Sunday, June 05, 2005

Engaging Question

The Spring Quarter is winding down, so I thought I would post a question for comment and consideration. Many IDOLers consider themselves to be "constructivists" but how many consider themselves to be "social constructivists"?

In the tradition of Lev S. Vygotsky (1978), how important is culture and community (social context of learning) to what an individual can know? What role does "inner speech" play in online learning? If there is credibility to the work of Vygotsky, shouldn't we be making an effort to understand the influences upon culture and how those contribute to learning?

I would suggest that culture is shaped by the influences of race, religion, gender, nation of origin, socioeconomic circumstances, intracultural interactions, and intercultural interactions. If this is true, then how can IDOLers ignore the role that these will play in the development of effective instruction?

IDOLers working for the military may not think that this is important, but consider the problems of religious intolerance reported at the U.S. Air Force Academy (Mount, 2005). It sounds like there are serious cultural conflict problems that could be resolved by a swift social constructivist kick to the seat of their instructional approach. What do y'all think?

References:
Vygotsky, Lev. (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher mental process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Mount, Mike. (2005, May 5). Air Force probes religious bias charges at academy. Retrieved on June 5, 2005 from http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/03/airforce.religion/

Consider the following resource, which was only recently published.
Smith, Regina O. (2005).Working with difference in online collaborative groups. Adult Education Quarterly, 55(3), 182–199

David

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