Constructivism critiques theories of learning that are deterministic and focus on the predictable learning of objective facts and principles. Constructivism instead focuses on the social nature of learning and recognizes the role of individual learners in shaping the knowledge that is learned. Constructivism is built on a foundation of free human striving for knowledge of the external world that is shaped by our internal thoughts, beliefs and prior knowledge. We see the world through our own individual lens, making knowledge subjective by definition. This theory acknowledges the important role we all play in shaping each other’s learning. It is much like critical pedagogy in that it does away with the idea that teachers have all the knowledge, which they impart to students like water filling an empty cup. Teachers and students learn from each other in this social model and there is no authority on knowledge. Through constructivism we build knowledge, together. Instead of just listening to lectures or memorizing information, constructivist education allows students to learn new information by connecting it with things that they have already learned through discussion and interaction with others. This allows learners to not only challenge what they already know, but also further develop their own ideas with feedback from others. Each individual learns in their own way and has something to contribute to learning about the world. Learning involves communication between peers, teachers and learners. As such, learning is always changing. Knowledge is dynamic, not static. This class really embodies a constructivist learning style because it involves social interaction of learners with their peers and the course instructor. We receive regular feedback on our thoughts from the course instructor, which helps us further develop our ideas. We have also engaged with our peers by introducing ourselves with a Toondoo comic, and posting in discussion groups, group chats, the class Wiki and Twitter. For example, this past week we posted a concept map on an issue and our peers gave us feedback through Twitter. This allowed us to connect what we already know about a topic with what we want to learn and what we have learned from our peers. In EM203 we express our individual opinions and learning styles, through activities like this assignment, where we can choose something that is relevant to us and share our unique viewpoint on it with others. We are treated as learning equals and encouraged to play an active role in our own learning. There are no lectures. Instead, we can learn and contribute whenever and wherever we want online. These features of constructivism fit with my personal learning style because I love bouncing ideas off of my peers and building on ideas with feedback from others. I think the best learning comes from communicating with a diverse group of individuals, because they all have their own viewpoints and experiences which can contribute to the construction of ideas and practices that take everybody’s needs into account. In this course, the instructor is particularly helpful, accessible through email and comments, and values our own subjective viewpoints. I often feel lost or not important in large lectures where a professor stands at the front, teaches from only one viewpoint and ignores what students can contribute to their own learning. Traditional theories of learning like behaviourism subordinate students as less active and powerful learners and can cause them to disengage with the material or struggle unnecessarily if they do not learn best from that particular way of sharing knowledge. I have personally left a lecture because I felt I could not engage with the way the information was being taught. That behaviourist approach to learning made me feel overwhelmed and lead to me disliking the class and the material. This class, however, makes me feel like I am part of a connected learning community and it is a very supportive social environment. It helps expose me to diverse theoretical approaches, through activities like the ones in week 2, which allowed me to explore different learning theories and construct definitions and understandings of them with my peers.
I have chosen YouTube to express the learning theory that best fits this course and my personal learning style because YouTube is easily accessible. It can be accessed anywhere and anytime that there is Internet. Videos can be paused or replayed, so learners can work through the material at their own pace or revisit it when needed. Videos can also be less intimidating than large blocks of text. I have incorporated audio, visual and textual learning to cater to the needs of a diverse audience.
Comment below about how you learn best!