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Education and training institutions around the world used to be driven by a belief that teaching simply involved imparting knowledge to learners. This was based on the notion that a learner’s brain is an 'empty vessel', into which knowledge can be poured, and that if you poured in the right information, in the right sequence, the learner would automatically learn whatever you wanted her to learn.

Although most educators would now disagree with this notion, it is still the case that most educators/ trainers in higher education and workplace training are appointed on the basis of their subject knowledge and not their ability to teach in a learner-centred way.

In recent years, the concept of constructivism has helped many educators to go beyond traditional rote learning techniques, and to engage their learners more fully in the learning process. In this unit, we take a bird's-eye look at the many ways in which you can support distance learners in their learning from a constructivist perspective.


Tick the things you would like to be able to do by the end of this unit:

  1. Explain how the concept of constructivism can help educators make the learning process engaging for learners 

  2. Explain the typical stages that learners go through in the online learning process 

  3. Discuss ways of supporting learners at each stage of their learning that are consistent with a constructivist approach to teaching 

  4. Find out which stage your learners are at in their journey towards knowledge construction in an online or blended learning environment

Use your selected outcomes to help you decide which parts of the unit to focus on in the greatest depth.

Reading and reflection

Click on the following links to access the materials for this unit:

Approaches to teaching
The five stages that learners go through in an e-learning programme
Case study - the five stages in action