Skip to main content

Technology - helping them think through collaboration

At the risk of sounding boring I am still harping on about a constructivist approach and how technology is a perfect partner for it - an "optimal medium for the application of constructivist principles to learning".  I have made no bones about the fact that I am rather partial to a constructivist approach.  I truly believe in enabling pupils to discover and determine for themselves as I believe it leads to better learning and learners.

So if I truly believe in this approach and that there is a close relationship between technology and constructivism given that the implementation of each one benefits the other what can I do to ensure overall success?   Keep in mind too that whilst students might be motivated by technology use in class (that's not always a given) they don't necessarily want to have to think for themselves (as mentioned before).  Undoubtedly many of my students have enjoyed being passive recipients of knowledge for many years and they can find themselves perplexed by a constructivist approach.  After all, "how to teach is the teacher's choice, how to learn is the student's choice" (Perkins).

As teacher I am going to need to be resourceful, creative and innovative.  Nothing new there then - this is surely something we all do as teachers everyday. 

So, for this project I chose wikispaces as my medium.  The pages are neatly divided into topic areas and grammatical concepts that need to be learned, internalised and re-applied.  In each of these topic areas there is a focus on some drill and skill exercises and there are a variety of tasks, many of them open-ended.  More importantly there are pages allocated for collaboration.  Why importantly?  The benefit of collaboration is dialogue that can facilitate deeper learning and the advantage of creating a course using a wikispace is that interaction can take place not just between the student and the teacher but between the students themselves.  It's a type of reciprocal teaching that opens discussion amongst my students to which I am able to respond and provide guidance to further promote cognitive processes and understanding.
I know that collaboration can exist in an environment where technology does not play a part but collaboration can be that much more successful and effective when all parties can play a full and active role which is not always possible when work is produced on paper or conversations take place around the room as opposed to a discussion forum.  There is always the one who gets away with doing nothing very much at all.  Collaboration in an environment such as wikispaces provides a whole different aspect that is certainly most welcome in my classroom.


Gilakjani A, Leong L-M, & Ismail, H (2013) ‘Teachers Use of Technology and Constructivism’ I. J Modern Education and Computer Science 4: 49 - 63

Perkins, David (2005) 'Constructivism and troublesome knowledge' in J. Meyer and R. Land (ed.) Overcoming barriers to student understanding Routledge: 33-48


Popular posts from this blog

3 Core Principles to consider when using Tablets & Office 365

Technology must not cloud the pedagogical intent.Having made a start at explaining how I use Microsoft in Education in these three posts here (Learning to teach with Microsoft in Education, First steps with OneNote and Tags & Templates) I want to take a step back and outline my thinking behind using this technology in the first place. I am teaching at a school where a decision has been made to commit to using Microsoft Surface Pro and the suite of Office 365 tools and although this has meant learning about a new set of tools essentially I am in favour of the decision and all its implications.  In fact, use of technology to enhance what pupils are able to learn and achieve in the classroom very much fits in with my intrinsic teaching methods and my ideology.  I have posted on many occasions about technology use.  This post from last June clearly outlines how technology can have an impact on the different stages of teaching.  
As I embark on my second term with my Surface Pro and O…

First steps with OneNote

In all my years of teaching I have always written to-do lists to help me keep organised and have had a lovely black academic diary that I have refilled each year.  However, over time I have relied increasingly on my outlook calendar for important dates and deadlines.  Last April, knowing that as a school we would be implementing Office 365 tools in the classroom in the near future, I saw that One Note would be a good place for me to start learning.  I could cut my teeth on my own Notebook and be ready to introduce Class Notebook in September.

I started using my notebook as a personal organiser in late May and by the end of June I had made my decision to give up my old ways of organising my busy working life.  As time has gone on I have become more adept at using the tool and have organised my Notebook accordingly.

Firstly some OneNote Notebook clarification:

A Notebook has sectionsWithin sections there are pagesPages can have sub-pages. In plain language, imagine that a Notebook is lik…

Does education really need technology?

There may be many with a view on what makes for a good lesson.  Most would not argue with the ideas clearly expounded upon by Hattie and Yates (1) that a good lesson starts with an initial review of knowledge, moves on to a formal presentation, guided practice, initial feedback, independent practice and a follow-up review.  In terms of my own practice this is a model that I follow.  Not via any particular tools because I know that my target audience need variety and must not settle into any type of formulaic process.  Thus, I follow the steps but use different methods. Far be it for me to claim that this effective lesson cannot be achieved without technology.  Having started my teaching career over 20 years ago I know that it is possible to be an effective practitioner and deliver a lesson where progress is made using old-fashioned methods that may well have included some worksheets created on the trusty (rusty?) Banda machine.  Nor am I here to advocate that this process is more effe…