ETEC 530: Constructivist Strategies for E-Learning


Constructivism is more than just creating engaging student-centered lessons, collaborative hands-on activities, or problem-solving among groups. Constructivism constitutes a major theory of knowing that is based on deep philosophical assumptions about how knowledge is acquired and the nature of reality.

This course is an advanced graduate course for educators interested in deeper philosophical discussions on knowledge and constructivism. This course will provide you with an opportunity to examine your personal beliefs about the nature of knowledge and truth, learn what philosophers have to say about these topics, and establish an understanding of how knowledge is central to constructivist pedagogy.

You will also explore the latest research on constructivist teaching strategies effective in schools and various educational settings. The language of constructivism and its principles will be applied to online learning environments with course activities and assignments.

Learning Objectives

This course will contribute to ongoing professional inquiries and a collective examination of:

  1. Knowledge and its definition based on a classical philosophical account;
  2. Constructivism as a theory of how one comes to know;
  3. Evidence of the impact of constructivist teaching strategies in education;
  4. Constructivist principles in education and their use in designing novel
    learning experiences, and,
  5. A design of lessons reflecting the major tenets of constructivism.


This is an advanced graduate course, divided into three modules. Graduate level readings from journal publications and books that are topically organized will form the basis of course discussions and activities. Each module builds upon the other and aims to enrich understanding of constructivism in educational settings. To foster community-building online, there will be numerous opportunities to share understandings in discussion fora and cafes as well as a requirement to interact with others every week (see participation in assignments). 

Major topics within each module are listed below.

  • Module A. What is knowledge?

What is knowledge from a philosophical account? Why is justification of knowledge important? What are different Ways of Knowing? Vantage points on ways of knowing.

  • Module B. What is constructivism and what are constructivist strategies?

In what ways is an understanding of knowledge relevant to constructivism? Constructivism and the arguments against. Constructivist strategies for e-learning.

  • Module C. Constructivist pedagogy and designs for e-learning.

Constructivist pedagogy and assessment. Learners’ issues and constructivist pedagogy. Constructivism across the Lifespan.

Readings & Resources

This is a reading intensive course. Readings from journal publications and books that are topically organized will form the basis of course discussions and
activities. Two books will be read in this course:

Available as an eBook from the UBC Library or from Routledge, Amazon Kindle, and the UBC Bookstore.

  • Fosnot, C. T. (2013). Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice (2nd ed.). Teachers College Press.

Available from Teachers College Press and Amazon Kindle.

We will also focus on readings from the primary research literature (peer-reviewed journal publications that are publishing raw data and an empirical analysis for the first time.) There will be also opportunities to select your own reading(s) of interest.

Assignments & Assessment

  • Assignment 1. Knowledge and Constructivism (15%)

This assignment involves a one page synthesis (single spaced), synthesizing your understanding of the relationship between knowledge, constructivism, and learning. As an option, the writing can be appended with a visual representation to total one page (eg., concept map, visual display, dialogue, Pinterest board).

  • Assignment 2. Research Café and self-reflection (30%)

This assignment involves facilitating an online discussion with your peers on teaching using constructivism (constructivist e-learning). Facilitation means that you will select the articles for your peers to read and prepare thought provoking questions that advance our knowledge of constructivism and how it may be applied to teaching online.

  • Assignment 3. Constructivism and E-Learning Final Assignment (35%)

There are two options. Both involve applying what you have learned on constructivism and e-learning to the construction of a lesson or a workshop.

  • Participation: Building a Learning Community of Professionals (20%)

There are regular Discussion Fora woven weekly into the course, and your insightful, professional, active, and on-time participation in these will be evaluated as an integral part of the course.

Minor course topic, activity, reading/resource, and assignment details may change from year to year.