Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice
This week, I got the opportunity to explored one of my favorite instructional strategies, Cooperative learning. I also got the chance to investigate the technology that is embedded in cooperative learning. Cooperative learning as defined in, Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works provides students with opportunities to interact with each other in groups in ways that enhance their learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p. 9). This instructional strategy aligns directly with the learning theory we studied this week, Social learning theory, which includes social constructivism, and connectivism.
Dr. Orey, states that if students are actively engaged in constructing an artifact while conversing with colleagues, then they are learning, and social learning theory is in taking place (Laureate Education, Inc. 2011a). Culture and context plays an important role in constructing knowledge and understanding of the world around us (Laureate Education, Inc. 2011a) thus leading to social constructivism. Connectivism, according to Siemens, is the act of constructing knowledge, making sense of the world (Laureate Education, Inc. 2011b). From these learning theories stem collaboration and cooperative learning, a must when initiating social learning theories. When students work together in collaborative or cooperative groups they are assisting each other in developing understanding of the content.
With cooperative learning, the authors suggest five components for establishing assignments: 1) Positive interdependence, 2) face-to-face, promotive interaction, 3) individual and group accountability, 4) interpersonal and small-group skills, and 5) group processing (Pitler, et. al. 2007, p. 140). With social learning theories, students are required to “construct” something, hence the need for technology, what better way for students to showcase their learning than with the use of technology. As stated in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, technology plays a vital role in cooperative learning by facilitating group collaboration, provides structure for group task, and allows for members of groups to communicate even if they are not face to face (Pitler et. al., 2007, p. 140).
The technology that is embedded in cooperative learning is multimedia, Web resources, and communication software. Multimedia can stem anywhere from PowerPoint, prezi, movie maker, publisher and voicethread. This year our school participated in a book study, the book we read was The Art and Science of Teaching, by Marzano, each department choose a topic and presented to our faculty during our faculty meeting. My department, choose to construct a multimedia project to present our understanding of the chapter. Each person was given a section of the chapter they had to read and summarize, we would meet weekly to discuss our findings and work on our product, take a look at our prezi . With these activities teachers must ensure that students are provided with a rubric that outlines what is expected and how they will be evaluated, since this will be the driving force for these assignments. Web resources can include blogs, Wikis, prezi, websites, Google, edmodo and blackboard. Last semester I was given the privilege to work collaboratively with the member of my PLC and construct a Wiki, I enjoyed every moment of this activity, since we worked together to produce a product even though we were miles away from each other, see our final product here. I incorporated edmodo into my reading class last school year; I realized that my students liked working on edmodo much more than working in our text. With that in mind I would post assignments on line, and have the students respond during class using their phones or tablets. Communication tools can also include blogs, wikis, edmodo, facebook, twitter, text message, Skype, instant messenger, and email. At the middle school level, I had email accounts for all my students, and with this students were able to email assignments, questions, and suggestions for class. Now that I am at the high school level, can use text messages, instant messenger and blogs to communicate with my students and parents. There is no question as to whether cooperative learning and social learning theories goes hand-in-hand. Cooperative learning strategies positively correlates with social learning theory, as they both require students to work together and create a product.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011a). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b) Program nine: Connectivism as a learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that work. Alexandria, VA. ASCD