Technology can be a tremendous advantage to this type of learning. As we saw in Ch 11 of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, Mrs. Omar’s 5th grade class learned about investing money and which model works best. They did not have to spend a great deal of time working out high school math problems in the process. The spreadsheet she had her students use computed the numbers for them. This allowed them to accomplish the teacher’s objectives without getting bogged down in mathematical computations.
Using data collection tools is another use of technology to accomplish learning in Constructionism. Using sensors and data collection probes, allows students to find data, and be able to plot the data accurately and quickly. This allows students more time to analyze the data. From here, the teacher can expand the lesson to include additional thought-provoking questions.
In my physics classes, we use Vernier’s LabPros and data collection equipment. Students like it because it allows them to analyze the data without worrying about drawing the graphs. The graphs are already drawn. When students look at the graphs and various points on the graph, they usually are able to identify what it is I want them to see. One example is a walking activity. Students can see how velocity and acceleration work together. This also helps them to see what is meant by negative velocity and/or negative acceleration. This is a topic that many students find difficult to overcome.
Many of the problem-based learning classes can get caught up in “little issues”. An example would be the graphs mentioned earlier. When these “little issues” are resolved, students can focus on the real task at hand.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2004). Constructionist vs. Constructivist Learning Theories [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.