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108 - Web Eden: support for computing as construction?

Abstract

As Ben-Ari has observed, whatever the merits of adopting a constructivist pedagogical stance towards Computer Science education (CSE), it is impossible to reconcile the classical view of computer science with a constructivist epistemology. There are nonetheless good reasons for wishing to invoke a broader epistemological framework in connection with modern developments in computing practice. These include: the extent to which computing technologies must be studied in the broader engineering context; the greater prominence that the experiential and phenomenological aspects of interaction with computers have acquired; the aspiration (e.g. in agile methodologies) to construct computer artefacts as an integral part of gaining the domain knowledge required for complex software development. This paper proposes Empirical Modelling (EM) as a constructivist pedagogical approach that promises to address such broader issues in CSE within a constructivist epistemological framework. In the light of Ben-Ari’s insights, this is possible only through adopting an alternative view of the nature of computing. The Web Eden interpreter is introduced as a suitable first prototype for an EM tool to support this vision for “computing as construction”.

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