Web-Based Learning Tools

Throughout this program and my teaching career, I have been interested in applying learning and instructional theories to either the creation of new web-based learning tools, or the use of pre-existing web-based learning tools.

Over the past three years, I have taught online in addition to teaching in the classroom, using Ontario’s provincial learning management system. One of the challenges I found in working with the curriculum designed for e-Learning is that it relies primarily on transmissive instruction (Choi, Hernandez-Serrano, & Jonassen, 2002). This theory of learning is problematic because it relies on certain assumptions: “From an ontological perspective, transmissive instruction assumes that knowledge is a kind of object that can be conveyed and possessed by individuals. Epistemologically, transmissive instruction assumes that knowing involves students receiving, processing, and interpreting what teachers tell them” (p.104).  If teachers communicate the information clearly, the assumption is that students will be able to learn it. But how does this account for the kinds of informal learning students do on their own?

A constructivist approach to learning requires students to be active in the meaning-making process. The web-based learning tools I developed or worked with allow students to actively construct and co-construct knowledge. Knowledge is not something that is transmitted by these tools—it is something that is constructed. Choi et al.  (2002) state : “From a learner-centered, constructivist perspective, learning technologies are tools for mediating the practice of learning. As such, they are tools for representing (reflecting and constructing) learner understanding, tools for socially co-constructing and re-constructing meaning, and intelligent formalisms that amplify learners’ thinking” (p. 113).

My concern is that too often educators focus on what they could do with a particular web-based learning tool and then try to develop a lesson that fits. I am more interested in identifying the learning goal and then choosing the best tool for the job. As such, I’ve focused on the connection between the learning tool and the pedagogy. In this section of my portfolio, you will see many of the artifacts that represent a constructivist and connectivist approach to teaching while providing teachers with opportunities for authentic assessment.