Earlier on in the module, I thought that the practice of students creating resources for future use, might provide a stronger learning opportunity than if using existing materials that were previously created by learners. With this in mind, and following on from an early post that I made in February entitled ‘Materials vs Activities’, and David’s response in his ‘Materials vs activities and problem-based learning’ post, the educational theory of ‘constructionism’ would appear relevant to the discussion. In the February post, I was exploring the notion of where the distinction actually lies between materials and activities, to which fellow student Rachel Newman left the insightful comment ‘With the interaction of the student using the materials (such as putting in a voice thread to a video, picture etc), the students are using Voicethread as part of the material and interacting with it therefore the materials (or teaching aid) have become part of the activity.’ This idea that materials being made by learners through interaction become the activity is interesting, and according to constructionism, learning takes place most effectively when students are creating something tangible in the real world; and Papert & Harel (1991) suggested that constructionism could be labelled simply as ‘learning-by-making’.
Returning to my earlier point that students re-creating instead of using previously made learning materials, appears to be in line with constructionist learning theory, raises the question ‘when is it better for learners to use a student created resource of materials as opposed to re-creating them?’ It might be that this is somewhat dependent on how engaging and motivating the materials creation in each case is. For instance, students who are using Bubbler or Voicethread to create materials for FCE and CAE speaking exams practice similar to that at Splendid-Speaking.com, and that David illustrated in his ‘Approaching the same topic through different media’ post, should find the act of using these online apps highly stimulating whilst also allowing them a greater sense of autonomy and learner achievement.
Papert, S. and I, Harel. (1991) Constructionism. Ablex Publishing Corporation