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Hoban, G. F., Nielsen, W. S. & Carceller, C. (2010). Articulating constructionism: Learning science through designing and making "Slowmations" (student-generated animations). In C. Steel, M. Keppell, P. Gerbic & S. Housego (Eds.), Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (pp. 433-443). Queensland: University of Queenland.


This conceptual paper analyses several theoretical frameworks for “learning through making” using technology. First, the theoretical framework of Constructionism, which was proposed by Seymour Papert (1987), is discussed which is based on an integration of constructivist views of learning and social views of learning. Second, several instructional design frameworks are analysed and finally a theoretical framework based on Peirce‟s (1931) Semiotic Triad is explained. An example of learning through making is provided in the form of a “Slowmation” (abbreviated from “Slow Animation”), which is a new way for preservice teachers to learn science by making a narrated animation. It is a simplified form of stop-motion animation that integrates features of clay animation, object animation and digital storytelling. A theoretical framework then evolves that guides students in learning by creating a sequence of five multimodal representations (the 5 Rs): Representation 1 — research being written notes from summarising a topic; Representation 2 — a storyboard to plan the design of the animation; Representation 3 — making 2D or 3D models; Representation 4 — taking digital still photographs of the models as they are moved manually; and Representation 5 — creating the animation which can include text and a narration. Each of the theoretical frameworks help to explain the learning involved when students design and make an artefact using technology but the most relevant one is Peirce‟s (1931) Semiotic Triad. Theoretical frameworks help to explain student learning that occurs through “designing and making” but some have limitations and their use depends on the purpose and context.

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