Translating constructivism into instructional design: Potential and limitations
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Instructional designers are expected to be familiar with the epistemological underpinnings of several theories and their consequences on the process of instruction. Constructivism is the dominant theory of the last decade and supports construction of knowledge by the individual. This paper discusses the basic principles underlying constructivism, particularly active, collaborative and authentic learning. Application of these principles on the process - analysis, development, evaluation - of instructional design poses certain challenges with regards to issues such as pre-specification of knowledge, authentic evaluation and learner control. Most of the problems are attributed to the fact that constructivism is a learning theory and not an instructional-design theory. Therefore, instructional designers must attempt to translate constructivism into instructional design through a more pragmatic approach that focuses on the principles of moderate - rather than extreme - constructivism and makes use of emergent technology tools. This shift could facilitate the development of more situated, experiential, meaningful and cost-effective learning environments.