According to Duffy & Conningham, constructivism shares similarities and differences between many learning theories; however, the basic tenets are (1) learning is an active process of constructing rather than communicating knowledge, and (2) instruction is a process supporting construction rather than communicating knowledge. (p. 2)
Burton, Moore and Magliaro view constructivism as that knowledge that is developed by the individual. The framework of constructivism does not assume there is common or shared meaning, but the learner seeks to understand from different perspectives. From a learner perspective, the learner is not expected to acquire the experts (the instructors) meaning, thus the goal is not to transmit knowledge approach (teacher to learner) but the instructor role is understand and challenge the learners thinking.
From a historical perspective, John Dewey, early 19 & 20 century philosopher and educator, described this as situated learning or learning by doing. Dewey argued, “Life, including vocations should form the basic context for learning.” Thus learning any subject was anchored in a larger community or social context.” (in Duffy, p. 4) Learning occurred within a community.
The primary idea of constructivism is the learners construct their own knowledge based on what they already know. Because learning is active, not passive, the learners make self-judgements about how and when to modify their knowledge. Learning becomes the activity of the learner. Duffy and Cunningham equate constructivism as self-directed learning.
Self directed learning is a method of organizing teaching and learning so that the learning within the learners control. The goal of the self-directed learning is the learner will seek to become and accept responsibility for his or her own learning.
The Mind as Rhizome (MAR) is a metaphor proposed by Umberto Eco (1984) describes the possibilities of self-directed learning. The learning mind is not fixed, but their structure of learning is dynamic and changing. Learning is not hierarchy but has not outside or inside limits but becomes an open network than can be connected with other dimensions. (in Duffy, p. 8) The MAR metaphor allows the learner to construct; many views and offering multiple perspectives.