A construction kit is a set of elements that can be assembled / combined into something that has new functionality. Construction kits are used in many areas. This article will focus on construction kits in education and related areas.
“The power of construction kits stems from the fact that they provide simple modules, the construction kit pieces, which can be combined in a multitude of ways. Well-chosen modules conceal some of the complexities of “real-life” engineering and design, but are basic enough to provide users with the freedom to build a wide range of constructions.” (Buechley, 2006).
In education and in technical terms we probably can distinguish between three sorts.
- Physical sets, e.g. Lego
- Augmented (physical/digital) sets, e.g. programmable Lego, various sorts of smart bricks.
- Software sets, e.g. various constructive and programming microworlds like AgentSheets
We also could distinguish between kits made for engineering allowing to create functional artificats (e.g. various mechanical, chemical, circuit building, biological, etc.) and kits that lead to purely educational artifacts (such as educational robotics, microworlds, etc.). Of course, there is an overlap, and some systems fit in both categories.
In addition, one could mention some toolkits that could be used by teachers to create learning scenarios and/or toolkits.
In 1992, D. N. Perkins from the Harvard Graduate School of Education - in the often cited "Technology Meets Constructivism: Do They Make a Marriage?" text - distinguished five types of learning environments: Information banks, symbol pads, construction kits, phenomenaria and task managers. As opposed to symbol pads (that allow forms of writing), “construction kits include a fund of prefabricated parts and processes with emphasis falling on molar things and actions. Symbol pads - such as the classic blank sheet of paper - leave it more to the user to put down whatever structures are wanted.”
Zuckerman distinguishes kits according to the educational philosophy that is behind, as introduced in the Constructionist learning object article.
- Buechley, L., Elumeze, N., Dodson, C., & Eisenberg, M. (2005, November). Quilt snaps: a fabric based computational construction kit. In Wireless and Mobile Technologies in Education, 2005. WMTE 2005. IEEE International Workshop on (pp. 3-pp). IEEE.
- Buechley, L. (2006, October). A construction kit for electronic textiles. In Wearable Computers, 2006 10th IEEE International Symposium on (pp. 83-90). IEEE.
- Gerth, B., Berndt, R., Havemann, S., & Fellner, D. W. (2005, November). 3d modeling for non-expert users with the castle construction kit v0. 5. In Proceedings of the 6th International conference on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Intelligent Cultural Heritage (pp. 49-57). Eurographics Association.
- Gorbet, M. G., & Orth, M. (1997, August). Triangles: design of a physical/digital construction kit. In Proceedings of the 2nd conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques (pp. 125-128). ACM. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/263552.263592
- Kharma, N., Caro, L. and Venkatesh, V. MagicBlocks: a Construction Kit for Learning Digital Logic, Computers in Education Journal, issue 2, April-June, 2003. pdf
- Kharma, N., Caro, L., & Venkatesh, V. (2003). MagicBlocks: A construction kit for learning digital logic. Computers in Education Journal, 13 (2), 35-46.
- Eisenberg, M. et al. (2002). “Computationally-Enhanced Construction Kits for Children: Prototypes and Principles” In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference of the Learning Sciences, 23-26.
- Jonassen, D. H. (1999). Designing constructivist learning environments. Instructional design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory, 2, 215-239.
- Resnick, M. (2005) “Some Reflections on Designing Construction Kits for Kids”, In Proceedings of Interactive Design and Children, 117-122.
- Rieber, L. P. (1996). Seriously considering play: Designing interactive learning environments based on the blending of microworlds, simulations, and games. Educational technology research and development, 44(2), 43-58.
- Perkins, D. N. (1992). Technology meets constructivism: Do they make a marriage. Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation, 45-55.
- Schweikardt, E., & Gross, M. D. (2006, November). roBlocks: a robotic construction kit for mathematics and science education. In Proceedings of the 8th international conference on Multimodal interfaces (pp. 72-75). ACM. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1180995.1181010
- Yen, J., & Séquin, C. (2001, March). Escher sphere construction kit. In Proceedings of the 2001 symposium on Interactive 3D graphics (pp. 95-98). ACM.
- Zuckerman, O. (2006). Historical overview and classification of traditional and digital learning objects. Accessed (sept 2015) from https://llk.media.mit.edu/courses/readings/classification-learning-objects.pdf Zuckerman, O. (2009). Designing digital objects for learning: lessons from Froebel and Montessori. International Journal of Arts and Technology, 3(1), 124-135.