Etec530: Constructivism Strategies for E-Learning

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Constructivism was introduced in Etec530 as a radically new understanding repudiating the traditional analysis of knowledge and explaining that knowledge is not objective “truths” that can be transmitted or discovered but rather “viable explanations constructed by humans” (Fosnot, 2005, p.16), that’s to say, there is a single way of knowing something. This perspective has been very challenging to the way we conceive computing. It raises pivotal questions about our field that I was able to find answers for throughout the ETEC530 tasks: 

some learning outcomes from etec530
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Conceptual Design

The dichotomy between constructivist epistemology and computing is related to the ontological question “what is computing?” which is a fundamentally multifaceted and unresolved issue (Ben-Ari, 1998). The possible answer to this question tends to be framed within one of two poles (hover over the image below to see both):

Computing is an abstract entity, a field within mathematics, and the notion of programming is founded on correctness (Beynon, 2009).
Computing isn't merely abstract but also a concrete entity, sharing aspects within engineering, and the notion of programming is founded on the "knowledge of effective values” (Colburn & Shute, 2010 p.128) and the adequate methods to test correctness.

Beynon (2009) notion indeed limits any investigations about constructivism in our discipline. It also cast a shadow over computer education, as overly constrained to the knowledge of code, which I believe is not sufficient to deal with the interdisciplinarity of computing and the diversity of its uses in other fields. 

However, Colburn and Shute (2010) notion means computing is after the viable knowledge (that worked out to solve the problems) rather than uncovering objective truths as in the traditional sense of tripartite analysis and realism. Within the latter view, I believe that we are presented with reconciliation with the constructivist epistemology and broader perspective for the practitioners in computer science education (CSE), going beyond the technical literacy towards the ultimate goal of developing the intellectual character (Pritchard, 2018); a required trait for accommodating coding for the uses of other fields.

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Lesson Plan - Scratching the Bee-Bot: Goals [1 & 2] Hover here Goal [1] To gain a deeper understanding about the philosophy, theory and research that presently informs educational technology practice and apply them in the technology integration of my workplace.

Goal [2] To apply knowledge and skills to create educational resources aimed at broadening interest in computer science education.

Following the guidelines available in BC Ministry of Education (2018), I designed a lesson plan entitled “Scratching the Bee-bot” for Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies (ADST) grade 8 students based on the available literature on constructivism. The artifact is meant to improve programming pedagogy by assisting youth in building their CS knowledge, overcoming learning barriers, such as a loss of intentionality when designing programming activities, and supporting the development of their intellectual character, which may enable future coders to respond to the complex needs and the constantly changing and evolving demands of technology



Even though I was explored constructivism in Etec512, I admit I haven’t considered the epistemological position or how the theory may be applied to CS education. ETEC530 was a more rich embellished experience that allowed me to understand constructivism in-depth and its meaningful claim:

We cannot afford to forget that knowledge doesn't exist outside a person's mind (Von Glaserfeld, 2005, p.23)
My big learning moments in Etec530

 Taking this learning experience in to my practice, I suggested in my work context to command a participatory design process involving educators as a vital stakeholder from the earliest stages of our current system development and through all operations (i.e., as cross-stakeholder collaboration). Hence, our development of the future system reflects the constructivist thinking and learning approaches.

As a final thought, I believe there is a need to rethink the changes that might be required to improve the theory of constructivism. I am reminded of a partner that pondered if the ideas of constructivism are too old? Reasonable to ask as the theory does not introduce a shift from the traditional dualist framework of thinking. Additionally, constructivism was developed when technology wasn’t as a pervasive driving force in education in the way it is today. Therefore, educators and theorists need to plan for and anticipate the future of constructivism or perhaps validate ideas like dualism.