About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2473-2479
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-613-9386-2
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain

INSCENA: ACTING AND LEARNING ELEMENTS OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMING ON A VIRTUAL STAGE

G. Chiazzese1, M.R. Laganà1, C. Lorenzini2

1Italian National Research Council Institute for Education Technologies (ITALY)
2University of Pisa Department of Computer Sciece (ITALY)
The aim of this paper is to present a virtual learning environment called “InScena”. This environment provides a virtual stage for performing fairy tales and learning elements of computer programming through the action and control of virtual characters programmed by children in real time.

More precisely, puppets act out a story on the stage of the virtual theatre and are animated with both voices and movements provided by the children. The system allows children to compose sequences of simple instructions, to call functions specifying the value of parameters in order to program the movements of puppets on the stage. The virtual environment provides a set of LOGO-like instructions to control the puppets' movements that the children can combine to construct a sequence of actions.

The virtual learning environment prototype has a client/server architecture and is composed of director, actor and spectator clients, each one distinct from the others. The director client provides facilities to control the presence of actors, the scene painting to be selected, the opening and closing of the curtain, the accessing of actors on the stage. The client spectator allows audiences to enjoy the show and to ask an actor for an encore by using the audio functionality. The actor client provides tools for writing simple lines of commands in order to start the puppets moving (pig.head.down) or to launch simple procedures previously defined for more complex movements. It is possible to define a procedure by specifying a list of commands separated by the ";" or "+" operator, so as to specify whether the execution of actions are sequential or parallel. Actors can interact with scenic elements by clicking on an object and causing a change in its appearance (the pig house collapses).

A pilot test has been conducted with a class of elementary school children aged between nine and ten. Actors and directors were located in a computer laboratory while spectators watched the show from their classroom. A collaborative approach was used to compose the script (the children decided to write and recite their own narrative based on a well-known fairy story, "The three little pigs"), without using computers. Greater interest and more active participation was observed in children involved in using the system. Some children showed a desire to program more complex puppet movements. The puppets in fact are look like hand puppets, without legs, like the old itinerant theater where a puppeteer's arm was hidden by the puppet's long dress.

Children recognized the power of expression of a programming language simply by looking at the effect of different instructions on the movements of the characters. Moreover, the children understood better the meaning of the story by playing an active role in the construction of the script. Designing a fairy tale through the writing of a script activated important cognitive mechanisms such as the cause-and-effect principle and reasoning. The virtual stage offered children a place in which to express themselves, by acting out a story and learning how to program the movements of characters. Children experienced the emotion of real time, the expressive value of gestures and body language and the stage as a magical space where the action took place.
@InProceedings{CHIAZZESE2010INS,
author = {Chiazzese, G. and Laganà, M.R. and Lorenzini, C.},
title = {INSCENA: ACTING AND LEARNING ELEMENTS OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMING ON A VIRTUAL STAGE},
series = {2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN10 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-9386-2},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {5-7 July, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {2473-2479}}
TY - CONF
AU - G. Chiazzese AU - M.R. Laganà AU - C. Lorenzini
TI - INSCENA: ACTING AND LEARNING ELEMENTS OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMING ON A VIRTUAL STAGE
SN - 978-84-613-9386-2/2340-1117
PY - 2010
Y1 - 5-7 July, 2010
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN10 Proceedings
SP - 2473
EP - 2479
ER -
G. Chiazzese, M.R. Laganà, C. Lorenzini (2010) INSCENA: ACTING AND LEARNING ELEMENTS OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMING ON A VIRTUAL STAGE, EDULEARN10 Proceedings, pp. 2473-2479.
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