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Learning Theory: Constructivism

Constructivism: created by M. Taylor using Wordle http://www.wordle.net/create

ICT in the Context of Constructivism (Learning Theory) and Education


Current trends in education suggest that technology is changing teaching practices, how students learn and the way students interact with information in the
classroom. As Edwards-Groves (2012) explains students are learning new literacies, new socialities and new technological competencies (p. 99). With the
increased integration of Information Computer Technologies (ICTs) in classrooms, there is an apparent shift from traditional, didactic, teacher-centred teaching
practices towards a more student-centred, problem-based approach. In addition, with advances in technology and greater accessibility to ICTs, teachers are
being asked to integrate a variety of ICTs into their classrooms to ensure their lessons are relevant and meaningful in the 21 century.
Because ICTs are interactive, multisensory, collaborative and creative, there is a close relationship between technology and the learning theory of
constructivism. Constructivism is a contemporary pedagogical theory that implies learners actively construct their own knowledge by linking new concepts
with what they already know (Marsh, 2010). As such, constructivism focuses on maximising students understanding by scaffolding their learning; presenting
challenging tasks; providing opportunities for students to engage in authentic, hands-on activities; using higher-order questions and prompts, and encouraging
active discussion and collaboration. Furthermore, because constructivism emphasises the active role of the learner in building understanding and making sense
of information (Marsh, 2010, p. 211), it is increasingly being linked with ICT in the classroom through the use of apps, interactive whiteboards and 1:1 device
programs, for example.
There are five key principles of constructivism:
1. Learning is active: students interact with their learning environment, manipulate materials and construct their own understandings of what they observe
during the learning process. Learning, therefore, is active rather than passive. That is, for meaningful learning to occur, it requires students to be actively
engaged and involved in the learning process so that they learn from their own observations.
2. Learning is constructive: students build on prior knowledge through scaffolded learning. For learning to be meaningful and constructive, it needs to
build on students prior experiences, as well as their interests, needs and strengths. Furthermore, learning is constructive when students make meaning
through reflecting on their prior knowledge and establishing mental connections with new experiences.
3. Learning is authentic: students thrive on learning tasks that are contextually relevant and have real-life applications. That is, when learning tasks are
embedded in real-life contexts, students become more proficient in transferring new knowledge and making mental connections with their own
experiences. Tasks that are not authentic, for example, maths formulae learnt by rote, become easier to understand and remember when put into real-life
contexts that students find interesting and relatable.
4. Learning is cooperative: students learn through interacting and collaborating with their peers. In sharing knowledge with others, students learn that
there is more than one way to approach a task and that other students may share different ideas or views to their own.
5. Learning is intentional: learning is intentional when students are actively involved in achieving a goal that reflects their learning.

Possible practical links between the learning theory of constructivism and a variety of ICT being used across a series of Year 5 History lessons are shown in the
table below.

Lesson 2: Mapping activity

Active

Constructive

Authentic

Students actively construct an


annotated map showing the
travels of their colonial figure,
instead of simply passively
reading about their travels,
using the Explain Everything
app.

Students build on their prior


knowledge in this activity
through the use of maps.
See Year 4 History Use a
range of communication
forms (oral, graphic, written)
and digital technologies
(ACHHS087)

This task is placed in real-life


context through the
communication of ideas using
visual representations (in this
case, a map) and
communicating ideas with
others using technology,
which is a transferrable skill.

This lesson activity allows for


collaboration between
students through presenting
information in small groups
and communicating with
others.

Students actively create an


iMovie trailer of a significant
aspect of their colonial
figures life, i.e., an
interesting part of their
figures timeline.

Students build on their prior


knowledge in this activity
through using iMovie to
present a narrative.
See Year 4 History Develop
texts, particularly narratives
(ACHHS086)
Elaboration: listing key events
and peoples experiences and
linking them together to form
a narrative about the past

This task is placed in real-life


context through the use of
the iMovie app, where
students are able to express
their ideas and the ideas of
others (i.e., their colonial
figure) in a modern and
engaging way. Using iMovie
and its features is a relevant
and transferrable skill, as
many people learn through
videos, for example through
videos on YouTube.

This lesson activity allows for


collaboration between
students through sharing
ideas and information about
their colonial figure through
an iMovie trailer and working
together to produce the
trailer.

Using their research from


lesson 1, students actively
create an interactive online
timeline about their chosen
colonial figure, describing
significant moments in their
life.

Students build on their prior


knowledge in this activity
through creating a timeline
and explaining the sequence.
See Year 4 History Sequence
historical people and events
(ACHHS081)

This task is placed in real-life


context through the use of a
timeline that represents the
life of a colonial figure.
Timelines share history, and
history is important for
primary students in
understanding the future.

This lesson activity allows for


collaboration between
students through creating a
timeline together.

ICT: Explain Everything (iPad


app)
Lesson 3: iMovie trailer

ICT: iMovie (iPad app) + iPad


Lesson 4: Timeline

ICT: Tiki-Toki (interactive


timeline website)

Cooperative

Intentional
Students will be working
towards the objective of
creating an annotated map
that demonstrates what they
have learnt about the travels
of their chosen colonial
figure. They will demonstrate
this through the use of ICT by
using the Explain Everything
app.
Students will be working
towards the objective of
creating an iMovie that
demonstrates what they have
learnt about the life of their
chosen colonial figure. They
will demonstrate this
understanding through the
use of ICT by using the iMovie
app and an iPad.

Students will be working


towards the objective of
creating a timeline that
demonstrates their
understanding about the life
and travels of their chosen
colonial figure. They will
demonstrate this
understanding through the
use of ICT by using an
interactive timeline website.

References
Edwards-Groves, C. (2012). Interactive creative technologies: Changing learning practices and pedagogies in the writing classroom. Australian Journal of Language and
Literacy, 35(1), 99-113.
Marsh, C. (2010). Becoming a teacher: Knowledge, skills and issues [5th ed]. Pearson Australia: Frenchs Forest, NSW.