Posts Tagged Constructivism

Situated Experiences – Connecting to a Learner’s World

My previous post builds a foundation for constructivist learning and shares a few ideas of how technology can be used to enhance this type of learning. But we can expand the framework and think about how to use mobile technology to connect the activities that learners are in engaged with every day.

All learners bring with them a personal context that influences how they engage with new information. Mobile technology therefore must be flexible enough to allow them to connect their understanding of this new information to their personal context (both on and offline) and build their knowledge in different ways.

Looking to Falk and Dierking’s theories of learning in museums, they suggests that mobile technology find ways to connect to a learner’s social groups. Active learning is as much about discovering new information as it is about sharing and discussing it. Social media sites are one way to support sharing of information in social groups.  And with the use of mobile devices, learners stay active in the learning process by allowing them to participate in their own time frame. Additionally, Falk and Dierking suggest that mobile learning must help to support learners’ interests both online and offline and support their motivation for accessing the information in the first place.

The motivation for a learner accessing information and staying engaged with learning activities is incredibly fascinating. I will venture further into this topic in my next post, looking at intrinsic motivation and “gamification” of educational content.

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Mobile technology must provide guided connections to an ever-connected world

George E. Hein’s theory that knowledge constructed in the mind of the learner based on their past knowledge fundamentally changes our approach to education in informal learning spaces. Rather than feeding information in a straight, didactic way, emerging technology can give us new outlets for teaching and empowers learners to explore and create their own meaning. In particular, the flexibility of mobile technology allows learners to select their own path through a series of learning activities and to engage with new information that builds from their previous understanding of the world.

But in order to create these learning activities and environments, we must always consider that the focus must be on the learner and their needs. So the question then becomes, “How can technology be used as a tool for the learner to experience and connect with the subject matter that is meaningful to him/her?”

Looking at what Hein suggests, the learner’s experience should be more like an encyclopedia than a textbook. The use of technology can and should allow for a vast area of breadth, but also provide in-depth learning in a subject as well.

However the technology must allow for personalization. The learner can select what topic interests them most and then provide guided avenues for further learning. It is here that the interconnected format of Wikipedia might provide a basis on which to imagine how this format can take shape. Digital natives do not think in strictly linear terms. Their understanding of the world is shaped by connections through many different media outlets. Therfore the technology used in the learning process must allow for these guided connections to happen.

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