Social-constructivist Pedagogy and Online Professional Development in Adult Learning

Here to help. by mag3737 on flickr

Anderson & Gron (2011) write about the evolution of pedagogies afforded by technology developments in online learning. I’m just embarking on two new online PD opportunities that I have designed (with a colleague) and will facilitate. In each, the pedagogy most evident is the social-constructivist (SC) model. I think that’s crucial in order for the PD to have any lasting impact on the practice of the teachers. The organizing idea behind each of them is a Community of Practice, groups of practitioners working together to reach a shared goal. Two defining characteristics of SC pedagogy are authenticity and socially situated learning, where participants share reflection and responses to each others ideas. Through this interaction, learning can occur.

This is a new approach for many practitioners of Adult Basic Education. Most prefer one-shot workshops or conference presentations for learning (Marchwick, et al, 2008). Because of this, their first experience in online CoP-styled learning will likely determine their perception of its impact. I’m going to work hard to create supportive structure AND be responsive to their needs throughout the experience.

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Education Pedagogy. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12.3(March).

Marchwick, K., Johnson, K., & Parrish, B. (2008). Instructional practices alignment project summary ABE transitions to post-secondary initiative: lignment of ABE and post- secondary instructional practices. St. Paul.