Constructionism suggests that learners are particularly likely to create new ideas when they are actively engaged in making external artifacts that they can reflect upon and share with others, for example, helping them create their own video games, robots, and simulations (Thurmond, 1999). My students simply enjoy using technology to learn, they prefer wikis, podcasts, PowerPoints over textbooks, worksheets, and rote learning. I recently surveyed my sixth grade students about incorporating technology in our classroom and found that over 90% would rather create a podcast or an iMovie instead of a research paper. This data suggested that I should change my curriculum to accommodate my student’s desire to learn using technology.
Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski stated in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works in Chapter 11 (Generating and Testing Hypothesis) that when students generate and test hypotheses, they are engaging in complex mental processes, applying content knowledge like facts and vocabulary, and enhancing their overall understanding of the content. I love the idea of using game software and simulations to teach content. My students would jump at the idea of playing an online simulation such as the Calm and the Storm, a World War II simulation where students take on the role of leaders of several different countries. They make economic, diplomatic, and military decisions to achieve their country’s goals.
High School history teacher Dave McDivitt used the game to teach World War II and also taught it the traditional way. After testing both groups, he found that the students using the simulation software scored significantly higher than those who learned the material the traditional way (Pitler, et. al., 2007, pp. 214). This is significant because using simulation software (learning in a way that my students love) will be more effective than the normal, boring school lessons that I experienced when I attended school. By implementing technology, my students will be engaged, apply new content that is introduced in the simulation, and enhance their understanding.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD
Thurmond, A. (1999). Seymour Papert & Constructionism. March 24, 2009 from http://online.sfsu.edu/~foreman/itec800/finalprojects/annmariethurmond/home.html