Alec asked us this week to play more with LOGO! In the beginning, I thought I’d try 2 or 3 exercises to get a sense of how it works as I wasn’t familiar with it. Time went by, and I found myself trying many exercises and tweaking some of them. It was so much fun and I found myself hooked to it.
Seymour Papert, the pioneer of LOGO, supported the concept of story-telling in learning as it’s a much more effective communication tool than conveying theoretical definitions. LOGO’s history is rooted in computer-science research, especially in artificial intelligence, and in Jean Piaget’s research. It’s an effective tool for learning how to think; this takes LOGO from being just another programming language into being a philosophy of education.
Papert’s ideas can have an impact on the way children learn. In my last blog post, I briefly discussed how we can use different theories of learning according to types/ needs of learners and the affordance of technology. LOGO has its own affordances that caters to children’s needs, and consequently can have a great impact on a child’s learning. Coding in itself has teaches children many cognitive skills; but typical coding is difficult for children to grasp and understand. The affordance of LOGO is that it provides a visual and maker-type of programming that is easy for children to tinker with. Within an effective learning environment, this increases the skills learned.
Kids today are curious and competent, and if presented with the opportunity they would take an active role in their own learning. This is an affordance provided by LOGO/ Scratch. Computer programming is a method that students use to make their ideas and design come to life using technology. It encourages and teaches problem solving skills. Papert sometimes called this skill “procedural thinking.” Papert is quoted to have said, “I am convinced that the best learning takes place when the learner takes charge, as the young Piaget did.” For example, a main tool of LOGO is the digital turtle which is programmed by students. As learners manipulate the turtle in creative ways, they construct objects and worlds of their own. This is directly derived from the constructionism learning theory. This is learning-by-making.
As a parent of four kids, I work hard to find the best learning experiences, resources, and activities for my kids. I have to say two of the major things they were interested in are the Montessori learning style and University of Regina EYES programming camp. Now that I know more about learning theories and different learning methods, I understand that they got hooked to these two learning styles because they evoke the idea of learning by making. Asking them “why did you like it?” they say “it is fun”, “you get to use your own creativity and imagination”, “you can make your own games.” They felt comfortable with the tool after a few hours of tinkering with it, that they were so happy they were able to make a Happy Mother’s Day card for me. It was an interactive card that included my favorite songs and family photos. They had the passion, worked harder and tried different coding skills. They learned how to turn an initial idea into a meaningful project that can be shared with me.