Charting the Digital Frontier: A Tribute to Seymour Papert’s Influence on Educational Computing and OPEN’s Journey

OPEN and our partner Small Solutions Big Ideas (SSBI) produced a tribute program to Professor Seymour Papert of MIT, one of the founding fathers/mothers of computers for learning. Seymour was a true visionary who mapped out the long tail future of computers for learning. His constructionism pedagogy to this day has not been fully realized, but we are getting closer. Piaget’s constructivism and Papert’s theory are complementary, with Piaget focusing more on what children are interested in and how their views evolve as they age and go through school and life learning experiences, while Papert focuses on the art of learning – learning to learn and the importance of students making things in learning. Computers and networks of today which OPEN runs with offer many options for realizing Professor Papert’s vision.

At the tribute session, many of Papert’s students, now professors at MIT Media Labs themselves, told delightful firsthand stories of Papert’s work and life, and his impact on technology in education. Mitchell Resnick inventor of Scratch language which built on Papert, Feurzeig, Bobrow and Cynthia Solomon Logo graphic programming language for children

(c 1966) spoke on the influences and legacy of Professor Papert’s work.

George Newman of OPEN, co-producer Sandra Thaxter of SSBI, and also STEM Researcher, Dr. Ronelus of NYC schools spoke of their work in education technology and applied learning in today’s global classrooms, truly extensions of Papert and his MIT colleagues’ work. Graham Nash of CSNY, songwriter of the classic song, Teach Your Children, offered a pre-recorded tribute to Seymour’s work on learning and play, and applied learning.