Constructivism and the Technology of Instruction: A Conversation

Constructivism and the Technology of Instruction: A Conversation

Constructivism and the Technology of Instruction: A Conversation

Constructivism and the Technology of Instruction: A Conversation

Synopsis

This book is about the implications of constructivism for instructional design practices, and more importantly, it is about a dialogue between instructional developers and learning theorists. Working with colleagues in each discipline, the editors were amazed to find a general lack of familiarity with each others' work. From an instructional design perspective, it seems that the practice of instructional design must be based on some conception of how people learn and what it means to learn. From a learning theory perspective, it seems obvious that the value of learning theory rests in the ability to predict the impact of alternative learning environments or instructional practices on what is learned. Thus the interchange of ideas between these disciplines is essential.

As a consequence of both the information rich environment and the technological capability, business is seen moving away from a fixed curriculum and toward providing information and instruction when it is needed. These changes bring about a window of opportunity establishing a dialogue that will provide for a richer understanding of learning and the instructional environment required to achieve that learning. The editors hope that this book is the beginning of the conversation and that it will serve to spur continued conversation between those involved in learning theory and those involved in the design of instruction.

Excerpt

This book is about the implications of constructivism for instructional-design practice. However, more importantly, it is a dialogue between instructional developers and learning theorists. We have been involved in both the theory of learning and the practice of instructional design. As we work with colleagues in each discipline, we have been amazed to find a general lack of familiarity with each other's work. Indeed, most often there is even a lack of interest in the work of the other. Even the leading publishers in the two fields, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates and Educational Technology Publications, had never met until conferring for the preparation of this book. Just as the preparation of this book served as a vehicle for the publishers to exchange ideas, so too we hope that the book itself will serve as a vehicle for the exchange of ideas between learning theory and instructional practice.

We find the lack of communication between these fields extremely surprising and puzzling. From an instructional-design perspective, it seems to us that the practice of instructional design must be based on some conception of how people learn and on what it means to learn. From a learning-theory perspective, it also seems quite obvious that the value of learning theory rests in the ability to predict the impact of alternative learning environments or instructional practices on what is learned. Thus, the interchange of ideas between these disciplines is essential.

Constructivism provided a very important vehicle for establishing the dialogue. It is not that constructivism is a new perspective. Rather, we think that two changes in our society--the volume of information we must manage and the new opportunities provided through technology-- have caused us to revisit constructivism. The effect has been indirect.

The information age and the technological capabilities have caused us to reconceptualize the learning process and to design new instructional approaches. Both the learning theories and the instructional approaches are consistent with the constructivist epistemology. The information age has resulted in rapidly increasing and changing information while at the same time making it more available. Traditional models of learning and instruction emphasized forms of mastering the information in a content domain. Storing information and being able to recall it was central to the missions of both schools and business training. However, it simply is no longer possible (there is too much) or even reasonable (it changes too rapidly) to master most content domains.

Numerous technological advances have permitted us (perhaps required us) to move away from instructional strategies that focus on the . . .

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