Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

One of the readings I explored this week was a chapter entitled “Cooperative Learning” from the book Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).   This chapter integrated well with other resources I have studied this week relating to social learning theories.  Social constructivism, as defined by Dr. Orey (Laureate, 2011), is the theory which speculates that students learn best when they are actively engaged in conversation and making connections with others around the knowledge being learned or better yet, being put into practice through projects or meaningful activities.

This chapter recommends the use of several technological tools to facilitate cooperative learning.  Among them are:  multimedia projects (iMovie), web collaborations (JASON project), keypals (e-mail pen pals), WebQuests , website creation, collaborative organizational tools (calendars, etc), online learning communities (Moodle, Blackboard), multiplayer simulation games, and communication software (Skype).  All of these tools look intriguing to me as they seem like valuable tools to get students engaged in collaborative learning.  I plan to do further exploration of them over the summer holiday for possible use in my classroom next year.

A site that I have heard positive reviews about from friends and colleagues, which was also referenced in this chapter, is moodle.org.  Our school is planning to switch from SchoolFusion to another website program this summer and if the new site doesn’t meet the collaborative needs of my classroom, I may switch to this software.  Does anyone have experience with it?  Another program I have heard much about that incorporates the social aspect of learning via the virtual world is Quest Atlantis (questatlantis.com).  It is an online 3D multiuser learning game that incorporates inquiry tasks and social action.  It requires educators to complete training, so I haven’t had a chance to explore it.  Has anyone heard of or participated in this program? If so, what are your thoughts?

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b). Social learning theories [DVD]. Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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5 Responses to Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

  1. Jodi Cain says:

    Roxie,
    My school district, especially our high school, uses moodle.org in many classes. Teachers use the moodles to post assignments and keep their students on schedule. I have never personally used moodle.org, but it seems to work well with older students. My daughter always checks moodles for her high school courses.
    My building uses GoogleApps or blogging to keep connected with our students and their families. The following is a link to my GoogleApp site which I use for a portal to my classroom. https://sites.google.com/a/gapps.gjps.org/lemasterj/home. I use my portal daily as a way to keep in contact with families in my classroom. I also have started a classroom blog, but because I started it mid-year, the families do not check it regularly. I plan to include this social connection into my classroom from the start of next year.

    • butkusfamily says:

      Thanks for the info, Jodi! I like both your google and your blog site. It must take a lot of time and work to stay up with both of them! My school already uses google docs and the calendar, so this might be an easy solution if our new website isn’t sufficient. Was the google site easy to set up and maintain?

      • Jodi Cain says:

        I thought the Google site was easy to set up. A teacher from another building showed me their site and I copied a lot of their links. You could use mine as a template. I update my homework page every day on GoogleApps. It takes less than 5 minutes and many of my students and their parents rely on it to help them stay on top of homework. It has worked well for me.

  2. Mark Fisher says:

    Roxie and Jodi,
    Something I have done with my class blogs is invited my students to be “authors” of the blog, as well. This way each day one of my students is in charge of going on the blog and posting what we did that day, any notes we may have taken, and any other information. It has made the blog even more efficient, as I am not the one in charge every day, and it has given the students more ownership. Also, as a more Web 2.0 technology, students really focus and pay attention so that their blog posts are accurate and quality.
    Thanks for the idea of Moodle, as well. I will be sure to check that out.

    Mark

  3. Rachel Hopkins says:

    Roxie,
    The technology academy at my school uses moodle and they really like it. I have heard that there are some cool things that you can do with their program. I haven’t really looked into it much but we have trainng sessions this summer that I’m going to check out. I think it’s pretty cool. It’s worth a shot for sure.
    Rachel

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