Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Is this where Logo fell over?

In the 70's and 80's, Logo was put forward by its supporters as a silver bullet for education. It was enthusiastically promoted as an exceptionally good educational tool. Yet its mass introduction to schools was less successful, with a general perception that it had "not delivered what it promised".

It appeared to pass the test of enthusiastic teachers delivering to kids but fail where enthusiastic teachers delivered to rank and file teachers who in turn delivered to kids.

See Computer Criticism vs. Technocentric Thinking
for an analysis by Papert on why it was perceived by some to have failed.

Is this the point we are at with the new drag&drop tools such as GameMaker? Over the past 4 years, a small group of teachers have recognised game making as a powerful constructivist tool for learning, a sandpit for higher order thinking. They persuaded their reluctant schools to let them teach game making.

Now its changing, game making is being adopted at school level and novice teachers are being told that they will "teach GameMaker". Unless the understanding is there that it is the journey and not the destination that matters, that it is a learning tool not a teaching tool, one for self-directed learning, then maybe its mass implementation will fall short of what we know it can deliver.

Will Game Maker fail the test of mass implementation like Logo did?

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Blogger Bill Kerr said...

We could have a situation where there is some incremental improvement in Schools. More programming happens because it is now easier due to programs like Game Maker, Scratch etc. with their drag and drop features

I think the broader issue is the whole way in which computing is conceptualised in education - either, as a tool to add on value here and there, or, as a new medium which will more or less totally transform the way we do everything, just as the invention of the printing press eventually did transform everything, but it took a few hundred years for that transformation to happen

From this perspective I think its too simple to attempt to compare logo with game maker in the way you suggest. Logo was always more ambitious with very broad epistemological goals, game maker has always been more realistic - it is now possible to make your own games

papert's point is that unless the whole culture of schooling changes - that we begin to see computers as transformation media - then we will be stuck with slow incremental "progress"

I'm currently reading john maxwell's history of the dynabook, which has helped a lot in putting some of these issues into perspective

Sunday, June 03, 2007 11:17:00 AM  

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