MOOSE Crossing:
Construction, Community, and Learning in a Networked Virtual World for Kids

PhD Dissertation
Amy Bruckman
MIT Media Lab
May 1997

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1. Introduction: MOOSE Crossing
1.1An Evening at The Crossing
1.2Construction and Community
1.3What is a MUD?
1.3.1MUD History
1.4Prior Work: MediaMOO
1.5The MOOSE Crossing Project
2.The Day After Net Day: Approaches to Educational Use of the Internet
2.1The Hype and the Reality
2.2Distance Education
2.3Information Retrieval
2.3.1Children Accessing Controversial Information
2.4Knowledge-Building Communities
2.4.1Global Science
2.4.3Professional Communities
2.4.4Real-Time Writing
2.5Technological Samba Schools
3. Designing Enabling Technologies: The MOOSE Language and the MacMOOSE Client
3.1The Need for a New Language
3.2The Design of the MOOSE Language
3.2.1A Gently-Sloping Learning Curve
3.2.2Intuitive Simplicity Versus Formal Elegance
3.2.3Be Forgiving
3.2.4Leveraging Natural-Language Knowledge
3.2.5Avoid Non-Alphanumeric Characters
3.2.6Make Essential Info Visible and Easily Changeable
3.2.7Itís OK to have Limited Functionality
3.2.8Hide Nasty Things Under the Bed
3.2.9A Design Philosophy
3.3The Need for a New Programming Environment
3.4The Design of the MacMOOSE Client
3.4.1A Tour of MacMOOSE
3.4.2Equal Access for Few Versus Unequal Access for Many
3.5Designing Empowering Technologies
4. Collaborative Learning Strategies: Stormís Weekend with Rachael
4.1Stormís Weekend with Rachael
4.2Friday: Diving In
4.3Saturday: Independent Progress
4.4Sunday: More Mutual Reinforcement
4.5Monday: Camaraderie Combats Frustration
4.6Tuesday: Collaboration
4.7Seven Months Later: Meeting Face to Face
4.8Conclusion: Integrating Technological and Social Contexts
5. Community Support for Construction
5.1Uziís Frustration
5.2Pilot Study: Programming for Fun
5.3"Did You Really Make This?": The Importance of Role Models
5.4Situated, Ubiquitous Project Models
5.5Emotional and Technical Support
5.6An Appreciative Audience
5.7Local Community and Online Community
5.8An Extended Example: Lady's First Script
6. Constructionist Culture
6.1A Felicitous Type of Community
6.2"Television Fans and Participatory Culture
6.3Objects of Construction
6.4Worlds Made by Their Inhabitants
6.5Sharing Scarce Resources
6.6Believing in Users
6.7Construction and Community
7. Conclusion: Constructionism and Virtual Communities
7.1Open Research Questions
7.1.1The Social Implications of Distributed Systems
7.1.2The Cognitive Implications of Graphical Media
7.1.3Gender, Technology, and Learning Styles
Appendix: Five Childrenís Creations