The design and development of Moodle is guided by a particular philosophy of learning, a way of thinking that you may see referred to in shorthand as a "social constructionist pedagogy"....
Constructionism asserts that learning is particularly effective when constructing something for others to experience. This can be anything from a spoken sentence or an internet posting, to more complex artifacts like a painting, a house or a software package." ....
This extends the above ideas into a social group constructing things for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings. When one is immersed within a culture like this, one is learning all the time about how to be a part of that culture, on many levels."
This is not the general accepted definition of social constructionism, which has been characterized as fashionable nonsense:
Use of this term is unfortunate, if the developers wish to be taken seriously.
This distinction between "Constructionism" and "Constructivism" will be lost on most, even if noticed. Pedagogy of the author leaves room for improvement.
Do you believe that a galaxy doesn't exist until an astonomer observes it? That is the claim of social constructionism.
We agree that this page must go.
"Do you believe that a galaxy doesn't exist until an astonomer observes it?"... The short answer: YES!!!
Should being told something exists (passive learning) determine what I know to be true, or should I actively engage in contextualizing and "experiencing" it for myself. I'd choose the latter...thank you very much!!! This approach isn't likely to survive the academic rigor of the Flat Earth Society but, then again, neither is the galaxy they float around in.
Why debunk the use of terminology that has become fairly common in the fields of cognitive research without offering up alternative approaches, or at the very least a rational for why environments like Moodle can "improve" learning?
I see no reason for Moodle designers to abandon the social constructionist approach to CMS platform design. Effective instructional design requires a focus on providing learners a variety of open ended, non-linear ways to process (construct) information while prompting them to judge its worth in the context of their own value systems and learning needs.
Enough already with the linear,cut-and-dried, page turning online courseware... When it comes to social constructivism, there is nothing more useful than a good theory...
I'm not sure I agree with your posting as I can't understand some of it. However, your first statement is very clear:
' "Do you believe that a galaxy doesn't exist until an astonomer observes it?"... The short answer: YES!!! '
This suggests that galaxies did not exist before astronomers. Maybe I suffer from studying logic from electronic engineers rather than from philosophers.
Thanks for your feedback Brian,
Sorry I was a bit cryptic in my original post. All I'm suggesting is that learner(s) know best what they need, whether its comprehension of the origins of the universe or the best way to build an Igloo. The context and social imperitive for the learning is more important than the content or how its delivered. Social Constructivism puts the learner and the social dynamics of their environment at the center of the learning equation... That's always made a lot of sense to me!!!
BTW: UNESCO is currently hosting an international forum on Open Content and, among other things, struggling with such issues as providing a level of pegagogic "flexibility" so online content has the appropriate focus and context across cultures... a critical question for educators and instructional designers and will likely have a profound impact on the quality (value???) of Open Content in many developing countries.
this posting does seem a bit clearer but not necessarily something I would agree with. A learner may know that he wish to be able to design a reinforced concrete beam, but he/she will have no idea how best to learn this. You might suggest that highly controlled discovery learning would be useful here, but generally a more traditional approach is faster and maybe just as effective. Being learner centred during this process is useful (eg. trying to understand their though processes) but considering the "social dynamics of their environment" is of limited use (except perhaps in being realistic about expecting them to do an assignment on a Thursday night).
"Do you believe that a galaxy doesn't exist until an astonomer observes it? That is the claim of social constructionism." David, if this belief is necessary to belive in the effectiveness of "social constructionism" then I have to admit that I could not agree with it. However, I thought that subscribing to this educational approach was just a belief that if someone discovers something for themself they are more likely to understand and remember. My worry is that such a pedagogoical approach would exclude other approaches. Sometimes (if not most times) I don't have time to design such an approach, nor have the students have the time to take part in it, so I just have to say to the students: "The galaxy exists, take my word for it". Now I hope that the high mindedness of others who might disapprove of my teaching in this way, would not stop me from using Moodle to use this or other low-brow method. (I also see value in drill and practice for mathematical and engineering calculations, but then I'm not an educationalist, just a rational engineer who reads).
This is what is/was called Discovery Learning. What is here claimed to be "social constructionism" is a type of existential psychology - terror management theory. See:
Ernest Becker Foundation
I think I'm wasting your time in trying to eplain the diference between constructivism and constructionism. It seems I subscribe to Discovery Learning (among other methods). Are you suggesting that the pedagogical philosophy associated with Moodle should be removed because of its link to the existential philosophy (which I would have to agree with if I thought it were true), or becuase it is only one of many valid approaches to learning (which I believed until you seemed to suggest otherwise).
I am not doing this.
"Are you suggesting that the pedagogical philosophy associated with Moodle should be removed because of its link to the existential philosophy "
No, because it names "social constructivism' which is nonsense and then tries to make it sound reasonable by misattributing.
"or becuase it is only one of many valid approaches to learning (which I believed until you seemed to suggest otherwise).
I haven't said anything about this.
having taken up so much of your time so far, I might ask you for a little more.
I have been aware that social constructionism is fashionable nonsense having read about the hilarious Sokal hoax. However, I thought that social constructivism was just an extension of what you described as discovery learning with a bit on human interaction and social context thrown in. Am I being a little innocent in this view?
Yes. Taking credit for other's accomplishments is one way that social constructivism has achieved fame.
OK - my objection was to having Moodle linked to any pedagogical philosophy (or more precisely, wishing Moodle to enable all pedagogical strategies), but you believe that social constructivism is a poor pedagogical strategy which should not be mentioned at all. Is that a fair description of your position?
By the way, I see that the definition in the glossary does refer to constructivism which I do believe is a load of (nearly said a rude word there) nonsense.
But look on the bright side. I often think that esoteric learning theories are a bit like religion. People say that they believe certain things, but their everyday actions tend to be based on their practical everyday evidence of what works or does not work. So despite the claims that Moodle is based on social construcionism, it is still a great tool for more practical approaches - witness the recent integration of the LAMS system which is very useful for linear learning paths, or even the existence of multiple choice tests.
By the way we are probably in the wrong forum for this discussion.
I have a suspicion what you say might be true, however I'll have to check it out for myself. Now, how far down my to-do list will I put it?
Isn't all this just a fancy way to say that if you run with a bunch of people you will learn what that bunch wants to learn. Parents who pay to put their kids in private schools have known this for a very long time.
Wow! I wish I'd seen this thread before.
Five minutes ago I thought I was using Moodle to teach kids stuff.
Now I can't help thinking I'm involved in a vast cosmic conspiracy that's tearing at the very fabric of the universe.
Maybe I'll just keep on teaching kids stuff ...
Yeah, Barrett, you and me, let's take over the universe and drink mead from the skulls of the conquered.
Sounds like a fair call. I'll bring the mead.
From the description it seems they are saying the definition of social constructionism given is different than the usual definition. To give the example "Do you believe that a galaxy doesn't exist..." as an example of what soacial constructionism usually says is somewhat a support of what they are saying.
I find David Stodolsky's play on the concepts constructionism and social constructivism, juvenile. Each approach primarily addresses the constructive possibilities between dialectical realities whether objective or subjective to achieve intersubjectivity rather than maintaining either/or between objective and subjective realities. And, each requires the involvment of people, thus, social contact.
I suggest that Mr. Stodolsky's contention that Moodle should align itself with one learning pedagogy, i.e., social constructivism is erroneous. While it may be desirable to engage in learning that is practice-based and of interest to group members, there are others who finding learning for them is both practical and theoretical, and is but another alternative among many that can be beneficial. Mr. Stodolsky's vertical thinking does a disservice to horizontal thinking, which creates alternatives.
In some ways using terms like Juvenile and nonsense and "is not" or "is so" can't bring this discussion forward. (Even if I sort of agree with some of the statements). I'm growing old, and feel less idealogical, more tolerant of ambiguity. Once I understood more than I do now.
Howeever, In other ways using terms like Juvenile and nonsense and "is not" or "is so" can bring a bit of spice to things . . . .
Personally I am proud to identity as a constructivist (albeit conservative). I like Moodle for this reason. But I am a pragmatist as well. It also supports direct instruction, shovelware, locked down transmission models, the worst of teacher centred approaches. Like some of the lecturers I work with (who don't really identify with the role of teacher).
I have considered adding some of the other side of the equation to the constructivist notes in Moodle.org, but I'm really a bit to new around here for that. Maybe later.
Well . . . Onwards!!
I think that the social constructionism (which now gets an explanation at http://docs.moodle.org/en/Pedagogy) works very will with adult learners.
Just noticed the thread ... wow!
First, a handy comparison of constructivism and constructionism by a colleague, recommend:
To avoid oft useless nitpicking, important to some, particualrly those well versed, well-read in either of these or ANY other theoretical territories to uphold and defend, I will continue as contruct*.
Second, Moodle's activities (core and many contributed modules) lend themselves nicely to construct* approaches. Many activities are/have been created and/or included on this basis (ie 'can this support construct* teaching and learning approaches?').
Third, it is what, how, when and why we bring to it, not what Moodle is or does. To expect 'Moodle' to make one a social constructionist/vist is akin to expecting a 'birthday present' make you a good parent. Context is everything, no universals and linear 'progress' please (Kuhn told us about competing scientific paradigms nicely decades ago, read about it here...highly recommend ).
And finally, I put my neck on the line here . If there is a teacher out there who cannot see some merit (not talking blind, 100% at-all-times-faith here) in these five 'principles' , for lack of better word, in at least some learning scenarios - I would not want children (including mine) in our 21st century communities to be in their care.
I believe that non-adults can benefit from the application of adult learning theory and techniques.
Constructionism vs Social Constructivism...
Through social constructivism you can absorb knowledge at a great rate, but this knowledge is gained through assimilation of the average group knowledge level. For example; If a teacher asks what 1+1 is, while you're not sure, and the class answers 2, you'll now have gained the knowledge of that answer.
Through constructionism there is more knowledge to be gained as well as knowledge to be developed. Using the same scenario as above... If a teacher asks what 1+1 is, while you're unsure, and you grab 1 pencil and 1 eraser to decide that you're holding 2 objects, not only did you gain the knowledge of the answer, but you also gained the knowledge of how to find the answer on your own.
I think you need both to be an effective learner or educator. Give/Get an answer, then guide/be guided to finding that answer.
I think the philosophy of constructionism and constructivism go hand in hand in a learning environment such as Moodle. This is the very environment where ideas, thoughts, knowledge, postings are presented in order for the learner to learn. In this same environment and with those same learning elements is where the social constructivism takes place...a social culture is created in which learners learn and then share what they've learned with one another to enhance their knowledge and perspectives. I can see where the distinction between the two might get lost as the two concepts mesh into one another but they are different. One is the presentation of information to learn and the other is the means by which we learn this information from one another.
I think this is a neat way to remember the value of learning as an interactive, organic experience. I also think people calling for the removal of this page are missing the point of the discussion.
In my opinion, the title and the ideas contained within the title may be a bit over the average person's head, especially if they aren't used to reading or critical thinking.
Any examples of the pedagogy above may also be helpful in assisting a novice user's understanding of what you mean and where you are going.
Just a suggestion (from a novice Moodle user).