Constructivist Theory and Digital Video on Demand


As the video above asks, have you been paying attention? Twenty-first century students are constructivist learners. Read on to find out the principles of constructivism and how it applies to today's learners.

Constructivist theory proposes that learners create new knowledge by connecting to existing knowledge. Learning becomes relevant when learners can connect new information to some background knowledge in the area. Background knowledge can be in the form of vocabulary, experiences, facts and information, and more. Teachers can facilitate learning by assessing students' background knowledge, helping students construct concept maps for making connections, and requiring students
to keep journals for reflecting and deepening understanding.

Constructivists believe that learners construct their own learning by building on previous knowledge. Constructivist learning is frequently aligned with active learning, in which students actively manipulate resources or are physically involved in their own learning. In practice, the responsibility for learning rests with each individual student, according to constructivism. The teacher becomes more of a facilitator, or guide, who directs learning activities, and provides an array of curricular resources for students to utilize in constructing their own learning. Assessment occurs continuously and is integrated throughout each learning activity.

Social constructivists view learning as an event that happens in conjunction with other learners. Each learner constructs his or her own knowledge by collaborating with others in discussing, reflecting on, and creating knowledge.  As students reflect critically on each others' work, they can clarify their own ideas and understandings. In a group, students can utilize their personal strengths for the benefit of all. When teachers assign tasks that are relevant to the real world, students find meaning and engagement in creating their own learning.

How does digital video fit the constructivist learning theory? Digital video can be accessed at the point of need in relation to a unit of learning. Students can stream, stop and discuss, start over, reflect upon each video as often as they wish. They can download and reuse, remix, and recreate their own videos of what they have learned. In constructing their own video projects, students can edit, cut, rearrange, insert, compress, combine, overlay, and add voiceovers and background sounds as well as effects and transitions to existing video. Or, they can write, film, and produce their own video. Several students can collaboratively combine their digital video projects into one long film, and they can share their work and critique and reflect on the work of others.

Students apply many skills in the act of constructing their own learning with digital video. Multiple social skills are involved in working collaboratively, such as problem solving, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and cooperating with others. Students learn organizational skills as they plan and edit their projects. Time management skills are crucial in moving the project forward on a schedule that will allow students sufficient time to finish their projects satisfactorily and to make the project deadline. Students develop leadership skills and self-esteem when they present their finished projects to their peers. Peer presentations deepen critical thinking skills as student reflect on their own work as well as evaluate the work of others.

A popular activity that reflects this constructivist model of learning is having a school movie award or tech fair featuring student video projects. "Through the use of the digital video facilities, students have access to a more sophisticated way of observing events" (Kearney & Treagust, 2000, p. 4). Digital video can take the place of dangerous activities such as scientific experiments with toxic chemicals, and still provide students a close view of the results. Digital video can be used for data gathering in an authentic learning environment; or the video clips through freeze frame, or pause and play controls can afford access in slow motion when considering time dependent phenomena. (Kearney & Treagust, 2000, p. 5).

The advantage of digital video on demand is the interactivity that it provides the learner. Students have choices about access and delivery. They can stream, or download, play in whole or part, replay, review, share or view individually. Content can be edited and updated instantaneously and is available synchronously or asynchronously. Such choice allows for students to have control over their own learning, in keeping with constructivist theory.

Read the following articles for more information on how digital video fits into the constructivist theory of learning:


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