Hello all and Welcome to Education 5103!

For the first two weeks of the course, we will be involved in familiarizing ourselves with Moodle, introducing ourselves to the class, completing the first selection of readings, posting our thoughts to the discussion area and responding to the postings of others.

Weekly Discussions

The discussions are the heart of an online course. Try to keep your messages concise – about one screen full may be adequate. You are expected to post original responses and reply to your classmate’s messages each week; keep in mind that your main audience is your classmates, not me. Do not just spout opinions; support or challenge ideas with data, and give reasons for your beliefs. In addition, the timeliness of your messages is important; if you wait until Sunday evening to post all of your messages, it’s like arriving at a party when all of the other guests are just leaving. Please do not post your messages as attachments because your file type may not be compatible with everyone else’s system. To avoid spelling and grammar mistakes, you may wish to consider composing your message in a word processor, and then copy and paste your text into a Moodle discussion posting.

For the first week please do the following:

      1. Make sure you are familiar with this online software by trying it out and going through all of the various features.

      2. Please take a look at the course pages: “Course Description”, and “Course Philosophy and Web Resources”. You will find links to these pages at the top of the opening page for the course. On those pages you will find course information and Assessment Rubrics. Please note the Rubric for the Discussion Area as most of the course activity happens there.

      3. Introduce yourselves by posting a reply to the Class Introductions forum.  In that topic area, please let us know about some or all of the following:

        • Where you work:

        • What you do:

        • Grade level(s) and subject you teach (if you do teach):

        • Family Status:

        • College Degrees:

        • is this your first online course?

        • a general description of your computer expertise

        • Words or phrases that describe me:

        • Interests/Hobbies:

        • Priorities or things that are important to me:

        • Something of interest about me from my past, present, or anticipated future:

        • You might like to include your customary e-mail for contact purposes or in case of difficulty with Moodle.

      4. This week we will be reviewing two basic approaches to educational instruction: directed instruction and constructivist instruction. We will also look at the theoretical basis for these two approaches by looking at a number of psychologists’ theories. Next, keeping in mind the basic approaches and theories, we will look at how software in the classroom fits into the picture. Please read the information and sites below and then answer the questions within the “Week 1 assignment” discussion forum.

Directed Instruction

Directed instruction, in its crudest form, is the “old fashion” way of teaching. The teacher is at the front of the class directing the students to a new level of understanding in a very specific teacher-directed manner.

Teaching Methods – Direct Instruction

Robyler, M.D. et al(1999) summarize the characteristics of directed instruction:

      1. Focus on teaching sequences of skills that begin with lower-level skills and build to higher-level skills.

      2. Clearly state skill objectives with test items matched to them.

      3. Stress more individualized work than group work.

      4. Emphasize traditional teaching and assessment methods: lectures, skill worksheets, activities and tests with specific expected responses.

Here are some components for a recent model of directed instruction.

Constructivist Instruction

On the other hand, today’s widely accepted models for instruction are based in the constructivist way of learning. Robyler, M.D. et al(1999) summarize the characteristics of constructivist instruction:

      1. Focus on learning through posing problems, exploring possible answers, and developing products and presentations.

      2. Peruse more global goals that specify general abilities such as problem solving and research skills.

      3. Stress more groups work than individualized work.

      4. Emphasize alternative learning and assessment methods: exploration of open-ended questions and scenarios, doing research and developing products; assessment by student portfolios, performance checklists, and tests with open-ended questions; descriptive narratives written by teachers.


Further reading on the concept of constructivism:

Comparison of Three General Theories

      1. A good overview of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. These pages have been re-created using an Internet “way-back machine” and converted to pdf format. Consequently all external links may not function as designed.

Theoretical Basis for Directed Instruction

Please read the following summary:

      1. Skinner

Theoretical Basis for Constructivist Instruction

    1. Piaget
    2. Cognitive Psychology
    3. Vygotsky

The above summaries for Skinner, Piaget, Cognitive Pysch. and Vygotsky were taken from a site written by Isidro Grau, IV

Week 1/2 Discussion Questions

Respond to these questions in the discussion forum of which you are a member found in the Moodle discussions area.  Please have your posting done by Sunday of Week 2 of the course.  The rest of week 2 will be used for class members to respond to the postings of your class mates.

  1. Throughout the course, please keep in mind that the medium is not the message. Distance education is not about learning and using technology and the curriculum of this course is also not about learning technology. Please read The Medium is Not the Message and post your thoughts.

  2. If you were to choose one particular learning theory that best fits direct instruction, which would it be and why?

  3. If you were to choose one particular learning theory that best fits the constructivist approach, which would it be and why?

  4. By drawing upon past life and/or teaching experiences, where has direct instruction worked for you?

  5. By drawing upon past life and/or teaching experiences, where has the constructivist style worked for you?