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Wednesday, July 25 • 2:35pm - 3:40pm
Collins - Designing Physical Microworlds for Learning

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In this session, we will introduce ‘Microworlds-based learning’. One of the challenges inherent to the implementation of ‘Constructionist’ and Creative Learning practices is the implementation of environments that support the development of personally meaningful projects for each student. As proposed by Seymour Papert [1], one alternative is the creation of ""microworlds,"" ie. environments that facilitate the learning that happens when children first learn to speak in their native languages. It is a kind of learning that emerges organically from the local culture, and that evolves as part of the interactions with the artifacts and the other participants of the space. Papert saw digital technology playing an essential role in the creation of microworlds for learning. The Logo programming software and the LEGO Mindstorms were a great example of that. Logo and Turtle Graphics were intended to be used to build a ‘math world’ for students—an environment in which to construct their own rules and problems—learning by creating, exploring and experimenting in this world.

Unfortunately, technology-based microworlds tend to be very costly and computer-centric, limiting their application to specific domains of knowledge and to select organizations that can afford the investment. In our work, we extend the microworld concept beyond digital technologies and use cardboard, fabric and other commonly-available materials to transform classrooms, libraries, computer labs and other spaces into rich environments conducive to learner-driven construction and exploration.

In this fun and interactive hands-on session, teachers will have the opportunity to intuitively experience a physical microworld, reflect about the key theories and elements involved in microworlds design, and brainstorm about ways to implement microworlds as part of their curriculum practice. We invite all educators, designers and technologists interested in the creation of tools, practices and environments for creative learning.

Learning Goals:
(1)Design personally meaningful hands-on projects within a physical microworld such as ‘The Underwater World’ or ‘The Enchanted Forests’.
(2)Get introduced to creative learning framework and practices, envisioning yourself as physical microworld designers and facilitators.
(3)Analyze the role of different materials, technologies and space layouts in creative learning experiences.
(4)Discuss active strategies to integrate physical microworlds into the curriculum as well as incorporation relevant aspects of the students' lives.

[1] Papert, S. (1980).. Mindstorms: children, computers and powerful ideas. New York: BasicBooks.

*This session will be co-presented by Alisha Panjwani, Leo Burd and Rachel Garber

avatar for Alisha Collins

Alisha Collins

SEEDS Studio Lab Founder/ Program Manager/ Research Practitioner, Acera School, Winchester, MA
Alisha is a designer, author, and educator interested in integrating storytelling, craft, wellness, play, and new technologies to create participatory learning practices. Her practice centers on nurturing children’s creative confidence with new technologies and encouraging their... Read More →
avatar for Rachel Garber

Rachel Garber

Creative Learning Company
Rachel Garber, M.Ed is an educator with 20+ years of experience working with young people, volunteers, teachers, and parents in both public school and community-based educational programs. She has a passion infusing creativity into learning and exposing children to new opportunities... Read More →

Wednesday July 25, 2018 2:35pm - 3:40pm PDT
Cambridge Boston Park Plaza

Attendees (6)