Collaboration and Constructivism in the 21st Century

Collaboration and Constructivism in the 21st Century.

Other students’ blogs where I commented:

http://www.howardjbrent.com/1/post/2013/01/collaboration.html#comments

(Friedman, 2006) reports that collaboration is one of the key factors influencing the paradigms which keep on driving innovation and change in the 21st Century. He summarizes his findings he the following terms:

Clearly, it  is now possible for more people than ever to collaborate and compete in real time with more other people on more different kinds of work from more different corners of the          planet and on a more equal footing than at any previous time in the history of the world-using        computers, e-mail, networks, teleconferencing, and dynamic new software.

(Rheingold, 2008) takes the issue of teamwork and collaboration to new heights in an impressive video presentation (Retrieved from retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/howard_rheingold_on_collaboration.html) in which he basically distinguishes the old world where humans were self-destroying and the new humanity driven by collaboration where the need to work together emerges from a merely historical perspective to a fundamental human instinct to cooperate. He describes the old era as being illustrated by the survival of the fittest mindset which is grounded on a purely competitive perspective. The new story is introduced progressively as being fertilized by the advent of new technologies as a response to the genuine human needs and desires to communicate and work together in an effort to overcome the limits of individual efforts. Invention of the Alphabet and Printing actually paved the way to mass consumption of religious, economic, and philosophical ideas which enabled the emergence of the internet and the whole new world described by (Friedman, 2006). Referring to the new technologies as enablers “based on the Internet, and in the many-to-many era” where “every desktop is now a printing press, a broadcasting station, a community or a marketplace”, Rheingold confronts our imagination with a strong rationale that collaboration is basically innate to human nature as he reported the observation of a scientist who declared “that altruistic punishment may be the glue that holds societies together”. This explains the societal foundations proposed by Rousseau in the Social Contract where individual freedom is surrendered to the democratic principles of majority rule for the sake of the common good. That same tendency at self-regulation and the quest for idealism in community via collaboration constitutes the instigator which enables the proliferation of new technologies at an unprecedented pace in human history, from the personal computer, network technologies, the internet, the open source model, and specifically Wikipedia which is described to have “used thousands of volunteers to create a free encyclopedia with a million and a half articles in 200 languages in just a couple of years”.

Driscoll (2006) instructs that constructivism rests grounded on interaction, communication, and collaboration as major attributes leading to Critical Thinking, Reasoning, Retention, Understanding, Self-Regulation, and Mindful-Reflection among other learning outcomes. The sociocultural environment with its amplifiers (Bruner, 2005) define the theater of action where learners collaborate to construct, define, redefine, and investigate knowledge under the guidance of teachers using such mechanisms as “micro worlds, collaborative learning and problem scaffolding, goal-based scenarios and problem-based learning, Open software and course management tools” (p. 384). Such an endeavor perfectly fits the 21st Century socio-economic technological and cultural landscape where scientists, researchers, workers, students, and citizens from different corners of the world can gather for the purpose of achieving meaningful purposes using the internet, web 2.0 technologies and collaborative tools.  Among such tools one may include wikis, blogs, podcasts, social networking media, and other tools. The power of interactive television to galvanize support for a given cause or promote an idea or philosophy such as the Arab Spring which have inspired some to label it “The Facebook Revolution” (Radwan, 2011) suffice to illustrate the effective nature of those tools.

(Nanjappa & Grant, 2003) informs us that “Constructivism is a doctrine stating that learning takes place in contexts, while technology refers to the designs and environments that engage learners” (retrieved from http://ejite.isu.edu/Volume2No1/nanjappa.htm). The paper further argues that ““Within a constructivist classroom, the teacher engenders social and intellectual climates, where collaborative and cooperative learning methods are supported”.

It is therefore safe to argue that the issue of how technology can facilitate collaboration among learners based on constructivist principles is settled in the nature of technology to facilitate, encourage, and generate genuine interaction and the vocation of constructivist principles to transform the role of the teacher from that of an all-knowing provider of knowledge to that of a guide or facilitator to learners seeking to resolve a given issue in collaboratively. Along the same line of thought on collaboration as a new route to learning in the 21st Century, the 2010 Horizon Report advanced that mobile computing has emerged as an effective tool supporting collaboration for the cause of learning. Among other things, the report mentions “smart phones, netbooks, laptops, and a wide range of other devices access the Internet using cellular-based portable hotspots and mobile broadband cards, in addition to wi-fi “ as tools “that is increasingly available wherever people congregate” (retrieve from http://wp.nmc.org/horizon2010/chapters/mobile-computing/ )

 

References

Bruner, Jerome (1973) The Relevance of Education. New York: Norton Publishing

Friedman, T. L. (2006). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. New     York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Stone, S. (2010). The 2010 horizon report. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved fromhttp://wp.nmc.org/horizon2010/

Radwan, A. (2011). Egypt’s Facebook Revolution. American Diplomacy, 1-3.

Rheingold, H. (2008, February). Howard Rheingold on collaboration [Video file]. Retrieved       from http://www.ted.com/talks/howard_rheingold_on_collaboration.html

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