This week I’ve been exploring technology education theories in one of my classes, and I’ve come across what I call the “Big C’s”. Constructivism, Connectivism, and Cyborg Theory. I thought it would be worth sharing my thoughts here!
After all the reading and watching I did this week, I can’t help but think that rather than choosing a theory to believe, I really agree with both Constructivism and Connecitivism.
Constructivism is the idea that we build new knowledge on the foundation of our old knowledge.
As a teacher, I have to agree. Besides being identified as a best practice, I have personally noticed a huge difference in the success of a lesson if I begin by activating prior knowledge. One other component of Constructivism is that learning should be relevant to the learner, and thus, authentic. This older article on Constructivism shares some of the misconceptions about learning in a constructivist classroom (or really any classroom that differentiates learning). Under all of the technology learning theories, we have to understand that how the classroom looks and how the students interact will change. In fact, education has clearly had a major shift in the last few years. For instance, what is represented in Scenario #1 of the article above as a “chaotic” classroom, is more along the lines of what is expected of us with T-TESS (Texas) now.
In terms of constructivism, one part of this publication says it all: “Learning as a Personal Event”. Learning must be critically connected to the student. This is where the student-centered learning environment comes into play. If classrooms are centered around the teacher, students have a lower chance of being able to connect the learning to themselves. In order to do this, we must use technology to be the flexible tool that we cannot always be, ourselves, in the classroom. For instance, technology tools give students the freedom to connect research to their own interests and knowledge bases, and they provide excellent tools for helping students begin right where they are rather than where we’d have to start with the class as a whole.
Connectivism is the idea that technology connects us to more knowledge, and that the real role of education is to help students learn to connect to what they need to know, rather than needing to ingest every single bit of information.
I’m going to be honest… I subscribe to this theory in so many ways! I’ve always told my students that what distinguishes “smart” from “dumb” is knowing how to find the answer… not IQ. I’ve had really intelligent students who drop out of college because they can’t figure it out, while other students will less inherent “smarts” end up with Master’s degrees. Technology connects us to so many resources and we need to be teaching our students how to use them. This includes the dreaded database lesson in high school English, and it includes how and where to get news, create products, and crowd source information, as well as collaboration. Connecting ourselves to information is truly a 21st century skill.
Cyborg Theory essentially states that technology may allow us to further evolve our species by enhancing our memory and experiences with computer technology. In the future, implants may give us the extra storage and senses we need. Watch this fascinating (if not terrifying) video to see what I mean.
Do I know it is possible and probable? Yes.
Am I a fan of it? No.
Do I find lots of ethical and religious problems with it? Yes.
But! Nonetheless, many people see this as a route to the learning of the future. Imagine how much sooner we can become productive members of society if we could program early learning and spend more time on other tasks? How about the efficiency of military members who could accomplish more, more safely with the help of technology?
Sure, it sounds awesome… until all those microwaves and radio waves cause an epidemic of brain cancer. And, of course, until we lose the only thing that has made us human to begin with: The ability to learn and innovate unlike any other species on Earth.
Which theory do you agree with? Comment Below!
**Featured Image used with permission. By: Gerd Leonhard. Used under a Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gleonhard/18732734804