How do we teach children to express and communicate ideas in a formal and informal mode? What type of language do they need in a concrete context? How should they determine a proper level of formalization of their descriptions? In an attempt to explore these issues we carried out a pilot experiment in the frames of the DALEST European project whose goal was to create environment for stimulating the 3D geometry understanding of young students and to assist them in developing some fundamental mathematical skills including spatial visualization and articulating ideas. The pilot experiment was carried out with 5th graders from five Bulgarian schools by means of specially designed educational scenarios and the Cubix Editor (a Logo based application for manipulating unit-sized cubes). The children were given tasks to describe compositions of unit-sized cubes and to build such compositions by means of the Cubix Editor when given their descriptions by peers. The students experienced the whole process of generating a good description - becoming aware of the ambiguity, producing counterexamples, reducing the ambiguity, eliminating the redundancy.
The pilot experiment aimed at specifying the structure, scope and methods behind the stereometry activities envisaged for 5th graders in the frames of the DALEST project.
The first impressions confirm our belief that the language is playing significant role in the learning experiences of the students, that the relationship between thoughts and words involves back and forth reshaping process. While constructing and describing cubical structures they articulated their own ideas, developed concepts collaboratively with others, moved between everyday and mathematical terms, between procedural and declarative style, exploring the boundaries of understanding. Such interplay with the step-wise refinement of their descriptions of cubical structures would hopefully enhance students' skills for working with mathematical definitions, on one hand, and prepare them for writing, debugging and explaining programs, on the other.
This paper represents a first attempt at constructing a language for describing the potential learning value of computers as a learning material. A lack of precision in describing the value computers add to the learning process has paradoxically made it easy for people to elevate the significance of using computers in pedestrian ways while simultaneously marginalizing higher-order uses such as Logo programming. Colleagues are invited to extend or challenge this paper's hypotheses.
In the early 1980s Seymour Papert was dissatisfied with Robert Taylor's metaphors for the use of the computer in education. Taylor wrote about the computer as a tool, tutor or tutee (Taylor, 1980) while Papert described the computer as ``mudpie'' (Papert, 1980a; Papert, 1984) and then later more generally as material (Papert and Franz, 1987). The tool metaphor dominates most discourse regarding the use of computers in education. Educators and policy-makers alike use it to describe nearly every application of ``technology''. It would be impossible to list all of the examples of ``computer as tool'' in common usage or even scholarship.
This work attempts to define the continuum that lies between the use of computers to reinforce traditional practice and the powerful ideas Papert writes of in Mindstorms (Papert, 1980b). While Papert's subsequent work provides examples of the construction of powerful ideas he fails to identify less powerful uses of computers. This may be the result of simple omission or a desire to appear polite. In either case all manner of computer-based activities have been granted equivalence by an education community lacking a precise metric for assessing value. When combined with the liberal and often inaccurate use of terms like constructivist we are left with a culture of intellectual relativism in which the loudest voice sets the standard.
Dichotomies like conservative/liberal, traditional/progressive, Democratic/Republican are inadequate for describing educational philosophy and its resulting translation into practice. Papert's instructionism vs. constructionism seems a more precise way of describing one's learning theory and the practice that follows.
It seems impossible to invent an empirical metric for measuring the efficacy of computer use in the context of education. There are simply too many variables involved in a complex system such as education. The nature of learning is even more difficult to quantify in anything but a reductionist fashion. Therefore, I propose the creation of a continuum that spans the gulf between traditional education routines possibly enhanced by the use of a computer and the sort of powerful idea construction only possible with the purposeful use of the computer. The subjectivity of the examples are acknowledge, but are intended to generate discussion.
Compelling examples of children, computers and powerful ideas will be presented at Eurologo.
This article deals with the use of Open Source Software (OSS) at the primary and secondary level of education in Slovenia. The challenges and advantages of using OSS in educational processes are discussed. The main advantages of OSS are: economic freedom, stability, reliability and a possibility of making modifications but - on the other hand - the main problem for schools can be installation and support. The research carried out to determine the use of OSS in schools is described and the results are compared with the results of similar research studies in Germany, Sweden and UK. The results of both surveys show, that Linux and OpenOffice.org are the most popular OSS applications on computer desktops. The most important conclusion (according to our research) is that lack of knowledge prevents a faster introduction of OSS in education.