Using implicit knowledge in Logo microworlds

Evgeny D. Patarakin & Larisa L. Travina.

Program Systems Institute. Russia. Pereslavl-Zalessky


This paper presents several Logo microworlds we have developed and which are used in international children computer camp with school children or with school teachers. The interest of these microworlds is to provide learners multiple ways of constructing understanding in several domains such as Logo programming, psychosemantic, some aspects of scientific and personal knowledge. Section: Intelligent Tutoring Systems.


The key notion in the classical intellectual tutoring systems (ITS) and Logo microworlds is transitional object that help to manipulate abstraction. In another words the main ITS idea is that knowledge "is build by the learner especially felicitously when the learner is engaged in the construction of something external or at least shareable...a sand castle, a machine, a computer program, a book" (1).

In all well-known ITS or microworlds these transitional objects are connected with scientific or explicit abstractions. In the process of constructive education the child has work as inventor and reinvent the explicit knowledge. We believe that new branch of constructionism can be based on the reconstruction of the implicit child's theories. On the base of this idea we have developed two Logo microworlds. The interest of these microworlds is:

1. Personal construct microworld.

Theoretical background of this microworld was the Kelly theory of personal constructs. From the Kelly's point of view, a man has explored his environment in all periods of his/her life. In any moment he/she has build hypotheses about environment and lives on the base of these hypotheses. The basic element of Kelly' theory is a polar notion - "construct" (2).

We believe that intervention of Kelly's ideas in the Logo media is very promising. Therefore, we have made a LogoWriter Personal construct microworld. Within the framework of this microworld students can create a computer map of their inner worlds. While using microworld procedures you can choose the personality of a student as a subject for the study. The system of constructs, received through microworld commands, reveals the system of notions used by the person in everyday life without explicit representation. Our experience shows that teaching the basics of psychology to teenagers is more effective if it is based on the personal experience of students. New Logo microworld can be used not only to check the changes in the knowledge system of a student, but also as a tool to develop creativity in children.

We have successfully used LogoWriter Personal construct microworld in various educational projects:.

2. Hypertext microworld.

The purpose of this microworld was to improve Personal construct microworld, to link psychosemantical testing with constructing activity in more natural manner. Hypertext systems help the user to present materials in text, graphic and animated cartoons in a suitable manner. They have stimulated students to make their own systems of constructs. We have made a special hypertext microworld that gives students the possibilities to make, edit and read the hypertext. Some words of this hypertext works as buttons - they linked with a commands that make active new pages, pictures, musical or animating effects, etc. On this background the graphic presentation of elements and constructs is only the new vision of metaphor - what stands under wraps of words.

Mostly interesting results was obtained with the help of hypertext microworld during the project named "Computer Theater". In this project students 7 to 15 years old made a computer play. Sixteen characters of this play lived in two different computer kingdoms and actively communicated with one another in the form of a dialogue. Very interesting results can be achieved by integration of cognitive and psychoanalytical approaches. At the first (symbolic-emotional) stage the students have created their own characters, drew their images, wrote texts about them and dialogues. At the second (cognitive) stage of the project every participant with the help of personal construct microworld has made a map of his/her own character inner world. The students have made this work looking from the point of view of their characters. This shift has greatly increased cognitive distance between the student and his/her knowledge. It has helped them to create a better self-image and self-understanding.

We have not discussed or explored the personal problems of the students within the framework of the project. The group has spent all the time and put all the efforts to reach the general goal - to make a common design. However, in the process of joint work everybody was enforced to correct features of his/her own character. Computer media give us a possibility to see an evolution of every character and its creator. For some characters and students this evolution can be explicitly presented. For the others it can be only postulated.


  1. Papert S. Constructionist learning. Introduction. The Media MIT Laboratory MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1990. p. 3.
  2. Kelly G.A. A theory of personality. The psychology of personal constructs. N.Y., 1963.