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“Brent Wilson (1995) implicitly classifies microworlds as a kind of learning environment, which is an “idea” expressed as follows:

Like the classroom metaphor, thinking of instruction as an environment gives emphasis to the “place” or “space” where learning occurs. At a minimum, a learning environment contains:

  • the learner;
  • a setting or “space” wherein the learner acts–using tools and devices, collecting and interpreting information, interacting perhaps with others, etc. This metaphor holds considerable potential because instructional designers like to think that effective instruction requires a degree of student initiative and choice. An environment wherein students are given room to explore, and determine goals and learning activities seems an attractive concept. Students who are given generous access to information resources– books, print and video materials, etc.–and tools–word-processing programs, e-mail, search tools, etc.–are likely to learn something if they are also given proper support and guidance. Under this conception, learning is fostered and supported, but not controlled or dictated in any strict fashion.

Microworlds emerged in the 1980’s together with pedagogical constructivism as defined by Wilson (1995) as:

  • a place where learners may work together and support each other
  • as they use a variety of tools and information resources
  • in their pursuit of learning goals and problem-solving activities.

Microwords continue to be developped in various forms. On major current debate focusses on the question of how much structure or scenarization is required in effectivelearning designs. See also Scaffolding and pedagogical scenariodiscovery learning vs. guided discovery learning.”