Paper Turing Machine (ICALT 2011)


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Programming Turing Machines as a Game for Technology Sense-Making

To gain a better understanding of the process through which technology users become technology creators, we designed a paper-based, tangible Turing Machine and introduced it to 54 teenage students. The information collected through tinkering tasks and a questionnaire is discussed both via statistics and qualitative analysis. This initial study suggests that simple paper tangibles and tinkering have a place in future, technology-enhanced learning, and that central technological concepts can be discussed on the basis of low-cost tabletop-like games. We also notice a general interest in the historical development of technologies, that seems to enhance motivation and participation.

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Paper Turing Machine (ICALT 2011)

  1. 1. Programming Turing Machines as a game for technology sense-makingAndrea Valente Emanuela MarchettiDepartment of Architecture, Design Institute for Learning and Philosophyand Media Technology Aalborg University Esbjerg, ema@create.aau.dk
  2. 2. Our goal● Observe transition from (technology) user to creator ● How do users (and creators) make sense of their technology? Differences? Perception of self?● How? ● as a game ? ● by programming (but how?) ● ask/observe circa sense-making● Who? ● pre-university students
  3. 3. Paper Turing MachinesProgramming, but...- tangible- symbols are all that counts- program is a card- manual execution
  4. 4. Test (and demo)● Lets see what we did... and you can participate too!1) presentation of computation and computing machines Hilberts decision problems as motivation for TMs2) play/program, by solving given tasks, with a tangible TM● ... demo ...● Method: observation, then questionnaires
  5. 5. DEMO Invert and       if write move jumpTo if write move jumpTo TASK Design and test a TM for this if write problem. move jumpTo Consider: input = 1101 in binary, output = 0010
  6. 6. 54/41 = test/questionnaire Quantitative Girls/Boys Prog/Never Tech/Hum Red/Struct/Emp
  7. 7. Red/Struct/Emp● Actual question asked:● You are studing a complex thing (example: the human brain). Your position is: 1) all I need to do is to study very well the components (example: neurons) 2) the most important thing is the interaction among components 3) no matter what I do, I will only get a partial understanding● Definitions:● Reductionism ... analyzing and describing a complex phenomenon ... in terms of phenomena that are held to represent a simpler or more fundamental level [google dictionary]● Structuralism ... focuses on relationships of contrast between elements in a conceptual system [google dictionary]● Empiricists assume obtaining a complete knowledge of the world is not possible, but fortunately it is also not needed in order to predict and even control the behavior of complex phenomena [Gödel, Escher and Bach]
  8. 8. Quantitative Tech Hum HumBlank Blank Prog NeverProg TechProg in % 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100Never Tech HumNone Hum None Reduct StructRed Tech Empiric in %Struct 0 10 20 30 40 50 60Emp
  9. 9. QualitativeObservations:● Tinkering helps – low-fi can works just fine!● For some, easier to alter the formalism (creative/cheating)● Curiosity, pride, positive response to challenge● Social interaction: coaching/leading emerged in groups● History matters ● Babbage, Hilbert and Turing● Elicitation of discussion by Sydney Padua
  10. 10. Conclusions and future work● In just 2 hours the visiting students learned about TMs, decision problems, and could work with programming tasks.● Technically inclined individuals tend to agree with reductionist positions and are more likely to have experienced programming before university.● Humanities inclined students instead are more frequently empiricists and might find technical subjects more attracting if historically contextualized.● Technical skills like programming, which originated from rationalism might appeal more naturally to reductionist individuals.● Historical grounding interests all and possibly motivates also HUMs.● Digital immigrants (me), digital natives (my daughter)... digital authors? (script kid)● New tasks and a more playful PTM is under development (turn-based!)
  11. 11.      Inv if write  move jumpTo Inv if  write move    SOLUTION jumpTo Inv if  write       move jumpTo F             Finish
  12. 12. Article● Programming Turing Machines as a Game for Technology Sense-Making abs.html