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A New Environment for Computer Aided Design: Combining Constructionist ideas and Augmented Reality technology to create a concrete learning environment for digital content

Author Tricia Harris
Abstract According to Piaget (1970) most adults operate in what he termed the 'formal operations' stage, where our cognitive ability allows us to make logical sense of and manipulate symbolic terms internally, independent of immediate experience. Papert (1980) later elevated the role of concrete experiences, believing that for some people certain abstract thinking needs to be grounded in more concrete contexts. This paper looks at the learning environment in which computers play a primary role, Computer Aided Design (CAD) being the example investigated, and asks the questions; is this learning environment at present too static, and is there substance in the argument for altering the current computer-user interface to provide a more active, interactive and concrete learning experience? As a response to the research enquiry the ARC learning experience was designed, which allows users to view a virtual representation of their 3D CAD model within a real-environment setting. A concrete learning experience is created as the digital CAD model becomes more tangible and real-time interaction between user and design is achieved. The virtual prototype can be viewed in relation to real objects and people, giving a more solid basis on which to make design decisions e.g. related to size, scale and proportions. A case study was conducted where a multiple source method of data collection was employed. The analysis from the research showed findings that support the research enquiry.
Keywords Technology, Constructionism, Abstract/Concrete Thinking, Active Learning, Digital Learning Environment, Interactive Digital Content, Tangible User Interfaces, Augmented Reality.
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2011
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