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Constructivism espouses the epistemological belief that “knowing is a process of actively interpreting and constructing individual knowledge representations” (Jonassen, 1991, p.10). Jonassen (1991) related “Humans are perceivers and interpreters who construct their own reality through engaging in those mental activities: “Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am–Descartes).” (p.10)


Constructivism is based on the work of theorists such as Jerome Bruner, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky and Ernst Von Glasersfeld. Constructivists believe that learning occurs “from the outside in as well as from the inside out.” (Driscoll, 2005, p.229) Context and experience are essential elements of the learning process. (Driscoll, 2005) Vygotsky believed that learners “use tools to help themselves think; the tools actually transform thought”. (Miller, 2002, p.384) Seymour Papert indicated that “No one learns by taking over another’s point of view. One learns only by building one’s own.” (1984, p. 428)


Constructivists believe learning occurs within social contexts with varied perspectives of concepts. Learning tasks are immersed within challenging, realistic and relevant issues. Jonassen indicated that “ill structured problems possess multiple solutions, solution paths, fewer parameters which are less manipulable, and contain uncertainty about which concepts, rules, and principles are necessary for the solution.” (1997, p. 65) Learning belongs to individuals who are aware of and construct their own knowledge (Driscoll, 2005).  Seymour Papert applied computers to constructivist learning by espousing that “we really have to see the cultural, the affective and the cognitive welded together in the most intimate way.” He saw learners acquiring “more than facts or concepts or understandings. It’s a relationship…” (Papert, 1984, p. 426)


Constructivist learning is created when learners construct meaning within tasks that are open, shared and contextual. “Rather than presenting instructional treatments, designers would provide generative, mental construction “tool kits” embedded in relevant learning environments that facilitate knowledge construction by learners.” (Jonassen, 1991. P.11) Research provides insight into the notion that “hypertext offers a flexible approach to knowledge construction.” (Altun, 2002, p. 370) Research indicates that reading and writing within hypertext environments presents both challenge and reward, depending on epistemic beliefs that impact conditions, context and learners’ readiness. (Altun (2003), Bardini (1997), Dillon (1996), Harrison (2002), Jonassen (1991), Miall & Dobson (2001), Petraglia (1998).

Hypertext creation and deconstruction is only one constructivist tool available in the constructivist’s toolkit, but it is one that allows learners to move beyond cultural, affective and cognitive growth, to the development of relationships with others, across time and space.

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