Multimedia Learning Environments Designed with Organizing Principles from Non-School Settings

  • Christina L. Allen
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 84)


Learning organized by participants in activities outside of schooling is often uncommonly successful. In this chapter, research is described from the MultiMedia Works after-school club for underserved middle-school students from a multicultural community. The design of the club is guided by results of studies of non-school learning from anthropology and sociolinguistics, which are integrated for the purpose of identifying organizing principles important for engaging and sustaining successful learning. The club is modelled on properties of successful learning, and its activities include the use of state-of-the-art computer tools designed to exploit special properties of multimedia representations that foster conversation, representation and socially-focused learning. I contrast the organization of learning in the club to that found in traditional classrooms, and to conceptions of learning found in current developmental psychology theory. I conclude with characterizations of the successful dimensions of the activity for learners and their implications for the design of learning environments.


Authentic activity after-school club multimedia 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Allen, C. L. (in press). Reciprocal evolution: A design and research strategy for the development and integration of basic research, design, and studies of work practices. In D. Schuler (Ed.), Participatory design. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Anderson, J. R. (1982). Acquisition of cognitive skill. Psychological Review, 59, 396–406.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Chipman, S. F., Segal, J. W., & Glaser, R. (1985). (Eds.). Thinking and learning skills (Vol. 1 & 2 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Conklin, H. (1949). Bamboo literacy on Mindora. Pacific Discovery. 3, 4–11.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gilmore, P. (1986). Sub-Rosa literacy: Peers, play and ownership in literacy acquisition. In P. Gilmore & B. Schieffelin (Eds.), Acquisition of literacy: Ethnographic perspectives (pp. 155–168 ). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics and culture in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (in press). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    McPhee, C. (1955). Children and music in Bali. In M. Mead & M. Wolfenstein (Eds.), Childhood in contemporary culture (pp. 70–98 ) Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mugny, G., Perret-Clermont, A. N., & Doise, W. (1981). Interpersonal coordinations and social differences in the construction of the intellect In G. M. Stephenson & J. M. Davis (Eds.), Progress in Applied Psychology (Vol. 1 ). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Murray, F. B. (1982). Teaching through social conflict. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 7, 257–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pea, R. D. (in press). MultiMedia Works: Student learning through multimedia tools. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pea, R. D., & Sheingold, K. (1987). (Eds.). Mirrors of mind: Patterns of experience in educational computing. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Piaget, J., & Inhelder, B. (1969). The psychology of the child. New York, NY: Basic Books, Inc.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Rogoff, B., & Wertsch, J. V. (1984). (Eds.). Children’s learning in the “zone of proximal development”. New directions for child development, no. 23. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Saxe, G. B. (1990). Culture and cognitive development: Studies in mathematical understanding. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Slavin, R. (1983). Cooperative learning. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Webb, N. (1982). Student interaction and learning in small groups. Review of Educational Research, 52, 421–445.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of the higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina L. Allen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Research on LearningPalo AltoUSA

Personalised recommendations