Objectworlds : a class of computer-based discovery learning environments

Sellman, Royston (1994). Objectworlds : a class of computer-based discovery learning environments. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d63b


It is possible to discern a class of Computer-Based Discovery Learning Environments which centre on novel, concept rich,simulated objects and which include simple but general functions with which the objects may be manipulated. This thesis provides a history of this class of environments, which we call objectworlds, and we also give them a strict definition. We describe Gravitas, a new objectworld we have built, which allows learners to work with objects that behave like gravitating masses moving in a two dimensional space.

Gravitas contains a powerful programmable interface to the objects, in the form of a set of Logo commands, and a functionally equivalent but easier to use graphical interface which is controlled by the mouse. We show that the combination of interfaces helps learners to explore the world of these objects more effectively.

We contrast the educational experiences learners are afforded by objectworlds with those offered by two closely related kinds of Discovery Learning Environment: Simulations and Modelling Systems. We also describe a psychological framework which provides a useful way of thinking about the construction of computer simulated objects for discovery learning applications.

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