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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.
"But being connected isn’t just for socializing; it’s a life skill. When untrained students get online, they treat academic writing online as if it were social media. They write sloppily and don't think of hyperlinking. If they do, it is often a long pasted link instead of a contextual link. In this connected world, there are invisibly disconnected kids, disconnected from the knowledge they need to be successful."
Project-Based Learning is a method of giving learners access to curriculum in authentic ways that promote collaboration, design, imagination, and innovation while also allowing for more natural integration of digital and social media.
"The This Is Me project looked at ways of helping people to learn more about what makes up their Digital Identity (DI) and at ways of developing and enhancing it. “Digital Identity” is made up of multiple parts – it isn’t just what we have published about ourself on the web, but also includes things other people have published about us.
The JISC funded Digitally Ready project, part of the Developing Digital Literacies programme has enabled us to further the work done on the Eduserv funded This Is Me project."
"I spent the last two days working with teachers in Grande Prairie, Alberta. One of the activities that we did yesterday was develop our own Google Search challenge activities. We used the basic model of the Google a Day Challenges combined with some of the obfuscation methods that Daniel Russell uses in his weekly search challenges. I've outlined the basic process below."
How can we help today’s ‘digitally literate’ learners critically evaluate online sources?
I remember being asked by a Music Technologies tutor at an FE college to deliver a session to his learners about how to search and evaluate information online effectively, only to be greeted by the refrain “We told our teacher we don’t need you here!”
Naturally, I was a little disheartened initially, but when we started to explore the topic I realised that the learners had only really begun to scratch the surface of an area in which we are all constantly learning...