Posts Tagged 'verily'

Independent Readings and Our Design

Margolis, Fisher and Miller (2000) discuss how gender socialization and cultural artifacts in computer science have been male dominated, and may have undermined women’s sense of their own intrinsic nature. To address this, there is a need to situate technology in a social context and to address the initial experience gap. Margolis, Fisher and Miller (1999) also discuss linking computer science interests to a larger societal framework – a “re-invisioning” of computer science. For our design, we tried to make our sample projects appealing to both boys and girls – they should be creative and related to daily life and social contexts. The learning process should be different from typical lab sessions, and teachers and students should be given the choice of project to work on. Also, to bridge the “initial experience gap”, we came up with a startup guide about how the LilyPad Arduino works, in vernacular terms to bring them up to speed.

Maloney, Peppler, Kafai, Resnick and Rusk (2008) talk about the how programming has been simplified in Scratch – the Scratch blocks help eliminate syntax errors, offers some form of feedback about the placement of command blocks, as well as gives feedback for experiments. Also, Resnick and Rosenbaum (2013) define tinkering as a valid and valuable style of working where the learner engages with a problem or project in a playful, exploratory and iterative style. This process involves trying out ideas, making adjustments and refinements, followed by experimenting with new possibilities. This is an iterative cycle. In our PD materials, we emphasize the colors of the blocks and the shape of the components – how they can be put together to form a programming sequence. At the same time, we also encouraged the use of immediate feedback from the LilyPad Arduino as the code is run, as ways to test out and debug their code. This tinkering and experimentation has to do with the Maker Mindset that we are trying to facilitate in the PD session.


Margolis, J., Fisher, A., & Miller, F. (1999). Caring about connections : Gender and computing. Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE, 18(4), 13–20.

Margolis, J., Fisher, A., & Miller, F. (2000). The anatomy of interest: Women in undergraduate computer science. The Feminist Press, 28(1), 104–127.

Maloney, J. H., Peppler, K., Kafai, Y., Resnick, M., & Rusk, N. (2008). Programming by choice: urban youth learning programming with scratch. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, 40(1), 367-371.

Resnick, M., & Rosenbaum, E. (2013). Designing for Tinkerability. In M. Honey & D.E. Hunter (Eds.) Design, make, play pp. 163-181. Routledge, London.

SuperHappyFun time Game Lab Design 2.0

It was great to see everyone’s prototypes of the space in class. Testing the other prototypes, as well as receiving feedback about ours helped us to make some informed changes to our design. Below is a link to our revised prototype. Feel free to review it and leave us a comment on this post!

Current iteration of the prototype:



To give a brief of some changes we made and why….we didn’t want to rely on the florescent overhead lighting, so we are still wanting to use lamps, but more mobile lamps. Also the lamps are kind of an artistic accent of sorts. So pretty but useful 🙂 Instead of having one wall be a white board, whiteboard painted wall for the walls will allow greatest use of wall space. A little research shows that this could be done on the cinder-block walls if they are spackeled and painted with Kilz first. We thought through the access issues more as a group and decided to go with a key code secured lock box that holds the door key that  would be mounted outside the door (a big thank you to whoever mentioned the lock boxes realtors use!). It seems there will be enough space just inside the doorway to fit a minifridge with a candy jar to make things a little more comfortable. Then three more cosmetic changes are adding decals as decorations both in the hall outside the room and inside to add more color, getting some geeky front door mat for just outside in the hallway, and finally we thought about adding some artwork but decided it would be way better to have a giant digital picture frame that we could upload pictures to or just display rotating pics from the internet. We think all these changes along with some of the original features of the prototype will make an inviting and productive atmosphere for all users of the space.

To see a budget for this design go here:

-Andi, Rafi, & Verily

Situating Constructionism

As I join in the last part of class, and listen to the class recordings, my thoughts about constructionism is kind of evolving. In reading Papert’s Mindstorms, I had tried very hard to understand the Math examples, seeing powerful ideas as some form of domain specific idea that can be represented in microworlds. In class discussions, we talk about not pre-defining the idea, but letting learners generate the ideas, like the Computer Clubhouse model. I was also struck by the issue of “power” in ideas, how they all exist in social structures consisting of power relationships. What are powerful ideas will be determined by politics, economic powers etc., especially when we talk about the educational system.

I have read the book chapter “Situating Constructionism” before, but reading the article now, with the context of our discussions, illuminates (literally!) my understanding. Papert and Harel (1991) say it would be “oxymoronic to convey the idea of constructionism through a definition since, after all, constructionism boils down to demanding that everything be understood by being constructed”. They further discuss that the idea of constructionism was in evolution, and there is a need to keep intellectual doors open. The important question or vision is: which approaches favors dreams and visions, setting off catalysts for good scientific and mathematical ideas?

They then go into the discussion of the epistemological dimension. How constructionism is concerned with “e;epistemological.e”, raising issues relevant to the nature of science and debates in psychology. Feminism is discussed – where people (in Africa) fight for the right not only to think what they please, but to think it in their own way.

The book “Constructionism” focuses on “noncanonical” epistemological thinking from ethnographic study of laboratories, intellectual movements inspired by feminist concerns, and trends within computer cultures. The paper we read last week on Brandy, even though published in 2012, is yet another example of “noncanonical” epistemological thinking.

The article is available on the web. Read it when you can!

Papert, S., & Harel, I. (1991). Situating constructionism. From Constructionism (pp. 1–11). Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Scratch Project

I tried following some of the video tutorials. I wanted to make something to remind me of my dog Niki. Here it is! Could not change the background – will try again!

Thoughts on the Design Thinking for Teachers

As I look at this workbook for educators, and compare it to the d.School Bootcamp, I see an extended version of Empathizing and Defining. Here, the Discovery and Interpretation stages go in-depth, with stages of research and interpretation. I find this interesting because after being a high-school teacher in Singapore for about seven years, I feel that thinking among the teachers, or in the school can be “locked in” within the culture of the school. I think the identification of sources of inspiration (from users, from experts, from peers observing mentors, from people’s self documentation) are critical in helping teachers understand their challenge, and to develop design thinking. The interpretation process of searching for meaning and framing opportunities engages the teachers in rethinking the original challenge defined.

What strikes me too is the deliberate attempt to create a designer mindset – this can come in the form of setting up a space, even if it is a wall, for putting up of project plans, ideas and notes as the project evolves. Having such a space can “condition” the teachers to put on the “designer cap” (We do that too in class, and in the Creativity Lab!).

My thoughts are also influenced by the article by Tapscott (2009). Although he has specific recommendations for Education 2.0, I see the need for a paradigm change in the teachers’ mindset as the eventual determinant of change.

I do have some questions relating to the practicality of the design process – will the school be able to commit this amount of time and resources into the process? If a teacher wishes to use the workbook himself/herself, how can she find relevant resources? Is this achievable on an individual basis (perhaps on the curriculum level)?

Regarding Education 2.0, and having a one-size-fits-one education – how feasible is this – in terms of actual implementation and cost?

Constructionism vs. Constructionism

The discussion on constructivism vs. constructionism made me recall an article I read by Ackermann (2001). Constructivism is a big thing in Instructional Design, and there are relatively few articles on constructionism. Here are the points that helped clarify my thinking:

Piaget’s Constructivist Theory is a way to see how children learn, at different stages of development, and how their ways of doing and thinking evolve over time. Papert perceives an overlook of the role of context, the use of media, and individual preferences or styles. To Papert, the projection of inner feelings and ideas is key. Also Papert was incorporating Vgotsky’s idea of the role of cultural artifacts (tools, language, people) as a resource for drawing out every person’s cognitive potential. Hence, Papert’s Constructionism focuses more on the art of learning, “learning to learn” and on the significance of making things in learning. The conversations with their own or other people’s artifacts can boost self-confidence, and facilitate the construction of new knowledge.

The other differentiation is about the kinds of thinking. According to Piaget, formal, abstract thinking is the highest form of intellectual development. Piaget revalues the concrete, the local and personal – situated learning. He stressed that alternative epistemologies are possible – and reclaims the deeply grounded, experience based and subjective nature of human cognition.

So Piaget’s Theory would be in interested in the construction of internal stability, or assimilation – how the cognitive system maintains internal structure and organization at different levels of development. Piaget’s constructionism looks at the dynamics of change. Intelligence is defined as in-situ, situated, connected and sensitive to variations in the environment. Empathy is at the service of intelligence. The focus is on how knowledge is formed and transformed within specific contexts, shaped and expressed through different media and processed in different people’s minds. There is a view of the fragility, contextiality and flexibility of knowledge under construction.

I have a question about constructionism vs. instructionism. Would constructionism be in tension with IST (Instructional Systems Technology)? I have been reading about this too, and would love to hear your views.

Source: Ackermann, E. (2001). Piaget ’ s constructivism, Papert ’ s constructionism : What ’ s the difference? Future of learning group publication. Accessed 20 Dec 2012 from