Constructionism 3.0

Listening to MIT's Vijay Kumar speaking is always informative. Kumar has vast experience in research in online and digital learning environments, and he conveys his knowledge in an accessible style. He was keen to argue that the future of education has two fundamental characteristics - open and digital. His previously published book Opening Up Education explains the first in plenty of detail, but the second, digital, was uppermost in his keynote presentation at ELI 2015, the Saudi Arabian premier e-learning event. He said that it is at the intersection of digital and open that learning innovation occurs, and that education will be transformed if attention is paid to them both. He showed through several examples of his own work with online learning how visualisation and animation are vitally important for students. Visualisation takes the abstract, and makes it concrete he explained. Kumar went on to discuss the role of assessment in online learning. He maintained that assessment should be embedded within the digital learning environment, and should be frequent, because it provides constant feedback to students on how well they are doing. He showed that the completion rates of MIT online programmes has improved dramatically because of these features in their provision.

The most intriguing aspect of his keynote were his remarks about constructionism 3.0. Contructionism is a theory of learning by making. I asked him how this could be defined as 3.0, and how it might be different to 2.0 or even 1.0. Alluding to the early work in educational programming by Seymour Papert (LOGO), Kumar suggested that this equated to constructionism 1.0 because it was largely a solo led form of learning, with students interacting directly with the machine. Constructionism 2.0, was learning by making using tools such as Scratch, which became quite a social form of learning. Constructionism 3.0 he explained, was where this form of learning by making was distributed widely, and could be witnessed in movements such as Fab Labs and makerspaces. Constructionism of this form does not necessarily require a space, but often does, where makers meet and learn from their problem solving endeavours and through challenge based approaches to fixing, hacking, modding, designing for 3D printing, and a whole host of other forms of making by adjusting existing structures and tools.

Photo by Paul Keheler on Wikimedia Commons

Creative Commons License
Constructionism 3.0 by Steve Wheeler was posted from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Rolin said…
Hi Steve. There's a lot of worry in what Dr. Kumar is saying as recorded by you. To be fair, I am unaware of his work, so his definition of Open is unknown to me -- is he an open advocate in the framework of David Wiley, or a non-exclusive Open definer such as Sal Khan?

That said, and not to be flippant, but the version numbering of constructionism shows a complete lack of awareness of constructivism. I cannot believe Dr. Kumar ever watched people participate in LOGO and can then refer to it as 1.0; numerous artifacts of that time show how social engagement happened despite the physical issues with computing in the 1980s...students wanted to share with one another. Constructionism is very much learn to do to learn, and it has roots with social constructivism absolutely. That Scratch is 2.0 because there is a 'web community' and the Maker movement is 3.0 because there are physical spaces? This sounds like someone who is selling a bill of goods with no heed to the history of the terms he is using. Buyer beware.
Steve Wheeler said…
I heard him speak at a conference in Riyadh earlier this year, and reported it essentially as he said it. I even asked a question at the end of his presentation during the plenary and he explained the numbering version to me as a response to my question. I believe he was trying to convey a progression of applications, experiences and contexts for the development of learning by making. I can see his point and I can also see the reason why people might be concerned about his interpretation. I would be interested in the views of others on this also. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Rolin.

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