Constructivist Learning and Moodle

According to Dougiamas (1998) as shown by the diagram above, the learning theory we call constructivism is a collection of several learning theories that continue to be developed.  Some of these theories (Critical (Kincheloe, 2008) and Cultural (Hutchison, 2006))  are more connected to the idea of constructivism as a philosophical/epistemological concept. 

Moodle is built on the constructivist theory of learning and in general, this aspect of Moodle is ignored. It is easy to overlook the theory and focus on Moodle as an object or a tool. Designing “how to” Moodle courses are easy to manufacture, easy to measure, and easy to assess but they are deficient in the development of a constructivist learning environment. It is important that online courses are not “content dumps” with little application to learning processes other than reading and remember.
The following slide “Future of eLearning Moodle Moot 2011” offers some insights to enabling a constructivist learning environment
Ignoring the theory of constructivism and focussing on the tools, places the "what you can do" over the "how to apply". In the end ignoring the constructivist theory, which is the platform of Moodle, diminishes the possibilities of a learning environment. Ignorance is dangerous as poor learning environments affect learning. This is a concern as many teachers who wish to move into eLearning place the learning of Moodle tools over the theories of digital pedagogy.

The “How to” approach to Moodle Tools results in a learning environment that sits within the lower realms of the revised Bloom's digital taxonomy. 

Moodle and Constructivism:

It is important that educators focus on the design of a constructivist learning environment as the first step into eLearning rather than focus learning on the Moodle tools as the first step into eLearning.

Dr. Seymour Papert
"Eight Big Ideas Behind the Constructionist Learning Lab" by Dr. Seymour Papert is a good starting point when designing of a constructivist Moodle learning environment. I have employed the outlining points of Papert's 8 Big Ideas and applied them to creating a Moodle learning environment. This mashup is as follows;
  • Learn Moodle tools whilst creating the desired learning environment.
  • Use the Moodle technology as the building material and constructivism as the architectural design.
  • Learning is hard fun so is designing an online course.
  • It is important to apply learning to learn principles when employing Moodle to create an online course.
  • Anything worth learning takes time and the application of constructivist theory to an online course is well worth the time.
  • You can’t get it right without getting it wrong. Take a risk when applying Moodle tools and reflect on the risk.
  • Change your learning style to how we expect students to learn. Take on the learning expectations and practices of the 21st Century.
Eight Big Ideas Behind the Constructionist Learning Lab by Dr. Seymour Papert can be accessed via
Seymour Papert on Learning how to Learn

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