9553474 Papert This project proposes to study and foster the development of technological fluency in K-12 students. In our view, technical fluency involves not only knowing how to use technical tools, but also knowing how to construct things of significance with those tools. Technological fluency involves the ability to express, explore, and realize ideas with new technological media-and to take advantage of those media to enhance learning in other domains. The project focuses on two primary themes in the development and support of technological fluency: * Access to knowledge. How can we provide students with better access to the knowledge they need, when they need it, as they are engaged in construction activities? To serve these needs, we will develop initial versions of a constructopedia-a new kind of knowledge source in which concepts are indexed according to their uses in construction. The constructopedia is a browsable, interactive database, designed to help students build new constructions-and to help them make connections to mathematical and scientific ideas underlying those constructions. * Representations of knowledge. New media call out for new representations. The language and forms most appropriate for representing phenomenon in one medium might be quite inappropriate in another. We aim to develop new representations of scientific and mathematical knowledge that are more intuitive and concrete for students, and better suited to the nature of computational media. Our goal is not to make traditional representations of science/mathematics. We will pay special attention to "epistemological shifts"-for example, emphasizing dynamic representations over static ones, and developing new ways of casting knowledge computational terms (such as "agent-oriented" descriptions of knowledge). New representations of knowledge, and new access to knowledge, are needed in all domains, but we will focus our efforts on two domains for which our past wo rk has laid the ground: (a) the physics/mathematics of motion, and (b) systems theory concepts (such as feedback and dynamic equilibrium). We will explore and develop new representations of knowledge in these domains, and we will create "constructopedia samplers" to support student construction and learning in these domains. Each sampler will include examples, descriptions, explanations, and illustrations (including graphic animations and video clips) related to the conceptual themes. We will make our constructopedia materials available widely, both on the World Wide Wed and in CD-ROM format. We will work directly with teachers and students at a number of sites, with an increasing proportion of our effort going to sites supporting the transition from school to work, and to informal (non-school) settings. We intend to collaborate closing with user of our materials, using new information channels to accelerate and enhance the development cycle for the materials, using new information channels to accelerate and enhance the development cycle for the materials, making the development process more rapid, open, and transparent. We also plan to use new information channels to make the evaluation cycle shorter and richer. We will pay special attention to the dangers of "dilution in dissemination," exploring ways to strengthen not only the adoption of our materials but the appropriation of our ideas. ***

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States
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