Activity 5 of the LRNT523 Foundations of Learning and Technologies course at Royal Roads University asked students to read articles by Peggy A. Ertmer & Timothy J. Newby and M. David Merrill. We were then tasked with reflecting on our own theoretical and pedagogical stance and how one theory aligns with our day-to-day work.
Constructivism, as described by Ertmer & Newby (2013), is a theory that “equates learning with creating meaning from experience” (p. 55). My current role as a Technical Helpdesk Representative for a telecommunication provider requires that work knowledge be gained through the day-to-day interactions with customers who call in for support. Each moment can be looked upon as a teachable moment as not only can I learn from each call on how to better handle a situation, but also the customers can be provided with additional information that will enable them to self-assess a future issue themselves prior to requiring technical support.
When I first started in this position, I brought with me a past history of soft and hard skills that could be applied to solving customer issues. Personal skills such as patience, empathy, humour, and honesty were complemented with technological knowledge of networks, computer operating systems, hardware, and applications. These varied skills enabled me to incorporate a constructivist position since knowledge transfer “can be facilitated by involvement in authentic tasks anchored in meaningful contexts” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p. 56). Each support task that I get involved in provides the opportunity to use past learned skills and apply them to current situations to help solve issues while also providing an increased learning application for myself.
The broad range of telecommunications services that my employer provides means that each call I am involved in could be quite varied since the technical ability of the customer can also fluctuate along with the required service they are having issue with. Author M. David Merrill (2002) points out that “learning is promoted when learners are required to use their new knowledge or skill to solve problems” (p. 49) and “goal-based scenarios are a learn-by-doing simulation in which students pursue a goal by practicing target skills and using relevant content knowledge to help them achieve their goal” (p. 56). These statements hold true for my work role as the knowledge and confidence I gain each day is through ‘learning by doing’ instead of attempting to master every conceivable situation that could be encountered through offline training seminars or mentoring sessions.
Ertmer, P., & Newby, T. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.
Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.