The Virtual Time Machine Project
Silvia Branco Vidal Bustamante
Coordenadora do Centro de Informática Educativa
Janine Cristina Coutinho de Souza
Mara Carneiro de Souza Noel
Universidade Católica de Petrópolis
Rio de Janeiro.
Fax: 55 242 43 3745
Time-machine; cybernetic; imaginary voyage; interdisciplinary; Internet; Multimedia.
This project are being developed with young children of the elementary school, by the Centro de Informática Educativa at the Universidade Católica de Petrópolis.
This idea concerns to the Time Machine Project, as an interdisciplinary view of knowledge building at cybernetic environments and Logo proposal. Working with the Time Machine the children try to construct their own imaginary machine, linking different conditions to know history, geography and other sciences inside a context of playing with information, knowledge and computers.
The Time Machine Project intends to introduce some resources of cybernetic age and some strategies of the Logo environment instead the conventional curricular view. It presents a new aspect of the children living experience acquired out of school, by Multimedia and Internet resources, at home or by informal activities. It also links space and time overcoming the conventional division of different disciplines and their contents.
This idea concerns to the Time Machine project, as an interdisciplinary view of knowledge building at cybernetic environments and Logo proposal, to change de traditional paradigm of teaching at schools.
The greatly problem of school activities survivence is to bring to the classroom design, the information acquired out of the school walls. To use imagination and creativity instead of mnemonic and static school resources, gives the chance of motivation and interest for the children. It means overcoming information and construct the knowledge under the Logo paradigm, with the children as a center of their own thinking .
Working with the Time Machine idea, the main objective is the children trying to construct their own imaginary machine, linking different conditions to know history, geography and other sciences inside a context of playing with information, knowledge and computers.
2. Imaginary voyages to other times :
History information is commonly hate at traditional classrooms. The cause of this usual indifference to the past is an absence of the children as reference, at the center of the historical process. History is presented by the teachers as a set of dissociated facts to be memorized by the student. All structure of History teaching is in the verbal transmission. It is made without connect other times with present time. The mean focus of this teaching activity are data and some facts relationated with them, but not relationated with the children reality or interests. The relation between past and present facts has no reference with the man. This methodology produces a very unlike knowledge area, just utilized as a data catalogue without interest for our time investigation, for our realizations and our future perspectives.
The Time Machine Project intends to introduce some resources of cybernetic age and some strategies of the Logo environment instead the conventional curricular view. It presents a new aspect of the children living experience, acquired out of school by Multimedia and Internet resources, at home or by informal activities. It also links space and time, overcoming the conventional division of different disciplines and their contents.
Children hypothesis, some initial physics researches and mathematics elementary knowledge are employed to concept the machine. The investigation about distinct science areas motivates the children to build the engineer and to go in a imaginary and virtual voyage through the time.
Knowledge about other time and other people, their usual behavior, culture and art have been brought at the lab, sometimes through Multimedia and Internet resources, sometimes through conventional media. Dynamic time exploration and computer resources simulation, create discussions about the man development in different times. Other people in other times and other spaces are investigated. There is a consciousness about their conquests, their difficulties and their scientific resources. The revolution of each different context is proposed as something that changes the state of humanity and prepare another age.
At least, the Time Machine is the child thinking and imagination, which work with the past, the present, or the future as something meaningful or new, real or virtual.
3. "The galaxy we call home":
Geographic information passes by the same dissociated process than the historic one. Maps, memorized mountains and rivers location disappears at virtual space investigation. Unusual experiences design other way to acquire the geographic knowledge.
Some imaginary voyages trace the route of the space to be known. The space where the children live and the local they want to go, establish the appropriation of the geography as something applied to virtual learning situations. Moreover than maps and routes, distances and books, children need to be in touch with their own home, their city, their state, their country and other countries. Being the center of virtual or real displacements, the sense of space orientation is acquired by the children through the problem situation proposed by their interpersonal and interactive choice. Pointing the city or the country of imaginary scales or arrival in the voyage, many visual and cultural resources are provided by the learning environment, calculating distances and maps from depart of the need of knowing another city or another country, another planet or another galaxy.
To describe the experience of social cognition, similarities and cultural differences have been worked and discussed by the students in the local learning or through the Distance Network as a natural consequence of imaginary time and space voyages. Distinct times and places are object of small workshops made by de children under teaching orientation.
Children are at the same time programmers, when they work with Logo and epistemologists, when they think about the knowledge process to represent it. Children are people exploring the human location in reference to themselves as a center in direction to known and unknown spaces. Children are the creators with the teachers and the school lab resources of a new paradigm to concept the earth and "the galaxy we call home". At the heart of this process children discover the power of their own thinking and the beauty of the social cognition. In this sense we can also speak about the Logo aesthetic, as a thinking style to work the divergence and the convergence of different points of view.
4. Interdisciplinary view:
Many other sciences contribute to this voyage, in which the children are knowing and questioning science, astrophysics, time and space, mathematics and physics, art and anthropology. The interactive approach of many disciplines is also naturally worked without school bounds but within school opportunities. Teachers make the intervention to provoke the interconnection in many knowledge areas involved at the problem which the children are discussing about.
Open school labs may work with children experiences, associating informal and formal learning in a system where the formal aspect of the knowledge is built by children and teachers cooperation.
The language development so is required all the time by cooperative learning and social cognition through the problem discussion "in loco" or using the Internet resources to share information and knowledge. This new role of the language allows to verify the difference between the conventional teaching-learning environments and the open learning ones. Language is now developed to think about the reality and to interchange the contents of each discovery.
The pedagogic and cybernetic project proposes to restore the creative thinking at learning in the school as proposed by Logo environment. All the pedagogy involved at this project, does not intend to change the child in a small adult, but in invites the children to participate of their own learning journey.
This referential framework assumes the conquests of our time as depart for other different temporal events investigation and space concepts exploration. The consciousness of changes through the time evolution is accompanied of space transformation by cultural and technological resources.
The pilot project also designs new concepts of History and Geography teaching-learning context, transforming the passive information received by children, in active situations about the world where the children live today. Children are then, motivated explorators of anthropological concepts on space and time. Some imaginary tools allow the voyage through the past or future time. Other virtual voyages displace the mind towards other countries, other cultures and other galaxies. At the same time History and Geography are involved in these voyages, to know the time and the space, stimulating children cooperation with cybernetic and cultural resources.
This unusual approach of cybernetic and pedagogy in cognitive sense changes the conventional classroom paradigm. It also changes the role of the teacher, now invited to transform with the children, the old or new static data in meaningful knowledge to be shared.
Methods of observation compose the diagnosis of internal processes of knowledge organization. Hypothetical resources are naturally invited and explored. Spontaneous discussions made by the children complete the hypothesis and help the analysis process.
Children assume the center of lab explorations, displacing the teacher to an orientation role. Classrooms are transformed in creative space for teacher and children working with concrete and abstract concepts. Children act into the experience with other children. They build together an active learning situation, as the basis of the knowledge. This process invites the school to different methodologies, where the children demonstration and verbalization enrich the teacher explanation. Considering that the interdisciplinary view is a main approach to the global knowledge, computer labs and pedagogical descentered activities support many experiences, strategies of investigation and organization of acquired results.
5. Employing virtual machines to understand the knowledge:
Through the Internet or Multimedia resources, interesting learning environments are designed by the children and with the children to mobilize the school. Using the thinking as a Logo paradigm to construct and to share the knowledge at school lab activities, another discipline will appear at learning proposals: the internal discipline controlled by the productive activity. School activities ask for a real motivation and creative cooperation to the problem solution.
The rigorous frame of this methodology does not allow the simple spontaneism. All defies consist on integrating information about surrounding culture and technology. The integration is created through thinking activities which transform scattered information in organized and appropriated knowledge.
Then, the cybernetic resources in Logo environments propose a kind of methodology and kind of culture different of that in which there is the machine predominance. At these learning situations, children employ computer machines to build a virtual Time Machine. Children employ computers to construct their virtual machines and with these imaginary voyages they are building the sense of their own reality.
All efforts are made to employ machines and computer resources to transform the "dead school" in a "living environment".
Integrating past and present, through cybernetic technology and Logo pedagogy, this pilot project intends to prepare the children for the defies of the future. School contents are no more being unlinked of the children experiences. They are no more being dissociated on themselves. All investigation is linked to a vigorous and rigorous nucleus of thinking, which gives meaning to the knowledge, motivation to the learning, appropriation to cooperative activities and human sense to computer technology approaches.