Tuesday, 12 February 2008

What is meaningful learning today?

While buried under a never-ending pile of exams to mark again (and increasingly frustrated with the poor-average performance of our students), I've tried to get inspired for the starting new courses. What I am trying to come to grips with is how to make constructivism the guiding principle in most of what is done in my classes. From my recent reading I want to quote David H. Jonassen's insights into meaningful learning. I found this quote from Jonassen's 'Learning to solve problems with technology' (2003) by Zia Ahmadi in the Journal of Educational Computing, Design & Online learning.

Children learn best by constructing their own knowledge. They learn better from each other. Learning best occurs when the teacher does not “teach,” but guides the students and facilitates the learning process by creating a productive environment in which the students can discover, explore, and build an artifact. David Jonassen argues that meaningful learning will occur when technologies engage learners in:

• Knowledge construction, not reproduction

• Conversation, not reception

• Articulation, not repetition

• Collaboration, not competition

• Reflection, not prescription

(Jonassen, p. 15)

A good list to remember when planning and introducing my new project to students. You see, with the type of students we receive in our school (mostly average and below) it's sometimes a hard job to sell any new practices, since many of the students just seem to prefer the 'old method', ie. leisurely passing the time while the teacher does the traditional 'chalk and talk' routine. No effort needed from students if they so choose. But what a waste of young, active, inquisitive minds!

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