Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tracing Active Learners

Constructivist theory figures largely into my rationalization of blogs for museums.

Today I realized that I don't know enough about it and am tracing it through Wikipedia. Gods bless Wikipedia for relatively accurate, extensive, and well linked information.

Jean Piaget, father of Cognitive Development

Cognitive development led, in part, to Constructivist Epistemology which tells us that there is no inherent reality, only that which is constructed by the mind and by society.

Then there's Lev Vygotsky who was instrumental in theories of social construction, in which an individual's construction of reality is influenced by their surroundings (ie society). He's also the Zone of Proximal Development guy. The Zone of Proximal Development being not a Star Trek episode, but rather the zone between what a learner knows and what they have the potential to know. It suggests that the ability to learn is affected by social interaction and collaboration.

Jurgen Habermas is also a name to know. His theory of the public sphere as "a network for communicating information and points of view" dovetails nicely to a discussion of blogging in museums, I think. "Democratic public life only thrives where institutions enable citizens to debate matters of public importance." Public realm accessible to all? Sounds like the internet to me. Well, accessible to many people in developed countries at least. If we were to get into less developed countries and issues of class we'd have a very different paper. An extremely important one, but different.

Moving out of Wikipedia, there's George Hein, author of "The Constructivist Museum" in which Hein explains why constructivism is what all the cool kids on the museum block should be doing. He has no Wikipedia entry.

And that's what I know. For today at least.

Look! Tribbles! Hmmm... that reminds me of an article I read, Be Constructive: Blogs, Podcasts, and Wikis as Constructivist Learning Tools, which used terribly mixed Star Trek metaphors and saying to try and facilitate the article. Good information, bad use of Star Trek.


Mary said...

Hi Lynn,
This is great - and really generous of you to share this information with everyone. I mean, I know that's what the internet is for but it's not always easy to hand the fruits of your hard labours over to everyone. I spent a lot of today doing a similar research task in relation to models of community participation in the museum and particularly the history of the ecomuseum movement. Maybe I should post some of my links too....
Good luck with it all,

Lynn Bethke said...

Thanks Mary. I'm doing it more for myself than anyone else. Writing down what I'm thinking as I'm thinking of it helps me. If I forget, I can always check back! Plus I'm motivated to write when I know someone can read it and talk back. :D

I have found myself more reluctant to share my actual writing with the internet at large... Maybe in time, when everything is more connected in my wrting...

Amy said...

For stuff about constructivist learning theory and museums you can't go wrong with Eilean Hooper-Greenhill (and it's not just cos I'm a Leicester student that I'm saying that! Well, not much. ;))