Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fourth Junto, Tuesday 08/01/06 @ 11am in UMC 404

For the final reading in the pedagogy 3-part series we will take a look at social constructivism. (For an overview of learning theories, click here.)

For background information about constructivist theory and other references from this month's reading, please see the links below.




  1. What is the role of the instructor in constructivist theory? What is the role of the student? Think of an example of constructivist teaching on this campus. Does this instruction use educational technology?
  2. Is distance education inferior to face-to-face instruction? Is learning inhibited or promoted by distance learning technologies? Why or why not?
  3. What is your personal learning theory? How does this affect your role as a DATC? Does it impact the way that you teach faculty about technology? Does it influence your choice of technologies in teaching?


Mark Werner said...

Thank you Laura for these readings. They are very insightful.

I was disappointed by Marsh and Ketterer's unsupported assertion in the introduction that "In spite of a substantial body of research demonstrating that there are no differences in achievement between online and traditional instruction..." If there is a substantial body of research demontrating this, why not toss in a few citations that we could track down. I wonder if they are referring to the often cited "no significant difference" outcome of studies. My understanding was that set of outcomes was referring to no significant difference between the introduction of technology in a classroom setting. I would think that in this article, they would be referring to no significant difference between online and face-to-face instruction. But regardless a few citations would help those skeptics in the audience.

I read a hint of Prensky in their conclusion when they said, "On the other hand, many childrena nd youth can use computers and software as tools, something some of their teachers cannot do." I find that argument less and less forceful as I see more and more teachers adopt and embrace the use of technologies in their work.

The value I take away from this reading is it prompted me to think about the following questions. Perhaps we can take them up in our discussionn today:

1. Does the interlocutor in the zone of proximal development need to be physically close to the learner?

2. Can technology mediate the distance between interlocutor and learner in the ZPD? If so, can the quality of mediation match that of a face-to-face context? Can it exceed the quality of a face-to-face context? I realize I'm framing my questions here in a constructivist view.

3. Is it possible to use technologies to model, scaffold, coach, and fade? See paragraph 2 in the Introduction.

4. I detected a negative view of the power differential between a teacher and a student in this article. Is the power differential bad? Is it possible for someone to teach without a power differential of some kind? It's interesting that the word for our groupings of intellectuals in the university -- discipline -- infers some level of submission to a power structure.

5. Are adult learners different from developmental learners in the way they can use technologies in learning? Does the concept of the ZPD mean the same for adult learners as it does for developmental learners.

6. What is the landscape of the CU campus for transactional distances? How might our response to Marsh and Ketterer be different if we're thinking of employing their ideas on our campus (vs. a distance learning only environment)?

Steve B said...

Like Mark, I was disappointed by repeated assertions that social constructivism was antithetical to distance learning WITH NO CITATIONS SUPPORTING THIS CLAIM. It seemed to me that Marsh and Ketterer have resorted to a straw man argument in order to publish a paper.

Still, I think some interesting discussions will ensue, especially if we don't presuppose that Vygotsky would be against distance learning. Distance learning itself is subject to the influence of language and culture.

Does someone know of an instance where constructivists claim that distance learning is inferior?