The Agent Repository -Supporting Collaborative Contextualized Learning with a Medium for Indirect Communication

Martin Frank Rausch
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Science Department of Computer Science


When building a simulation with Agentsheets and Visual AgenTalk designers are in a dialog with a model they construct. The dialog could be enriched if in addition to the designer¹s own constructions the simulation would also include foreign constructions. Sharing constructions is one way of facilitating Distributed Constructionism, a framework that was proposed by Mitchel Resnick. The ideas of Constructionism as introduced by Seymour Papert are combined with new interactive media to promote collaboration and co-construction in a distributed manner. To support Distributed Constructionism for educational purposes existing design environments like Agentsheets must be extended to support discussion, collaboration and sharing of constructions. With AgentShare and the Agent Repository an extension to Agentsheets is introduced that reduces the effort necessary to participate in a distributed design activity and enables users to benefit from the distributed knowledge base that a community of users represents. As Ian, one of our first test users at a middle school in Boulder, puts it: ³You could share it with about anyone else who has Agentsheets. You could get with some friends that you meet on the web even, and you could all make a game pretty much, and you would be in different parts of the worlds but you could work on it together.² And then Clay: ³Like a remote design..² The study that was performed at a Boulder middle school and in collaboration with a school in Los Angeles suggests that the facets of Distributed Constructionism can not be isolated and used separately. Discussion, direct collaboration and sharing address different aspects and phases of the learning process that is supported.