Constructivist Theory in Today's Educational Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

To ensure that the constructivist approach functions optimally, teachers must therefore ensure that the interactional and social situation within each group is managed effectively as well.

Young (2003) notes that another challenge facing teachers and students is the implementation of technology in the constructivist classroom. The specific challenge here is that, more often than not, computer technology has been subject to the traditionally constructed classroom, where knowledge about and by means of computer technology has been divulged under the assumption of static, learned skills. Young (2003) suggests some important and dynamic changes to implement technology in the classroom.

First, the assumption must be cultivated that computers and knowledge about and by means of computers, just like all other forms of knowledge, are continually in flux. Indeed, this is even more so for information technology than other academic fields. To teach students as if this is not the case is particularly counter-productive in terms of computers, precisely because of their rapid development. Instead, students should be given the tools to master new computer skills when these are necessary, rather than learning to work with an single system in a static manner. Young emphasizes that the outmoded functions of computer-assisted learning, such as using computers to teach irrelevant subject matter, has been outmoded by the current movement of using technology as one of the tools to enhance intellectual partnerships.

In groups, for example, students can now use the Internet and other computer search functions to construct knowledge about any subject matter presented to them. Indeed, the age in which we live is highly conducive to the constructivist approach, as information technology lends itself perfectly to collaborative and autonomous learning. The teacher's role in this regard is simply to provide the access and basic skills necessary to cultivate these paradigms of learning.

Morrison (2003) takes this a step further by suggesting that the online environment itself can act as a useful tool for learning. Computer conferencing, for example, can greatly enhance the construction of individual and group knowledge. This can be applied to the classroom in several ways. In the classroom itself, for example, groups of students can engage in targeted discussions with other groups of students across the world to enhance their own knowledge and skills and to help others enhance theirs. In the online classroom, both students and teachers can interact by means of computer conferencing for the same aims. These technologies have therefore significantly altered the learning environment, and particularly they way in which the constructivist approach can be applied to classrooms, learning, and assessment.

Although there are many divergent opinions and theoretical approaches within constructivism as applied to the classroom, the most common factor appears to be that a multi-dimensional approach needs to be taken to learning in order to optimize the process (Loyens and Gijbels, 2008). While this significantly increases the already multiple challenges teachers face in the classroom, it also makes the process all the more exciting for both teachers and students.

For teachers, the constructivist approach offers the opportunity to creatively design instruction and provide students with the best possible means of education. In addition, the satisfaction of experiencing the enjoyment and success of these students during the learning process is significant. Students, in turn, have the advantage of a learning process that is conducive not only to an increase in knowledge, but also to the myriad skills they will need to function as productive and positive members of society.

The constructivist approach has been successfully implemented in many classrooms across the world. Perhaps the next step is to ensure that not only students, but also teachers interact with each other to demonstrate the philosophy that knowledge continually changes and perpetuates itself by both research and collaboration. To function in a world that has become a basis for interaction by various means, all teachers and students should embrace this reality and use it to make the most of their learning opportunities.


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