Monday, March 29, 2010

Social Learning and Technology Linked Together in the Classroom

According to Dr. Orey, the social learning theory states that learners cannot learn by themselves. They need the aid of an outside source such as a classmate, teacher or computer to construct meaning (Laureate Education, 2009). The cooperative learning strategy as described in my textbook “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works” supports this theory. “Technology can play a unique and vital role in cooperative learning by facilitating group collaboration, providing structure for group tasks, and allowing members of groups to communicate even if they are not working face to face” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Maleonoski, 2007). Multimedia projects and web resources may be used to support the social learning theory.

Student-created multimedia projects encourage learners to work together building knowledge. Students research, analyze and make conclusions together as a group. I have my math class complete a stock market multi-media project. Students are divided into small groups that act as an investment company. Each student within the group is assigned a different task. The students work independently to complete their part but have the group members to help them as needed. The members depend on each other to complete his or her share. Students are learning about the stock market and the roles and responsibilities of corporate employees.

Web resources also support the social learning theory. With the unlimited amount of access to outside sources and people via the internet, students can interact with others. Students can blog and create a wiki space with students that are from a different part of the world. They can share information through an online calendar. I use an online website to communicate grades and a schedule of assignments with my students and their parents. Web resources allow students to seek information and respond to others creating an online environment of continuous learning.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories. Baltimore: Dr .Michael Orey.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Embedded Technology in the Classroom Supports Constructivist/Constructionist Learning Theory

The constructivist learning theory explains that an individual creates their own knowledge and understanding through experiences. The constructionist learning theory takes it a step further and the individual builds a project that represents his or her understanding or knowledge. In one of my resources this week, the authors talk about embedding technology in “Generating and Testing Hypothesis…When students generate and test hypotheses, they are engaging in complex mental processes , applying content knowledge like facts and vocabulary, and enhancing their overall understanding of the content” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Using spreadsheet software, data collection tools and Web resources to generate and test hypothesis support the constructivist/constructionist learning theory in the classroom.

The internet has changed how we access information. Information is at our fingertips with a stroke of a key. Technology allows students “…to spend more time interpreting the data rather than gathering the data…” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Spreadsheets allow students to organize their data in a way that makes sense and it allows them to change the data to investigate different outcomes. Data collection tools such as graphs and charts enable students “…to see the bigger picture and recognize patterns” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). They also allow students to collect data quicker so the students have more time to evaluate the information. Web resources such as gaming software allow students to try different scenarios (hypothesis) in a virtual situation that may be impossible in real life (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). These embedded technologies help students gather information, hypothesize, reevaluate data and build a product that represents the learning that occurred.

Just yesterday, I had my math students complete a computer-generated table to record data from a math activity involving the relationship between volumes of solids. My students were able to use the chart to identify the pattern that occurred between the volumes of the solids throughout the lab. It really helped them see the big picture of where the volume formulas derived from. Do you use embedded technology to encourage constructivism/constructionism in your classroom? If so, what do you use and how do you use it?



Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Technology Supports Cognitive Learning in the Classroom

This week in my master’s class, I learned how to use technology to enhance my students’ cognitive skills during learning. The cognitivist perspective “focuses on learning as a mental operation that takes place when information enters through the senses, undergoes mental manipulation, is stored, and is finally used” (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008). My textbook, “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works” describes two instructional methods that embed technology in lessons to increase student cognitive processes.

The first instructional strategy is cues, questions, and advance organizers. Cues are clear hints about what the student is going to learn and questions prompt a student’s memory to help them retrieve prior knowledge (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, pg 73). These cues and questions are incorporated in organizers. Dr. Orey describes organizers such as concept maps as a “graphical way” to organize data (Laureate Education, 2009). Word processing applications such as creating a brochure support cognitive thinking by helping students focus on important concepts thus eliminating the distracting, unnecessary information. Spreadsheet software that can create a rubric allows teachers to prepare students for a lesson by introducing them to the topic and expectations beforehand. Students can brainstorm and organize thoughts before a lesson by completing a KWL chart. They can view a video clip to trigger prior knowledge before completing a concept map to organize facts and answer higher-order thinking questions. These ideas focus “…on enhancing students’ ability to retrieve, use, and organize information about a topic” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007) therefore they support the cognitivist perspective.

Technology can also help students’ cognitive processes while summarizing and taking notes. Teachers can use word processing capabilities to provide students with teacher-prepared notes where students fill in missing pertinent information. Students can also use software that allows them to pick out the essential information in a paragraph in their textbook. Students can create a pictograph to go with their notes or create a graphic organizer such as a concept map that has embedded graphics to help organize information. “Graphic representation has been shown to produce a percentile gain of 39 points in student achievement” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). Various web resources such as blogging and wikis allow students to experience reciprocal teaching creating higher-order thinking. Like the first instructional strategy, this instructional strategy also supports the cognitivist learning theory because it assists mental processing.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. Baltimore: Author

Lever-Duffy, J. & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical Foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Behaviorism Meets Technology

BF Skinner, a well-known psychologist helped define behaviorism through many studies. “Behaviorism sees learning as the response to an external stimulus” (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008). In this cause and effect relationship, the effect can be positive, negative or neutral. Positive results tend to reinforce a behavior as negative ones help modify or change an undesirable behavior. Some technology applications mirror the behaviorist theory. One tries to navigate the maze and gain the correct weapon to slay the dragon in a video game. If the player slays the dragon, then points are earned and the player moves to the next level (positive). If the dragon eats the player, player dies and the game is over (negative). Player tries again but this time the player modifies his or her choices to avoid being eaten.

After reviewing this week’s resources, I am also convinced that behaviorism is present in instructional technology in classrooms. “Research shows that the level of belief in self-efficacy plays a strong role in motivation for learning and achievement. The instructional strategy of reinforcing effort enhances students’ understanding of the relationship between effort and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning.” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenolsi, 2007). Students can use technology such as online rubrics, spreadsheets and graphs, as suggested by Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenolsi, to track the relationship between their effort and their grades instead of through other methods such as praise from a teacher or their “A” paper being posted in the hallway. Students would be able to monitor and modify their own behaviors to get the desired outcome of better grades.

In addition, behaviorism is seen in a student’s homework and classwork. “Multiple exposures to material help students deepen their understanding of content and become proficient with skills. Typically, students need about 24 practice sessions with a skill in order to achieve 80-percent competency (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). As mentioned earlier, most students are tech savvy and relate well in the use of technology. In our resources, they suggest that instructional technology be used to practice and reinforce skills. Students can create spreadsheets to track grades or skill speed and accuracy. Students would be able to see the correlation between practice and increase in speed and accuracy of a skill or lack of practice causes lower times and less than proficient grades. Online tutorials and educational games allow students to practice skills that are specific for that student and offer immediate feedback. Students want to get as many correct answers to win the chance to play the bonus game. Students associate correct answers with bonus games and points, a positive reward.

As students become more technology oriented, instructional technology can help modify or reinforce behaviors. Although behaviorism may have changed its look in the classroom, it still remains alive through instructional technology.



Lever-Duffy, J. & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical Foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD