Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

This week I was introduced to a new technology tool called VoiceThread.  At first, I was a bit skeptical at just how useful this resource would be to me and to my students.  I thought perhaps it would be too complicated and students would be more discouraged than excited.  However, after watching the tutorial and putting together a brief introduction lesson for my students and colleagues to view, I feel more confident in its use and potential.

When using networking tools such as Facebook, Google Docs, and others, we begin to see the value of connectivisim.  People sharing information via the internet to learn about something or watch as something is being created can happen instantly.  Those in the network can get started right away applying this knowledge for problem solving and project building on their own that represents a real world experience.  The application of knowledge is important as one would want to move from situated cognition to actually constructing an artifact that would show understanding as well as articulation.  Using VoiceThread in the classroom will provide students with an opportunity to share information in a manner that is in keeping with network tools they are familiar with but can now be used to complete school assignments. 

Collaboration and cooperative learning are essential for social learning.  Students learn from each other as they begin to build their project or solve a problem.  Peer to peer interaction gives students and opportunity to not only learn but to teach others.   This “teacher” will be helping others while continuing to deepen their own understanding of the content.  The knowledgeable other(s) immerges to guide group members of different levels of understanding toward the final artifact.   The social dimension of connectivisim provides a more rich learning experience as knowledge is more abundant and easily transferred over numerous networks or people and data.

Although, high school students do not always like to work together, I think that when we, as teachers, plan with connectivisim in mind, students will take responsibility for teaching and learning within their group.  They are more likely to embrace the use of technology and construct an artifact that they would be proud to share with others through over several networks of people. 

My first VoiceThread:

Comments are welcome!

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Social Learning Theories [Video webcast]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Connectivism as a Learning Theory [Video webcast]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories [Video webcast]. Retrieved from



Constructivist in Practice

It is important to understand the different theories of learning and how the brain processes information.  When we put those learning theories to work in the classroom, we must also provide an opportunity for students to have an authentic and meaningful learning experience while integrating a technology tool that will help facilitate that experience.  This week we are looking at Constructivism and Constructionism.  Within a problem based and/or project based learning environment, it is important to have both theories at work.  Add in technology and students will have helped to create a lesson that they not only feel a sense of “ownership” for, but also, we will have provided students with technology resources and skills that they will use in the future.

Constructivism is basically one’s own unique philosophy and understanding of knowledge.  I believe that in order for one to learn and have a connection to the content presented, a person would have to be able to reconcile what they see, hear, and do on their own terms.  Of course, in the classroom, teachers guide students along the way in order to make sure that overall understanding of the information is apparent.  Rubrics help with this by stating the standards and expectations for the lesson from the beginning. 

Constructionist theory calls for the student to start from scratch and build a project from the ground up.  When an individual, or a group, begin to work in this way to create an artifact, they are also building the steps to learning process within their mind.  Students get a greater understanding of how the final project will come together when they understand the steps to getting there.

A strategy we read about this was generating and testing hypotheses.  As I delved into the chapter, I gained a clearer understanding of how the six tasks mentioned in the text can guide students toward generating and testing hypotheses to get to core learning.  Specifically, problem solving and invention lend themselves to the theories mentioned above.  From the constructivist point of view a student would use their own ideas and experiences to look at options to solve a problem and then to decide the path to take creating a solution.  The steps involved in making those decisions and putting those steps into action, allow the student to begin to build their test and think about what the outcome may be.  Using technology such as spreadsheet software, data collection tools, and additional website resources would enhance learning by creating an experience that is authentic because it can be used in a number of scenarios.  Also, the experience would be meaningful due to the fact that the student had input and that input led to the creation of the final artifact that can now be shared with others for their own learning.  I would use this type of technology to plan a budget for the first year of an infant’s life, planning a schedule for calorie intake and exercise, or to compare information when shopping for goods and services.  Students would be able to input information found on the internet and then analyze the results quickly.

Technology helps our students to grow skills and learn in tremendous ways.  Students will use the technology resources and skills they have acquired in class to create projects, solve problems, and analyze information in a way that relates to them.  By using the strategies discussed here, teachers and students will be able to provide and build a more authentic learning experience and knowledge that is more likely to be retained and recalled readily.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer) (2010) Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E.R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. (p. 203). Denver, CO: McRELInternational Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). (2011, January).




Cognitivism in Practice

Taking a closer look at the way students learn has given me a different perspective on how I teach and the strategies I use to engage my students.  Understanding that cognitive learning theories has to do with the way we collect and process information, makes a difference in the way we go about presenting that information.   Using a variety of graphic organizers is one way to introduce a lesson and then using cues and guided questions, have students fill in prior knowledge, suggestions, or actual facts that they know to get the students engaged.  Students become a part of their own learning and are also helping to teach others.  Peers start to collaborate on what information is relevant to a heading, what information doesn’t fit, and what is being left out.  Summarizing the information in this manner further facilitates the student’s ability to focus on central themes.  Now we have students learning cooperatively and creating connections that they can relate to, while incorporating a technology tool and practicing its use at the same time.  As the lesson progresses, students are immersed in the experience and actively sorting through what is essential to the goal of the lesson.

I think the graphic organizer is an interesting way for students to pull information together in a manner that makes learning more comfortable.  However, creating an organizer that meets the need and fulfills the objective of the task may be a challenge.  Fortunately, there are many options on the internet for students to choose from and to create on their own.   Now we have taught students how to use technology to organize their thoughts in a manageable and meaningful way that supports memory and retention of memory at the same time.


Behaviorism and Learning Strategies

Behaviorism has two elements that we, as teachers, parents, and employers, etc. often use in our daily lives to manage and guide desired behaviors:  Reinforcement and punishment.  Rewards and consequences have been a part of our lives since we were small children.  If you wanted to gain favor or earn a prize, certain rules were to be upheld.  If these rules were not abided by, then the consequences would be negative and not desirable to the offender.  The punishment was used to reduce the interest in the negative behavior and guide that person to a more positive outcome and experience.

In the classroom we use a grading scale to teach students that the higher the number the better their grade.  The lower scores reflect the worst grades.  But how we teach and knowing how our students learn will ultimately determine whether a student earns a higher reward or a lower punishment for their efforts.

Taking into account the instructional and learning theories we have covered so far in this course, I find a collation between the two and how technology can be integrated in the classroom and used as a reinforcement tool.  Technology has definitely changed the way we teach.  I believe technology has helped me to engage my students to a higher level thus providing for active and hands on learning.  The use of technology through computers, SMART boards, iPads and other devices has changed the environment in a way that helps to facilitate the learning in keeping with the evolution of technology.

Under the Behavior Learning Theory, it is theorized that students learn passively and their reactions are according to stimuli from their environment often referred to as operant learning.  Obviously, technology has changed the environment but the reaction our students are having is not at all passive.  Our students want to be engaged and learn new skills.  Active learning, repetition, reinforcement as a motivator, and clearly defined goals are now the key principles that guide the Behaviorist theory today.  I believe that if we concentrate on those elements, negative and undesirable behaviors will disseminate and a greater focus on learning will emerge for our students and for teaching.