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Seymour Papert

Seymour Papert

Seymour Papert

People laughed at Seymour Papert in the sixties when he talked about children using computers as instruments for learning and enhancing creativity. The idea of an inexpensive personal computer was then science fiction. But Papert was conducting serious research in his capacity as a professor at MIT. This research led to many firsts. It was in his laboratory that children first had the chance to use the computer to write and to make graphics. The Logo programming language was created there, as were the first children’s toys with built-in computation. The Logo Foundation was created to inform people about Logo and to support them in their use of Logo-based software for learning and teaching.

Today Papert is considered the world’s foremost expert on how technology can provide new ways to learn. He has carried out educational projects on every continent, some of them in remote villages in developing countries. He is a participant in developing the most influential cutting-edge opportunities for children who participate in the digital world. He serves on the advisory boards for MaMaMedia Inc. (whose founder, Idit Harel, was once a doctoral student of his at MIT) and of the LEGO Mindstorms product line (which was named after Papert’s seminal book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas).

Papert lives in Maine, where he has founded a small laboratory called the Learning Barn to develop methods of learning that are far too ahead of the times for large-scale implementation. He has been named distinguished professor by the University of Maine and is credited with inspiring the first initiative aimed at giving a personal computer to every student of the state. He spends a large part of his time working in the Maine Youth Center in Portland, the state’s facility for teenagers convicted of serious offenses.

Papert’s contributions go beyond the field of education. He is a mathematician and is a cofounder with Marvin Minsky of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT and a founding faculty member of the MIT Media Lab, where he continues to work. Papert collaborated for many years with Jean Piaget at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

­—Courtesy of Papert.org

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