Home > TK 423 Written Critique - MicroWorlds Team Project

TK 423 Written Critique - MicroWorlds Team Project



An Examination of the Impact of Aspects of Online Education Delivery on Students
Marinka Dunlop, Commerce & Management, Southern Cross University,
Don Scott, Commerce & Management, Southern Cross University,

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e-learning communities
This area describes the unique characteristics of online cultures and strategies used to foster effective e-learning communities with implications for the professional preparation and ongoing development of teachers.

e- Learning: Ethics and Governance Considerations
John P. Witherspoon
Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications


Mentis, M., Ryba, K., & Annan, J. (2002). Creating authentic on-line communities of professional practice. E-JIST: E-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology [Online], 5(2), Available:
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Dear Natalie,

I have been sick for the past week and as such have not put as much work into this critique as I would like.

If you feel that it is not adequate please let me know and I will happily add to it.




Development of evaluative framework
Critical Reflections
Implications for future action


Title: Written Critique - MicroWorlds team project

Author: Rupert Russell

Student Number: 941510

Due: Friday August 20, 2004

Date Submitted: August 20, 2004 8:00 pm




The project is designed to enable students to work cooperatively in small groups on the development, implementation & testing of a simple teaching application developed using MicroWorlds a multimedia LOGO application.

The design of the project focuses on the following principles of teaching for quality learning:



Learning and teaching context:

The preservice teachers (PST's) undertalking the project are 4th year undergraduate Bachelor of Education students enrolled in a 10 credit point Information and Communication Technology (ICT) elective. These students will graduate in 2005 as primary school teachers. Some may choose to work as specialist ICT teachers, most will become generalist teachers.

The PST's are a mix of mature aged and mainstream 4th year students. They have all completed a prior ICT curriculum unit and have elected to undertake an additional ICT unit. This is an indication of their interest in using ICT in their teaching and learning.

They are all expected to have basic ICT skills as a result of their prior study. They may have undertaken additional ICT electives with the school of Information Technology & Mathematical Sciences (ITMS). Most come from an Anglo-Saxon middle class background. All speak English as their first language. None have any physical or intellectual handicaps that would impact on their participating in this teamwork project.

Learning objectives:


Learning design issues:

I believe that it is important to provide students with the ability to work independently of the tutor. This promotes a sense of independence and encourages students to develop the attitudes and skills necessary to promote lifelong and life-wide learning (Candy 20??) . To support students working on their projects independently I provided them with a fully functional demonstration copy of MicroWorlds which they can install and use on their home computers for 15 days, as well as a limited function trial version that will run indefinitely. This will be adequate time to allow them to complete the MicroWorlds assignment. I provided these versions on CD-ROM to allow ease of installation. I have also provided each group with a printed copy of the MicroWorlds user manual, and each student with a set of my own MicroWorlds Notes teaching notes, and a copy of the MicroWorlds quick start notes. I have also provided a number of online examples. See Appendix 3 For a list of the MicroWorlds Teaching Notes, Examples & Links that I provided.





Development of evaluative framework

4-6 key learning and teaching principles that you think underpin effective design of student-centered, flexible learning experiences.

Learning + Enjoyment = Retention

Richard Howell Allen (2002) highlights the importance of enjoyment in retaining information. If students do not enjoy what they are doing then they may choose to "actively seek to forget" the lesson in order to avoid having the unpleasant experience brought back into their consciousness. It is my intent when planning this project that student should enjoy creating their applications and that they will want to demonstrate their creations to their friends and peers. The peer assessment component of this project allows for sharing of work between each group and allows each group to take pride in their creations.

Application is Everything

In choosing this project I have attempted to make the connection between the design of each individual groups applications and the way that this application could be used within a classroom explicit. By requiring each group to identify a learning outcome and then develop an application to assist in teaching this concept I have placed the responsibility for making the connection between MicroWorlds applications and teaching & learning with each group. I hope that on completion of this project that each student will have a clear idea of some of the ways in which MicroWorlds can be used by them and their students in future lessons. During my teaching I attempt to make explicit connections between the ideas, concepts, and techniques that I am teaching and ways in which my students can utilise these ideas & techniques in their own teaching. Without making these connections the ideas and skills I am teaching may quickly fade from memory. (Allen, 2002)


Collaboration Enhances Learning


"a learner self-assesses the success of a project frequently and incrementally by testing procedures. A learner gauges the ultimate success of a project by sharing it with others and noting their interactions and reactions."






Critical Reflections

The project design allowed the PST's to develop a diverse set of teaching applications. I enjoyed watching the groups exploring ideas and working corroboratively to produce a finished product.

An essential aspect of this project design was the ability for each group to develop their own individual products. The first task for each group was to determine a Key learning Area (KLA) CSF II level and learning outcome suitable for basing the design of their teaching and learning application on.

In order to facilitate their understanding a possible way to connect a learning outcome with a finished application I demonstrated a simple MicroWorlds application that I had created and provided them with a copy of the application on my website for them to download and use. See Table 1. Example Teaching & Learning application 1. On reflection providing an example addressing only one KLA maths was a shortcoming in the end 2 of the 3 groups decided on addressing a maths outcome, one group chose to produce an application that was very similar to the example I provided.

Providing a boarder range of examples addressing a range of KLA's would most likely have produced a wider range of finished products. This is supported by the fact that the only group that produced an application that was addressing a KLA other than maths was the group that I demonstrated a second MicroWorlds application created by a pair of students in 2002 that related to the KLA Heath. See Table 2. Example Teaching & Learning application 2.

It may be that imposing a restriction preventing more than one group from addressing the same KLA may have ensured grater diversity in the range of application that were produced. This is similar to the Franklin's (2001) notion of "The professor as censor" where Franklin demonstrates that the diversity of student video productions is increased when the professor prevents students from conforming to common themes. While Franklin's (2001) work is limited to Digital Video Production I see no reason why similar benefits could not be obtained in many other fields.

After close reflection on the process I employed it has become apparent to me that although there were some benefits from the group tasks I do not believe that the students achieved the learning outcomes and changes in attitude that I had hoped that they would. I now believe that a much more sustained contact with the MicroWorlds application would be required to lead to a substantial increase in their sense of self effectiveness I also recognise now that the model of teaching that I employed was flawed. In attempting to ensure that each group produces a working product by the end of the second session I ended up adopting a poor teaching practice. When each group ran into a problem with there application they would simply stop and wait for me to debug the problem for them so that they could continue with their development. Although this approach was expedient in that it allowed for faster development than would be the case if I had not provided this support I now believe that this approach did little to allow group members to increase their confidence with using the MicroWorlds application.




Implications for future action

This was the first time that I have implemented a group work project based on MicroWorlds. The results both in terms of the process and products were rewarding for both the students and myself to observe. I intend to build on this initial experience in future years. One way that I will be able to do this is to use a wider range of demonstration applications, including examples that I create and the projects created by the three groups this year. See appendix 4.

After reflecting on the shortcommings of the pedagogy that I adopted in attempting to ensure that each group produced a finished product within only 2-3 hours of development work if I were to implement this type of project in the future I would ensure that I allowed much more time for each group to explore the MicroWorlds environment and I would place less importance on production of a finished product within a short time frame. I now recognise that it takes a significant amount of time for students to gain a sense of security and confidence in their ability to program in MicroWorlds LOGO.





Instuctions for the MicroWorlds Group Project

Note: don't forget the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). Do not get caught up with creeping featurism. This is when programmers keep adding more and more features to a program often loosing sight of the original purpose, or simply overwhelming the user with choice.

Your task with this group project is to produce a simple application that assists with teaching one learning outcome from any CSF II Level & KLA.

So pick something easy to implement and don't spend more than a day developing the application outside of tute time. Time will be available in the tutorial sessions for developing, debugging & testing applications. Use other groups as usability testers. The best way to find out if a program works or not is to simply ask someone to use it. Give them the absolute minimum instructions and watch what they do. Usually they will find ways of breaking it that you had never dreamed of...

See my example produced for CSF II level 1 maths learners. Note this program would be used by a teacher working either one-to-one or in small groups when discussing terms such as. Above, Below, Left, Right, In Front, Behind, as well as naming simple shapes & colours.


Appendix 2 Example Teaching & Learning Application 1. 20KB Ziped with Winzip  from use winzip to unzip

; Author: Rupert Russell
; email: rupert at rupert dot id dot au
; URL:

; Purpose: To generate a random collection of turtles
; to promote discussion of mathematical concepts.
; e.g.
; Q. Tell me where the start is? A. Above the car.
; Q. Where is the girl?          A. In front of the house.

; Children can also click & drag turtles on the screen in response to instructions.
; e.g.
; Move the red circle below the swan.
; Move all the animals above the car.
; Put both fishes together.

; Note to you may add or remove turtles as you wish
; but do not remove the turtle named t_star.

; Key Learning Area (KLA): Mathematics
; CSF II Level: 1
; Strand: Space
; KIDMAP Code: MAMA0105

; Learning Outcome: 1.5
; Use and understand simple everyday location words
; to follow and give an oral direction.
; Learning Indicator: Describe where an item is placed
; (e.g. under the table).

; Created: July 25, 2004 - version 1
; This program may be freely used and modified
; for educational purposes as long as this notice
; remains intact.

to go
  ;-------- This procedure sets the shape of each turtle
  ; to a random shape. It then moves each turtle
  ; to a random position on the screen making sure
  ; that each turtle is not too close to the side
  ; of the screen.
  ; It then changes the shape of the turtle "t_star
  ; back to a star. This way there will always be
  ; a single star on the screen.

  everyone [pu]
  everyone [setsh (random 62) + 1] ; only uses 62 turtles
  everyone [setx (random 335) - (random 335)+ 5] ; random x  
  everyone [sety (random 176) - (random 176)+ 5] ; random y

  talkto "t_star setsh "star                     ; make sure                                                  ; there is                                                  ; always a
                                                 ; star


Table 1. Example Teaching & Learning Application 1.


Appendix 3 Example Teaching & Learning Application 2. 20KB Ziped with Winzip  from use winzip to unzip


Table 2. Example Teaching & Learning Application 2.


See: Details of Workshop activities for full details of the Group Project

Appendix 3 MicroWorlds Teaching Notes, Examples & Links:

Introduction to Turtle Graphics

My Microworlds Logo Notes

The Official MicroWorlds user manual

Example LCSI MicroWorlds Projects

MicroWorlds Logo Links & Examples


Appendix 4 2004 Student Projects

Group 1 - The Butterfly Life Cycle

MicroWorlds Project - The Butterfly Life Cycle

The Butterfly Life Cycle - 75% scale reduction.


MicroWorlds Project - Butterlfy Life Cycle with tech boxes displayed

The Butterfly Life Cycle - Showing all text boxes - 75% scale reduction.

MicroWorlds Project - The Butterfly Life Cycle - mixed

The Butterfly Life Cycle - Mixed - 75% scale reduction.


Table 3. Group 1 Student Project - The Butterfly Life Cycle


Group 2 - Ordering Corners

Shapes - Mixed - 75% scale reduction.

Shapes - Checked - 75% scale reduction.

Table 4. Group 2 Student Project


Group 3 - Ordering Size

MicroWorlds Project - Ordering Shapes - mixed

Ordering Size - 75% scale reduction.


Ordering Size - Checked - 75% scale reduction.


Table 5. Group 3 Student Project

Group 4 - Maths Sentence

Maths Sentence - Reset - 75% scale reduction.

Maths Sentence - After animation - 75% scale reduction.

Table 6. Group 4 Student Project





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APA Citation:
Russell, R. (2004, August 20). TK 423 written critique - Microworlds team project
     Retrieved [insert month day, year], from