What is Constructivism?


ducation has come an incredible way in the past hundred years. Plenty of practices that were once foundational are now unthinkable (the cane, anyone?).

Now, modern education seems synonymous with meditation, beanbags and personal iPads. Rote learning and memorisation have become dirty words. We know that learning is supposed to be engaging and fun, but it’s easy to feel like you missed the memo on how exactly you’re supposed to achieve that without the expensive, brightly coloured furniture.

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Constructivism is about constructing knowledge in stages.

Skip the beanbags.

At the heart of the revolution was an idea pioneered by Swisse psychologist Jean Piaget. After studying the way that children learned, he proposed that learning isn’t a linear process of giving and receiving facts. Instead, it’s an active, transformative process of constructing knowledge and developing understanding.

Piaget realised that we aren’t neutral receptacles waiting to be told what’s what. Instead, we connect everything we learn to our prior experiences and knowledge in a process he called adaptation. Have you ever been learning something new and suddenly had an “Aha!” light-bulb moment because you remembered an experience that explains or applies to what you’re learning? Now you look back on that moment with a new light that brings it into focus and sharpens your understanding. At the same time, you better comprehend what you’ve just been learning. That’s adaptation at work!

The upshot is that you have a chance to build learning that takes root and continues to grow in the minds of your learners long after they’ve finished an eLearning module. By taking a step back and thinking about how you can structure your learning to better assist your learners’ constructive process, you can vastly improve your learner’s results.

Try this instead.

1. Identify the steps to learning.

Before you start anything else, take a good look at your content and think about how to structure it. What are the basic building blocks your learner needs to know before they can understand the more complex concepts? Are there important terms that need to be defined for your learner to understand what you’re talking about? Laying down good foundations is critical for the success of the whole building.

2. Evoke prior knowledge and experiences

When learners connect new knowledge to old knowledge through adaptation, the result is understanding that sticks. Ask your learners to reflect on their previous experiences so they’re primed to connect what they’re learning to what they already know.

3. Create new experiences

You don’t need to throw your employees into the field for them to learn effectively. Storytelling is a powerful way to create vicarious experiences that can teach just as effectively as personal experience. This is why it’s so important to integrate narratives and scenarios throughout your learning. Write stories with believable plots and characters, and don’t be afraid to inject some humour!

4. Make it engaging. 

Constructing knowledge is an active process that is most effective when the learner can directly interact with the content. In HowToo, there’s a wide range of interactive blocks that allow learners to engage with the content instead of just clicking through screen after screen of text. Think about ways that you can get the learner directly involved in the learning process.

You don’t need a crazy classroom to create fun and engaging learning that has your learners coming back for more. Instead, just knowing how humans are wired to construct knowledge can help you design learning that makes sense and takes root in the minds of your learners.

Free guide. 8 Steps to creating online training your team will love. Download now.
Aug 18, 2020
Learning Design

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