Practical Applications of Constructivism in the Online Classroom
Constructivism is a theory of learning that states that past knowledge is the base on which new ideas will be built. This is in direct opposition to instructivism, which states that students have a ‘clean slate’ that must be filled with new ideas, mainly through instruction.
The phrase ‘active learning’ is key when it comes to constructivism, rather than ‘passive learning.’ Constructivism allows students to focus on real-life scenarios, not only giving them live context, but also enabling practical application of new ideas to familiar situations.
For constructivism to work, dialogue must be enabled and encouraged. The application of new ideas will present its own errors and experiments, and you should always give your students time to stop and assess what they are doing.
Constructivism in an Online Learning Environment
As we already know, online learning is not an isolated method of learning where students merely engage with their screens. Rather, it is a multidimensional platform that provides students with many tools to build on what they know and what they want to know. So, we can explore how constructivism can be applied to the online classroom.
Several studies prove the benefit using graphic and visual representations of complex learning material has on the organizational abilities of students and how it can increase the retention and uptake of information. Mind maps are a recognized example of constructivist teaching methods, as they enhance the process of learning how to develop patterns.
Mind maps help students visualize the things they already know and then build and organize that image with new ideas. Learning is enriched and enhanced further when students make mind maps together, each being responsible for the investigation and population of a different section of the map.
Field Work and Learning
Discovery and experimentation out ‘in the field’ is another constructivist technique of teaching that can allow for active and guided discovery, which also enhances retention and uptake of new ideas and facts. There are several ways that teachers can use online tools to enhance field study.
This will inevitably encourage the collaboration between students and enable better information organization once the field portion of the work is done. Using a combination of mobile apps and augmented reality, an immersive and exciting environment can be created for students to explore.
The Jigsaw Classroom
This is a type of teaching approach that involves students teaching one another, in essence, and is also capable of working in the flipped classroom environment. The teacher usually divides students into groups. One of the key components to the Jigsaw Classroom is being able to cover a broad topic, in a detailed way, in a short space of time.
Constructivism is an extremely useful teaching tool, especially when it comes to online learning, where teachers and students alike must face unique challenges. It can help students engage with their material and retain it in a way that is not possible with traditional teaching methods.