It is quite obvious that online learning will continue to increase in popularity. It pays to get to know the different strategies that will make the online learning experience as valuable and effective as possible. So how can social constructivism help enrich the learning process even as it happens online?
What is social constructivism?
This is a concept developed by Lev Vygotsky – a Soviet psychologist during the post-revolutionary times. He believed that you can never separate learning from its social context. He mentioned that all cognitive functions started from a form of social interaction. This is why the best way to explain these is through social means.
He explained that we do not learn and absorb things on our own. We are integrated into a knowledge community and that is how the learning happens. Vygotsky’s theory believed that children initially learn on a social level before they start learning from within. What they see and experience as their interactions with others will leave a mark in their consciousness. That shapes how they perceive things that how they will eventually filter what they want to learn or adapt into.
But how does this relate to virtual learning? What happens to learning when you are physically alone in a room while you try to absorb ideas and concepts through the screen?
Here’s the thing – just because the learning happens online and there is nobody physically beside you, that does not mean you are alone. There is still some social interaction – it just happens through the screen as well. In fact, the social connection and possibilities may even be greater because you can reach even those who are beyond your local area. It opens doors for you to learn even from those who are miles away from you.
Social constructivism and virtual learning
Without a doubt, the concept of learning in a social environment is possible online. We are all pretty immersed in social networking sites so we all know that this connecting to other people online is not unheard of. It is just quite different from what we are used to in the traditional classroom.
In essence, virtual learning can still integrate a certain level of collaboration. The learner is usually passive in the sense that they read, watch, and listen to learn. The instructor relies on technology to deliver the lesson and the knowledge within it.
However, recent developments in technology have made it possible to increase the social interaction online. Social constructivism can only be considered a success if there is active engagement. Thanks to the most sophisticated learning management systems, it is now possible for learners to interact and engage in the lesson – even while it all happens online. There are tools available that will help instructors take on the role of a facilitator. This will leave a lot of room for the learners to take charge of the learning process as the instructor guides and supports throughout the course.
The key here is to make sure the interaction and engagement are high. You can start with the clicks and the drags of the mouse. Use a cartoon or animation that will guide the learners as the course goes from one segment to another. It is important to find the right tools and programs that will make social constructivism possible in every aspect of the virtual learning process. Once you realize the possibilities, it will definitely take learning to a different level.
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