About this paper

Appears in:
Page: 3827 (abstract only)
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain

CHILDREN'S LEARNING ABOUT THE 'IDEA OF SUSTAINABLE CITY' THROUGH PLAYING AND RECONSTRUCTING A HALF- BAKED MICROWORLD

G. Liarakou1, M. Daskolia2, A. Papanikolaou1, C. Kynigos2

1University of the Aegean (GREECE)
2National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (GREECE)
The study reported in this paper focuses on the idea of "sustainable city" and the challenge of teaching and learning about it in primary education. A constructionist learning framework was employed for designing and carrying out the pedagogical activity on which the study was based. According to Resnick (1993) learning is an active process through which people construct knowledge in effective ways based on their experiences and by attaching meaning to the products of their constructions. Within this frame constructions are seen as meaning-generative engagements with concepts and issues, involving processes of de-construction and re-construction on a collective level, which are enabled by the learners' interactions with appropriate digital tools (Kynigos, 1995). A useful tool for engaging learners in such constructionist processes are the so-called 'half-baked microworlds', that is pieces of software which are explicitly and purposefully designed by educational developers (i.e. teachers) so that their users (students) would be challenged to build on them, de-compose parts of them and eventually change them, and by doing so to collaboratively create new digital artifacts that better suit their shared views and understandings of the concept or issue at stake (Kynigos, 2007). We argue that this is a particularly effective process in the case of complex, fuzzy or controversial concepts, ideas and realities, such as those of 'sustainability' and 'sustainable city', with which environmental education deals with.

In the present study we designed a half-baked game microworld which is focused on the idea of 'sustainable city' and we engaged 3 dyads of sixth grade students in playing with, discussing and negotiating on it and finally re-constructing it. The aim of the study was to explore in which ways the students generate meanings about the 'sustainable city' idea, while they collaboratively play, challenge, deconstruct and reconstruct the game microworld. The data collection was based on audio recordings of the students' conversations and screen capturing data from the students' interactions with the microworld. Thematic Analysis was applied to the transcribed conversations files.

A preliminary analysis of the findings indicates that the students’ understandings of what 'sustainability in a city' pertains seem to evolve as a result of the processes involved in the pedagogical intervention. Patterns of their interaction with the microworld show that the students managed to realise -in varying degrees- the existence and interplay of the three axes of sustainability (environment - society - economy). Although at first they were primarily concerned with the environmental axis, they gradually started considering the other two constituents of sustainability. When they got into changing the game microworld they added more 'social' dimensions to the city to augment the city's sustainability, while they seemed to pay minimal attention to any economy concerns. The idea of the students' preferred 'sustainable city' comprised more sports and education sites. Finally, while designing their game the students paid proper attention to the interdependence between the city sites' properties and they asigned equally positive and negative values to them. Nevertheless, the values the students assigned to the city-sites were not realistic but decided mainly on the criterion of creating a more challenging game.
@InProceedings{LIARAKOU2012CHI,
author = {Liarakou, G. and Daskolia, M. and Papanikolaou, A. and Kynigos, C.},
title = {CHILDREN'S LEARNING ABOUT THE 'IDEA OF SUSTAINABLE CITY' THROUGH PLAYING AND RECONSTRUCTING A HALF- BAKED MICROWORLD},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {3827}}
TY - CONF
AU - G. Liarakou AU - M. Daskolia AU - A. Papanikolaou AU - C. Kynigos
TI - CHILDREN'S LEARNING ABOUT THE 'IDEA OF SUSTAINABLE CITY' THROUGH PLAYING AND RECONSTRUCTING A HALF- BAKED MICROWORLD
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 3827
EP - 3827
ER -
G. Liarakou, M. Daskolia, A. Papanikolaou, C. Kynigos (2012) CHILDREN'S LEARNING ABOUT THE 'IDEA OF SUSTAINABLE CITY' THROUGH PLAYING AND RECONSTRUCTING A HALF- BAKED MICROWORLD, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, p. 3827.
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