Constructivism

Introduction

In Constructivism the learner is at the centre of the learning experience and scaffolding is provided to assist the learner in gaining understanding. The learner is coaxed out of their comfort zone into the zone of proximal development, the middle ground between the learner’s knowledge and the lecturer’s knowledge (Tudge, 1992) .  Sense is made of new information by the learner constructing “models” themselves.

“A Good learning experience is one in which a student can master new knowledge and skills, critically examine assumptions and beliefs, and engage in an invigorating, collaborative quest for wisdom and personal, holistic development” (Eastmond and Ziegahn 1995, 59)

Putting it into pratice: How I use constructivism in the classroom.

One exercise is the creation of a hierarchical network design for third year networking students.

Before: Previously I had built a set of slides showing different network designs along with their advantages and disadvantage.  Most of the information was going in one direction – from me to the students.  Although theoretically students could learn about network design, it would be hard for some students to relate to without real world experience(Holton, 2009).

After: Rather than just hand them out the ideal design I give them some minimal requirements (Frezzo & Adviser-Blaine, 2009) and ask them to build a network while keeping certain considerations in mind such as reliability and scalability.  I get them to go online and look for suitable models and note the prices of equipment.  Once they have constructed their shopping list and built their network I then put a few student submissions on the screen.  Similar to Smith and Bluck (2010) I then get the class to talk through the good points and bad points of the design (always starting with the good points)  Students are therefore able to see the logic behind other designs and borrow bits to complete or improve their own.  If there is a critical point that has been missed by everybody e.g. security, then I will step in and ask questions to lead them in the right direction.

References:

Eastmond, D., & Ziegahn, L. (1995). Instructional design for the online classroom. Computer mediated communication and the online classroom, 3, 59-80.

Frezzo, D. C., & Adviser-Blaine, D. D. (2009). Using activity theory to understand the role of a simulation-based interactive learning environment in a computer networking course. University of Hawai’i.

Holton, D. 2009. “All about constructivism” Learning Sciences and Educational Technology Group (LSET; online at http://tinyurl.com/mbmpqf

http://infed.org/mobi/jerome-bruner-and-the-process-of-education/

Smith, A., & Bluck, C. (2010). Multiuser collaborative practical learning using packet tracer.

Tudge, J. (1992). Vygotsky, the zone of proximal development, and peer collaboration: Implications for classroom practice.

Building knowledge: constructivism in learning http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F00R3pOXzuk&feature=player_embedded

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All my material from my MSc in Applied E-Learning

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