A commenter on last week’s post asked an implicit question that caused me to think. The issue was whether the solutions I was proposing are having the learners be self directed or whether it was ‘push’ learning. And I reckon there’s a bit of both, but I’m fighting for more of a constuctivist approach than the instructivist model.
I’ve argued in the past for a more active learning, and I think the argument for pure instructivism sets up a straw man (Feuerzeig argued for guided discovery back in ’85!). Obviously, I think that pure exploration is doomed to failure, as we know that learners can stay in one small corner of a search space without support (hence the coaching in Quest). However, a completely guided experience doesn’t ‘stick’ as well, either.
Another factor is our target learners. In my experience, more constructivist approaches can be disturbing to learners who have had more instructivist approaches. And the learners we are dealing with haven’t been that successful in school, and typically need a lot of scaffolding.
Yet our goals are fairly pragmatic overall (and in general we should be looking for ways to pragmatic in more of our learning). We’re focused on meaningful skills, so we should leverage this.
In this case, I’m moving the design to more and more “here’s a goal, here’re some resources” type of approach where the goal is to generate a work-related integration (requiring relevant cognitive processing). Even if it’s conceptual material, I want learners to be doing this, and of course the main focus is on real contextualized practice.
I’m pushing a very activity-based pedagogy (and curriculum). Yes, the tasks are designed, but they’re expected to take some responsibility for processing the information to produce outputs. The longer term goal is to increase the challenge and variety as we go through the curriculum, developing learner’s ability to learn to learn and ability to adapt as well. Make sense?