Importance of Community in Constructivist Online Learning Environments
In this paper, I will examine the importance of interaction in constructivist online learning environment and how the community affects online learning.
In order to show that the community and interaction are important to online learning and especially to the constructivist learning environments, this paper will first examine the definition of constructivist approach, identify relevant types of interaction and define community as it is understood in online learning environment. In addition the connection between the interaction and community building and the effects of interactions on the community will be examined. This paper will also take a look at the importance of community in the constructivist learning environment, by examining the interaction and community building, and will explain why the constructivist online learning goes beyond information or knowledge delivery.
Constructivist Learning Theory
Constructivism as a paradigm, and a foundation for some distance education theories, asserts that the knowledge is construed by learners based on their own experience and reality. According to constructivist learning theory the instructor doesn’t deliver the knowledge to the student, instead the student interprets and processes the information received, and thus creates an individualized and contextualized knowledge. Another important aspect of constructivist school of learning is the role of the learner and the instructor, where the student becomes central, and the instructor steps back into an advisory and facilitative role (Ally, 2008).
In the learner centered, constructivist learning environment, the instructor and even student roles can change. Instructor is not in the center any more, and takes on a role of a facilitator, putting emphasis on the process of learning and helping students learn and construct their own knowledge. By facilitating and aiding interaction, instructors even provide social support to the students (Carwile, 2007).
Constructivism in Online Learning Environments
Constructivist approach has a great presence in literature about online learning, and has been suggested as the foundation of many online learning theories. Mohamed Ally (2008) notes significance the constructivist school has on online learning. He then highlights the importance of two elements. First is the learner centered environment, where the learners have control of constructing their own deeper knowledge that is meaningful to them; and second the collaboration and interaction which create a community and aid, in conjunction with reflection, deeper and more meaningful learning. Constructivists further this idea of meaningful learning and suggest that it is only possible in larger context, and when it is achieved by a shared experience through interaction (Anderson, Annand & Wark, 2005). Interaction and community become an important part of the constructivist...