Before this course, Theoretical Foundations of Educational Technology, the word epistemology did not exist in my vocabulary. OK, so I don’t anticipate that this word will appear in any popular titles of songs or movies, but surely in teacher circles you would expect to see or hear the word emerge from time to time. However, in my decade long plunge into professional education, I don’t recall the word arriving to my consciousness. Suddenly, I find myself in a situation, where I have to reflect on my own epistemological views and acknowledge my own teaching strategies, whether they follow along with my views. Fortunately, my professor recently assigned me a substantial amount of reading on this subject, which is going to help me not only put together a position, but also reflect on where I see my professional self within that view.
The term, epistemology, means the theory of knowledge and it was coined by a Scottish philosopher named James F. Ferrier (1808-64)(dictionary.com). It is at the heart of education, through which knowledge is acquired. The concept has its roots in centuries of philosophy and discussions related to the effect of education on individuals and societies (Phillips, 2009). Overtime, theories have been developed to consider the most effective way to transmit knowledge to individuals. The majority of the last century was dominated with behaviorism theories, which were based on external stimuli and external receptors (Roebler and Doering, 2012). Technology’s influence over communication and data collection has led to epistemological shifts for creating and sustaining a variety of learning environments that are more student-centered rather than teacher-centered (Jonnasen and Land, 2012). Furthermore, in the 1990’s there was such a surge in brain research and identifying consciousness in individuals, even more theories are being developed around the internal process for obtaining knowledge (Demasio, 2002).
As I was reading through many of these theories, the major theory branch of constructivism is where I was more inclined. I recognized my inclinations towards its major characteristics for two primary reasons. First, as a student in the EdTech program at Boise State, our content is steeped with constructive learning approaches. Also, I have notice especially the last few years of my teaching profession, I have pushed for more constructive learning activities. I think this approach came me both instinctively and as a learned strategy. The instinct developed as part of my own learning experiences; growing up accepting mediocre achievements in my own education, I learned that by applying myself to a subject matter, I was able to accomplish beyond my low expectations. Beyond the time frame of my formal education, I was able to acquire many skills, including near fluency in a foreign language. Obviously, these personal experiences have effected me as a teacher, so that I understand that most of my students have untapped cognitive potential. However, when I first started teaching, I fell back into teaching modes that were modeled for me in my earliest educational experiences. Over time, I have adapted my teaching styles, where I try to submit my students to rich learning situations, but I try to let the learning grow from within them.
I perceive the world through my perception, but I had to step aside and consider the world perceived by other learners. Due to the many readings on learning theories, I found myself formulating the framework of my own theory. Up to now, I have not deeply investigated one particular theory to see how much of my own philosophy matches up against it. Basically, I see life and cognition within multiple phases. As people develop through those phases, their cognitive senses respond differently. Depending on the phase, certain systematic approaches to teaching and learning can be applied at varying intensities. However, I am aware that theories related to society also affect the “how” and “what” that many learners obtain and the also effect the way people relate. I have experienced cultural tendencies in life and in education. I have witnessed people and students that are confident in one environment and when thrown in another, their personality is muted. I also have imagined modern-day learners, with all their abilities to access to technology, entering into a primitive environment and they would be seen as useless. I have also observed many generational differences that affect perspective. Therefore, I believe that no learning theory can be independent from the theories that calculate society. According to some of my readings, this philosophy has some similarities to the Social Activism Theory by John Dewey and the Child Development Theory by Jean Piaget, as well as some tidbits from other constructivist theories (Roebler and Doering, 2012).
When it gets down to the educational experience with my students, I am willing to use technology software such as drill and practice and tutorials to help them develop more foundation. Some students have struggled to produce in a constructive learning approach due to their lack of prior knowledge or skill with language. Yet, many of the technology tools that I try to introduce to my students are to give a queue or guide toward a learning challenge and let them a chance to create their own understanding.
epistemology. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved September 26, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/epistemology
Phillips, D.C., “Philosophy of Education”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.
Jonassen, D., & Land, S. (Eds.). (2012). Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Demasio, A. R. (2002). EBSCOhost: How the Brain Creates the Mind. Science American, Special Edition, 12(1), 4–9.