A constructivist teacher will begin a lesson by asking students to recall
what they already know about the subject. Then they will involve students
in an activity that will take them beyond what they currently know. The
student must actively engage in the learning process by doing something.
Constructivist activities include:
- summarizing ß reading
- conducting research and analysis
- articulating (writing, drawing)
In order to carry out these learning projects, students often need preparation
and guidance. This preparation and guidance in the online environment
- instructor's notes (text-based Web pages, listservs, emails chat session
or via audio or video streaming)
- other media (books/videos)
- collaboration with other students
A Constructivist Speaks on the Transition from Classroom to Online
"The Myth Of The Talking-Head"
Boise State University technical communications instructor Mike Markel
challenges the idea that teaching a distance learning course requires
a whole new pedagogy that substitutes an "independent-learning, student-centered,
empowering model" for the old "talking-head, teacher-centered, passive-student
model." Markel says the notion that instructors in traditional classes
spend most of their time lecturing is a myth; what they really do is
help students organize information, help them with their projects, give
students a chance to meet with their teams, and motivate the students.
And that's exactly what needs to be done in a distance learning environment
as well. Everyone will lose if traditional and technology-supported
forms of education are pitted against each other, because conscientious
instructors need to do the same thing, whether they offer distance education
or classroom-based education. The goal should be to think continuously
of what we are trying to accomplish in the teaching/learning process,
and to orchestrate the particular techniques and resources in the best
and most effective way to accomplish the complete set of specific educational
objectives. (Mike Markel, "Distance Learning And The Myth Of The New
Pedagogy," Journal Of Business And Technical Communication," v13 n2
This can be found on the eduprise site
Project-based, student-centered, collaborative courses require a lot
of thought, energy, and creativity to build and facilitate both online
and face-to-face (f2f). They also require that the teacher relinquish
the center stage.
The preliminary research shows that courses that are entirely teacher-centered
can be effective in the face-to-face environment but when converted to
the online space they have an extremely high drop out and failure rate.
Many of the built-in motivators that exist in the traditional classroom
(peer pressure, respect for the teacher, required attendance, courtesy,
and conformity) are transformed in the online space. By being stripped
of the traditional schedule, setting and social requirement to sit and
listen, the teacher-centered online course often becomes analogous to
the unused gym membership or workout video.
Students put off the tiresome task of reading or listening to an online
lecture and say to themselves, "Ill do it tomorrow." But
as we all know, tomorrow never comes. For all but the most motivated students,
the online teacher-centered course becomes a lesson in procrastination.
The research shows that the student-centered courses are more effective
online because the students feel supported and engaged by their classmates
and think of the teacher like a personal trainer who cares about their
progress and monitors their achievements. In student-centered courses
a sense of community can be created.
While the current studies in distance education support student-centered
teaching methods, in the 1980s90s, countless studies were conducted
proving the effectiveness of Computer-Based Training (CBT) that for the
most part followed the teacher-centered model but replaced the teacher
with text and multimedia presentations. (See Topic 3 Resources on the
"Developing an Effective Online Course" Web site for citations
of studies.) So, we can see that if the motivation exists, teacher-centered
techniques can, in-fact, be powerful and effective.
Some of the enthusiasm for online learning is based on the fact that
the computer automates many of the mundane teaching tasks associated with
teacher-centered techniques such as grading multiple-choice or true/false
tests and disseminating factual information.
The Best of Both Worlds
All educators (teacher-centered and student-centered) agree that motivation
is one of the most important components in learning.
Many effective online courses involve some combination of both; teacher-centered
techniques involving the transfer of knowledge (lecture, texts, video)
and student-centered techniques (write, discuss, draw, conduct experiments,
conduct research, analyze, plan, collaborate, etc.).
Your job as a course designer is to find which techniques will most effectively
the achievement of the course goals and objectives.
Site about Jerome S. Bruner father of Cognitive Psychology
"Cognitive Versus Behavioral Psychology" by Fred T. Hofstetter
University of Delaware
"A Template for Converting Classroom Courses to Distributed, Asynchronous
Courses" by Lowell H. Roberts, Director (1997-98) UNC-Chapel Hill
Institute for Academic Technology