23 March 2011

Social Constructivism

Social constructivist argue that learning should be based on discussion and collaboration. It is only then, are students able to develop ideas, skills and facts. When students are engaged socially with their peers, a holistic learning environments is created where the teacher is seen as a facilitator who supports the learning.

As I was reading a textbook for another unit, I came across a quote which also applies to this theory. "A social constructivist position focuses on the social processes operating in the classroom by which teachers promote a discourse community in which they and their students 'co-construct' knowledge" (Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer &Scott, 1994).

However, the problem with the teacher being the facilitator of such learning, is the assumption that all students have already acquired the prior knowledge necessary to complete the allocated task and that there is a level playing field. Students need to know the high levels of content/skill before they can embark on collabrating socially to ensure no one is left behind.

Learning in today's context has moved away from the old chalkboard concept to technologically adept strategies. Increasingly, students are required to use the web for not only acquiring new information but also as a platform to showcase their level of understanding of concepts/skills.

There certainly is a co-relation between social constructivism and new technologies like web 2.0. One main similarity that jumps at me is the shift away from teacher being the master of knowledge to teacher acting as  a facilitator to student learning, creating a climate that is conducive to cooperation and collaborative learning while motivating students at the same time. Web 2.0 is just like a social constructivist classroom, as it encompasses decentralization of information.

A social constructivist approach suits the utilization of web 2.0 tools where learning is student-centered. The goal of this would be for students to use these tools to construct their ideas individually, with peers or with a teacher. This is some what similar to what we are doing currently; creating a blog (web 2.0 tool), making a posting (individual work), making a comment on a classmate's post (discussion and collaborationwith peers), replying to Mark's comments on our individual post (discussion and reflection). :)

In my opinion, blogs are a great way to introduce one of the many web 2.0 tools. As much as we are able to write our thoughts and views, we are made to take ownership of our words. It also allows us to reflect upon our words, discuss and collaborate with our peers and make adjustments to our initial discovery. These are skills that we as pre-service teachers have to aim to pass on to our students in the future.


  1. You give a good overview of the benefits and also some drawbacks of social constructivism. Can you say a bit more about what you see as the link between social constructivism and new technologies, especially web 2.0?

  2. I've now included the links, Mark. Thanks. :)

  3. Your blog post is much stronger with those links made explicit. It reads really well as an account of the match between social constructivist pedagogy and web 2.0 technology.