They use activities where learners actively construct new ideas or concepts by building on their past knowledge and experiences. There is an emphasis on students taking responsibility for their own learning through active participation, with teachers acting as a 'guide on the side' rather than as the expert.
Problem-based or inquiry-based pedagogies are considered to be constructivist approaches, emphasising students using critical skills to analyse problems and test and evaluate methods to overcome them.
Collaboration and sharing
Constructivist approaches that emphasise collaborative construction of knowledge (‘collaborative constructivism’) apply well to an online learning context. A constructivist approach encourages students to interact and share their own contexts and knowledge. It also supports learners to develop communities working across a distributed network.
Using networks in this way supports ‘social constructivism’, which depends on social interactions between learners and teachers. Coventry University’s open media classes1 are a good example of this kind of approach for undergraduate students.