Making the Case For a Wii in the Learning Fabrication Lab
Dor’s piece on Embodied Learning presents an interesting idea for how to get students more engaged in constructing learning. He has taken an inviting interface, and created a tool that can help students better approach ratios and proportions. The nature of their research design was particularly interesting in that they continued to iterate on the tool’s design even as they were conducting their study. I believe that this is increasingly becoming a common practice within the education research space, as researchers become more involved in the creation of tools. In short, I think that Dor’s research has a great deal of promise for advancing Math Education, especially among populations of students that falter under the traditional system.
Even so, there are a number of questions that I have concerning this research and constructionism in general. My first question has to do with the statement “Also, we wished to interview students with a command of multiplicative operations comparable to older students in underserviced districts.” Though I’m sure Dor’s research team has thought about this quite extensively, I am leery of studies that use the effects of research on private students as a springboard for further studies on underserved students. There are a number of issues in terms of social and cultural capital that can distort these comparisons, hence one has to be careful in making too many assumptions. Another question I have is around the existence of a distinction between construction and reconstruction of knowledge. Trying to understand the difference between these two, and how the constructionist theory handles these is something that I remain uncertain about. I wonder if constructionism operates differently for students who already understand a concept than it does for students who have never been introduced to a given concept. I also wonder if there is a way to know when a student is constructing knowledge for the first time (this question is especially relevant for research design). The final question that I have is around the extent of what one can learn/teach through the use of these embodied tools. In this case they were able to do some work with proportions. However, one of the things that Dor points to in his piece, is the need for more tools that can help students better internalize things that they may not see in their day-to-day. When I think of these more complex ideas, my mind tends to envision complex systems and the types of simulations that were built in NetLogo. Is there a fundamental ceiling on the level of complexity that one can present through embodied experiences, and how do these compare to opportunities through agent-based modeling?