Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 53–65 | Cite as

The real world on a short leash: The (mis) application of constructivism to the design of educational technology

  • Joseph Petraglia


Constructivism, or more precisely, a constructivist metatheory, presently prevails throughout professional education circles. Most educators easily accept constructivism's central premise that learners approach tasks with prior knowledge and expectations based on their knowledge of the world around them. Naturally, then, constructivist educational technologists have been guided by the implicit (and increasingly explicit) desire to create “authentic” environments for learning: environments that correspond to the real world. In this paper, I argue that technologists have tended to paper over the critical epistemological dimension of constructivism by “preauthenticating” learning environments: creating environments that are predetermined to reflect the real world even though constructivist theory contrindicates precisely this. I suggest that a rhetorical perspective on constructivism offers a way out of this bind and I propose some guidelines to assist developers of educational technologies in accommodating the essentially dialogic nature of teaching and learning.


Real World Prior Knowledge Educational Technology Professional Education Constructivist Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© the Association for Educational Communications and Technology 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Petraglia
    • 1
  1. 1.the Georgia Institute of TechnologyUSA

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