Volume 10 · Number 3 · Pages 289–296
Beyond Technocentrism: Supporting Constructionism in the Classroom

Karen Brennan

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Context: In 2015, we are surrounded by tools and technologies for creating and making, thinking and learning. But classroom “learning” is often focused on learning about the tool/technology itself, rather than learning with or through the technology. Problem: A constructionist theory of learning offers useful ways for thinking about how technology can be included in the service of learning in K-12 classrooms. To support constructionism in the classroom, we need to focus on supporting teachers, who necessarily serve as the agents of classroom-level innovations. This article explores a central question: How can we support teachers to engage with constructionism as a way to think beyond a technocentric view in the classroom? Method: I approach this work from the perspective of a designer, using the process of supporting teachers working with the Scratch programming language in K-12 classrooms as a central example. I draw on reflections from six years of the ScratchEd project, which includes interviews with 30 teachers, and observations from teacher professional development events and an online community of educators. Results: I describe five sets of tensions that I encountered while designing the ScratchEd model of professional development: tensions between (1) tool and learning, (2) direction and discovery, (3) individual and group, (4) expert and novice, and (5) actual and aspirational. I describe how these tensions are negotiated within the elements of the PD model (an online community, participatory meetups, and an online workshop). Implications: The tensions I describe are not specific to Scratch, and can serve as a more general model for PD designers to scrutinize and critique. Constructivist content: This work contributes to ongoing conversations and questions about how to support constructivist/constructionist approaches in classrooms.

Key words: Constructionism, technocentrism, teachers, professional development, ScratchEd


Brennan K. (2015) Beyond technocentrism: Supporting constructionism in the classroom. Constructivist Foundations 10(3): 289–296. http://constructivist.info/10/3/289

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