Constructing2Learn

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Welcome to the Constructing2Learn Project Wiki

Contents

The Modelling4All Project

The Constructing2Learn project has ended but it gave birth to a new project called Modelling4All that is carrying this work forward.

Introduction

This is project managed by Ken Kahn with help from Howard Noble and Liz Masterman. It is funded by the JISC Designs for Learning Programme and is taking place within the Learning Technology Group of Oxford University Computing Services.

Brief Project Summary

The project team proposes to explore designs for learning based upon a constructionist pedagogy, where learners build and share computational models underlying digital simulations and games. We will explore the suitability of existing learning design tools for supporting this kind of pedagogy.

The project team worked with subject-matter experts and lecturers at Oxford University to shape the development of a prototype tool that has been integrated into the LAMS activity management engine. Dr. Iain Couzin of the Department of Zoology and Dr. Edmund Chattoe of the Sociology Department collaborated with us in the initial phase. (Edmund has since left to Leicester University but has expressed a desire to continue collaborating with the project.) We are now collaborating with Professor Angela McLean on models of vacinnation and epidemics and with Dr. Felix Reed-Tsochas in Oxford's Said Business School.

The project will demonstrate a new class of designs-for-learning that facilitates the collaboration between domain experts and learners in the construction of simulations and games.

Publications

Evaluation Documentation

Evaluation Report

Evaluation Plan

Research Paper Documentation

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is our FAQ.

The Software: The BehaviourComposer

The simulation construction kit is called the BehaviourComposer. It provides a way to associate micro-behaviours with objects. One browses a collection of micro-behaviours and then the software launches NetLogo to run the model. The BehaviourComposer is freely available and runs on any PC with Windows. Downloading the BehaviourComposer.

The Media:Java_source_code.zip is here.

The BehaviourComposer was also integrated with LAMS 2.0. Screen shots, demos, and the source code of the integration of LAMS with the BehaviourComposer are available.

Reports from Testers

  • Alpha Tester 1: Alpha Testing Diary HN.
  • Euan, a work study student, tested the BehaviourComposer on 18 October, 2006
  • Said Business School MBAs on 18 April, 2007.
  • Elliot, a work study student, tested the BehaviourComposer on 23 April, 2007
  • Angius, a work study student, tested the BehaviourComposer and draft of the worksheet for modelling disease propogation on 10 October, 2007.
  • Oxford University Biology students used the BehaviourComposer to model epidemics that propogate along social networks on 22 October and 25 October 2007.
  • Mohammed, a work study student, tested the BehaviourComposer and the Sugarscape artificial society learning design on 29 November 2007.

Summary of meetings

What's really new here?

Learning to build computer models traditionally starts with learning to write programs. In our project the emphasis is, in order of importance:

1. composing program fragments

2. parameterising fragments

3. reading programs fragments

4. editing programs fragments

5. writing program fragments

We want the students to be able to build interesting models very early and gradually move towards general programming.

We also are building upon the work on designs of learning to provide tools that provide structure, guidance, and collaboration opportunities to learners (i.e., model builders).

Articles and books influencing the design

Interesting Links

Here is a recent article in Science about the use of computer simulations in learning:

COMPUTER SIMULATIONS: Technological Advances in Inquiry Learning by Ton de Jong in Science 28 April 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5773, pp. 532 - 533

Project Presentations

4 July Ken Kahn presented the project and gave a demo to about 40 people at the LAMS Version 2 workshop hosted at the London Knowledge Lab.

18 July Ken Kahn presented the project and gave a demo to the Learning Technology Group of the Oxford University Computing Services.

29 September Ken Kahn presented the BehaviourComposer software to the workshop on the Pedagogic Issues in Multi-Agent Programming as part of the European Conference on Complex Systems.

12 October Ken Kahn gave a seminar about the project in the Animal Behaviour Seminar Series at the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. The slides from the talk are available here Media:slides.zip. It included a demonstration of re-constructing the model of decision making in schools of fish published in Nature last year. Browse_MicroBehaviours#Effective_leadership_and_decision-making_in_animal_groups_on_the_move

25 October Ken Kahn gave a Digital Project talk at Oxford University Computing Services.

11 November Ken Kahn described the project and its software briefly as part of his plenary talk at ISSEP 2006

15 November Ken Kahn demoed the BehaviourComposer at the London Knowledge Lab to Michael Reese, Diana Laurilard, and other researchers interested in learning about ecosystems via modelling.

24 November Ken Kahn, Liz Masterman, and Howard Noble met with the Behavioural Ecology Research Group at Oxford University. Ken gave a demo of the BehaviourComposer and a lively discussion ensued Discussion with Behavioural Ecology.

28 November Ken Kahn gave a seminar to the Oxford Complex System Seminar series.

30 November Ken Kahn and Liz Masterman met with Angela McLean, a professor of mathematical biology at Oxford, and one of her postdocs. We demonstrated the BehaviourComposer and made plans for further collaborations. We met again on 18 December -- see Meeting with Epidemiology.

11 December Ken Kahn met with David Shotton who is leading Oxford's Image Bioinformatics efforts and is also the Degree Director of the Biology M.Sc. He is involved in a project developing an ontology for animal behaviour. We discussed various ways in which our efforts could help and how this ontology could help to our collection of micro-behaviours scale. Ken gave David a demo of the BehaviourComposer. David mentioned that Judith Armitage who is a professor of Biochemistry in Oxford and is leading research on bacteria locomotion that may be well-suited for modelling in the BehaviourComposer.

2007

16 January Ken Kahn gave a seminar to the Sociology Department at the University of Surrey. See Surrey Notes. Here are the slides for the talk.

12 February Ken Kahn gave a seminar about the Constructing2Learn Project to the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies at Cambridge University (CARET) which was also attended by several people from computer science. John Norman and Patrick Carmichael was particularly interested in our work integrating the BehavioiurComposer with LAMS and the learning designs we are developing. We will share our draft designs with them.

2 March Ken Kahn gave a presentation to OUCS about the project.

19 March Ken Kahn gave a demo and discussed the project with Kate Parr of the Oxford Environmental Change Institute. We may model managed forest fires or ants and will meet again in May.

20 March Ken Kahn gave a demo to Professor of Mathematics Education Dave Pratt who is considering using the BehaviourComposer if his project on student modelling of risks is funded.

21 March Ken Kahn gave a demo to Dr. R. Don Williams, User Research Manager, Educational Strategies, Microsoft

16 April Ken Kahn gave a demo of both the BehaviourComposer and the LAMS integration to Andrew Dalby, an Oxford lecturer in bioinformation who is planning on designing a masters level module on agent based modelling and may well use our software.

18 April The entire team tested the BehaviourComposer and LAMS with the MBA module on "Managing Complexity" at the Said Business School at Oxford University. About 20 MBA students had a 3 hour session centred around the Sugarscape model. After running a LAMS-based introduction to the BehaviourComposer tutorial, the students used the BehaviourComposer to build an artificial society with life, death, consumption, pollution, and wealth accumulation. An analysis of questionnaires, models construction, and log files will follow.

23 April Ken Kahn demonstrated the BehaviourComposer to Oxford tutors and Professor Jonathan Zittrain at the Tools for Teaching event.

3 May The entire team did another test session on Sugarscape with the Said Business School (see 18 April entry). This was a smaller group of MSc students studying research methods. This session was 2 hours long but the students accomplished as much as the 3 hour session on 18 April due to several improvements in our lesson plan, handouts, and the software.

9 May Ken Kahn demonstrated and discussed the project with Professor Uri Wilensky of Northwestern University who is leading the NetLogo Project that we are building upon.

7 June Ken Kahn gave a talk about the Constructing2Learn Project and demonstrated the BehaviourComposer at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science.

20 June Ken Kahn and Howard Noble presented the project and the BehaviourComposer to the e-learning MSC students at Oxford University. 45 minutes was set aside for the students to experience the BehaviourComposer by trying the exercises designed for the business school students.

11 July Ken Kahn gave a talk at Microsoft Research in Redmond Washington about component-based programming for non-experts that included the BehaviourComposer. see a video recording of the talk.

17 July Ken Kahn gave the talk Building Computer Models from Small Pieces at the Computer Simulation Conference in San Diego California that included a discussion and demo of the BehaviourComposer and the C2L Project.

20 July Ken Kahn gave a talk about a modelling by non-experts at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico about the C2L Project and included a demo of the BehaviourComposer. Two researchers there were unable to attend the talk but were given a private demo later that day.

24 July Ken Kahn gave a demo of the LAMS C2L enhancements and a learning design while visiting a Berkeley WISE Project meeting.

21 August Ken Kahn gave a demo and discussed the project with MIT Professor Eric Klopfer who has been leading the StarLogo project aimed at enabling high school students to build scientific computer models.

24 August Ken Kahn gave a BehaviourComposer workshop at the EuroLogo 2007 conference. About 15 people (a mixture of teachers, graduate students, and researchers) participated in the hands on session that lasted two hours. 7 of the participants filled out a questionnaire giving us suggestions for improving the software. 2 expressed interest in using it with their students.

28 August Ken Kahn and Howard Noble met with Robert Belshaw of the Oxford University Zoology Department. We demonstrated the BehaviourComposer and he expressed strong interest in trying it with undergraduate student projects (3 months effort over a calendar year) and promised to get back to us.

5 September Ken Kahn gave a demo at ALT-C 2007. All seats were taken and several people stood for the presentation. About 30 people total. 2 came up afterwards and said this was just the software they needed. 10 people downloaded the software this week.

20 September Ken Kahn gave a demo of the BehaviourComposer as part of his presentation at JISC CETIS/Eduserv event.

24 September Ken Kahn gave a demo of the BehaviourComposer as part of his presentation of the Learning Technologies Group of the Oxford University Computing Services.

5 October Ken Kahn gave a demo of the BehaviourComposer as part of his keynote speech at the WWW/Internet International Conference.

23 October Ken Kahn gave a demo of the BehaviourComposer to Dr Gavin Salisbury, Senior Portfolio Manager, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

10 January 2008 Ken Kahn gave a talk about the project and the BehaviourComposer at Northwestern University near Chicago.

14 January Ken Kahn demoed the BehaviourComposer to the Scratch and StarLogo project teams at MIT.

17 January Ken Kahn gave a talk and demo to the FriamGroup in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

12 February Ken Kahn and Howard Noble presented the project and software to the Oxford e-learning MSc students.

Other Documents

MicroBehaviour Pages

Here you'll find all the MicroBehaviours you can use to construct your model in the BehaviourComposer.

Browse MicroBehaviours

Create your own MicroBehaviour