From Socratic behaviourism to digital constructivism
Antonio Manuel Diogo dos Reis,
The Graal Institute, Portugal
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia,
University of Silesia in katowice, Poland,
Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University, Ukraine
The paper presents a synopsis of the evolution of methods and tecniques up to digital age and caracterises the main aspects of behaviourist and constructivist models, in order to study the development of new advanced pedagogical tools and methods in education science, in a constructivist environment. For the purpose of the study, the synthetic analysis of technological evolution during the last decades and its impact in education science was made, with a special focus on virtual teaching and learning. The practical outcome of the study was a series of online seminars and workshops, prepared by the international team of the IRNet project. The keynotes and workshops were held during DLCC conference 2017 (Theoretical and Practical Aspects of Distance Learning, Subtitle: Effective Development of Teachers’ Skills in the Area of ICT and E-learning), in the Universuty of Silesia in Katowice, Poland.
Video presentation available at: https://youtu.be/rp-suGGBKWU
Keywords: behaviourism, constructivism, e-learning, blended learning, digital environment, IRNet
The technological evolution during the last seven decades have transferred a “room computer” (Mark I, 1943) weighting several tons into a small tiny laptop, weighting less than one kilo and a thousand times more powerful than his “grand grandfather”. This technological revolution was followed by enormous changes in learning methodology: didactic tools were adjusted and the ways of their implementation altered. Nowadays we witness information, communication, interactive and mobile society, where civilizations are connected in real-time mode across the planet. This results in an enormous sociologic changes in all scientific areas, but mainly in education.
The social profiles of our students have also changed. The average age has increased, because: “the 4 years of university basic education are just an introduction to 40 years of lifelong learning” Lima J. (2004). There is no doubt that students today are building their own knowledge. Students demand more interactivity, more multimedia content. Together with that, they are more Web dependent, surface learners, who are demanding more mobility and didactic communication in presence and distance learning. This is because, they are digital constructivist learners, multi intelligent, (
and Flaming), emotional behaviorist learners (Daniel Goleman), interactive
learners (Alcino Silva) and they are collaborative social virtual learners
(George Siemens). Gardner
All mentioned above results in a new way of teaching and learning, with new technologies and new methodologies. Although a large amount of investment has been made in the last decades in new technologies and methodologies, still teacher skills are short in fulfilling all education requirements.
The questions that arise today are:
- Are we, teachers, prepared to teach in the 21 century?
- Do we have the right skills?
- What are the best technologic tools and the best methodologies?
- Is e-learning a solution? Do we need learning to be used in both presence and virtual environments?
Enormous amount of training, research and reflexions is required to answer these questions.
1. Synthetic analysis of technological evolution during the last decades and its impact on education science
1.1. Distance learning stages
We can find references to distance learning since the XVIII century (Verduin & Clark, 1991), although in practice it was not used regularly until the middle of the XX century in the USA and some European countries. The Second World War forced an important increase in distance learning, because many young people incorporated in the war needed to go to the front and simultaneously many of them had to be replaced in their civil jobs with no trainers or tutors available. Moreover, when the war was finished all the young people had to be integrated back in the professional civil activities.
In this scenario in the mid-forties Skinner started to talk about the “teaching machine”, but in that period he did not realised what type of “Pandora box” he was opening. For the development of educational programs, it was necessary to analyze tasks and objectives. In 1956, Bloom published the conclusions of his research on “the taxonomy of educational objectives”.
On the one hand, distance learning has evolved (Moore, Kearsley, 1996) following the development of computers, multimedia and Internet. On the other hand, technologies developed gradually in variety, complexity and potential, offering new models of distance teaching and learning (Chute et al., 1999).
We can name several stages of distance learning.
First distance learning stage (-» 1970): courses content was delivered by “regular means”. At the beginning, the content and all learning materials were delivered by regular mail. Later training courses were presented on the radio (1930) and television (1954). The pedagogic approach for this stage and the two subsequent stages was totally behaviorist.
Second stage (1970-1980): open universities. Although Skinner and Bloom developed their ideas in the fifties, it was only in the seventies that the theoretical bases for distance learning started to flourish, particularly as the result of the “World Conference for Distance Learning”, coordinated by Wedemeyer in 1972. Michael Moore (1973) suggested that some resources had to be developed to define the research areas, identify different types of distance learning and built up theoretical methods. In 1969 the “UK Open University” was founded and Bloom was one of the consulting advisers of this project. “UK Open University” is known as one of the most relevant projects in this area and a model for many other experiences that took place all over the world during the seventies and eighties (Daniel, 1996).
Third stage (1980 - 1990): video cassettes and TV. The rise of video players, satellite and cable communications enhanced the importance of TV and video communication in distance learning. The audio and image quality of the contents was very fair and video players were offering the possibility of students to attend lessons “anytime, anywhere” and as many times as needed. Since 1985 different sets of courses were offered with a remarkable success.
Forth stage (1990-2000): computers, multimedia, interactivity, e-learning. Technological evolution of digital equipment and software showed new possibilities of interactivity and improved the quality of distance learning. CD-ROMs and Internet (1990) were two important innovative tools, offering flexible learning, allowing anyone to use virtual learning environments regardless of places or time zones. In addition, new communication systems based on Internet, started to offer the potential of interaction among students, teachers and specialists across the world. This period marks the beginning of multimedia contents production, communication and distribution through LMSs. One of the most important aspects was the evidence of a need for new methodologies together with new technologies.
Some proposals in this area were presented in the early nineties:
the “curriculum” as a “structural” area
and the constructivist “dialog” as a
b) The “student autonomy”, was highlighted as important and called “transactional distance theory”, from Dewey “transaction” concept, which was later developed by Boyd and Apps.
There was a debate about the definition of distance learning. The focus was the physical separation of students and a teacher during the learning process (William, Paprock, Covington, 1999). One of the most popular distance learning definitions produced by Moore and Kearsley (1996) states: in distance learning courses the teaching and learning process is running in separated environments and special techniques are necessary besides the curriculum formulation, teaching, communication, organization and administration. However, it is also important to point out that the learning process is based on new methodologies that become effective. The use of an expanded interactivity, multimedia, graphic animation, audio, and video (stream video has been available since 1997), hypertext, communication over email, chat within “focus groups” – all these opportunities were the dream of many authors and course coordinators in that period, though very difficult to implement. Students started to be seen as active partners who use different technologies.
In fact the use of this format was very limited until the mid of the first decade of the 21st century, mainly due to short bandwidth available and its high cost. Moreover, even available technologies were often used without being supported by adequate new methodologies, and that could have turned distance learning activities into a “technological noise”. There is a final question: What is e-learning today?
In 2000 we talked about distance learning, not e-learning. However, when we talk about online learning today, are we exclusively talking about distance learning? Not necessarily! Today we can talk about distance learning supported by presence activities or presence learning supported in distance / online activities. In fact, we are in the process of constant evolution. The increasing use of online tools in presence teaching makes online tutoring a daily support tool with excellent results to improve the learning quality. What are the changes that justify that? We could see that the nineties were a critical period for a qualitative change in distance learning. Important technological evolutions, software development and communication facilities occurred during this period. For example, very fast computers appeared, allowing video and audio editing. Moreover, hard discs, with very high capacity and rotations above 7.200 rpm were able to capture video. “Stream video” has developed since 1997 and diffused over the Internet (1990) / WWW (1991). Video projectors became available together with the software to produce audio and video contents and presentations. However, only after Internet became available with a sufficient bandwidth and an affordable price (in the first decade of XXI) it was possible to start using it for education purposes. Video conference tools were available in acceptable quality and prices for education “one-to-one” or “many to many” in the format of virtual classrooms, after the year 2000. In addition, only after 2004 open source LMS platforms that were possible to use at different education levels become available.
Education nowadays covers not only the life period from kindergarten to postgraduate degrees, but it is understood as lifelong learning. The reasons for this are the political pressure over school results, the use of ICTs, the challenges brought by the Bologna methodology, and the common use of computers, social networks and 3D environments. The learning theories of the digital era emphasize the importance of asynchronous interactivity, related to Web 2.0 (Downs, 2004; O´Reilly, 2005) as well as synchronous interactivity and collaborative work, inducing connectivism (Siemens, 2005). Mobility, collaborative and informal learning are now understood as the evolution of learning processes based on technologies. Daniel Goleman (1999), in his “emotional intelligence theory” suggests the use of pedagogic games and other emotional intelligence activities to increase the learning quality. This emotional oriented approach opens an opportunity to the use of 3D environments as eligible and valid tools for the education proposes. The experience of using Second Life and Active Worlds has shown a good potential, but revealed some didactic limitations in MUVE platforms when used in some education environments.
According to the needs of a student’s profile, teachers should update their technological and methodological skills. This requires permanent training in the following areas:
- new collaborative learning methodologies;
- online tutoring, use of virtual classrooms, video conference tools and virtual group work;
- tools to produce contents in multimedia format, pedagogic games, use of interactive synchronous and asynchronous tools;
- use of online platforms for managing contents (LMSs) and other supporting interactive animations like 3D and MUVES;
- formative evaluation.
Rosenberg (2001) emphasized that teaching today comprises different forms and formats: presence teaching, online teaching, virtual teaching, blended teaching and other. According to García et al - (2007), Bernárdez - (2007), Bernal - (2007), there is no sense in trying to develop opposite terminology and make the “black and white game”. It is much more important to integrate the differences and complementary but mainly to improve teacher skills. An interesting study ordered by the US Government about online education states important rules and methodologies (Means, B. Toyama, Y. Murphy, R. Bakia, M. Jones, K. May 2009). According to Means B. (2009), “online learning” is “learning with total or partial use of Internet”. This definition excludes printable documents and the use of TV or radio. This definition is not consensual. Some other authors use a broader definition accepting a large use of different electronic equipment - more or less what is usually called today as “online learning” or “e-learning”. E-learning definition has changed over the years and included different contents, but always expressed a relation between learning and the use of computers.
The first most frequent used concept were CBI (Computer-Based Instruction), CBT (Computer-Based Training) or just CBL (Computer-Based Learning). During the nineties e-learning was referred to as distance learning. In 2001 Rosenberg introduced a reflection about the separation between distance learning and e-learning: “e-learning is one format of distance learning, but distance learning might not necessarily mean e-learning” … Rosenberg, wanted to “separate waters”: on one side, distance learning supported by documents sent by post or other traditional means - not being e-learning; and on the other side, teaching and learning supported by electronic equipment and tools. Today there is the consensus that e-learning incorporates online tools and techniques, with contents distributed in multi modal format (printable, videos, audios documents etc.), with the use of interactivity in asynchronous or synchronous mods (virtual classrooms or in presence or distance teaching). In this regard, we can say that the revolution introduced by e-learning, has led to the results that even in presence classrooms, learning will never be as it was in the nineties. In the beginning of the XXI century e-learning evolved into a blended format: comprising presence and distance learning broadly called b-learning.
Picture N. 1 “Evolution part I - from Socrates behaviourism to digital constructivism”.
Picture N. 2 “Evolution part I – e-learning evolution”.
We can say that this was the end of distance learning in its pure format. For long duration courses, from a pedagogical point of view, it is convenient that learning is completed in a blended format: presence and distance learning. Nevertheless, in a short period, with technological improvement, particularly over increased bandwidth availability, communication and video conference software and better teaching skills, the possibility of using virtual classrooms and synchronous activities can arise as a full alternative to presence learning. We have today contents distributed asynchronously and tutoring in presence or virtual format. This approach corresponds to Web 2.0 recommendations.
During the last decade, the concept of e-learning was changing and altering. E-learning stages can be typified in three different phases, which can be distinguished by the level of interactivity, the existence of multimedia contents, and the existence of synchronous and asynchronous online support. The evolution of technology, pedagogic methodology and teachers skills allow us today to use all the above mentioned approaches.
First e-learning stage – e-learning 1.0 (2000). Courses were structured in a self-learning format and only lectured virtually (distance learning). Contents were distributed in pdf or word prints and no interactivity existed. At the end of the course, students normally had final presence examinations. Very quickly students and teachers realized the limitations of this approach and a mixed solution of presence and distance learning was recommended - usually called “blended learning”, or “b-learning”.
Second e-learning stage - e-learning 2.0 (2004). In 2004 Stephan Downs and O´Reilly started presenting their ideas about Web 2.0. Stephan and O´Reilly, called for a more dynamic WEB and stressed the importance of interactivity with important repercussions in education environment. A major important topic was the interactivity and multimedia content in asynchronous format: teacher–student, student–contents and student–student. Tools available for synchronous activities like virtual classrooms or video conference were few and very expensive and they required quite a high bandwidth. The content was mainly distributed with the use of the following tools: forums, chats, wikis, and blogs. All of them were in asynchronous format, and could be integrated into either LMS or not (Stephen Downs 2005, 2007, 2009 y Tim O´Reilly 2005).
Third e-learning stage - e-learning 3.0 (2006 -»). The technologic evolution, mainly related to communication tools, was a relevant factor for the third stage. Video conference and virtual classroom software started to be offered at much lower prices and required much less bandwidth. ISP suppliers offer sizeable bandwidth at fair prices. Simultaneously, LMS platforms are being offered at “open source”, like Moodle, Joomla among others. From a technological point of view distance learning requirements are now fulfilled in good conditions. This means that, there are available asynchronous distribution and a need of communications tools for synchronous online tutoring.
Now, we are facing a new quality challenge on distance learning. It doesn’t matter if it is called CBL, ICT, e-learning, online learning or any other thing, technical tools are available to work with quality at any education level. Everyday better and better tools are being offered to facilitate teachers’ job and the students’ learning. However, learning and teaching tools require more skills from teachers and students and new methodologies. In 2006 Stephan Downes, presented a new view over a web 3.0. He supposed that web should be more effective over browsing and searching in terms of semantic and obtained results, although, the relation between his “future view” and education science was short. In 2006 we could again say that we were facing a new phase of e-learning - e-learning 3.0, which emerged from “connectivism” based in the George Siemens approach, which includes mobility, multimedia contents and online synchronous interactivity.
The main aspects used in this environment are:
· The use of new technologies supported by new methodologies;
· The use of LMS to distribute asynchronously contents and manage courses, in distance and presence learning;
· Online synchronous tutoring support, using audio, video, white boards and other tools in virtual classrooms;
· Continuous formative evaluation supported by online activities;
· The blended learning concept has changed from a mix of presence and distance learning into asynchronous and synchronous activities, using virtual classrooms in presence and virtual format.
The main synchronous virtual tools were virtual classrooms, e-round table, Webcast, video diffusion, e-workshop, conference call. Hart (2008) identified three stages of e-learning and associates them with Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. In fact, he could establish a relation between Web phases and e-learning phases.
Basogain X. (2009) reports that the formulation of e-learning 3.0 by Reis (Reis et al, 2009), is different from Downs, because he introduces a pedagogic environment and new e-learning stages, includes several didactic tools also used in presence and distance learning.
Шn this way, the concept of b-learning developed on the basis of face to face and virtual communication, supported by asynchronous learning platforms (Moodle, Blackboard and others) and synchronous virtual or presence formats. All, strongly supported by multimedia content, interactivity in online tutoring, synchronous virtual classroom activities and formative assessment.
A relevant aspect that should be pointed out is that the change from phase one into the next did not eliminate the didactics of the previous, it only introduced new didactic tools, new methodologies and build a richer learning environment. The focus is more than just technologies; it is an introduction of new methodologies and new skills to frame the educational process, to respond to a set of new needs of our students in online learning. The solution includes a set of virtual classrooms, techniques and processes that characterize what we call “new ICT”.
2. Synthesis and comparison of learning theories in synchronous and asynchronous contexts
The theories of learning are projected in the context of the affirmation of psychology as a science in the late nineteenth century, the most relevant being behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. Shuman (1996), Wilhelmsen (1999).
Behaviourism has its roots in the ideas of John B. Watson in 1913 (DelMar 1998). Watson based his studies on Pavlov's work of the nineteenth century and conditioned reflex. The work of Watson was later taken up by Skinner in the 1930s and is based on the study of the individual's reactions to environmental stimuli where mental processes are ignored. According to Schuman (1996), "Behaviourism is based on observable behavioural changes. By introducing changes in a given behavioural model, it is repeated until it becomes automatic "... Funderstanding (1998) has a similar reading of behaviourism in stating that "it is an animal and human learning theory that focuses on observable behaviours and ignores mental activities. Behaviourist theorists define learning as the acquisition of a new behaviour "... In the behaviourist model cognitive processes are not referred to by Briner (1999).
Cognitivists believed that learning took place when a learner processed information and what went on inside it. This is therefore a substantially different approach to behaviourists, who considered a reactive and mechanical response to the stimulus. Jean Piaget began to develop this concept in the twenties, and developed most of the cognitivist theories by observing the behaviour of children.
Although the approaches are distinct in terms of the process between behaviourism and cognitivism, both consider knowledge as an absolute and learning is the process that creates the symbolic representation of outer reality (Widlhelmsen,1999). According to Burner cited in Taylor (2004), there are three components of the learning object: 1) acquisition of new information, usually based on something already known; 2) Transformation of information; and 3) Evolution, where the analysis and reflection process is performed on the information acquired and processed.
Constructivism according to Schuman (1996) is based on the premise that we all construct our own knowledge and personal perspective of the world through our personal experience and the mental structure that we have, which is in permanent evolution.
According to Lima (2003), there are many definitions of constructivism, but all encompass the following aspects:
· In the constructivist perspective knowledge is actively constructed by a student and not transmitted;
· Learning is both an active and reflective process;
· A student's interpretation of the new experience is influenced by his previous knowledge;
· Social interactions introduce multiple perspectives in learning;
· Learning requires the understanding of the whole as well as the parts and they must be understood in the context of the whole.
The essential aspect of constructivism is the construction of knowledge itself, which is relative, evolutionary, and fallible (Wilhelmsen 1999). The evolution of learning theories introduces substantially different approaches to the role of a learner, teacher and evaluation in the learning process. The analysis of the constructivist models allows characterizing in more detail the different facets of the constructivist theory.
Teaching theory integrates a body of theoretical approaches that came throughout the XX century, with a view to creating guidelines for the work of teachers. Snelbecker (1999) says that teaching theories are only general guidelines for the teaching work, complemented by Reigeluth (1999), who considers it advantageous to integrate several theories and methods adapted to each of the cases in which one is working. The evolution of theoretical bases is closely linked with the evolution of different currents of teaching theory, namely behaviourism to constructivism. Boyle (1997) introduced two main points - "Instruction" and "Constructivism". Smith and Reagan (1999) classify as "traditional" the situations when knowledge is acquired and "constructivist" - where knowledge is constructed. Teaching theories are commonly referred to as ID theories or instructional design. Reigeluth and Frick (1999) understand that due to the constant evolution and updating of theoretical models, the main objective will be the permanent analysis of new theories with integration and synthesis with the body of existing theories. As we have already mentioned teaching theory, it is closely related to learning theory, curriculum and the ID process.
Constructivist knowledge environment has three steps and three levels:
1. Defining rules and moulding;
2. In the second step, it is learn and learn, and learn how to make, it is teaching and coaching
3. In the third stage, learner should build his own knowledge. it is the scaffolding stage
It is create new information and build student´s own knowledge.
According to Lima (2003), the evolution from behaviourism environment to constructivism, introduces enormous changing in all aspects of teaching and learning environment. In pedagogic and philosophic perspective, the profile of teaching institution, a new profile to the contents, teacher´s and student´s profile and assessment.
Let us start for the Pedagogic Philosophic Perspective. In BEHAVIOURISM and COGNITIVISM environment, knowledge exists in the outsider world.
The learning is a cognitive process not depending of learner profile. Learning is coordinated by the teacher. The learning is a sum of isolated facts. Student´s learning styles are homogeneous
In CONSTRUCTIVISM environment, the perspective is different. Knowledge is built up by the learner and inside himself. Learning is an intellectual and social process influenced by the interaction of learner´s culture and knowledge. Learning process is centred and controlled by the learner. Learning is supported in real facts. Learning is a cooperative process and group work. Learning styles are heterogeneous
In Behaviourist and cognitivist environment, the Teaching Institution was static stone of the teaching process. It was a Knowledge organization. Transmitting knowledge to students. Prepare students for a life career. Teaching based in the quality and quantity of information.
But in a Constructivist perspective, a teaching institution is: A Learning resources centre
Preparing learners for knowledge, information society and long life learning. Preparing students to professional update and change of profession along his life. Teaching with a focus in quality and quantity of learning
Contents in behaviourist perspective, is a teacher centred activity and standardized process, it is homogeneous, with a limited training and information process.
Contents in a constructivist perspective it is centred in the learner and real cases, it is personalized as well contents diversity and learning process. its dynamic and with access to large quantity of global information
Concerning teachers profile in a behaviourist environment. Teacher is the master and the Centre of knowledge. Teacher is a Knowledge diffuser.
In a constructivist perspective, teacher is a guider and a learning facilitator, integrates real experiences in the learning process. Teaches how to learn, teaches how to search and to select results. Structures and summarise information. Motivates students. Promote group work. Promote critical perspective. Stimulate self-study capacity and quality of analyses
About Students in behaviourist and cognitivist environment.
They are passive knowledge receivers. They learn other people acknowledge. Assimilate information found by other. Accept with conformism, knowledge diffused by other.
But in a constructivist perspective, student is an active knowledge builder.
Learns how to learn and develops his own knowledge. learns how to work in group for a personal result or for a cooperative work. Express critical thinking in initiative and diversity of opinion, they have totally different perspectives.
Finally, about assessment in behaviourism.
Tests and examinations in summative assessment perspective.
But, in constructivist environment, assessment has important objectives, for the evolution of the student, the evolution of the teacher, and evolution of the education institution.
Assessment has a new pedagogic tools, as a continues formative assessment, as well diagnosis evaluation, Self-assessment, group assessment, pear assessment. Course assessment and Summative assessment
Finally basic differences between Socratic behaviourism and constructivist.
· Behaviourist learners learn the master knowledge.
· Constructivist learners learn and build up their own knowledge.
3. Practical outcome of the study: seminars and workshops, presented on DLCC-2017 international conference
In order to show the evolution of methods and tecniques to digital age and caracterise the main aspects of behaviourist and constructivist models we prepared a series of workshops that were carried out, in order to study the development of new advanced pedagogical tools and methods in education science, in a constructivist environment. The workshops became the practical outcome of the studies, ccoordinated by professor Antonio dos Reis. The seminars and workshops were held during DLCC conference 2017 (Theoretical and Practical Aspects of Distance Learning, Subtitle: Effective Development of Teachers’ Skills in the Area of ICT and E-learning), in the Universuty of Silesia in Katowice, Poland.
The activities were prepared by the international team of the IRNet project: Antonio Manuel Diogo dos Reis (The Graal Institute, Portugal), Olga Yakovleva (Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia), Eugenia Smyrnova-Trybulska (University of Silesia in katowice, Poland), Nataliia Morze (Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University, Ukraine).
The main objective of the first keynote; “Evolution part I - from Socrates behaviourism to digital constructivism” , was to present a synopsis of the evolution of methods and techniques up to digital age and characterise the main aspects of behaviourist and constructivist models, in order to study the development of new advanced pedagogical tools and methods in education science, in a constructivist environment. Consequently, the main question of the seminar was – “How the evolution from Socrates behaviourism to digital constructivism has led to a different way of teaching in the 21st century?” The video recording of the keynote is available at https://youtu.be/rp-suGGBKWU.
The main objective of the second keynote; “Evolution part II - disruptive innovation in the school of the future with a focus on ‘flipped classroom”, was to show the prospectives of the technological evolution with the focus on education that involves the alteration of teaching and lerning methodology. The recording of the keynote is available at https://youtu.be/g_FJcFe2b3g.
Picture N. 3 Keynote “Evolution part II - disruptive innovation in the school of the future with a focus on ‘flipped classroom’”.
The research presented in this paper together with the results of the seminars and conferences are the part of the IRNET project. The results are opening the gate for important conclusions that are available in didactic videos and published papers. All the results are in free access on the IRNet website (http://www.irnet.us.edu.pl) and https://goo.gl/5AU1dc for the scientific community, researchers and students.
The research leading to these results has received, within the framework of the IRNet project, funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ under REA grant agreement No: PIRSES-GA-2013-612536.
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