E-learning and Constructivism

Elearning and Constructivism


Koohang,A., Riley, L., Smith,T. and  Schreurs, J.  (2009). E-learning and Constructivism: From theory to application. Retrieved from  http://ijello.org/Volume5/IJELLOv5p091-109Koohang655.pdf


Constructivism learning theory

originally posted on April 16, 2015

Constructivism “is the label given to a set of theories about learning which fall somewhere between cognitive and humanistic views.”; “the learner is much more actively involved in a joint enterprise with the teacher of creating (“constructing”) new meaning”.


“Mastery of fundamental ideas of a field involves not only the grasping of general principles, but also the development of an attitude toward learning and inquiry, toward guessing and hunches, toward the possibility of solving problems on one’s own (Bruner,1963).”  Emphasis is on discovery and trial and error. Any subject can be taught at any stage of development. Learning should develop skills to serve us in the future(Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p.14-15).

“Constructivism is foundational to understanding much of adult learning theory and practice…aspects of constructivism, especially the social constructions of knowledge are central to self-directed learning, transformational learning, experiential learning, reflective practice, situated cognition, and communities of practice” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 37).

Key concepts relating to eLearning: learners will be actively involved; learners will build on their own knowledge. The role of the learner is to actively participate in their own education; play an active role in their own learning; reflect on their experiences; accommodate and assimilate new information with their new understanding.

(http://www.ucdoer.ie/index.php/Education_Theory/Constructivism_and_Social_Constructivism_in_the_Classroom). The learners role can be manifested within online learning by participation in discussion groups, research, self-reflection, self-assessment, active enquiry, management of own learning activities.

The role of the constructivist instructor is to act as a guide. The instructor needs to consider the knowledge and experiences of students; provide the necessary resources for students; provide opportunities for students to learn from each other.  Programs should be flexible to permit development along lines of student enquiry; create situations where the students feel safe questioning and reflecting on their own processes; present authentic tasks; and support collaboration in constructing knowledge. (http://www.ucdoer.ie/index.php/Education_Theory/Constructivism_and_Social_Constructivism_in_the_Classroom). “The instructor’s roles were coaching, guiding, mentoring, acknowledging, providing feedback, and assessing student learning.” (http://ijello.org/Volume5/IJELLOv5p091-109Koohang655.pdf). Encourage team working and collaboration, promote discussion, provide opportunities for peer learning, show students’ examples of good practice, have students’ self and peer-assess. (http://www.ucdoer.ie/index.php/Education_Theory/Constructivism_and_Social_Constructivism_in_the_Classroom).

Examples: Forums – these promote discussion and peer learning. For example, a forum on procedures within the medical office would be a good way for students to share ideas and learn from each other.

Case studies – real-life scenarios can be presented in case studies, these foster reflection on what the student might do, and would be a form of authentic assessment.

Partner or group projects – for example, students can work together investigating a disease, or medical tests. This would promote student enquiry, discovery and learning from each other.



Atherton, J. S. (2013). Learning and Teaching; Constructivism in learning.Retrieved from http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/constructivism.htm#ixzz3WgjhFaDJ

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Koohang,A., Riley, L., Smith,T. and  Schreurs, J.  (2009). E-learning and Constructivism: From theory to application. Retrieved from http://ijello.org/Volume5/IJELLOv5p091-109Koohang655.pdf

Merriam, S.B. & Bierema, L.L. (2014). Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice (First edition). United States of America: Jossey-Bass

University College Dublin (n.d.) Education Theory – Constructivism and Social Constructivism in the Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.ucdoer.ie/index.php/Education_Theory/Constructivism_and_Social_Constructivism_in_the_Classroom

Generations of Learners

originally posted on April 16, 2015

Learners are typically grouped in generations. Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z.

According to Learning Solutions, Veterans (born 1925-1945) grew up in times of economic hardship, are disciplined, self sacrificing, respect authority, are loyal, hard-working and dedicated as workers. Baby Boomers (born 1946-64) grew up in economic prosperity. They are competitive, optimistic, and focus on personal accomplishments. They are ‘workaholics’ who often take work home. They have no work-life balance – their job defines them. Generation X (born 1965-1979) divorced parents and a mother at work was the norm. They are resilient, independent, and adaptable. They move in and out of the workforce to accommodate their family and children. Generation Y (also known as Millenial’s) (born 1980-1995), generation Y grew up in good economic times, and spent more time in full-time education than any previous generation. They do not fear unemployment. They are self- confident, self-reliant, questioning, and social. They like to multi-task. Work for them is a means to an end; not their identity. They want flexible working hours, to be able to work from home, and to have time off for travel. Gen Y are happy to leave a job if it does not come up to expectations. They are happy to job hop until they find what they want. (http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/80/understanding-todays-learner). Generation Y read more online than in books, write more online, send texts rather than call, and believe they can do anything they set their mind to. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDAdaaupMno). Generation Z (born 1996 onwards), technology, and particularly the Internet, has been a major influencing factor in their lives. The oldest of this generation is now entering the workforce, and/or attending college/university. (http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/80/understanding-todays-learner)

Veterans, Baby Boomers and Gen X are also classified as “Digital immigrants” – those that learned to use technology vs. Gen Y and Z, “Digital Natives” who grew up with technology. (http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/80/understanding-todays-learner).

It is of course important to find ways of engaging all different ages, cultures and learning needs, regardless of their defined generation. It is also important not to make assumptions e.g do not assume that all gen Y and Z are technology wizards, or that a baby boomer is technologically incompetent.

For digital immigrants printed information and very clear instructions might be important.

For digital natives the following might be useful: shorter chunks of information, visual content,  opportunities to construct their own learning, graphics, videos, games, group activities. (http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf). Gen Y and Z are Experiential – prefer to learn by doing rather by being told what to do; social – they like activities that promote and reinforce social interaction; achievement oriented – they like structure and want to know what it will take to achieve a goal (https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/pub7101b.pdf). Have small group discussions like a forum, team projects, clear structure and provide lots of feedback (http://www.docstoc.com/docs/63832024/Generation-Y—The-Millennial-Generation).


Coates, J. (2007) Intuit, Inc. Generation-Y—The-Millennial-Generation Retrieved from http://www.docstoc.com/docs/63832024/Generation-Y—The-Millennial-Generation

Erickson, T. (2008). Managing Generation Y. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDAdaaupMno

Learning Solutions Magazine. (2015). Understanding Today’s Learner. Retrieved from  http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/80/understanding-todays-learner

Oblinger, D. and Oblinger, J.eds. (2005). Educating the Net Generation. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/pub7101b.pdf

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf