The First Week

The first week has hit me super awkward – like 9th grade prom kind of awkward.  As I mentioned in the very first post on Moodle, I felt like a prof who let us re-arrange the chairs must be a lunatic or a genius.  Now I’m blogging about my feelings!  This is already beyond my ‘script’ for courses, particularly online courses.  I completed half a master’s degree, and a graduate certificate, and now this MA program online.  Despite all the rhetoric of the Internet solving all our educational woes, I have generally found online classes to be even more formulaic than seated class.  Not so for this class!

I wrote an article this past summer on the flipped classroom as it pertains to library instruction (you can read it online for free) and I came across the phrase ‘social constructivism’.  The flipped classroom, where lectures are pre-recorded or abolished completely and class time is spent on hands-on activity, is new trend in education.  Philosophically, the flipped classroom rests on social constructivist assumptions.  Learners learn best in community, learning is optimized when it is largely self-directed, and the instructor facilitates rather than lectures.  Contrast this to the majority of schools, from grade school to grad school – lecture-heavy, formulaic, and professor-centered.  Like a lot of educational theories, social constructivism sounded like high-minded nonsense to me. I also noticed when I discovered this program last year that the Ed Media web page emphasizes that courses are taught in a social constructivist framework.  The first week of this course was a ‘dis-orientation’ and I think, for once, I got a taste of social constructivism.  I’m excited about the possibilities, for myself and for facilitating the learning experiences of others in my work, but also a bit anxious.

I’m attaching a video from the founder of Kahn Academy – an online learning site that uses interactive videos to teach.  While not mentioning social constructivism, I think this video best embodies the spirit of it:

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