Objectivism vs. Constructivism Re-visited : An Interpretation in Online and Distance Learning Environments

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This paper considers the two positions held towards the epistemology of knowledge, namely, transmission and construction, in the field of distance education. It first examines the historical discussions regarding the two positions as espoused in psychology and education. It then moves on to examine the new learning paradigm posited by Ertmer and Newby (1993) as a viable model of knowledge, which considers all the major stances towards knowledge and learning (behaviorism, congnitivism, and constructivism) to be a matter of levels that occur concurrently. Second, it looks at how distance education has supported these two positions via technology (or media) use in their actual application. The paper considers that the appropriate usage of technology, especially the introduction of online components in program/course design, could now support both transmission and construction models of learning in distance education. To conclude, the paper suggests that transmission vs. construction arguments may now be becoming a variable to be planned for and chosen in a given instructional context and that another paradigm shift of knowing and learning may be necessary that better explains the "thought structure" that learners of newer generations may have in education in this digital era.



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