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Social Constructivism and Deep Learning in Privacy, Security, Freedom: Social Concerns for the 21 st Century A Case Study in Best Practice Using Empire State College’s Online Learning Methodology. Center for Distance Learning Nicola Martinez,

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Social Constructivism and Deep Learningin Privacy, Security, Freedom: Social Concerns for the 21st CenturyA Case Study in Best Practice Using Empire State College’s Online Learning Methodology

Center for Distance Learning

Nicola Martinez,

Director of Curriculum and Instructional Design

who we are empire state college
Who We Are: Empire State College
  • Locations around New York State
  • The Center for Distance Learning (CDL) serves adult students around the world
center for distance learning
Center for Distance Learning
  • adult learning centered
  • offers asynchronous online courses in five, 15-week semesters per year
  • leading enroller in the SUNY Learning Network
  • partner with several institutions such as eArmyU & Navy, public & private organizations, labor unions,
  • member institution, The Consortium of Higher Education for Emergency and Fire Services (CHEEFS) offering baccalaureate degrees for the fire and emergency services community through the National Fire Academy’s Degrees at a Distance Program.
center for distance learning course statistics
Center for Distance Learning Course Statistics
  • 350 distinct online courses,
  • many with multiple sections
  • 46 courses developed/revised for Sept 03
  • 50+ courses developed or revised for Jan 04
  • 68 courses developed or revised for Sept 04
  • 70 courses developed or revisedfor Jan 05
  • 55+ courses in development or revision for Sept 05
  • all courses on a two year revision cycle
  • managed using the Coursetrak system
areas of study
Areas of Study

The Arts | Business, Management & Economics | Community & Human Services | Communications, Humanities & Cultural Studies | Educational Studies | Historical Studies | Human Development | Labor Studies | Science, Math & Technology | Social Theory, Structure & Change

objectives
Objectives

objectives:

  • Present a case study of an Empire State College Center for Distance Learning Online Course (Privacy Security, Freedom: Social Concerns for the 21st Century) illustrating best practices in the application of social constructivist learning theory.
  • The author will demonstrate how carefully designed course materials, as well as interactive, collaborative learning activities requiring data collection, evaluation of evidence, and interpretive analysis challenge the student and enrich the learning experience.
social constructivism
Social Constructivism

social constructivism:

  • is a variety of cognitive constructivism that emphasizes the collaborative nature of much learning.

Social constructivismwas developed by post-revolutionary Soviet psychologist, Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky was a cognitivist, but rejected the assumption made by cognitivists such as Piaget and Perry that it was possible to separate learning from its social context. He argued that all cognitive functions originate in, and must therefore be explained as products of, social interactions and that learning was not simply the assimilation and accommodation of new knowledge by learners; it was the process by which learners were integrated into a knowledge community.

(from: http://gsi.berkeley.edu/resources/learning/social.html).

the zone of proximal development
The zone of Proximal Development.

Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development:

  • It is the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society. (Trans. M. Cole). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

social constructivism and instructional models
Social Constructivism and Instructional Models

social constructivism and instructional models:

  • Instructional models based on the social constructivist perspective stress the need for collaboration among learners and with practitioners in the society (Lave & Wenger, 1991; McMahon, 1997).
  • Lave and Wenger (1991) assert that a society’s practical knowledge is situated in relations among practitioners, their practice, and the social organization and political economy of communities of practice. For this reason, learning should involve such knowledge and practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Gredler, 1997).

Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology.

social constructivist approaches
Social Constructivist Approaches

social constructivist approaches can include:

  • reciprocal teaching
  • peer collaboration
  • cognitive apprenticeships
  • problem-based instruction
  • webquests
  • anchored instruction and other methods that involve learning with others (Shunk, 2000).

Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology.

deep learning 1
Deep Learning 1

deep learning:

  • Marton and Saljo (1976) developed the following definitions of surface and deep approaches to learning:

Surface approach:Students relate to the needs of the instructor, rather than to either their own personal identification with the subject or to the structure of the imparted knowledge. The learning task is to reproduce the subject matter at a later date (e.g. in an exam).

Deep approach:Students connect the structure of the subject to their own learning structures. This involves thinking, seeking integration between components and between tasks, and ‘playing’ with ideas.

Marton, F., Saljo, R. (1976). "On qualitative differences in learning: Outcome and process." British Journal of Educational Psychology 46: 4-11.

deep learning 2
Deep Learning 2

deep learning:

  • Gibbs (1992) further refines the definition:

Most students can adopt both surface and deep approaches to their learning; students can develop an increasingly sophisticated conception of learning; inappropriate course design, teaching methods and assessment can foster a surface approach; and appropriate course design, teaching methods and assessment can foster a deep approach. Gibbs, G. (1992a). Improving the quality of student learning through course design. In R. Barnett (Ed.). Learning to Effect . Buckingham: SRHE/Open University Press. Part I Using research to improve student learning.

Gibbs, G. (1992b). Improving the quality of student learning . Bristol: Technical and Educational Services.

adult learning theory
Adult Learning Theory

adult learners need:

  • To know why learning is required
  • To direct their learning
  • To contribute their experiences to the learning situation
  • To apply what they have learned to serve real world problems
  • To feel competent and experience success throughout the learning program.

adapted from:

Knowles, M. S., Holton III, Elwood F., Swanson, Richard A. (1998). The adult learner. Houston: Gulf.

Wlodkowski, R. J. (1993). Enhancing adult motivation to learn: A guide to improving instruction and increasing learner achievement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

a case study
A Case Study

an online course:

Privacy, Security, Freedom: Social Concerns for the 21st Century. The course is a sociological and philosophical exploration of the questions of privacy, security and freedom in the 21st Century in the context of both the theory and practical, policy-oriented aspects of these social concerns.

official course description
Official Course Description

Privacy, Security, Freedom:

The sociological and philosophical exploration of the questions of privacy, security and freedom in the 21st Century in the context of both the theory and practical, policy-oriented aspects of these social concerns. This study will include an examination of some of the concepts of political and social philosophy, such as private vs. public domains, the individual and the state, freedom, political obligation, and their relevance to contemporary society and government, with a particular focus on the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act, and Total Information Awareness/Terrorism Information Awareness. Credits4 Credits, advanced level courseCourse PrerequisitesUpper Level StandingKnowledge or Skills NeededWriting and internet and/or library research skills.

activities for collaborative learning
Activities for Collaborative Learning

collaborative learning:

  • Students engage collaboratively in both pro-con debate (on the Patriot Act) and (Security) policy development while harnessing the availability of Internet based resources.
  • They read, evaluate and analyze primary sources, such as the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act.
  • They search for and share other resources presenting a variety of perspectives, which allow the student to form his or her own educated opinion grounded in both philosophical inquiry and policy analysis.
  • In addition, each student introduces a topic for discussion, based on assigned readings for every module.
  • Due to the high level, highly relevant professional experience of many of the students, their study is enhanced with practice-based research.
sample students 1
Sample Students 1

students:

  • Classmate A: I am a Lieutenant with a large metropolitan police department, assigned to the Commissioner who spearheads crime control strategies. I have a background in the areas of criminal intelligence, investigations, anti-terrorism as well as WMD training (CBR) from the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Classmate B: I am working toward a bachelor's degree in Social Theory, Structure and Change with an emphasis on National Security.
  • Classmate C: In 1965, as a colonel's orderly, I observed Rudolph Hess tending his flowers in Berlin's Spandau prison
  • Classmate D:I am employed as a Lieutenant in a Correctional Facility. I am a certified instructor at my place of employment, specializing in terrorism and emergency response to WMD Incidents. I just returned from a training course for Domestic Security in Washington, DC.
sample students 2
Sample Students 2

students:

  • Classmate E: I am heavily involved in emergency services. My current position is EMS Coordinator for my county and Commander for a federal response team. In my spare time I volunteer on my local ambulance corps..
  • Classmate F: I am in the Navy. I am an IT working with Intel.
  • Classmate G: I work as a Systems Architect designing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems mostly for banks. This software is used to collect contact information about clients and prospects to help increase the quality of customer service as well as to analyze the “sales pipeline”. The software may or may not pose privacy issues.
  • Classmate H: I work for a large high-end retailer and I am an investigator. I investigate all aspects of internal theft from the theft of goods and money, to the theft of company time and resources.
course readings 1
Course Readings 1

readings:

  • David Brin. The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? June 1999 Edition. Perseus Publishing.
  • Reginald Whitaker. The End of Privacy: How Total Surveillance Is Becoming a Reality. February 2000 Edition. New Press .
  • Bruce Schneier. Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World. September 2003 Edition. Copernicus Books.
  • John Stuart Mill. On Liberty. June 2002 (Paperback) Edition. Dover.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau. On The Social Contract. January 1998 (Revised) Edition. Hackett Publishing Company.
course readings 2
Course Readings 2

readings:

Texts and additional course materials provide students with a foundation in political science, social policy and political sociology.

In addition to the texts, students read excerpts from:

  • the Patriot Act,
  • the Homeland Security Act,
  • total/terrorism information awareness, predecessors and successors
  • analyzes of the acts, both pro and con
  • and other official documents, policies and legislature having direct relevance to the issues of privacy, security, and freedom.

Students also examine current case studies online using sociological and social policy making methodologies.

discussions
Discussions

discussions:

  • Discussion will include philosophical inquiry and social critique. We will also discuss recent developments such as the Patriot Act, The Homeland Security Act, Total Information Awareness/Terrorism Information Awareness (and related developments). There are a number of outstanding websites, both governmental and organizational, that will provide the basis for outstanding coverage of the issues.
  • The discussions are intended to help you further explore and think critically about the information you are reading and viewing. I shall pose questions to get the discussions going. I intend to be an active--two or three times a week--participant in the discussions, and expect each of you to be so, as well.

Please Note:Each discussion response must have a minimum of 125 words, spell checked, well written and citing references in support of arguments. Student led discussion topics must have a minimum of 250 words for the original posting, 125 words for responses.

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Written Assignments

students complete the following written activities:

(1) lead 4 discussion topics with a 250 word commentary;

(2) participate in a pros/cons debate on privacy in relation to the Patriot Act using case studies and recent "real" events to support arguments. This assignment requires the research, review, analysis and evaluation of six articles;

(3) Join a team for a role play scenario based learning activity. This assignment includes deciding on the scenario (what happened, how, what are the implications), participating in a group discussion, researching and reviewing 2 articles/websites, and contributing to the development a 500 word security policy;

(4) Design a research project of using one or more of the following methods: data collection, evaluation of evidence, and employment of interpretive analysis using resources on the World Wide Web, examination of primary text materials such as the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act, and observation within their communities. The research project includes a formal research proposal and an 10-15 resource annotated bibliography.

the role play scenario part 1
The Role Play Scenario, Part 1

choose one of the following scenarios:

  • 1. Imagine that you are all board members of a school district having to establish a security policy after an incident in the school.
  • 2. You are the computer security team for a government organization housing highly sensitive information. An unknown hacker has accessed your files and leaked confidential information to the public. Concerned that insider information may have given the hacker easier access, you must develop a tighter internal security policy.
the role play scenario part 2
The Role Play Scenario, Part 2

steps:

  • First, decide on the scenario: what happened, how, what are the implications. Start an initial group discussion on the scenario. Each group member must research and review 2 articles/websites that might be relevant to the case, and submit an evaluation/review of the article to the group.
  • Then, develop a 500 word security policy after weighing the rights of the individuals against the security of the group.
  • As you develop your policy, follow the five step process proposed by Schneier in Beyond Fear (Chapter 16, pp 257-258). Be sure to consider the four "environmental constraints on behavior" (pp264-265). In addition, consider Schneier's three final rules (pp. 279-280).
  • In addition, the group must reference one or more sections of the Homeland Security Act in support of the proposed policy.
comments from students 1
Comments from Students 1
  • Has this course achieved the objectives that it set out to accomplish? From every conceivable aspect, this course has surpassed these objectives and more. Our group as a whole was introduced to some of the most complicated issues facing citizens and government today. We explored, analyzed, researched and even debated acts of legislation, political and social commentary, not to mention philosophy. Our eyes were opened to the various issues facing modern society; privacy, security, terrorism and cultural awareness were only some of the topics we delved into.
  • Group discussions and debates allowed for us to deliver our individual and collective stances on the issues we examined. Although sometimes energetic and yes, maybe heated, we were all part of a unique learning process. Nicola led us admirably through the gauntlet of subject matter; by design and good chemistry within the group, I think we will all walk away from this course better students and citizens with a host of useful information.
the course
The Course

Privacy, Security, Freedom:

Social Concerns for the 21st Century

Here I take the audience to a reference copy of the course (student and term independent) to illustrate my points

  • http://sln.suny.edu/courses/21/2842100210.nsf/
comments from students 2
Comments from Students 2
  • The course presentation and materials were excellent : I just wished that I could have absorbed more. Some of my pre-course thoughts have gotten stronger, others have weakened, while many new ideas have been aroused by the writers ,the tutor, and the classmates. Collective participation was both a necessity, and asset and not a hindrance which was my original fear.
  • I have had some mandatory online Verizon schooling, but that involved, cut and dry-yes and know, type answers. A course in history or philosophy online was not for me. How could I cut the other person off, just to insert my twopense into the discussion. This technique of preemptive interruption is widely used by the experts as they project their importance and knowledge, but rather useless in an online course. I learned to wait my turn, and not alone listen to, but also read and interpret what others had to say. What a blessing and what a lesson in manners for the information age. Can we teach our elite, the politicians?
comments from students 3
Comments from Students 3
  • I would like to say how much I have enjoyed participating in the group/student led discussions and the group project. They have been very enlightening and have helped me to re-evaluate my personal beliefs about privacy, freedom and the impact that the Patriot Act has on both.
  • I have thoroughly enjoyed debating with my classmates about these topics and have learned so much from all of you. It always amazes me that just when you think you have a firm grip on your personal beliefs, that someone brings something to light that changes everything. This is how I felt, over and over again. I have always been a very opinionated and outspoken person, but I have often had a hard time being open minded to the opinions of others. This class has helped me to learn that being open minded may not always be easy, but that it definitely has it’s rewards.
  • More importantly, I learned a lot about myself , including how to “temper my arguments”. The way in which information is presented has a lasting effect on those who are listening, good or bad. Knowing that, will help me achieve the desired outcome of the information presented, whatever that may be. This is something that will stick with me forever.
comments from students 4
Comments from Students 4
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the books as well as being involved in the projects. I thought that the groups projects really helped us to share a great deal of information and both groups put together some great presentations.
  • Believe it or not my favorite part of this class was the group reports/projects. While it was not the easiest task in the world trying to get all of us on the same page; the end result was well worth the effort. Other than enjoying the whole “group aspect” of it, I also found the task of making our own school weapons policy very intriguing. Also, a series of unfortunate events also synchronized with our project as well (shootings/stabbings in school). Those events, I believe played an important part in some of our decisions about what to include, and not include in our policy.
  • I have taken many classes, in a number of schools, throughout my life. Some of the information I absorbed, some went in one ear and out the other. The lessons we have learned in this course will probably stay with us for the rest of our lives. We will re-evaluate political policies and security measures, be more aware of privacy issues, and cherish more deeply the freedoms that remain available to us.
conclusion
Conclusion

in conclusion:

  • I hope that I have demonstrated that carefully presented course materials combined with active, authentic, engaging and collaborative learning activities within a social constructivist approach provide the student with opportunities for enriched learning.
  • and that this method, applied to teaching and learning in online environments, supports a deep approach to learning.

…Nicola Martinez

references 1
References 1
  • Gredler, M. E. (1997). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice (3rd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Gibbs, G. (1992b). Improving the quality of student learning . Bristol: Technical and Educational Services.
  • Kim, B. (2001). “Social constructivism”. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Available Website: http://www.coe.uga.edu/epltt/SocialConstructivism.htm
  • Knowles, M. S., Holton III, Elwood F., Swanson, Richard A. (1998). The Adult Learner. Houston: Gulf.
  • Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Marton, F., Saljo, R. (1976). "On qualitative differences in learning: Outcome and process." British Journal of Educational Psychology 46: 4-11.
  • McMahon, M. (1997, December). Social Constructivism and the World Wide Web - A Paradigm for Learning. Paper presented at the ASCILITE conference. Perth, Australia.
  • Shunk, D. H. (2000). Learning theories: An educational perspective (3rd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society. (Trans. M. Cole). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Wlodkowski, R. J. (1993). Enhancing adult motivation to learn: A guide to improving instruction and increasing learner achievement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
references 2
References 2

websites on social constructivism:

  • http://gsi.berkeley.edu/resources/learning/social.html
  • http://dougiamas.com/writing/constructivism.html#social
  • http://www.dmu.ac.uk/~jamesa/learning/constructivism.htm
  • http://www.coe.uga.edu/epltt/SocialConstructivism.htm
  • http://www.comnet.ca/~pballan/Vygotsky(1978).htm
contact information
Contact Information

Nicola.Martinez@esc.edu

518-587-2100 x 776