Learning Theories and Technology

Mind Map of Learning Theories

Out of all the learning theories I have seen so far, Constructivism makes the most sense to me.  Constructivism acknowledges that students learn best when they are active and engaged in their learning, and goes a step farther and allows learning to be about creativity and discovery.  Teaching with this approach (and doing it well) is a great way of empowering students to become life-long, self-motivated learners.  In classrooms full of diverse learning styles and needs, students would be able to either play to their strengths or to build up areas where they are not so strong.  Pushing students to work outside of their comfort zones, letting them make mistakes and hit stumbling blocks and figure it out on their own, teaches them to be reflective about how they think and builds stronger characters.  While I think gaining knowledge and information is a good thing (I wouldn’t go so far as the connectivists and suggest that having knowledge is redundant when it’s all there for you on the internet) ultimately I hope that my students learn resiliency above all else.  Resiliency is the ability to recover, to bounce back from failure and confusion.  Individuals who are resilient don’t get disheartened; they know that they can figure anything out if they just find the right way to go about it.  They become creative, they ask for help, or they backtrack and start over.  Resiliency is the best skill we can teach to students, but there’s no way of teaching it directly.  It comes from a lifetime of failing and succeeding.  Students need to be prompted to try a little harder, delve a little deeper, and think a little differently— if left to their own devices, most students would never hazard a risk at school.  They’ll certainly never stick their necks out if all that is asked of them is regurgitation of information (behaviourism and cognitivism) and cursory understanding (I think this is a pitfall of connectivism).  Students, myself included, learn best when we are given the chance to grapple with something big and important, and when we are mostly left to figure it out on our own.  This is when learning is most meaningful.  This is when learning provides personal growth, not just checkmarks on a list of AlbertaEducation outcomes.

Teachers can and should use technology in a constructivist approach.  When students are doing independent research, the internet is the first place they will naturally go to–teachers can seize this as an opportunity to help students navigate their media environment.  Students can use technology to present their findings (ePortfolio, blog, youtube, etc).  Teachers can use technology to compile student work (say, the class is split into groups and each group is tasked with becoming experts in one part of what the whole class is doing) and share it with other students.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: 13 E-learning theories | My Mind Bursts

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