XP on OLPC - a contrarian view

Sameer Verma sverma at sfsu.edu
Sat May 17 11:46:05 EDT 2008


Martin Langhoff wrote:
> On Sat, May 17, 2008 at 4:08 PM, Albert Cahalan <acahalan at gmail.com> wrote:
>   
>> You don't need computers for constructionism. If pushing educational
>> theories of questionable value is your thing,
>>     
>
> Can we stop beating constructionism for no reason, and without any facts?
>
> First, a bit of debunking of the concept: constructionism is the
> strategy used in all those courses at university that are called
> "seminars". 

Indeed, most courses in a business school are a mix of instructionism
and constructionism. We typically have a lecture session followed by a
group project for a case study or some such group activity. The
professor acts as a lecturer in the first part and a facilitator in the
second part. This combination has been used for many years.

In my 14 years of teaching, the "instruction only" approach gets pretty
boring very quickly. You hit a wall when their eyes glaze over and their
behinds hurt from sitting for too long. Similarly, whenever I've given
them a topic and asked them to break into groups without any prelude of
a lecture, it gets hard to get the critical mass for coherent activity.
A combination of both works really well.

I am expressing this as anecdotal observation but there is good
statistical research on this.

Sameer

-- 
Dr. Sameer Verma, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Information Systems
San Francisco State University
San Francisco CA 94132 USA
http://verma.sfsu.edu/
http://opensource.sfsu.edu/


> It is well recognised as a valuable teaching strategy. And
> in general terms, if you've ever figured something out with a friend,
> rather than being taught (as I figured out my first C=64 with my best
> friend at age 9), you've engaged in social constructionism. When kids
> "figure out" the vcr, and show someone else how to do it, that's also
> SC.
>
> Formal research is widespread into this, and seems to consistently
> show that it works, as can be seen in the work of Martin Dougiamas
> (he's the guy I'm most familiar with, definitely not the only one):
> http://scholar.google.co.nz/scholar?q=dougiamas+constructionism
>
> In any case, the discussion these days seems to be "how early can
> social constructionism be useful?", and as far as I can see, it is not
> hard to show that fairly young kids respond amazingly well to sc
> approaches. The hole in the wall experiments are part of a long trail
> of work in that direction.
>
>   
>> I'd rather give the gift of software freedom. Unlike your theories,
>>     
>
> This project has people with different focus from yours Albert. We
> need them all. _You_ care mainly about the sw freedom, others care
> mainly about education. But the overall goal needs both as they are
> complementary.
>
> cheers,
>
>
>
> m
>   




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