Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

The social learning theory is another effective teaching strategy that is used in many different classrooms. This learning theory is often called cooperative learning. Many teachers use cooperative learning as way to teach our students how to interact, connect, and communicate with each other. It can also be used to teach our students how to take responsible for their learning. By having our students work and communicate in small groups it allows them to talk, share, and discuss with each other. During these discussions, students bounce ideas off each other, ask questions, and hopefully figure out the answers together. This allows students to take on the role of both teacher and student and in the process they learn from each instead of always relying on the teacher for help.

I believe that in order for the social learning theory or cooperative learning to be effective, it needs to be paired with another learning theory. For example, teachers often combine the social and constructionism learning theory. By combing these two theories, teachers require that students work and communicate with each other to create a meaningful artifact that can illustrate what students have learned. To make the activity more engaging, teachers incorporate the use of technology. Technology gives students the opportunity to not only communicate and create in the classroom but outside of the classroom as well. In this week’s resources the theory of connectivism was introduced. This theory incorporates many advantage of technology such as the abundant amount of information available and the multiple outlets or networks available for use. In today’s technology world, students can use their small phones, laptops, and computers to access vase amounts of information and communicate with anyone regardless of their location. Technology allows gives student of advantage to visualize, see, and view information which aids with learning. Cooperative learning is an effective strategy to use because it requires that students work with each other and hopefully learn something from each other. It can be effective because when students learn from each other that switch roles between student and teacher and in turn are responsible for their own learning.

The social learning theory can be a powerful instructional and teaching strategy when used correctly. I think it is important to use this strategy to aid with other learning theories and not rely on this strategy as student’s only source of learning. It is important to allow students to create meaningful artifacts based on the information taught in order to avoid inert knowledge. We use the cooperative learning to have students communicate with their peers but we also need to ensure that our students can apply what the information taught to a situation or task.

Voicethread Link:


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer) (2010) Social Learning Theories. Retrieved from
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer) (2010) Connectivism as a Learning Theory. Retrieved from
Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Constructivism in Practice

The constructionist theory focuses on the individual concept of learning. This theory is based on the idea that each individual constructs their own meaning of knowledge.  As teachers, this should be an easy concept to understand because we understand that each student learns and processes information differently. However, teachers focus on the constructionism theory of learning, which suggests that individuals learn best when build or create something that can be shared with others. Many teachers use this learning theory as a form of assessment. If our students can build a product, finish a problem, or complete an assignment or project that we can measure if learning occurred. Together in a “perfect classroom” the two can be used to create equilibration. This would mean that teacher and student can find a balance between the content being taught and how well the student understands the information in order for learning to occur.
There are several instructional strategies that can be applied to the constructivist or constructionist learning theory. One of the most common instructional strategies that teachers use is technology. Technology is useful because it applies to both theories. Each individual student can use technology to construct a product based on how they understand and interpret the information. I see this a lot when PowerPoint presentations are assigned in my classroom. Each student puts the information in their own words so it is easy for them to present and understand.  Every PowerPoint and presentation is created, designed, and presented differently to fit the personality of each student. However the end result is the same, the concept or subject matter is learned effectively. A second instructional strategy that teachers use is generating and testing a hypothesis. In this strategy we allow students to assimilation or generate a question based on the information they understood and then we allow students to accommodate by testing their hypothesis or proving if they were correct. In the classroom the concept of generating and testing hypotheses is done in many different forms including problem-solving, inquiry based approaches or projects. Again technology can offer a huge advantage to this different because technology can be used to view, interpret, analyze, and report data. We can even use technology to translate data into visual aids such as spreadsheets, charts, or graphs.
I do believe that in the classroom constructivist and constructionist theories are used often. It is important to let each student process and learn information that best suits their learning style. At the same time, every teacher strives to have their student create a meaning product that can demonstrate what they have learned. By creating activities that allow students to create an artifact we are not only promoting effective learning but we are keeping students engaged as well. This creates an ideal environment where students are not only learning from the teacher but from each other as well.  I have learned that this helps tremendously in the classroom. Students may not always understand when I explain a concept but sometimes having a classmates explain the same concept in their own language can make a world of difference.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer) (2010) Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories. Retrieved from
Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cognitivism in Practice

The cognitive learning process focuses on processing information. In today’s classroom, teachers are using technology as a cognitive learning tool to help students retain and understand information. Technology is being used to not only retain information but it is also being used to process information as well. When information is processed it goes through the stages of input, short term memory, and long term memory. As discussed in this week’s learning resources information is stored not only as text, but also as images. The advantage of using technology is that it gives students the opportunity to see, practice, and demonstrate what they have learned.

In our textbook there are two strategies that are normally associated with technology; cues, questions, and advance organizers and summarizing and note taking.  These strategies can also be used to demonstrate the cognitive learning theories. Cues and questions are used to retrieve information, while teachers provide students with graphic organizers to organize and store information. In the video resource this week Dr. Orey discussed how we do not forget information, we simply loose the connection to information that has been stored in our memory. When this happens to our students we give them cues or ask them leading questions to help them find the connection that is temporarily lost.  If our cues and questions are not helping then the can refer to the information in their graphic organizers.  The wonderful thing about technology is that there are thousands of graphic organizers available online that can be used depending on the subject matter and content.

Summarizing and note taking are used in the classroom by focusing on how to understand, process, retain, and use information.  During lecturing or discussion, we summarize information by highlighting the important material, substitute information by providing examples for our students and analyze how this information can be used. During note taking is it important to summarize information because we want our students to organize the information so it is easier for them to understand. Because each student processes information differently, it is helpful to use advance organizer to allow students to structure their own notes in their own way so they can retain and learn information.  Summarizing and note taking, as well as cues, questions, and organizers, can all be effective learning tools when used properly.

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Behaviorism in Practice

Every teacher desires to become effective. In order to become an effective teacher we develop a plan for our classroom and our student. This plan includes instructional strategies. These instructional strategies guide how the content will be taught and how our students will learn.  Instructional strategies are also used to guide behavior.  How we teach can determine how our students behave.  When deciding on which instructional strategy to use, teachers must also decide on how to monitor, control, reward, and correct behavior. These factors are a part of the behaviorist theory. The behaviorist theory is composed of two factors; reinforcement and punishment.  Reinforcement is used for positive behavior and punishment is used for negative behavior.

When a child does something wrong, they are punished. The same practice occurs in the classroom; when a student misbehaves in the classroom there is a consequence for their action.  This week Dr. Orey talked about remediation as an instructional strategy and how it is viewed negatively. When a student cannot demonstrate what they have learned we use technology as a form of remediation.  During this stage, students go through online programs and tutorials to learn skills and concepts.  It is viewed negatively because the student has no interaction or engaging experiences with others.  Because they are being forced to sit in a lab on a computer for hours with no interaction with others, students view this as a punishment. However, what they learn is the right behavior promotes effective learning and negative behavior decreases learning which leads to a consequences or punishment.

The other side of the behaviorist theory is reinforcement for positive behavior. For any teacher, this is the most desirable theory to have in the classroom. This form of reinforcement guides students through content questions or small activities where if they do something correctly they are rewarded by moving to the next step or if students are incorrect then reinforcement occurs. Reinforcement can take many forms through the use of technology weather it is practiced in programmed instruction or online tutorials.  These strategies are effective because by completing these activities not only are students engaged but it also gives students the opportunity to demonstrate and practice what they are learning. Positive reinforcement leads to positive behavior.  When student exhibits a positive or learned behavior then they are rewarded weather that reward is given by the teacher or it is a personal sense of satisfaction for the student.  Reinforcement is a better instructional strategy than punishment. The use of reinforcement creates a positive engaging environment for our students which will only enhance their learning experience.

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from