, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 17–22 | Cite as

Creating a Constructivist Online Instructional Environment

  • Jill Bryant
  • Alisa J. BatesEmail author


This paper describes the ways in which social constructivist learning was fostered in an online teacher education program. In fall, 2010 we launched an online Masters of Education (M.Ed) and in spring, 2011 and began an online version of the on-campus Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) at a small liberal arts university. The development and implementation of these online programs presented new pedagogical challenges and questions. We focused the inquiry on how to adapt a community-focused, constructivist, oncampus pedagogy to an online format. Grounded in and driven by social constructivism, we identified several essential online tools and instructional methods that facilitated the kind of candidate-candidate and candidate-teacher interaction desired. This paper explores the potential of certain online tools and methods to facilitate a social constructivist approach to preparing teachers in a virtual program model.


asynchronous instruction collaborative learning constructivist instructional methods distance education online teaching social constructivist learning student voice synchronous instruction 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, T. (2003). Getting the mix right again: An updated and theoretical rationale for interaction. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 4(2), 1-15Google Scholar
  2. Bonk, C. J., & Zhang, K. (2008). Empowering online learning: 100+ activities for reading, reflecting, displaying and doing. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
  3. Brooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (2001). In search of understanding the case for constructivist classrooms. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  4. Brophy, J. (Ed). (2002). Social constructivist teaching: Affordances and constraints. In J. Brophy (Series Ed.), Advances on Research in Teaching: Vol. 9. Boston: JAI.Google Scholar
  5. Doolittle, P. E. (2001). The need to leverage theory in the development of guidelines for using technology in social studies teacher preparation: A reply to Crocco and Mason et al. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [online serial], I(4), 501-516.Google Scholar
  6. Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2010). Defeating the Kobayashe Maru: Supporting student retention by balancing the needs of the many and the one. Educause, 33(4), n4.Google Scholar
  7. Falloon, G. (2011). Making the connection: Moore’s theory of transactional distance and its relevance to the use of a virtual classroom in postgraduate online teacher education. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 43(3), 187-209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gallagher, K. (2009). Readicide: How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Stenhouse Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2), 87–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 61-72. hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the search for freedom. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. International Association for Online K-12 Learning (2011). National Standards for Quality Online Courses, version 2. Retrieved from,
  12. McBrien, J. L., Jones, P., & Cheng, R. (2009). Virtual spaces: Employing a synchronous online classroom to facilitate student engagement in online learning. International Review of Research in Open and Online Learning, 10(3), 1-17.Google Scholar
  13. Nuthall, G. (2002). Social constructivist teaching and the shaping of students’ knowledge and thinking. In J. Brophy (Series and Vol Ed), Social constructivist teaching: Affordances and constraints. Advances on Research in Teaching: Vol. 9 (pp. 43–80). Boston: JAI.Google Scholar
  14. Oldfather, P., & West, J. (1999). Learning through children’s eyes: Social constructivism and the desire to learn. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schullo, S., Hilbelink, A., Venable, M., & Barron, A. E. (2007). Selecting a virtual classroom system: elluminate live vs. macromedia breeze (Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional). Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(4), 331-345.Google Scholar
  16. Sims, R. (2003). Promises of interactivity: Aligning learner perceptions and expectations with strategies for flexible and online learning. Distance Education, 24(1), 87-103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Von Dras, J. C. (1993). “Empowerment through talk: Creating democratic communities.” In K. M. Pierce and C. Gilles (Eds.), Cycles of Meaning: Exploring the Potential of Talk in Learning Communities, pp. 59-77. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  18. Vonnegut, K. (1968). Harrison Bergeron. In Welcome to the Monkey House, pp. 7-14. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  19. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Wells, G. (2002). Learning and teaching for understanding: The key role of collaborative knowledge building. In J. Brophy (Series and Vol Ed), Social constructivist teaching: Affordances and constraints. Advances on Research in Teaching: Vol. 9 (pp. 1-42). Boston: JAI.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Willamette UniversitySalemUSA

Personalised recommendations