamish's idea that merit of making construals lies in capacity to target small learning cameos - as in triangle)


feed forward - a way of thinking before we fully understand

inspirational method for secondary school

criterion - secondary school people

  • small repertoire of skills / formalisms
  • limited experience
  • short attention span

difficult to introduce in context where goals are closed, but

problem-based learning / creative learning not so inappropriate ...

  • expressiveness is very high
  • ODA principles
  • open agendas for innovative learning
  • (cf Piet - making construals as a discipline in its own right - like logic)
  • to be considered in association with neighbouring approaches
  • simulation / spreadsheets / database


Specifics for Athens

Teachers 4 hours on Sat - Sun

some teachers eager

participants secondary STEM / vocational
design and technology

Pupils 11-2 on Monday 'a bit younger' 15 year old (not the same class)


teachers are owners of the session
we are the facilitators "we are very modest"

NOT we are looking for the right people to whom to disseminate ...


What mileage in making construals discussion without a computer?

face-to-face paper-based

play / game OXOs

(WMB on limitation of making construals without the computer
imagination in the place of the experience that the computer enables)


teachers in teams / scenarios / not with computer

link to needs in class

teacher-centred approach

Hamish mentioned dissertation student in Athens who could be a participant

WMB / Piet on 'priming' people prior to the workshop
getting the project team to collaborate in the compilation of materials
not so clever to prime the learners (as not done before, hence making evaluation problematic)

Tuesday March 22nd 3-4pm

Present: PK, HM, NP, JF, WMB, SBR, TT, CH, EH

Considered the addition of a Help / Getting Started button to the MCE interface

  • ventured to prototype in real time
  • Nick's triangles example
  • inspiration from 'JS-Cadence'

A first prototype developed by Nick can be found in the script: tutorials/walkthrough in the MCE: this enables the maker to overlay the MCE display using arrows and text annotations.

Tuesday March 22nd 4-5.30 pm

Evaluation / planning for the teachers workshop at Athens

Present: PK, HM, WMB, SBR, JF, TT, EH, NP


evaluation formative

context - how affect education - more global effects

articulate better in order to stimulate curiosity

Target groups to include lifelong learning

Athens - potential thematic resources that teachers can use as focus for discussion:

OXO (cf Heng)
giving change / shopping (cf Jane Waite)


Piet's proposal for session with Athens teachers as elaborated with input from Hamish, Steve and Meurig


Group of 3: what is the next step in learning by 'gaming'? / revised to 'playing'


pose the question "how might use play in learning?" and construals and ODA will emerge

construal in personal learning


obstacle to play by learning - assessment goalposts and curriculum area constraints

we all have experience of using playful things in learning (in an "open way")
Aim to make teachers want and recognise this ...

From group discussions hope that the idea that construals are an essential ingredient in learning will emerge

- SBR associating this with 'keywords' that emerge from teaching experience

relevant things, relationships, action, ...

aim to bridge from this to ODA

Hamish comment in response:

Connection with question 'what can you do [re making construals] without a computer

- what's computer good for - remembering - transactional memory
- cf attempts to persuade university educators that educational theory is useful
need to demonstrate /emphasise its generative capacity (what theory enables and simplifies)

WMB pointed out reluctance to speak of computer as a source of experience ...
[Hamish: not as good to express this as 'generating experience']

... and to allude to connections made in experience


Piet: Objective of this preliminary session
... is to get teachers in a position to approach the MCE and engage to get something satisfying

One way of following up this session might be
to consider a model of learning that was itself expressed in terms of ODA

- observables might be facial expressions

- dependency

- agency / actions

What might such a construal be for the learning domain?

Hamish (from 'animal learning' textbook): Learning is a change in behaviour to a constant stimulus


Then specialise ... (e.g) to

  • Euclidean geometry (inspired by Nick's triangle and Pythagoras's theorem)
  • learning experience - what is fundamental by way of what we want students to experience?
  • 'teaching as the orchestration of experiences'
  • pyramid of Dale [bringing closure to the open discussion section]
  • [Hamish: Nice analysis here ;]
  • "willingness to change yourself' and give up prior ideas"

... moving into practical work with a construal

somehow would like / need to emulate a longer period of engagement

Wednesday March 23rd 2016 (morning)

Present: PK, HM, NP, JF, WMB, SBR, TT, CH, EH

Tapani and Nick have both linked the MCE to Arduino artefacts.

We considered three respects in which the direct linking of observables in an Arduino artefact to the MCE impacted on the way in which Arduino could be developed:

  • linking of Scratch to Arduino exploits built-in dependencies: the MCE-Arduino link alows general crafted dependencies
  • the conventional development process involves the explicit transfer of the 'program' from the computer to the Arduino device as a discrete step: the link with the MCE is direct and eliminates the need for such a transfer
  • JF alluded to a project in which he had set up a robot that could be programmed so that it could be guided by commands supplied by the user: linking with the MCE supports such interaction in the role of maker

NP demonstrated one of the projects from the Arduino starter kit: the Crystal Ball. TT demonstrated a hook-up between the MCE and a Lego robot and showed how it was possible for instance to introduce a dependency to make the speed of a motor depend upon the proximity of your hand to an infrared sensor.

We discussed the propects for deploying Arduino/robots using the MCE at a workshop in Scifest.


Wednesday March 23rd 2016 (afternoon)

Present: PK, HM, NP, JF, WMB, SBR, TT, EH + Mike Joy, Russell Boyatt and Ilkka Jormanainen (by Skype)

Mike Joy gave a brief review of what had been so far established about the recently released Mobility Tool to be used in reporting to the EU on the project.

We discussed an email response from Rene Alimisi to the suggestion we had been developing for the Athens workshop with teachers. Rene advocated that we make central use of the worksheet developed by Antony Harfield for the student workshop at C2 - both for the follow up student workshop to take place on Monday 18th April at C15 and as a focus for discussion with teachers at the workshop to be held on Saturday and Sunday prior to this. We reviewed this worksheet both in the printed form that was circulated to the students in the workshop at C2 and in the partially completed translated form suitable for the most recent variant of the MCE, as developed by Nick, which can be accessed via the MCE at C2/intro and C2/solar. Hamish, Jonny, Elizabeth and WMB discussed the possibility of extending / developing exercises for the solar system construal at C2/solar. Hamish raised the issue of how the construal might be adapted to place the Earth rather than the Sun at the centre of the display so as to view the motion from a Earth-centric perspective. Elizabeth showed how this could be done (at some cost to the quality of the display, which flickered furiously) simply by defining the offset of the picture in the Canvas window by dependency (see c2/solar/adapt in the MCE). A more orthodox approach is to reconfigure the dependencies in the construal so that the position of the sun is defined relative to that of the earth (see c2/solar/earthcentric).

We were later joined by Russell Boyatt, who will be one of the four representatives from Warwick at SciFest, for a general discussion of our planned activities at SciFest. Coincidentally, and most fortuitously, Russell had been thinking about a workshop concerned with the sustainability of life within the planetary system (deriving some inspiration from the film Martian), and proposed that we organised a workshop based on a simulation in which we could change key parameters. Russell subsequently prepared a description of the workshop that was translated by Tapani and will be posted in the SciFest brochure (see scifest2016/solarsystemex/abstract and .../abstractFinnish in the MCE).

Ilkka Jormanainen joined us by Skype for an extended discussion of the plans for SciFest, and we agreed to prepare two workshop sessions (one on Arduino the other based on the solar system model) and to run a non-stop workshop as we did at Scifest in 2015. Ilkka indicated that (where this was appropriate) 5 laptops could be made available for the workshop session. Details of how the workshops would be scheduled were still to be decided.

Piet gave a short presentation (planned as 5 minutes, but leading into an animated discussion) of relevant learning theories that may be helpful in contextualising making construals as a vehicle for learning. The Kolb experiential learning cycle, and its relevance to making construals, was the focus of particular attention. SBR subsequently found an explicit reference to James's radical empiricism in Kolb's book on Experiential Learning (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall, 1984). A further reference of interest was made to Dale / Bruner cone of experience.

Thursday March 24th 2016 (morning)

Present: PK, HM, NP, JF, WMB, SBR, TT, EH + Russell Boyatt

We had an extended discussion of the plans for an Arduino session at SciFest. Tapani gave us a valuable description of his work in the Children's Robotic Club and how this informed thinking about activities that we could organise with Arduino and robots. We resolved to organise an activity loosely based on using JS-EDEN to create Furby-style creatures whose level of arousal was defined by dependency with reference to sensory input. Activities could then be focused both on making construals of what made a creature happy in the role of an observer and in the role of a maker.

Russell joined us subsequently to present his proposal for the planetary system workshop activity at Scifest.

Thursday March 24th 2016 (afternoon)

Present: PK, HM, NP, JF, WMB, SBR, TT, EH + Hengmath Chonchaiya

WMB returned to the "three ways of contextualising making construals in the spirit of Piet's 'designing didactics'" that had been briefly discussed in SBR's absence on Monday 21st. A more extended exposition was ventured with valuable feedback from Piet and Hamish. The objective was to develop an idea for a draft submission to the ALT-C conference to be held at Warwick for September 6th - 8th.

Nick demonstrated his JS-Cadence prototype, which is a more powerful variant of JS-EDEN (still in an early stage of development). JS-Cadence is beyond the scope of what we expect to explore in the CONSTRUIT! project but points to where future development of the MCE may lead. As illustrated by Nick using the givingchange construal, JS-Cadence establishes a very direct correspondence between observables in a construal and its referent. It also addresses several concerns that are topical in JS-EDEN. These include:

  • the limitations of scoping and its syntactic complexity
  • the difficulty of interpreting the cryptic identifiers used in variable names
  • the virtues of being able to express dependencies using specially adapted notations (cf. tkeden).

JS-Cadence builds on Nick's PhD work on the Cadence environment and incorporates observables that can be used in modelling dynamic systems (a feature that is lacking in JS-EDEN).


William James Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals:

A link to William James's Essays in Radical Empiricism:

Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle: