Digital natives, constructivism, etc

I’ve been following for a long time both the impacts of technology on education and on young people generally, as well discussions of constructivist approaches to teaching. Both have become somewhat marginal to my main concerns.

I agree, of course, that students need to be as tech savvy as possible for them to live as well as they might, both in their careers and in their personal lives. I use many different apps somewhat routinely in my teaching, and I find that although many students need very little instruction in order to use such things as blogs, many others have a very superficial grasp of what the apps they use are doing. When I use difficult programs, such as InDesign and Photoshop, I find that not many young people have any great depth in their understanding of digital tools.

Constructivism has both “good” and “bad” meanings for various teachers. It’s true that we can’t simply move knowledge from one mind to another, and that some active construction is always necessary for the learner. The only effective learning strategy, finally, is thinking. However, so many teachers have turned constructivism into an extreme form of deconstruction–arguing that whatever knowledge or understanding kids construct is the only knowledge or understanding that matters, and that there are no “right” answers. Because of this, I avoid using the term.

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