The Intersection of Theory, Tools and Tasks in a Postgraduate Learning Environment

The Intersection of Theory, Tools and Tasks in a Postgraduate Learning Environment

Michal Zellermayer (Levinsky College of Education, Israel), Nili Mor (Levinsky College of Education, Israel) and Ida Heilweil (Levinsky College of Education, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-654-9.ch021
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This chapter describes the learning environment that the authors created for veteran teachers, graduate students in Teaching and Learning who are interested in developing professionally as designers and moderators of Information Communication Technology (ICT) learning environments. It is based on the assumption that learners construct knowledge and understanding when they are an integral part of the learning environment, when they are members of local and global communities where learning is conceived as acquiring the necessary skills for participation through participation. The program is structured as three concentric circles in terms of ICT use. In the first, the teachers learn about constructivism and socio-cultural theory while they collaboratively investigate their own school cultures with the support of ICT tools. In the second, they expand their acquaintance with ICT tools and learning environments and further develop their skills for learning and teaching in such environments. In the third, they design and moderate E-Learning environments, document them and reflect on the process. This chapter describes the activities and tasks in each of these circles with illustrations of how the students respond to these tasks both as learners who interpret and evaluate information and theoretical concepts and as teachers of relevant virtual communities who reflect on their practice.
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In Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man, Marshall McLuhan (1964) argued that communication technologies influence the learning process and products of their users. Based on the principle that “the medium is the message” (McLuhan, 1964), one can further argue that a learning environment is an extension of a technology. Generally invisible, the learning environment consists of the cognitive and social adjustments that its participants, as well as their society, undergo when they adopt a new form of technology. It is a “message” about teaching and learning sent by the new technology. In other words, new communication technology activates a cognitive and social transformation as well as the implementation and dissemination of more progressive ideas about learning and teaching.

This has indeed been the story of constructivism. Constructivism has been known as an epistemology and a theoretical stance on knowledge, teaching and learning since Dewey, Piaget and Vygotsky in the first half of the twentieth century. However, this theoretical stance began to transform learning environments only with the spread of computer-mediated learning. Today the majority of computer-mediated learning environments are grounded in constructivist principles of learning. These learning environments skillfully utilize the strengths of various media attributes in order to develop powerful learning strategies such as problem solving, inquiry and critical reflection and to engage learners in meaningful and motivating learning tasks. Thus, the computer is both a cognitive tool and a medium for reflection.

In the last twenty years, as communication has changed, the social processes and structures of teaching and learning have changed as well. The widespread adoption of ICT in society at large caused the network society to continually redefine the meaning of knowledge, and learning environments changed in ways that expressed the designers’ assumptions about learning and teaching. This process affected school systems as well as higher education. In many traditional institutes of higher education, college administrators and teachers are realizing that computer-mediated education requires developing a new contemporary vision of learning. As a result, constructivist learning environments have been increasingly apparent in higher education in general and in teacher education and professional development in particular (Robinson & Latchem, 2003). Unmistakably, constructivism in its diverse forms is gaining considerable influence in the integration of information technology into educational contexts.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Michael Sherman
Carla R. Payne
Chapter 1
Maria Luisa Pérez Cavana
Taking into account the complexity and multiplicity of constructivist theories, the first part of this chapter focuses on the relationship between... Sample PDF
Closing the Circle: From Dewey to Web 2.0
Chapter 2
Noel Fitzpatrick, Nóirín Hayes, K.C. O’Rourke
Constructivism has become the comfortable face of educational theory in recent years, due in no small part to the mainstreaming of learning... Sample PDF
Beyond Constriction and Control: Constructivism in Online Theory and Practice
Chapter 3
Barbara de la Harpe, Fiona Peterson
There is a strong move worldwide for a constructivist theory to underpin the way teaching and learning are viewed in today’s colleges and... Sample PDF
The Theory and Practice of Teaching with Technology in Today's Colleges and Universities
Chapter 4
Karen Swan, D.R. Garrison, Jennifer C. Richardson
This chapter presents a theoretical model of online learning, the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, which is grounded in John Dewey’s... Sample PDF
A Constructivist Approach to Online Learning: The Community of Inquiry Framework
Chapter 5
Jennifer Lee, Lin Lin
Based on constructivist principles, this chapter provides a new instructional design map for online learning environments. This instructional design... Sample PDF
Applying Constructivism to Online Learning: A New Instructional Design Map
Chapter 6
Beth Rubin
Constructivist education usually involves authentic assessment, which is affected by the media used to teach. Information technology can enhance or... Sample PDF
Enhancing Authentic Assessment Through Information Technology
Chapter 7
Xenia Coulter, Alan Mandell
The adult college student, caught between the competing demands of work and home, has recently become a valuable commodity in today’s fast-changing... Sample PDF
Nontraditional Students and Information Technology: The Siren Call of the Virtual Classroom and its Impact on Progressive Educational Ideals
Chapter 8
Jakko van der Pol
This chapter aims to perform a thorough analysis of students’ online learning conversations. Although offering a high potential for collaborative... Sample PDF
Online Learning Conversations: Potential, Challenges and Facilitation
Chapter 9
Laura M. Nicosia
Contemporary educators have been reassessing pedagogical frameworks and reevaluating accepted epistemologies and ontologies of learning. The age-old... Sample PDF
Virtual Constructivism: Avatars in Action
Chapter 10
G. Andrew Page, Radwan Ali
The key idea that sets constructivism apart from other theories of cognition was launched about 60 years ago by Jean Piaget. It was the idea that... Sample PDF
The Power and Promise of Web 2.0 Tools
Chapter 11
Shalin Hai-Jew
This chapter examines some ways information technologies (IT) are deployed in higher education courses to help learners create robust mental models.... Sample PDF
IT-Enabled Strategies for Mental Modeling in E-Learning
Chapter 12
Roisin Donnelly
This chapter critically explores the design and implementation of a blended problem-based learning (PBL) module for academic professional... Sample PDF
Transformative Potential of Constructivist Blended Problem-Based Learning in Higher Education
Chapter 13
James G.R. Cronin, John Paul McMahon, Michael Waldron
Reception and use of information technology by lifelong learners within a “blended” learning environment needs to be articulated within a... Sample PDF
Critical Survey of Information Technology Use in Higher Education: Blended Classrooms
Chapter 14
M. Beatrice Ligorio, Nadia Sansone
In this chapter, the case of a blended university course will be described in detail. The main focus of this description will be on how some... Sample PDF
Structure of a Blended University Course: Applying Constructivist Principles to Blended Teaching
Chapter 15
Hwee Ling Lim, Fay Sudweeks
As educators utilize an increasingly wide range of technologies for facilitating interaction between distant learning parties, there are concerns... Sample PDF
Constructivism and Online Collaborative Group Learning in Higher Education: A Case Study
Chapter 16
Linda Lohr, Nicholas Eastham, David Kendrick
This case study describes how a constructivist theory of learning guided the design of distributed learning environment for a three credit hour... Sample PDF
Constructivist Strategies to Optimize Four Levels of Interaction in a Distributed Learning Environment: A Case Study
Chapter 17
Alessio Gaspar, Sarah Langevin, Naomi Boyer
This chapter discusses a case study of the application of technology to facilitate undergraduate students’ learning of computer programming in an... Sample PDF
Facilitating Students-Driven Learning of Computer Programming with Technology
Chapter 18
John Miller
A central component of constructivist pedagogy at the college level is the modeling and practicing of critical thinking, and since Socrates... Sample PDF
Designing Asynchronous Discussions to Teach Critical Thinking
Chapter 19
Mark H. Schulman
The challenges for Goddard College posed by 21st Century information technologies are their incorporation into, and reflection of, the foundational... Sample PDF
"To Be in Occasional Touch": Goddard College's Progressive Principles and Distributed Learning
Chapter 20
Carol R. Rinke, Divonna M. Stebick, Lauren Schaefer, M. Evan Gaffney
This chapter presents a critical case study on the use of information technology in a pre-service teacher education program. The authors integrated... Sample PDF
Using Blogs to Foster Inquiry, Collaboration, and Feedback in Pre-Service Teacher Education
Chapter 21
Michal Zellermayer, Nili Mor, Ida Heilweil
This chapter describes the learning environment that the authors created for veteran teachers, graduate students in Teaching and Learning who are... Sample PDF
The Intersection of Theory, Tools and Tasks in a Postgraduate Learning Environment
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