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The turtle and the mouse: how constructivist learning theory shaped artificial intelligence and educational technology in the 1960s


Hof, Barbara (2021). The turtle and the mouse: how constructivist learning theory shaped artificial intelligence and educational technology in the 1960s. History of Education, 50(1):93-111.

Abstract

Drawing on historical epistemology and considerations on the function of scientific modelling, this article investigates how in the mid-twentieth century electronic and programmable animal models became tools for exploring the inaccessible ontology of the human mind. The article examines how machines have informed our understanding of the learning process and, vice versa, how the concept of learning has been used to design new technology. The main focus is on Seymour Papert, an artificial intelligence researcher and advocate of Jean Piaget’s constructivist learning theory, who developed computer software for children based on the animated turtle LOGO. The sources used include archival material from Austria, Switzerland and the United States, as well as several publications and grey literature. The article demonstrates that there were close links between artificial intelligence, constructivism and educational technology, and how these links benefited from the cultural transformation of the late 1960s.

Abstract

Drawing on historical epistemology and considerations on the function of scientific modelling, this article investigates how in the mid-twentieth century electronic and programmable animal models became tools for exploring the inaccessible ontology of the human mind. The article examines how machines have informed our understanding of the learning process and, vice versa, how the concept of learning has been used to design new technology. The main focus is on Seymour Papert, an artificial intelligence researcher and advocate of Jean Piaget’s constructivist learning theory, who developed computer software for children based on the animated turtle LOGO. The sources used include archival material from Austria, Switzerland and the United States, as well as several publications and grey literature. The article demonstrates that there were close links between artificial intelligence, constructivism and educational technology, and how these links benefited from the cultural transformation of the late 1960s.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Education
Social Sciences & Humanities > History and Philosophy of Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Constructivism, artificial intelligence, educational technology, LOGO, scientific modelling, historical epistemology
Language:English
Date:2021
Deposited On:07 Feb 2021 08:39
Last Modified:19 Feb 2021 07:54
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0046-760X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/0046760x.2020.1826053

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