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Making Construals as a Vehicle for Interactive Collaborative Learning

The workshop will have three aspects:

  • An overview of making construals, highlighting relevant projects and publications and summarising empirical findings based on experience of interacting with several hundred computer science students, tens of school teachers and pupils, and several educational consultants.
  • Some practical experience of using the MCE for ICL, as illustrated by construals drawn from mathematics, computing (“unplugged”), medicine and music.
  • A final discussion in which participant feedback will be welcomed.

Note: A laptop will be essential if you wish to participate independently in some of the practical activities, but the workshop has been designed to serve as a useful practical introduction to making construals whether or not you have a laptop.

10.00-10.55 Session 1: Making Construals

Motivating making construals from an interactive collaborative learning perspective with reference to Seymour Papert and Charles Crook.

Making a construal as expressing how we think things work.

An introduction to the concept of making construals, based on online examples relating to Martin Gardner's Rolling Penny puzzle, a simple construal of the solar system and of the principles behind launching a spaceship to Mars.


11.05-11.55 Session 2: Making Construals for Learning

Some walkthrough / hands-on practical exercises in making construals. [Laptops will be required for hands-on use.]

Making construals as a vehicle for learning, as evidenced by classroom experience and as illustrated by simple construals of activities such as shopping and giving change.

Making construals and pedagogical strategies associated with concretisation, contextualisation and gamification, as illustrated by a construal of number representations in different bases.


12.05-13.00 Session 3: Making Construals for Collaborative Learning

Case studies from medicine and music which illustrate the merits of making construals in collaborative learning.

Hands-on demonstration of an environment for collaborative making of construals using mobile and desktop resources.

Making construals as objects-to-think with in the sense of Seymour Papert's Mindstorms, and as interactive artefacts that support the process of developing common understanding that is identified as crucial by Charles Crook in his seminal book Computers and the Collaborative Experience of Learning.

Closing discussion and participant feedback.


The practical resources associated with Session 1 can be found at this link, as can the construals associated with giving change and with number representation in different bases referenced in Session 2.

The hands-on demonstration in Session 3 will be based on a newly developed environment for making construals whose application to making a solar system construal is illustrated at the following webpage.

The other construals to be discussed in the workshop are a construal of shopping, of piano-playing and of malaria.


Links to online resources to be introduced as appropriate in the course of the workshop:

  1. Background slides
  2. Notes on Papert and Crook
  3. Using the environment for making construals (the MCE)
  4. Martin Gardner's 'penny rolling' conundrum [Web / GeoGebra / MCE]
  5. Illustrating basic concepts in making a construal [scenes]
  6. More about construals
  7. The solar system and the Mars launch construals.
  8. Introducing the MCE: the Getting Started with JS-Eden worksheet.
  9. A shopping construal and related resources [purse / makefromscratch].
  10. Computer support for computing unplugged: a construal of giving change
  11. Varieties of construal: three pedagogical strategies for using the number representation construal
  12. The malaria construal as documented in EM paper #120.
  13. The piano construal (see Project List and supplementary notes) as documented in EM paper #125.
  14. The Bouncing Ball and JUGS construals in the mobile MCE

Acknowledgments: Thanks are due to the CONSTRUIT! project team, especially to Nicolas Pope, Elizabeth Hudnott and Jonathan Foss for their work on the MCE.