Got Social?

Thinking about learning.

Over the past few months I have spent a great deal of time thinking about learning. Clearly, having applied for and been accepted into a PhD program, I’ve been thinking about my own learning. But part of that process was thinking about how others learn.

I knew I didn’t want to take a very scientific route and figure out what happens in the brain that allows learning to happen. Although that sounds very interesting, it wasn’t really at the heart of my question. My question? Hmmm. I have a question? Well, yes, I guess I must. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I know that I will eventually have to settle on one and write about it or else I’ll never write a dissertation.

Perhaps a good place to start is to look at how, why, if, and when technology has an impact on the learning process.” There is a lot wrapped up in that though, so perhaps that needs to be four discrete questions:
• How technology has an impact on the learning process.
• Why technology has an impact on the learning process.
• If technology has an impact on the learning process.
• When technology has an impact on the learning process.

At first glance those last two questions appear as if they need to be combined. If technology does NOT have an impact on the learning process then the when is irrelevant. But if technology DOES have an impact on the learning process, then “when” becomes a very important follow up question.

Social Constructivism – “you are here”

Monday, January 12, 2009

Like on a map, I’m looking around academically for the big red spot that tells me
“you are here”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Frost, Robert. Mountain Interval. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920;, 1999. 12 January 2009.

Recently I posted to my social networks a request for “who and what should I be reading about social constructivism”. I got the following responses:

* Dewey
* Gee
* Werstch
* Activity theory
* Vygotsky
* Jonassen
* An article by D. Robbie and L. Zeeng, published in the International Journal of Learning, called “Engaging Student Social Networks to Motivate Learning: Capturing, Analyzing, and Critiquing the Visual Image.”
* An article (or is it a series of articles, I can’t tell at first glance) I believe is titles “Philosophy of Technology Meets Social Constructivism” by Phillip Brey, from Twente University, in the Society for Philosophy and Technology. The link for that article is

Dewey, I’m guessing is John Dewey.
Gee probably has to be James Paul Gee
Wertsch must be James Wertsch

I’m seeing a trend here – I’ll take People With the First Initial J, Alex.

Lev Vygotsky is of course a must for this. I should probably read JeanPiaget also, although clearly Piaget is less about social constructivism, but still.
David Jonassen I’ve already run into, so he is definitely on my list
The two specific articles provided are definitely going to be looked into.
I’d also found Starr Roxanne Hiltz and Frances K. Stage _ I’ll be looking into them a bit more.

This is clearly a great start – but there has to be more. Is there a specific work you like that deals with constructivism, specifically social constructivism?

If the theoretical hair on the back of your neck stands up when you think about social constructivism (a lot of hooey, you think), then what should I be reading that you believes supports that viewpoint. Academic need to be critical thinkers – we need to be able to take a 360 degree look at something. I might not end up agreeing but at the very least I’ll have a better idea why I’m focusing on this.

Post your thoughts here – or reach out to me by email, through Facebook, or through Twitter.