Online constructivism

As we all really begin looking at learning in the context of the web, it’s interesting to take a look at some of the research around the effectiveness of the medium. How some of this information affects you probably depends on how you feel about the web to begin with, how you’ve used it and how successful you’ve felt it’s been for you.

In my working experience, I’ve managed web sites and online communities, but never used them for learning, as facilitator or learner. Personally, I find this incredibly interesting stuff and really look forward to the journey. I think RRU is probably onto something, with a combination of blended intensives and distance courses, because an online-only experience will likely be a weak one for me.

Do you think the web holds the key to a new, promising frontier? Or, perhaps it’s a new way of delivering something that’s always been there.

The Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

I stumbled across an interesting piece out of Germany. I’m not sure I agree with some of it, because in the end a lot of the analysis really identifies issues broadly applicable to emerging social media and doesn’t say much about specific application to learning. Things like protection of data ownership, or that social media is a shift to user-generated content are hardly new notions. Perhaps in the realm of learning, inclusion of user-generated content is new, but not when you simply look at blogs, wikis, media sharing and many other tools on their own. Isn’t constructivist learning about creating your own knowledge by blending new information and past experience?

As opposed to any one point or issue in their article, what Schaffert and Hilzensauer (2008) have really stumbled on is the overarching notion that collaborative tools in an online environment makes it constructivist. They compare a PLE with a Learning Management System (LMS) in much the same way new online social media (web 2.0) in general is compared with the passive information gathering of what is often referred to web 1.0, where there is no way for the user to contribute or create anything new.

Is it easy to see how contributory tools and communities of learners (particularly in cohorts) turns the journey from passive to active, prescribed to constructive?


Schaffert S, & Hilzensauer W, 2008, eLearning Papers, No.9,