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Edutainment and Learning Theories

March 13, 2013

(1) Describe your understanding of edutainment theories in five paragraphs: Flow, Situated Learning, Constructivist pedagogies, Activity theory and motivation theory (about 100 words for each, total 500 words).

Situated Learning
Situated Learning theory (Harrington and Oliver, 1995) posits that learning takes place when situated within several conditions including authentic experiences, access to experts, collaborative construction of knowledge, coaching and scaffolding, and reflection. Learning occurs within this interaction of person, process and context. This may also be thought of as a triad of learner, implementation, and interactive media. As a librarian utilizing edutainment strategies, my job is to assist the faculty instructor in providing expert and coaching information literacy assistance, and to help scaffold known information literacy skills to new skills.

Constructivist Theory (Dangel, et. al., 2004) is often a core learning theory for classes utilizing educational technology. It states that learning occurs when students create the knowledge and meaning for themselves. In Constructivist classrooms, the teacher considers the role of the student in the learning process, authentic interactions, and engagement in the academic activity. The role of the student is extremely important in this theory. The activity and classroom must be learner-centered and encourage shared responsibility for learning, self-directed learning activities, and a space for students to experiment and create knowledge through authentic projects. As a librarian, I can utilize this theory and use edutainment strategies to help students create mental maps of information organization so that they can more readily use appropriate resources as they create knowledge in authentic projects.

Activity theory (Jonassen & Rorher-Murphy, 1999) has historical roots in Kant and Hegel theory. It proposes that learning emerges from student’s activity. Rather than the classical understanding of learning flowing from understanding to activity, it reverses this flow so that understanding comes from the activity. Activity is understood as a “goal-oriented hierarchy of actions that are used to accomplish the objective” (p. 63). The Activity systems learning model involves interaction among the student, the object, the tools of learning, the community, the rules, and the division of labor. Activity is often collaborative within the community and rules. Therefore, learning through the Activity model can form the framework for creating curriculum within a Constructivist framework.  The activity can assist with the creation of meaning and knowledge.

Motivation theory (Keller, 2008) is based on five foundational principles that seek to explain how motivation plays a role in student learning. This article also provides a very solid understanding of the relationship of Motivation theory to the ARCS Motivation Model (Keller, 2010). Motivation is increased when student curiosity is aroused, when material is relevant to student learning objectives, when learners believe they can succeed, when learners are satisfied with the learning outcome, and when learners use self-regulatory strategies to stay on task.  As a librarian, I would focus on making information literacy material relevant to learning objectives so students can immediately see how research strategies benefit them and help them to reach their goals.

(2) Compare characteristics of three theories from your readings (about 300~ 500 words). Create a Venn (or other) diagram to show your understanding of your chosen theories.

I chose to explore the relationships among Constructivism, Activity, and Motivation learning theories. Constructivism theory can provide the basis for classroom and curriculum design. As described in the article for this week (Dangel, et. al., 2004), teachers can successfully design classroom spaces and projects to encourage self-directed learning and construction of meaningful knowledge. Students create their own meaning and knowledge through a variety of learning projects facilitated by the teacher but directed by the students, often in collaborative settings. Learning in the Constructivism classroom takes place through collaborative engagement in academic activities. This intersects directly with the Activity Learning Theory.  Jonassen and Rohrer-Murphy (1999) take pains to illustrate how the Activity theory can form a solid framework for creating the Constructivist classroom. If learning does indeed emerge from the activity of the student, it is a natural fit within the Constructivist classroom which designs authentic activities to allow the student to create meaningful knowledge. The activity helps to construct that meaning. Indeed, this Activity framework can so closely parallel the needs in the Constructivist classroom that the authors provide principles for incorporation. Teachers need to clarify the purpose of the activity, and then conduct detailed analyses of the activity, the structure, the tools and mediators, the context, and the bigger picture. In particular, analysis of the activity structure helps the teacher determine how the actions and operations of the activity flow into the learning objectives. In addition to the Activity learning theory, Motivational learning theory can also help to create the framework for a successful Constructivist classroom. The first two motivational principles are of particular interest to the teacher implementing a Constructivist learning experience. The first Motivation principle of curiosity is certainly relevant to Constructivism. One goal of the activities in a Constructivist classroom is to arouse curiosity to sustain engagement. Variability, a factor within this first principle, is also a cornerstone in the Constructivist classroom. The second Motivational principle is also important to consider. Motivation increases when the learning is considered relevant to the students’ goals or objectives. Similarly, the second theme of the Constructivist classroom is to create a space for authentic or relevant interactions. The teacher can combine these two theories to bolster learning opportunities.

This Venn diagram shows my understanding of the relationships among these three theories. There is overlap between Constructivism and Activity theories. However there are aspects of each that lie outside the scope of the other. For example, many learning activities take place outside of a classroom utilizing Constructivism learning theory. Motivational theory is present in both Constructivism and Activity. Based on the Motivation article, I embedded the ARCS Motivational Model within the larger Motivational Theory area.EdTech597VennTheories

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