The concrete example concerned Astronomy. Andy made a larger point about software and its context: It is important to build tools that are appropriate to cultures and work in rich and constant interaction with these cultures. Software development should involve not only software developers, but also teachers and students, working in an organic, continuous, extended community.
One notable presentation was "I Beg Your Pardon, Turtles: Don't Forget About Data Structures" by Ivan Kalas of Slovakia, in which he focused on the role of data structures in Logo. He offered an approach that makes this topic a natural component of mid-level Logo activities and bridges the gap between turtle geometry and Logo data structures. The author's appeal is that Logo data structures are an important, natural, and inevitable part of many Logo creative activities and they have been, and can be made more accessible to Logo learners.
In "Contextualizing Continuous Education in Logo via Internet" José Valente of Brazil presented an Internet-based alternative to the traditional Logo courses for teachers. He describes an experiment using a contextualized constructionist approach to Logo teachers' education done via Internet. This has created an ongoing education process by which the teachers are able to debug and improve the process of integrating Logo in their classroom activities.
Celia Hoyles and Richard Noss presented their plenary lecture, "Clashing Cultures," very attractively via role-playing. It was built on a real story of Logo in a school and traced the evolution of the school's original goals for Logo work as it became integrated into the school's practices. One of the morals of this story is that one should not expect to see only the school changing when Logo becomes part of its practices, but Logo itself is a subject to change. The story was viewed as a clash of cultures between Logo and the school.
The culmination of EUROLOGO'97 was the final panel discussion centered on the question: "What is Logo special case of?" It pictured the general and multifaceted nature of Logo. Opinions varied:
Thanks to the effort of the organizers it was a wonderful conference. Bulgaria was chosen as the site for EUROLOGO'99 and Austria for EUROLOGO'2001.
Iliana Nikolova is Chief Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Technologies of the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics at the University of Sofia. She may be contacted at:
This article is based on the keynote speech I gave at Logosium '97 in Seattle on June 29, 1997. Since I edited my notes somewhat later, I have included additional thoughts and information.
Logo has been around for 30 years. It has not taken the world by storm. It has not gone away. On the one hand, simply surviving for three decades in the fad-frenzied world of educational technology should be considered success. But those of us who had hopes that Logo would spearhead a major change in education are naturally disappointed.
Where are we and where are we going? Most people haven't even heard of Logo. Those people who know about it often have a view that is stuck back in the early 1980s. "Oh, it's that turtle thing, isn't it?" What can we tell those folks? What's new with Logo?
If we use "that turtle thing" as a starting point, quite a bit is new. The turtle is alive and well, living in a modern Windows or Macintosh milieu. In early Logo environments everything was accomplished by typing instructions. In today's classic Logos this is still the case for the most part, but the mechanics of saving and editing may be accomplished by pointing and clicking.
Some microcomputers of the early 1980s - Atari, TI99/4, MSX - had hardware that made them well suited for video games. Versions of Logo for those machines had "Sprites," turtles that could move around at high speed, assume a variety of shapes, and were ideal for creating animation and games. But this environment set up expectations that could not be met. With many turtles it is natural to create a story or a game with many characters, each doing something different. But there could be only one program running at a time. If you wanted the horse to gallop while the bird flew, you'd have to write a procedure that told the horse to take a step, then told the bird to move its wings up, then the horse to take another step, then the bird to move its wings down...
The more natural way to think about and program this scene is to write one procedure to make the horse gallop and another to make the bird fly. Each of these independent programs could run alone or both could run at the same time. This is now possible with MicroWorlds. This parallelism, or multitasking, is arguably the most significant change in the Logo programming language since it was first implemented in 1967.
StarLogo carries multitasking much further. Where MicroWorlds can handle up to about 20 processes simultaneously, the "massively parallel" StarLogo can run thousands.
Another important shift over the years has been the inclusion of non-Logo components in some Logo environments. This began in 1986 with LogoWriter. Text could be typed directly on the screen without using a PRINT command. Turtles could be moved using arrow keys as well as with Logo instructions.
Some recent versions of Logo have gone much further. MicroWorlds, Comenius Logo, and MultiLogo among others include drawing tools and shape editors. In LogoWriter all the text manipulations and turtle moves had direct Logo counterparts. While it is theoretically possible to use turtle graphics to do anything that can be done with drawing tools, it would be extremely difficult to duplicate most of the designs that people produce quickly and easily with those tools.
These "impure" Logo environments are controversial. Some people feel that drawing tools and multimedia features detract from Logo. They feel that learners won't want to program, and in particular, won't want to use turtle graphics. I don't find this to be the case. The new features in many modern Logo environments support a wider range of projects and accommodate people with many different interests and styles of working and learning. Students who were introduced to Logo through animation still approach turtle graphics with enthusiasm when they find out, to their surprise, that the turtle can also draw. The geometric patterns and recursive designs that have always been part of the Logo culture are still engaging. (But nobody draws a house anymore.)
For the most part interactions with Logo involve typing on a keyboard and looking at a screen. Over the years there have been other input and output devices - button boxes, switches, sensors, sound generators, and a variety of robotic interfaces. But it was the combination of LEGO and Logo, developed at MIT, that brought Logo out of the computer for a great number of people.
The first commercial LEGO Logo product was LEGO TC Logo, a version of LogoWriter that could interact through wires with the motors, lights, and sensors that were part of machines built of LEGO elements. Control Lab, the second-generation product from LEGO, is built on the same underlying software as MicroWorlds, therefore also including its multitasking features.
The current research takes Logo robotics another step further. Instead of wiring machines to the computer, computers are built into the machines. The Programmable Brick is small enough to hold in one's hand, yet contains batteries, a computer, and a small LCD display. It has connectors for sensors, motors, and lights, and may be incorporated into a larger device. It is connected to a larger computer in order to receive its program. But then it is disconnected and on its own. A more recent innovation is the even smaller Cricket, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
LEGO Logo is one example of a broader Logo trend toward specialization. In the early 1980s there were a few general-purpose versions of Logo. This is still true for the most part, but some versions are designed with specific uses in mind and are enhanced to support those uses. StarLogo was intended especially for the exploration of decentralized phenomena, such as the behavior of a traffic jam or a termite colony.
LogoGrafico is a general purpose Logo, but is especially well designed for simulations of motion. For example, there are built in features that cause turtles to rebound appropriately when they collide. These primitives could instead be written in Logo, but to do so would make the response unacceptably slow.
If Logo has been growing and improving over the years, why don't we have a more prominent place in the world of educational technology? Why are there only 50 people at Logosium today out of 5,000 who are here in Seattle attending NECC?
In 1981 Seymour Papert's Mindstorms1 was published. This book excited tens of thousands of teachers about the potential of Logo. Papert talks about learning, yet there is a noisy silence when it comes to schools. As an alternative model of a learning environment he describes the Brazilian Samba Schools, which are not schools at all. They are social clubs in which much time is spent preparing elaborate pageants for Carnival. These interdisciplinary events include story telling, dancing, singing, and costume design. In the preparation and rehearsals, people of all ages, novices and experts, work and learn together in an informal atmosphere.
If the Samba School represents an idealized Logo-like learning environment, then we should not be surprised that Logo does not thrive in schools. It is like snow in Tahiti. School activities are not rooted in culture, but are curriculum driven. Time constraints and age segregation place enormous obstacles in the way of learning.
A dozen years after Mindstorms, in The Children's Machine2, Papert chronicled schools' encounter with Logo and other innovative uses of computers. He likens the reaction to the body's immune response to an invading micro-organism. We should not have been surprised.
But the invaders have not been destroyed. Rather, we have established a firm parasitic, in some cases even symbiotic, presence in schools. In some classrooms and computer rooms Logo thrives. In some schools, districts, and even an entire country - Costa Rica - there is strong administrative support for Logo and for constructionist learning.
But these oases are the exception, not the rule, and Logo is more at home at the margins of school - in after-school and summer programs where there is more time and flexibility, and less curriculum.
Are we destined to always be on the periphery of educational systems that rest on ideas that are fundamentally different from ours? Not necessarily. Schools may change. New learning environments may become more important.
The alternative schools movement carries a disparate collection of educational ideas. While most of these schools are conservative, in diversity there is a place for progressive education. Like-minded teachers and parents can come together to form schools in which constructionism is a central theme. Parents who don't send their children to school form a similarly eclectic and largely traditional group, but there are a significant number of home-schoolers who embrace progressive ideas and use Logo.
Logo has also found its way into a variety of nonschool settings: an auto parts factory3 , a bank4 , a Job Corps Center5 , a number of children's museums and community centers. Like schools, most factories and banks are quite rigid, but we should plant seeds wherever we can. Some may grow in unlikely places.
Last October I gave the keynote address at the Congreso Internacional de Informatica Educativa in Buenos Aires. At the end I took questions from the audience: "What is like Logo?" I had no ready answer at that moment. There are a number of ways to think about it. The question is important because it helps us think about groups with which we can form alliances to further constructionist learning.
One approach is to think of other software that is like Logo. In some sense this includes all programming languages, but most are used for, and designed to facilitate, reaching well defined goals, not for open ended exploration or an emergent style of project development. Word processors, spreadsheets, KidPix, Widget Workshop, Hollywood, My Make Believe Castle, Hypercard, and HyperStudio are all like Logo in that they are used to design and create something; the last two even include programming languages. This grouping may be too broad to be useful, but all of these applications, and Logo, are on one side of a major division in educational technology. On the other side we find the disintegrated learning systems of Jostens and CCC, and the miseducational games that clutter many school computer rooms and the shelves of consumer software outlets.
But let's look beyond software and computers. Logo is like LEGO. Now there's a case where a solid alliance has been formed! Logo is also like kindergarten blocks, open education, and whole language. Logo projects are like other interdisciplinary projects. We share evaluation methods with those who use portfolio assessment rather than tests and grades. For the most part we have not formed alliances with our fellow progressive educators. We need to give serious thought to why this has not happened and how we can move in that direction.
Let's also look at learning outside of school. Logo is like "kitchen math"6 used every day by cooks who don't think of themselves as being good at math, or the "home science" of hunters, gardeners, and home aquarium keepers. 7
How can we make connections with people who implicitly share our approach to learning? What does Logo have to do with cooking? So far these connections have not been made, but there are two trends that could set the stage for a major change. First, computers are becoming commonplace home appliances. Second, Logo has been coming out of the computer. Someone who carefully monitors and adjusts the water chemistry and temperature of an aquarium might find a programmable brick quite useful. And wouldn't it be an improvement to be able to program your microwave oven, not to mention your VCR, in Logo? These are just off-hand suggestions that will no doubt seem silly and primitive compared to what people will actually do as they bring programmable devices into their day to day lives.
I have to say something about the Internet because these days you can't give a speech about educational technology without talking about how the Internet will change everything. As time goes on it may very well change education in fundamental ways, but so far it is changing the way we shop much more than the way we learn.
But for Logo people the Internet is very important right now. We are a small community, yet we are scattered all over the world. Logo learning, like all learning, occurs in a social context. If one is isolated it is hard to carry on. The Internet gives us a way to work together no matter where we are. Recently there were a number of people spread over five continents, who used Logo-L, the Logo listserve8 , to share recursive turtle graphics designs. They presented each other with challenges, showed off their creations, and helped each other debug programs, just as if they had been in the same room. Every day there are people sharing ideas and projects, seeking help and getting it. The StarLogo users group provides the same kind of community building for that group of Logo users.
The last question I was asked at the conference in Argentina was: "In the future, what will replace Logo?" This one really took me by surprise. But the answer now seems obvious: Continuing the story of the past 30 years, a yet-to-be-imagined Logo will replace Logo.
1 Papert, Seymour, Mindstorms, Basic Books, New York, 1981
2 Papert, Seymour, The Children's Machine, Basic Books, New York, 1993
3 Valente, José Armando, "LEGO Logo in a Lean Factory," Logo Update, Vol. 5 No. 2, Winter 1997
4 Hoyles, Celia and Noss, Richard, "Understanding the Mathematics of Banking," Logo Update, Vol. 5 No.1, Fall 1996
5 Allen, Laura, "Constructionism Meets the Job Corps," Logo Update, Vol. 5 No. 3, Spring 1997
6 Papert, Seymour, The Children's Machine, Basic Books, New York, 1993, pp. 113 - 116
7 Gould , Stephen Jay, "Drink Deep, or Taste Not the Pierian Spring," Natural History, Vol. 106 No.8, September 1997
8 Logo-L is a discussion group sponsored by the Logo Foundation and the Global SchoolNet Foundation.
Michael Tempel is President of the Logo Foundation.
He may be contacted at:
250 West 85th Street
New York NY 10024
With the growth the Internet the Logo community has an expanded forum for exchange and collaboration. The number of World Wide Web sites with Logo resources and information has been growing rapidly over the past few months and Logo discussion groups are thriving.
The Logo Foundation Web site includes information about software, books, and workshops. There are papers on Logo theory, research, and practice, and back issues of Logo Update, which may be downloaded for free. There is also a page of Links to more than 50 other Logo sites &endash; the most complete listing of Logo sites on the Web. (Rather than link to dozens of sites in the text that follows, we've kept this page uncluttered. Just go to the Logo Foundation Links page and you'll find all the sites referred to below, plus more.)
There are sources of commercial Logo software: Logo Computer Systems (LCSI), Terrapin Software, Softsparks, Logotron, and Logo Japan. Comenius Logo is represented by several sites for the various versions of this software that have been implemented in a number of spoken languages. There are also links to sources of free Logo software including UCBLogo, MSWLogo, and StarLogo.
The LCSI site includes a collection of MicroWorlds projects that may be downloaded or viewed interactively using a "Web Player" for your Internet browser. This Plug-in, currently only for Windows95, may be downloaded for free from LCSI's site.
The Epistemology and Learning Group at the MIT Media Lab is in the forefront of Logo research and development. At this site you'll find reports about current projects including the Programmable Brick and StarLogo. Other organizations carrying on Logo projects include the Omar Dengo Foundation in Costa Rica, and the University of Sofia in Bulgaria, home of VALUE, the Virtual Almanac for Logo Users and Educators. There is 'Ndahoo"ahh, a project for concurrently developing and linking the skills of traditional Navajo crafts and computer programming. It includes images and procedures for textile designs programmed in Logo.
Several Schools have Web sites where students present their work. Caulfield North Primary School and John Paul College in Australia share their MicroWorlds projects. The Blake School in Minnesota and Vina Danks Middle School in southern California show us their LEGO Logo creations.
Many personal Web pages contain Logo materials and sample projects that teachers will find useful as sources of ideas and practical classroom activities. Yehuda Katz has built a college course around recursive turtle graphics designs. Chuc Smith and his family have a Web site with plenty of ideas for teaching and learning Logo. John St. Clair offers us the Logo handouts he uses with his middle school students. Frank Caggiano has a collection of MicroWorlds projects that may be viewed interactively using LCSI's Web Player.
The list is always growing and changing, so check the Logo Foundation Links page frequently. We'll do our best to keep it up to date and complete.
There have been Logo discussion groups on the Internet for many years; Compuserve's Logo Forum and the UseNet group comp.lang.logo to mention two of the more prominent ones.
For the past three years, the Global SchoolNet Foundation and the Logo Foundation have sponsored a listserve called Logo-L, with John St. Clair and Michael Tempel as moderators. A listserve is essentially a mailing list. When you send mail to Logo-L@gsn.org you are sending the message to about 300 people from all over the world who subscribe to the group. They receive the messages as part of their regular email.
The exchanges are varied. Sometimes there will be a heated political debate or a discussion of educational theory that may go on for a few weeks. People share programs and present challenges. For several weeks there was a collaborative group project on recursive graphics designs.
Experienced Logo users as well as novices ask technical questions, and generally get many answers. Brian Harvey, the creator of UCBLogo, and MSWLogo author George Mills are members of the group. So are the technical support people at LCSI and Terrapin. Users of those versions of Logo have a direct lines to excellent sources of help and they are providing input that the developers may use when updating their Logo software.
All the Logo-L messages from August 1995 to the present are preserved in an archive. This archive is open to anyone. You do not have to be member of the group to access it.
To join Logo-L send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. The body of the message should have just one line:
There is also a "digest" version of the list, which combines all the day's messages &endash; sometimes numbering a dozen or more &endash; into one daily composite message. Some people prefer this since it results in fewer messages and clearly separates the Logo-L message from the rest of their mail.
To receive the messages in digest form your email message to email@example.com should be
All you need to join is an Internet email account. It's free.
Note (Ocotber 16, 200): The information about Logo-L is obsolete. Click here for current information about this group
Another Logo listserve is for the growing community of StarLogo users. When you download StarLogo from the MIT Web site mentioned earlier in this article, you may also join the listserve firstname.lastname@example.org.