Week 8: Constructivism & Social Constructivism

Constructivism makes sense to me.  It’s not that the other theories haven’t made sense as well, but I did not have to struggle very hard to build a mental image of what the constructivists had to say.  For me, that equates to making sense.  Social constructivism struck me as a particularly robust view of how learning can occur.  When I encounter something that does not make sense to me, what typically happens is that I ponder for a bit, trying to piece the information together in a meaningful way by making connections to information I’ve acquired through experience, but even if I am satisfied that I understand, I usually turn to others to discuss and confirm my “findings”.  Then, what typically happens is that there’s discussion in which we try to make the “findings” fit with our collective experience / understanding.  It reminds me of the line in a Lily Tomlin play that went something like this “reality is really nothing but a collective best hunch”.

The class was awesome.  Perhaps a bit too much was attempted, given the high probability of the types of technical problems encountered after the break.  But, I must admit, I went into the class with skepticism about the added value of all of the online bells and whistles, and I was very pleasantly surprised.  The group mind-map exercise was particularly helpful.  I did wonder whether it might not have been a bit more of a pure constructivist approach if there had been less facilitator guidance (e.g. if the main topics of the mindmap had not been predetermined and the number of items to be added at each node were not already envisioned by our leader), but in light of the two hour time limit and the scope of material and the online logistics to be juggled, it was very very good.

On balance, my only frustration was that I wanted to view all of the videos / read all of the articles myself, rather than relying upon the interpretations offered by others.  I’m all for team work and “divide and conquer”, but the topic is interesting and I wanted to do my own personal constructivist thinking before joining into the group discussion.  So much to learn, so little time!  Such is life.

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