by Bryce Summers

I am building digital playgrounds for learning abstract concepts. In order to build these playgrounds, I am developing a methedology for their definition and benefits, creating tools along the way that act as methods for needed for realizing their construction, and finally I am creating concrete examples of such playgrounds.

Name Theory Tool Example
Primitives Awareness is learning that some idea exists in the world. It can be as theoretical as the P vs. NP problem in theoretical computer scientist or as concrete as the activity of skiing down a mountain. I used to play some computer games, where I journeyed to the jungle or a ski slope and thus I new of their existance. I would also see various things like roads, sinks, museums, commuter trains, etc that were part of the fabric of the world that my young mind experienced. When teaching a subject such as Computer Science, especially one such as Computer Graphics, it can be hard to convey the initial experiences in words if the students fundamentally lacks experiences seeing, touching, or feeling the concepts. The creation of carefully made images can rectify this problem and often clear up fundamental barriers to understanding, such as showing students a 2D Fluence raytracer to explain diffuse, specular, and refractive material interactions. This step is often skipped too much in the design of Educational Experiences, which frustrates the students. Writing, verbal, lectures, and powerpoint slides skip this level of communication and make too many assumptions about the students, because they are better for communication between peers.
Stories Synthesis is the production of new understanding and vocabulary by presenting ordered combinations of existing vocabulary. Writing, speaking, etc are examples of this. The challenge in storytelling is determining the relevant stories that matter, ordering information in a way that is pallatable and comprehensible to the listeners, and putting the proper amount of details at every part. For a static communicator, such as a lecturer or a movie producer, they have to anticipate a single choice of these variables that will work well for as many people as possible in their target audience. Ultimatly they will fail to communicate perfectly to every person, because they each have different subjective preferences for these variables. A person in conversation is able to adjust their story based on the feedback from their listener. A game designer is able to create an experience that adapts to the desires of the players, while defining the space such that the player gets to the game designer's experience goal, such as teaching linear algebra. Writing and musical composition share the imaginative load between the writer and reader. The writer sets down the words that are communicated and the reader interprets those words using their imagination. The composer lays down the guidelines for what is to be played, but the muscisian adds their feelings through their performance interpretation. Visual storytellers share less of the load, where they show 1 visual depiction of how the characters behave, which the reader has to accept. This can be better for technical concepts where the reader lacks awareness of the terms being used in the story, such as in a Computer Science textbook. A reader of a graphic novel does get to imagine the dimension of time and their mind connects the frames together. A movie takes away the imagination of time as well.
The goal of storytelling is to combine meanings and feelings from a readers' mind to produce new meanings and understanding. Many academic programs focus on the storytelling, but ignore the awareness and creative application phases. I do not believe in purposely obfuscating a story with the point of providing a messy real world experience, because people with an understanding of a subject have a responsibility to communicate it clearly under certain conditions, such as when Freshmen are hoping to make sense of the fundamentals of a field. Students will encounter enough messy real world experiences in their life, when people deliberatly make a learning objective that is clearly defined into a messy one, that can be very emotionally insensitive.
Application of Knowledge
Creativity Once a person has aligned their understanding in their brain, it won't stick and be fully meaningful until they have applied it. If they are being educated to get a job, they will have to apply their newfound understanding in a demanding work environment. I found that I would often have to invest most of my winter, spring, and summer breaks to practicing applying the understanding I got from classes, because they did not allocate any time for me to do so while in class. While in school.


------ Can theories for child language learning be applied to learning Computer Science, because it is like a new language? Is traditional educational designed to create well-trained followers? Modern teachers use a wide variety of methods in their teaching What would an efficient system look like that focused on maximizing learning and the creative drive of its students? What are examples of teaching methods that don't belong on my playgrounds? What are examples of teaching methods that I've experience in my life that do belong on my playground? What are the primitives in my playground? What are the stories that can be told using these objects? What is the activity that the person can do using this knowledge? Can they fail along the way? Is their an element of creative design amenable to comparison and friendly competition?

Thank you for your interest.