Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Constructionism and 21st Century Learners

Today's learners are different from any other generation of learners. The incorporation of technology is crucial to engage these learners. In addition, they need hands-on involvement through project-based learning. Today's students are multi-taskers, and they should not have to sit there while their education happens to them. They should be involved. Constructionism is an answer to the needs to today's students. 

Constructionism is student learning that takes place through the creation of artifacts or something else that can be experienced by another person (Laureate Education, 2011). To begin this creating process, the students need to know what they think the outcome will be. That is their hypothesis. Next the student must decide what kind of problem it is and then plan how to get to the desired outcome. After following through with their plan, they have to confirm, deny, or adjust their hypothesis. In this process, students can create something to help explain their outcome. The artifacts created aid the student in fully understanding whether or not they achieved their hypothesis. Constructionism and hypotheses are very similar. The students are working on finding the answer, instead of just being told what the answer is. 

Of the technologies discussed in this week’s reading, the one I found most intriguing is under the Web Resources, where they discuss simulations. The story of Dave McDivitt and how he used a simulator to explain to outcomes of World War II is quite interesting to me. It is not possible for his students to live the actual war, as time-machines have yet to be invented, but they are through this simulation "living" the war. They could watch a dozen movies and still not understand the emotions behind the events that unfolded. As Mr. McDivitt explained her could here the students strategizing in the hallways (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). They were feeling the events of that war. That is an amazing learning experience for them. I am very excited to try out some of the websites listed in the book. As a resident of California I am especially interested in the SmogCity. 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved on March 21, 2011 from

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction    
          that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Jill,
    You said it best when you said that this generation of learners are different! I remember being in school and learning from ditto worksheets over and over and over. Now, kids rarely touch a piece of paper, and everything is hands on and minds in! I as well like the ideas of giving the kids the digital simulations or field trips to help them learn about things that you could never bring into the classroom. My kids are working on creating digital vacations to each region of the united states right now!

    1. Kristina,
      I love the idea of children working with photography. Whether they are describing pictures they have found or they a taking them with a camera, children look at the world in another way. It is very inspiring to me. Not to mention I could go for a "digital vacation" right about now. Thanks for your comment!


  2. Jill,

    I like your point about how the student must find the answer instead of having the answer told to them. Students definitely retain more when they find the information on their own. I remember asking my parents and teachers for answers and always being told to look it up because that was "truly learning," and I always thought they were just trying to snap me out of laziness. As a teacher, I have seen time and time again that students have a better learning experience when they are actively engaged in finding their own answers. Good blog post, thank you!

    1. I always though teachers were telling me that because they did not want me to be lazy too. Keeping students engaged is a difficult task some days (as we are fighting against the smart phones, PS3s XBoxes, etc.), but it is very worth it. That's how they learn!