Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Blogphilosophy rethinking educational methodologies: is constructivism indeed a solution for all regions?


The last couple of weeks I have been following a module of a Master in Distance Education at Athabasca University. This particular module focuses on the International issues that arise while developing distance education for different regions around the globe. It is moderated by Barbara Spronk, who seems to have traveled the world to such an extend that she does qualify as a global citizen indeed.

So I have been learning a lot lately, but consequently blogposted less. I had to come to terms with what I would post, when to find time and if anyone might be interested. Then I remembered some of you who have been motivating me to write on eLearning as soon as it interests me and this topic I find indeed interesting:
is the constructivist methodology - that is so fiercely promoted by distance education as it is seen as more student-centered - indeed a good methodology to use throughout the world?

I feel very in favor of the constructivist learning approach (Jean Piaget has written about it, picture in post) and I have been writing about it on some occasions. But due to the course I am following now, I am beginning to doubt if this methodology is indeed fit for all regions, I think not.

When developing DE for low income countries, I had the tendency of looking at social media possibilities as well (if the technology could be used) and to look for a more student-centered approach.
But if you go into a region - as an advisor or a tutor - and you promote any kind of DE methodology, inevitably it becomes not that particular communities plan, but someone else’s plan or strategy. As such DE could be perceived as pervasive in some cultures.

It might not be without meaning that DE and the methodologies allocated with it as being ‘successful methodologies’ are linked to DE was build in a region (lets say Northern countries), by those people that have followed education in that region and as such DE (the first DE) has the mark of that region on it. If I were to make an invention for myself, I bet it would provide to the needs and thinking of my community, but my invention might not necessarily be exportable to other communities. A person is build in her/his community and from that framework creativity and ideas emerge. To me the same thing is true for educational methodologies.

Let's look at some Asian countries were teacher-centered learning is more commonly accepted than student-centered learning. What do you do in such region if you are asked to be a provider? Do you go in and push the 'constructivist is good for DE'-agenda, or do you let others come up with a methodology they feel is better for them, although that methodology might not be 'ideal' in your experience as a DE advisor/teacher?

So my opinion is changing from a constructivist promoter to a belief that if DE is formed, constructed and implemented by tutors or knowledge persons within a community, DE can be more indigenous and better fitting the needs and believes of that community.

Does anybody have thoughts on this or experiences?