Digital Technology for Conviviality:

Making the Most of Students' Energy and Imagination in Learning Environments.

Arnan Sipitakiat

Submitted to the Program in Media Arts and Sciences,
School of Architecture and Planning in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 August 2001

Thesis Advisors:

  • Seymour Papert
    Professor of Education and Media Technology MIT Media Laboratory
  • Glorianna Davenport
    Principal Research Associate, Interactive Cinema Group MIT Media Laboratory
  • David P. Cavallo
    Research Scientist, The Future of Learning Group MIT Media Laboratory


This thesis contributes to the body of research on constructionist philosophy. It expands the conceptual framework to a broader scale by linking constructionism to Ivan Illich’s notion of conviviality. An emphasis on developing convivial learning environments has been made. The learning activities were developed with a special highlight on the idea of emergent design. The emphasis on conviviality and emergent design allowed a systematic and theorized framework to identify and discuss the pattern in the developmental process of learning activities, which is an area in the constructionist framework that needs more study. I gave special emphasis on learning activities that involve tool construction. I show how the making of tools could strengthen conviviality. I present a concept of dynamic equilibrium that allows different methods of learning and teaching to intertwine. I present a case study based on a five-week fieldwork conducted at a rural school of northern Thailand.

Download the thesis.