Facilitated Learning by Teachers

Facilitated learning is another important goal of constructivist teachers. This can be effectively transferred to an online environment to promote higher student achievement
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* Cynthia Joffrion

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July 24, 2010 - PRLog -- Facilitated learning is another important goal of constructivist teachers.  This can be effectively transferred to an online environment to promote higher student achievement.  A good online instructor should create a safe environment for learners to express themselves freely in appropriate ways, to share their ideas, and to ask questions (Hamilton, 1996; Porter, 1997).  This type of setting is non-threatening to online students.  They feel safe in this setting and free to fail and then try again.
   It is evident that the online constructivist learning environment offers students the freedom to choose and arrange their learning processes with other learners while the instructor acts as learning process facilitator.  Online instructors using the constructivist approach still have a responsibility to monitor and warrant the quality of learning and peer discussions (Wester, 1999).  It is still necessary for the instructor to support the learning process with direction, rules, and student guidelines.  In addition, the instruction must help students keep on course if they move away from learning objectives.
Teacher-Student Roles in the Online Classroom Setting
   The online instructional environment enables learners to construct their own learning and directly participate in the learning process.  This promotes the constructivist goal that students should be active participants in the instruction and learning process.  Students should view the online classroom as a place where they can transform themselves.  Yelon (1996) explains that the term “transform” implies that learning is self-guided and meaningful.  In addition, students must take the view that they are responsible for their own learning. Students must actively take information and conceptualize it into their own reality.  In fact, most online courses are designed where students take part in the construction of course goals and objectives.  Yelon (1996) relates that in a constructivist environment where students form their own objectives, they will probably progress from general to specific very quickly.  The teacher monitors progress; however, if the students interactively progress through the course objectives and control the progression, they tend to take ownership.
Teacher’s Role
The tenets of the constructive teacher’s role related to instruction and student success is applied easily to online learning.  For example, the teacher should hold the ideal that students are motivated by their own internal perceptions, needs, and characteristics.  They are not motivated by external demands, expectations, and environmental conditions but by an interaction of all three. Therefore, in the online classroom setting, the teacher’s primary role is to provide an environment which fosters creativity and learning for the students.  This highlights the constructivist belief that knowledge is actively constructed, not passively received.
   Constructivists such as Vygotsky and Dewy believed that learners do not learn in isolation from others, and cognitive psychology has gradually established that people naturally learn and work collaboratively in their lives (Petraglia, 1998).  This shift in the traditional student-teacher relationship in the online environment fosters emerging participant structures.
   The constructivist theory suggests that interactivity characteristic of the online classroom assists students in constructing knowledge, promoting learning, and retaining the course materials.  The traditional classroom offers the same tenet, however, not in the degree as online classrooms.  One of the greatest advantages of online instruction is that it is very interactive.  In addition, many online educators have suggested that creating interactivity in online courses by creating a learning community is essential to the learning and success of the students (Bullen, 1998; Palloff & Pratt, 2001).
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