Constructionism and Technology

Constructionism and Technology

According to Dr. Michael Orey, constructionism is a “theory of learning that states people learn best when they build an external artifact or something they can share with others.”  (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011)  In other words, students learn best with hands-on activities and creating a product that is meant to show their
understanding of the content material.  Students should have a first-hand experience with the material in order for learning to be meaningful, engaging, and relevant.  With this strategy, learners create ideas rather than get them from someone or somewhere else.  (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001, p. 5)  Constructionist strategies work well with
generating and testing hypotheses with students.  This can create a classroom where students are fully immersed with the content and becoming active learners, leading to
greater success both in and out of the classroom in the future.

 

There are a wide variety of technology tools that teachers can use in their classrooms to support constructionist styles of learning and teaching.  One of these tools is spreadsheet software.  Students can use a spreadsheet made by their teacher ahead of time to learn the content through an analysis of changes made over time.  I think this will be a great tool to use with my Government students when we begin playing the Stock Market Game in the second half of the third quarter.  Students will be able to learn the importance of investing money and the advantage of buying and selling stocks by tracking their success week by week within a spreadsheet.  By inputting their data into the sheet based on their transactions, students will hopefully see a trend in their data, leading to either a change in their decisions to buy or sell stock, or they will see the success they are having and continue employing those same strategies to earn money.  They can then turn their spreadsheets into graphs that will be shared with the class along with their analysis of how the stock market works and the pros and cons of investing money.

Another great technology tool to use are various web resources.  Students can use gaming software to develop a hypothesis and test it through the playing of the game.  This will allow the students to reflect on their own learning throughout the game as well as after the game has been played.  When my eighth grade students were learning about the settlement at Jamestown, they played an interactive game online that had them make similar decisions about creating their own settlement much like the English did when they came to North America in 1607.  Some of the decisions students had to make related to where they would settle, how they would use the land, how they would interact with Native Americans, and what types of jobs the people would work while at Jamestown.  In the end, the students received a progress report as to the outcome of their decisions.  They then had to reflect on their experience and its relationship to the actual events of the settlement of Jamestown.  Through this activity, the students were highly motivated to make the “best” decisions in order for their settlement to be a success.  They were engaged with their learning and came to understand how Jamestown
succeeded.

 

In thinking about my own teaching, I realized that I use constructionist strategies frequently.  I have always thought that learning should be relevant and interactive so that the students would be able to grasp the information better.  Now that technology is prevalent in our schools and in our daily lives more than ever before, there are many more opportunities for teachers to use these strategies with their students to prepare them for the 21st century workforce.

 

 

References:

Laureate Education, Inc.  (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories.  [Video webcast].  Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology.  Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn CourseID=6289937&Survey=1&47=8834938&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1

 

Han, S., and Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved January 25, 2012 from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Constructionism,_Learning_by_Design,_and_Project_Based_Learning.

 

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works.  Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Constructionism and Technology

  1. Aimee,

    I enjoyed reading how you connected the experimentation aspect of constructionism. It seems like a way for the kids to “get their hands dirty” without fear of failure. They can bomb in the Stock Market game, but not be harmed since no money was actually involved. They can learn from their mistakes in a real world situation without facing real world consequences.

    T.J.

  2. Hi, Aimee–
    The stock market game is an amazing tool—I’ll bet your students love it, and learn a lot from it. Combining it with lessons in Excel is a brilliant move, as well—that gives students a way to visualize the results of their experiments. The Jamestown game sounds cool, too. Nice post!

  3. T.J.,

    I have attended two training sessions on implementing the Stock Market Game in the classroom, and I have left each training session more excited to implement it! I cannot wait for the students to be able to experience the thrills and frustrations of money managment through this activity. I cannot think of a more appropriate, hands-on learning experience for financial literacy!

    Aimee

  4. Susan,

    Thank you for the response! This year was the first year I had implemented the Jamestown game with my students through this format. I had actually used it as a test for the students to make sure they understood the necessary skills and actions that were needed in order for Jamestown to survive. They did very well with the activity and even responded that they were able to understand the material better through this game. I am hoping that the Stock Market game goes as well as that experience!

    Aimee

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