The culmination of my quest for more powerful learning grounded in theory and research came when recently I conducted an experiment in pushing constructionism into the digital age.
Constructionism is based on two types of construction. First, it asserts that learning is an active process, in which people actively construct knowledge from their experience in the world. People don’t get ideas; they make them. This aspect of construction comes from the constructivist theory of knowledge development by Jean Piaget. To Piaget’s concept, Papert added another type of construction, arguing that people construct new knowledge with particular effectiveness when they are engaged in constructing personally meaningful products.
Imagine my surprise and joy when I realized that I had arrived at constructionism prior to knowing that such a theory even existed. I believe that thousands of other educators are unknowingly working within the constructionist paradigm as well. Although many within the Maker movement are aware that it has it’s roots in constructionism, the movement is gaining impressive momentum without the majority of Makers realizing that there is a strong theoretical foundation behind their work.
After I came to understand this connection between my practices and the supporting theoretical framework I was better able to focus and refine my practice. Even more importantly, I felt more confident and powerful in forging ahead with further experiments in the learning situations I design for my learners.
Bottom Line: Online courses and degrees offer immense potential for increasing college access, decreasing the cost of education, and providing expanded options for learning. Still, overcoming the public's views on technology could be difficult. For instance, despite lots of media and industry buzz about the personalized nature of online instruction, Americans still view traditional, classroom-based education as better tailored to each individual.
The With the jury coming in on some of the first high-profile MOOC experiments – some successful, some not – the debate continues about whether MOOCs are good for society. This debate is often conflated
Darryl Poole's insight:
The important message here is that a new higher education model is needed/emerging. The old order passeth.
Traditional methods do not suit modern classrooms, expert says
Professor Fullan identifies them as the root of the problem. But he stresses that the new methods of teaching he describes take teachers beyond being “mere facilitators” to becoming “partners” who recognise the “importance of proactively learning alongside students”.
“Through such partnering, teachers not only become learners themselves, but also begin to see learning through the eyes of their students,” he writes.
“This ‘visibility’ is essential if teachers are to continuously challenge students to reach for the next step.”
The report acknowledges that many of the teaching strategies it describes have been “advocated for at least a century by the likes of Dewey, Piaget, Montessori and Vygotsky”.
But it says that today’s conditions means they are now being widely embraced: “
Through the combination of the ‘push’ of traditional schooling that fails to keep students or teachers engaged, and the ‘pull’ of new pedagogies unleashed through digital access, the transformation of education systems on a broad scale becomes not only possible, but inevitable.”
For the sake of discussion grant the possibility that the reported research is credible and that electronic devices do have some negative impact on brain function, then consider the implications of much increased usage among toddlers and younger children in recent years. Do the risks of exposure to damaging electromagnetic waves outweigh the benefits of early exposure to increased stimulation and information? And even if they do, is there any way to curb or control the adoption of personal technology?
This seems to me to miss the signicant point: the inclusive potential of the MOOC is much greater than what has been done by universities heretofore, and in itself that leads to a "real" difference in mass education, so this is not the same thing universities have been doing even if the delivery system looks the same.
Web platforms may one day catch up to traditional institutions like the Library of Congress in their ability to collect and organize millions of documents, according to an infographic by content curation platform Scoop.it.
Darryl Poole's insight:
Since the Renaissance "research" has relied on the old school information sources and the scientific/peer evaluation model we have used in the past centuries has relied on that body of knowledge to judge what we "know". The digitizing and democratizing of knowledge on web platforms will lead to, at the least, a revision of the methods of scientific model itself -- an instance of paradigm "creep" if not outright paradigm shift.
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