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How do I apply constructivism in my classroom?
What are some simple ways to get started?
What are some challenges I may face?
How do I assess student progress?
How does constructivism align with state and national standards?
How does technology complement constructivism?
How do I work with my school, the parents, and the community?


How does technology complement constructivism?

"Constructivism proposes that learning environments should support multiple perspectives or interpretations of reality, knowledge construction, and context-rich, experience-based activities."

-- David H. Jonassen

The rapid development of increasingly powerful computer and communication systems has great implications for the constructivist approach to education. It offers a tremendous amount of information, tools for creativity and development, and various environments and forums for communication. Within a student-centered curriculum based on student performance or research, new technology tools provide many opportunities for students and teachers to build knowledge in an engaged setting.


1. The Internet and its graphic window, the World Wide Web, have made vast amounts of information available in a timely fashion.

  • Students can initiate searches more and more independently using information technology.

  • Teachers can encourage searching and classification more readily in a technology-rich environment. (Filtering software protects younger students from inappropriate areas on the World Wide Web.)

  • Primary source material is increasingly available in forms that allow it to be incorporated into student-created archives and knowledge constructions. Educational institutions have posted much material useful in the sciences, mathematics, literature, and social sciences. As one example, the Library of Congress American Memories project contains primary source material from pioneers' diaries, the first recording studios, early photographers, and explorers' accounts.

  • High-quality, current material on major events is immediately available. A landing on Mars, a comet hitting Jupiter, a space walk, photographs and statistics of major storms. Students can research, classify, and store multimedia information from these events and more.

2. Increasingly powerful software applications have put tools for interpretation and knowledge creation in the hands of learners of all ages and abilities. Word processing and desktop publishing, databases and spreadsheets, digital photography and art applications, multimedia and Web-authoring programs have greatly enhanced students' potential for expression. These computer-based tools have tapped into students' multiple intelligences, and enabled those with aptitude in visual learning, for example, to demonstrate knowledge creation more effectively. Teachers are restructuring their classrooms so that students can participate as producers. For example, teachers might organize the students to create a museum kiosk to demonstrate student knowledge.



Type of program
Activity
Example of program
Graphic organizer concept mapping Inspiration
Programming language logical structures--students use mathematical thinking with visual objects Prologue, Logo, Microworld, Turtle Math
Simulation-building software systems representation Stella
Graphics application visual illustration CorelDraw
Authoring tool multimedia presentations, portfolios HyperStudio, Director, PowerPoint

3. Computer technology has enhanced the opportunities for students to communicate with others.

  • Students and teachers can extend their dialogue beyond the physical and time constraints of the classroom using e-mail, listservs, and live chats. Electronic-data archives, Web sites, and e-mail all allow for increasingly expedient and effective collaboration between students. Visit our CONCEPT TO CLASSROOM Workshop, "WebQuests" on using the Internet in the classroom.


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Workshop: Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning
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