Book Reviews

Book by: Chris Stabile and Jeff Ershler (Eds.)
Review by: Danalee K Brehman
W. P. Carey School of Business
Arizona State University

 

Each generation of learners brings with it a new set of challenges to those that work in higher education. Additionally, as technologies continue to proliferate in colleges and universities at administrative and faculty levels, many are left wondering how can those working in academia leverage these tools to meet the changing needs of the modern learners. Constructivism Reconsidered in the Age of Social Media attempts to answer this very question by using innovative applications of a proven theory of learning. This book is written for those in a faculty or teaching role, however there is a great deal of thought provoking information for anyone involved in higher education. Furthermore, this book is most applicable to those who prescribe to student-centered, advisor-as-teacher models and theories.

Constructivism is a theory of learning that centers on the individual’s construction of meaning and understanding of the world through social processes. The book uses constructivist learning theory to advocate for the use of social media in the learning process. In particular, the contributors focus on a student-centered teaching modality that takes the lecturer away from the podium and places him or her into the role of teacher as learning facilitator. The book posits that by changing the role of the instructor from disseminator of truths to facilitator of the learning process that students will be able to learn in more meaningful, and longer lasting, ways. One way to facilitate the shift in the learning modalities of the classroom is to leverage social media as a learning tool, meeting the students where they are, rather than dismissing these platforms as a distraction. What this process could look like is examined in depth highlighting both potential benefits as well as weighing the ethical and logistical conundrums that are tied to teacher-student interactions through social media. The central point is that today’s student learns differently and constructs meaning in a completely different way than previous generations due to the pervasiveness of technology in the student’s life from birth. This implies that the dissonance in the learning process is greatest when the digital immigrant teacher imposes his or her preconceptions of the learning process onto the digital native student who has an entirely different scheme of what learning is and what learning means.

The book does an excellent job of tying theory to the practical and conveying a lot of information and ideas in a concise way. The biggest pitfall of the book is that the discourse can feel rather dense and be a challenge to understand if the reader is not use to interpreting scholarly texts. The other major challenge is that the book focuses on the role of teacher and does not carry any speculation or suggested application into the administrative or academic advising roles. Regardless of these weaknesses, the brevity and innovative ideas that may be applied to academic advising, and an advisors professional development, makes this volume a useful tool. Specifically, there are several intriguing ideas for self-assessment and reflection that would easily apply to academic advising and help an advisor to understand why he or she choose this profession in the first place. The book also provides the theoretical support to bolster the role of an academic advisor as yet another facilitator of learning in higher education.


Constructivism Reconsidered in the Age of Social Media. (2016). Book by Chris Stabile and Jeff Ershler (Eds.). Review by Danalee K. Brehman. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.136 pp., $29.00 (Paperback) ISBN 978-1-119-21614-8.

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