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111 - Constructionism through construal by computer

Abstract

Traditional computer programming is not well-aligned to the needs of constructionism. Orthodox programming principles are oriented towards prescribing processes that address clearly specified uses. Functional specification and optimised execution do not encourage interactive exploration and open-ended interpretation. We propose making construals by computer using Empirical Modelling principles as an alternative to conventional computer programming. The merits of this approach are discussed and illustrated using construals for Sudoku solving.

Our Sudoku solving construals are made up of definitions that express dependencies between observables. Many kinds of human agency can be expressed through modifying the current set of definitions. The construal serves as a shared artefact with which developers, teachers and pupils can all interact concurrently in essentially the same way, each according to their role and experience. Our preliminary experiments with schoolchildren highlight potential for rich and radically new kinds of learning experience and unprecedented scope for recording, monitoring and intervening in support of constructionist learning. Further empirical study is a vital next step.


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Related resources

A workshop closely related to the theme of this paper was given by Meurig Beynon and Antony Harfield at the Constructionism 2010 conference.