Author: Lau, Wing-yiu
Title: Exploring children's usage on tangible computational construction platforms : hands-on learning through functionality, crafts and stories
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2011
Subject: Computers and children.
Educational technology.
Learning strategies.
Instructional systems -- Design -- Evaluation.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Computing
Pages: xix, 187 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Abstract: Many tangible computational construction platforms are designed with new technologies and children's learning theories to assist children in learning computational concepts. This thesis explores how children learn computational concepts through these platforms, by focusing on three categories of tangible computational platforms: tangible programming systems, computational toolkits for crafts making, and computational interfaces for story creation. Our rationale for choosing these three categories is motivated by the hands-on learning theories argued by three influential educators: Montessori, Froebel and Vygotsky. Given this motivation, we design three dimensions of case studies: abstract thinking through functional blocks construction, creativity through crafts making and expression through stories creation, for analysis of children's learning of computational concepts vertically through three main categories of computational construction kits respectively. Each dimension of empirical studies obtains qualitative and quantitative results, and the results indicate that children have positive learning experience on each category of computational construction kits in different aspects. For the study in building functionality, we use a tangible programming system to study how children understand the abstract concepts by building functional blocks to simulate functions of smart clothing and flows of story, as well as computational concepts such as looping and branching. To study creativity through crafts making, three kinds of computational craft platforms are adopted as case studies. These are the Lilypad Arduino with TeeBoard platform, i*CATch apparel platform and i*CATch robotic platform. The focus is on crafts making in robotic and apparel domains, integrating traditional materials such as paper and cloth with the electronic devices. Through these three different design approaches of the computational craft platforms, we gain a deeper understanding of how children use computational platforms for creating crafts.
To study expression via story creation, a storytelling expression media is proposed: storytelling augmented with computational apparel for children to express their stories and learn computational concepts through story creation. The i*CATch wearable computing platform is used as the storytelling media. The results show that computational apparel can be a media for children to tell a story, and indicate that there is room for children to improve their stories through more practice on storytelling and programming electronic device skills. To gain a broader insight into computational toolkits for children, we propose five evaluation criteria for computational construction toolkits. Five factors include coupling of computational concepts, construction interfaces, domains of tasks, learners' characteristics and learning environments. The evaluation results reveal fundamental differences between the computational construction kits pertaining to children's learning of computational concepts. Finally, our thesis concludes with four suggested guidelines: determine places of learning, support diversity of domains, support simple and challenging tasks and provide hybrid programming environments, and these guidelines should be useful for designers and researchers who wish to develop a computational construction toolkit for computational concept learning.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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