The Joy and Power of Learning Through Creating

Shared freely on Unsplash by Toa Heftiba

Learning is a lifelong journey full of twists, turns, and opportunities for growth. As we learn, we build new connections in our brains, construct knowledge, and expand our perspectives. This process of learning can be challenging yet rewarding. Two learning theories that provide frameworks for effective learning are constructivism and constructionism.

Constructivism views learning as an active process where learners construct new ideas and concepts based on their current and past knowledge and experiences. Learners are not blank slates but bring their unique backgrounds to the learning process. Under a constructivist model, instructors act as facilitators who help guide student learning through strategies like encouraging reflection, providing mentoring, and designing authentic tasks. Students are empowered to take ownership of their learning journey (O’Donnell, 2012).

Constructionism builds on the ideals of constructivism by emphasizing the importance of learning through creating. Papert’s theory of constructionism posits that people learn best when actively creating, exploring, and pursuing projects. This hands-on approach allows for deeper engagement and gives learners control over synthesizing and demonstrating their knowledge. Constructionist learning often involves using technology as a creative tool. Students gain robust understanding by designing artifacts like computer programs, sculptures, films, or blogs (Ackermann, 2001). The act of creating externalizes internal learning processes.

Both constructivist and constructionist approaches recognize the motivating power of giving students agency in learning. When learners take an active role, they gain lifelong skills like problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking. By tailoring education to students’ interests and enabling them to construct meaning, student engagement and self-efficacy rise (Rob & Rob, 2018).

Failure in Constructivist Learning

Failure on the path to success is natural and even necessary when employing constructivist and constructionist techniques. We must reframe failure not as a negative endpoint but as feedback used to iterate and improve. As Edutopia (2013) states in their video “Reframing Failure as Iteration Allows Students to Thrive,” failure motivates students to find new strategies, seek input, and strengthen perseverance.

The constructivist learning environment is ideal for normalizing failure as part of the learning process. When students have space for open-ended exploration, creative risk-taking is encouraged. Failure shifts from being personal to being informational. Each failure gives students data to adjust course and improve. Open communication about what went wrong can help students extract lessons. Constructivist instructors aid this process with guidance on responding resiliently to setbacks.

Embedding failure as a welcome part of the learning loop empowers students. It promotes stretching comfort zones, pursuing ambitious work, and dusting oneself off after setbacks. Students realize failure is not a statement on their abilities but a sign of engagement. Adopting this mindset helps students take ownership of their education as they design constructs to apply their developing knowledge.

The Path Forward with AI

Artificial intelligence has potential to enhance human learning in alignment with constructivist and constructionist values. AI tutoring systems allow personalized education based on each student’s changing knowledge state. Collaborating with idea-generating tools like ChatGPT allows students to bring their creativity to life efficiently. AI image generation promotes multimedia constructionist learning through artmaking.

Carefully designing the roles between educator, student, and AI is key. AI should not replace human teachers but act as a tool to amplify human strengths. AI can reduce busywork to provide space for reflective discourse and knowledge co-creation. Students remain the drivers of their learning, leveraging AI to construct meaning and artifacts. Used ethically, AI propels constructivist and constructionist techniques into the future.

The wonder of learning is that the journey never ends. Each lesson, whether success or failure, expands our perspectives. Constructivism and constructionism empower learners to chart their own course through this exciting voyage of growth. By remembering failure’s hidden gifts and utilizing new tools like AI responsibly, education continues to flourish. I invite you to join me in embracing the joy and power of learning through creating.


Author: Dave

LX Designer, entrepreneur & change agent. Immersed in collaborations that improve learning & working environments. Sometimes, I go fishing.

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