Children constructing and owning their own learning – two inspiring TED talks

I’ve been spending some time today reading and researching for a paper that focuses on the connection between constructivist theories and the idea of ‘connectivism’ – almost a form of constructivism for the digital age. After wearying of reading, I decided to search TED talks for some practical and engaging discussions based one or both of these theories. As usual, TED provided some gems:

1. Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge

Working on the principles of building awareness, enabling and empowerment Sethi’s students learnt the value of acknowledging ‘I can’ to help them construct knowledge and connect with others to solve community issues – learning by doing. Improvements were seen in the students’ academic performance as well as their social activism.

2. Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

“Children will learn to do what they want to learn to do.”

Sugata Mitra explains his “Hole in the Wall” project, the results of which demonstrated that in an environment that stimulates curiosity, children will learn effectively through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra and his students achieved some amazing things by connecting with each other and with teachers and learners across the globe. He proposes a self-organising system of learning – one in which the system structure appears without explicit intervention from outside the system (i.e., teacher acts as a ‘guide on the side’ not a ‘sage on the stage’, allowing students to construct and own the learning).

Constructivist theories allow students to engage in authentic and meaningful learning, as demonstrated in exceptional ways by Sethi and Mitra. It is not necessarily about the teacher simply standing off to the side and giving learners absolute free range, but it does redefine the roles and responsibilities of teachers and students. What I am now interested in exploring is how social media and other networks can contribute to this learning to create a form of constructivism that is even more “connected” than ever before. One that helps students to be the “owners” of their own learning and to engage with and implement solutions for real-world problems, thereby empowering them to be the leaders of the future.

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