Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World


Published in 1996, Constructionism in Practice describes a set of innovative educational research projects at the MITMedia Laboratory, illustrating how computational technologies can transform our conceptions of learning, education, and knowledge.

Constructionism in Practice grows out of 30 years of research on technologies for learning and thinking at MIT, and provides a rich and comprehensive description of constructionist educational theories. The book draws on real-world educational experiments conducted in formal and informal contexts: from inner-city schools and university labs to neighborhoods and after-school clubhouses. These experiments demonstrate how technology-based design activities can empower children from a wide range of backgrounds to become more confident and competent learners, and help them make deep connections with important mathematical and scientific ideas.

The book integrates ideas from the fields of learning, design, computer science, education, psychology, and epistemology, and presents a comprehensive theoretical framework for technologies in education. The book is divided into four interrelated sections: Perspectives in Constructionism, Learning through Design, Learning in Communities, and Learning about Systems.

Introduction: Y. Kafai, M. Resnick

Part I: Perspectives in Constructionism

  • S. Papert: A Word for Learning
  • E. Ackermann: Perspective-Taking and Object Construction: Two Keys to Learning
  • A. Brandes: Elementary school Children's Images of Science

Part II: Learning Through Design

  • Y.B. Kafai: Learning Design by Making Games: Children's Development of Design Strategies in the Creation of a Complex Computational Artifact
  • Y.B. Kafai: Electronic Play Worlds: Gender Differences in Children's Constructions of Video Games
  • G. Gargarian: The Art of Design
  • R. Sargent, M. Resnick, F. Martin, B. Silverman: Building and Learning with Programmable Bricks

Part III: Learning in Communities

  • A. Shaw: Social Constructionism and the Inner City: Designing Environments for Social Development and Urban Renewal
  • A. Bruckman, M. Resnick: The MediaMoo Project: Constructionism and the Professional Community
  • M. Evard: Communities of Designers: Learning through Exchanging Questions and Answers
  • P. Hooper: "...They Have Their Own Thoughts": A Story of Constructionist Learning in an Alternative African-Centered Community School

Part IV: Learning about Systems

  • M. Resnick: New Paradigms for Computing; New Paradigms for Thinking
  • U. Wilensky: Learning Probability through Paradox and Programming: A Case Study in a Connected Mathematics Framework
  • F.G. Martin: Ideal and Real Systems: A Study of Notions of Control in Undergraduates Who Design Robots