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Learning Theories in a mind map

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 13:56

Fig. 1. Learning Theories. Click on this and you can grab the original in a variety of sizes from the Picasa Web Album where it resides. (Created using SimpleMinds APP)

In an effort to impose some logic these are now grouped and various links also made. The reality might be take a large bowl of water then drip into these 12 coloured inks. The reality of how we learn is complex and will only be made the more so with fMRI imaging and advances in neuroscience.

My favourite Learning Theory here is one that Knud Illeris (2009) came up with - not learning at all, resistance too or defence learning. You just block it. That's how I did 9 years of Latin and can decline how to love a table - I have no idea anymore what 'ramabottom' or some such means either. Ditto French as taught before secondary school and Chemistry - right or wrong, tick and box in a multiple choice each week. Still, for someone who couldn't give a fig for either this approach got me through on a C grade. For French the 'holistic' approach worked a treat - French exchange, then back to hitch through France with some French guys who didn't have a word of English, then got a job out there. Chemistry worked best with my Chemistry 7 set.

Activity Theory and Communities of Practice are surely in meltdown with the connectivity of Web 2.0?

The nodes and silos are too easily circumvented by each of us going directly to the source. 'Community of Ideas' works best for me.

Learning Theories

1) Neurophysiological - stimulus response, optmization of memory processes: Sylvester, 1995; Edelman, 1994; Jarvis, 1987.

2) Holistic - Illeris, 2009.

3) Behaviorist - Stimulus response pairs, Skinner, 1974.

4) Cognitive - Communication, how the brain receives, internalises and recalls information, problem solving, explanation, recombination, contrast, building upon information structures, focus on internal cognitive structures, models, methods and schemas, information processing, inferences.; Wenger, 1987; Hutchins, 1993; Anderson, 1983; Piaget, 1952.

5) Constructivist - Learners build their own mental structures, design orientated, assimilative learning (Illeris, 2009); task-orientated, cohort/collaborative group. Leonard, 2010): Vygotsky, 1934; Piaget, 1954; Bruner, 1993; Papert, 1980.

6) Transformative Learning - significant (Roger, 1951, 59); Transformative (Mezirow, 1994); Expansive (Engestrom, 1987); Transitional (Alheit, 1994).

7) Social - Socialization, a psychological perspective, imitation of norms, acquisition of membership, interpersonal relations (Bandura, 1977)

8) Communities of Practice - The focus is on participation and the role this plays to attract and retain new ‘members’; knowledge transfer is closely tied to the social situation where the knowledge is learned, (Learnard, 2010); shared, social and almost unintentional; legitimate peripheral participation (Lave, ); taking part in the practices of the community. A framework that considers learning in social terms. Lave & Wenger, 1991.

9) Communities of Interest -

10) Accommodative Learning - Illeris, 2007.

11) Activity Theories - Learners bridge the knowledge gap via the zone of proximal development, Wertsch, 1984. Historically constructed activities as entities. Thinking, reasoning and learning is a socially and culturally mediated phenomenon. Learnard, 2010. Engestrom, 1987; Vygotsky, 1934; Wertsch, 1984.

12) Organizational - How people in an organisation learn and how organisations learn. Organizational systems, structures and politics. Brown and Dugiod, 1995. Noaka and Takeuchi, 1991.

13) Resistance to/defence learning - Illeris, 2007

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H809 Activity 3.8 : Reflecting in frameworks

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 24 Feb 2013, 18:19

Q1. In the light of the podcast and this week's work, consider how you might revise the way in which you are making notes on studies. Do the questions from 1.4 need elaborating?

Questions : what research questions are being addressed?
Setting : what is the sector and setting?
Concepts : what theories, concepts and key terms are being used?
Methods : what methods if data collection and analysis are used?
Findings : what did this research find out?
Limitations : what are the limitations of the methods used?
Implications : what are the implications (if any) for practice, policy or further education?

1) I will still ask, what was the problem? What is the hypothesis? I may ask why this research is being carried. I will certainly look at who the authors are, how the research is funded and the methods used.
2) There's more to setting than a name and an address for where and when something took place. It matters and helps to know the context, the time, people and environment.
3) They may only be noticed if they are unusual or controversial, but there will be reasons why a certain theory or concept is used. This will put a slant on the research, because of the choices made by the authors, the choices that are current and appropriate and whether they have been used before and what the conclusions were then. Activity Theory, for example, is going through changes, Diffusion of Innovation theory transmogrified with the idea of a ‘chasm’. Activity Theory is becoming ‘Cultural Historical’
4) Methods are taking advantage of computers to gather and analyse data, including 'big data' in new and revealing ways.
5) There is inertia of approaches and adopting new technologies, even a bias towards conformity and 'old ways' of doing things which is how and why the breakthroughs and disruption tends to come from outside.
6) The implications are for HE and schools to try to do what industry has been doing for the last 20 years – to embrace change as a constant to be embraced, rather than as a rare occurrence to be resisted. New ways of doing things, new ways if undertaking research, new ways of analysing and sharing the data and outcomes.
7) Keep an open mind. Have a set of questions that require a comprehensive view and be prepared to be a magpie - to think outside these parameters in terms of scope, depth and spread – so cross disciplinary, historic as well as the future.


Interviewer : James Axcel
Interviewees : Dr Peter Twining (PT), Head of Department of Education + Prof. Grainne Conole (GC), Professor of E–learning

Some highlights:

'We've got that rhetoric reality gap where people talks it up (or down) and say what a great thing it is (or dreadful) and it's going to allow us to transform, whatever, and in reality it’s having very little impact on pedagogy in practice'. Grainne Conole (2007)

I've add the opposites in brackets as this is what I find happens in the press - journalists and authors either say X is a bad thing or will create a revolution (which they see as a good thing). A few years ago Nicholas Carr got far to much 'air play' saying that Goolge was making us stupid, while a decade before that Marc Prensky claimed that his take on the 'plastic brain' meants that an entire generation could be defined as 'digital natives'.

GC Has been a shift. Recognition that ICT is critical. Higher Education (HE).
High Education more joined up with HEFCE, JISC and Dfes.
Still a lot of collaborations.
Department for Education and Skills

Impact of Government

PT Students use technology automatically – so education should train skill you up for this and it should be applied in education.
GC How assesses .. every bit, technology transformation ...

Surprise at how little has been done.

Can't disentangle it.
GC Young people immersed. Love being in a technology environment. GC's 9 year old (recorded)

Peter's PhD research a number of frameworks for looking at education.
ICT in education, the confusion, use of terms to mean completely different things, so confusing, impossible to explore describing changes, get the terms, then look at the tools.

Five different types of frameworks related specifically to ICT in learning.

1) Achievements – measuring individual's progress in terms of their learning and using ICT.
2) Cognitive frameworks – impact on the individual, how they think,what's happening in their heads.
3) Software frameworks – the types of software being used, drill and skill, adventure programme, open ended, tutor–tool–tutee. vs. Technology determined.
4) Pedagogical frameworks – the nature of the interaction around computer use as a machine. Teacher, student and computer.Squires and Mcdougal's Perspectives Intersections Paradigm.
5) Evolutionary frameworks – how ICT is being rolled out in a system or classroom.

GC issue if clarity a real problem, with fads and terms.

GC clarification and classification of frameworks is important. The benefits of frameworks is that the do orher some perspective, some view, to give some clarity.

GC See a nice little pretty diagram and that explains things and that's it! It is used without understanding its depth.

  • A conflict between trying to understand while keeping the depth.
  • Jonassen Perseptives, backgrounds – constructive, positive ...
  • Fads and trends, constructition and social construction very popular over the last three decades.

Laurillard's conversational – dialogic nature of learning, in contrast to AT for the relationships.

PT underneath the technology the pedagogy translates.

GC People get beguiled and carried away by the technology. Views in Web 1.0 apply to Web 2.0.

PT What is the educational vision? What is the tool we want to use? How we design, how it fits in, a complex change process.

GC Social is important, but learning is learning, and is also individual. Moved from computer aided learning ...

PT A VLE is made to fit current practitioners.

GC Do something amazing – and got repetiton of standard practice, into a very narrow band, depsite millions of permutations.

Q2. Look back at Reading 1 and consider the questions that were asked in that research. Do you think they represent a dominant ‘paradigm’ for research in any particular period? Are the research questions and methods still relevant today?


As a business study SWOT analysis McKinsey 7 or for its versatility AT or CHAT would be more likely a way to address the complex interactions that occur in a learning environment where the only variable that ought to be different would be the ‘tool’ as VC rather than TC.

Both are required and complement each other. Greater ‘triangulation’ of the research may have given it more credibility or at least exposed more about the circumstances of the research. Untried methods should have been identified and reasons given for their not being used.

The research questions had quite an influence on the design of the research.

‘Viable option’ in terms of results, costs and other support and inputs. Worse, the same or better than traditional. More or less expensive to put on and run. More or less appropriate for students and instructors. Always felts this was exploratory, may have needed to demonstrate either way that it had a future.

Cannot be the assumptions of the research, rather it should come from the students as participants and instructors as other players. If they were missed then technical staff ought to have been questioned too as both technical and cost barriers would have been an issue.


Jonassen, D.H. (1996) Computers in the Classroom: methods for critical thinking.

Laurillard, D (2002) Rethinking University Teaching

Squires, D. and McDougall, A. (1994) Choosing and Using Educational software: a teacher's guide.

Twining, P. (2002) 'Enhancing the Impact of Investments in "Educational" ICT (online) PhD Thesis, The OU. http://kn.open.ac.uk/public/document.cfm?documentid=2515




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Characterising effective elearning resources

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 7 Jul 2012, 13:58

Characterising effective elearning resources

Littlejohn, Falconer, Mcgill (2008)

Pressented in August 2006, accepted in July 2006 and published in August 2007 or 2008?

Digital assets: a single item, image, video or podcast. Information objects: a structured aggregation of digital assets designed purely to present information. Learning activities: tasks involving interactions with information to attain a specific learning outcome. Learning design: structured sequences of information and learning activities to promote learning.

Conceptualization: source information. construction: repurpose anduse in learner's context. integration: develop and use to inform others.

From Laurillard's 2002 Model (a bias for tertiary education).

An example of a PowerPoint presentation and its slides are given (only because, even in 2006, other forms of versatile, easily manipulated content were not readily available).

Narrative: downloaded by a student communicative: for discussion (synchronous, asynchronous, cohort, faculty, student body and beyond)

Interactive: searched, scanned (engaged, play) adaptive: (which Littlejohn et al give as editing, so reworking within the set, rather than adding anything new)

Productive: taking a constructed module PowerPoint (blog, video, animation, gallery photos, quotes, grabs, snips, apps) and repurposing (mashup) (Which I would call adaptive productive: (which Littlejohnet al called prodcutive in 2008 but I would call creative)

Resources: representation of knowledge by format and medium, flexibility and cost. With ease of manipulation and interaction key.

  • pure
  • combined
  • adapted

reject Lego metaphor of learning blocks

chemist combining chemicals to form atoms (Wiley)

1 easily sourced 2 durable 3 maintained 4 accessible 5 free from legal limitations 6 quality assured 7 appropriate cost 8 resizeable 9 easily repurposed 10 meaningful 11 engages the learner 12 Intelligible

Towards dynamic resources constructivist and ownership. their use in context is key

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Nine types of learning, starting with: indulgent, aspirational, applied and compulsory.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 05:13


Indulgent Learning


There are all kinds of words for this and I'd like to find one that is non-commital. The OU calls it 'recreational learning' for those doing it, what, 'for a bit of a laugh', and if as an indulgence, so what - it's their money. There are many shades of 'indulgence' which has to include at one end of the spectrum 'inspired' - the person who learns with such passion and obsession that it may appear to some as indulgent but because the person is motivated serendipty may take this indulgence into a career (or at least a life-style). In any case, what's wrong with learning? Surely watching TV passively is more indulgent, or learning to become an expert at a game?

Aspirational Learning

Here the person aspires to be (dangerous), or to do (better) something and requires (professions) or understands it would be useful to have and to demonstrate a skill or knowledge. The motivation may be extrinsic, but he desire to get on, to secure work you feel informed about or even enjoy is a healthy aspiration.

Applied Learning

Perhaps this follows on from these first two - if you turn professional or get them job then further learning on the subject that is your work has the benefit of being applied, it develops your confidence, raises your skills, allows you to take on new challenges.

Compulsory Learning

Not necessarily the worst form, I have to look at elements of military training in time of war or conflict and whether compulsory or not they serve a practical purpose - kill or be killed (or in current parlance, 'keep the peace'). For a student at school to feel the subject they are studying is compulsory the motivation is slight, no love for it, that intrinsic fire has been put out. The extrinsic motivation - the cane or class prize may work for some.

I only came up with a set of descriptors of my own as I read 'Preparing for blended learning' Pegler (2009) for the third time in a wholy different setting than when I read it first as a returning student of e-learning two years ago unsure if I'd find my way into an e-learning role, a year ago when I found myself at the hub of distance and e-learning, The OU, (though not in an e-learning role) and now two and half years on, where I started this journey over a decade ago - in Brighton in one of the many leading, international e-learning companies where modules are created for multinationals, blue chips, Fortune 100, FTSE 100 and Governmente Departments.

I feel like a child who has spent years learning a foreign language and this week went to a country where the language is the mother tongue (I'm getting this from a daughter who has done three years of Spanish and finally made it to Madrid last week and overnight wants to make it an A' Level choice). I know the language of e-learning. I can, understandably, 'talk the talk.

Now I get to see how to do it effectively, winning the trust of clients, collaborating with an array of skilled colleagues to take an idea, or problem or objective, and create something that works and can be scrutinised in a way that is rarely done at academic levels for effectiveness - a pass isn't good enough, for some 'modules' 100% compliance is required. Do you want people running nuclear power stations, our trains ... or banks (ahem) to get it wrong?

Turning back to the books then I am going to spend the rest of the week looking out for some of the following. I imagine the practised learning designers have the outcomes in the back of their mind rather than the descriptors given here. Across the projects I am working on I want to see how many of the following I can spot. And like learning a language (I eventually cracked French and recall this phenonmenon) the fog will slowly clear and it will come fluently.

Laurillard's Conversational Model (2001).

1. Assimilative: mapping, Brainstorming, Buzzwords, Crosswords, Defining, Mind maps, Web search Adaptive. Process narrative information (reading books, e–books, attending talks, lectures and classroom teaching, watching a video or TV, including YouTube listening to the radio or a podcast). Then manage this information by taking notes (which may be blogged or managed in an e–portfolio or any old-fashioned exercise book or arch–level file).

2. Adaptive: Modelling. Where the learning environment changes based in the learner's actions, such as simulations or computer games.

3. Communicative: reasoning, Arguing, Coaching, Debate, Discussion, Fishbowl, lce-breaker, Interview, Negotiation, On-the-spot questioning, Pair dialogues, Panel discussion, Peer exchange, Performance, Question and answer, Rounds, Scaffolding, Socratic instruction, Short answer, Snowball, Structured debate, discussion, ice–breaker, debate face–to–face or online (and therefore synchronous and asynchronous)

4. Productive: Assignment, Book report, Dissertation/thesis, Drill and practice, Essay, Exercise, Journaling, Presentation, Literature review, Multi-choice questions, Puzzles, Portfolio, Product, Report/paper, Test, Voting, creating something, from an essay to a blog, a written paper in an exam and sundry diagrams, drawings, video, sculptures. Whatever is produced as an outcome from the learning activity? (Increasingly created online to share on a platform: blog, audio podcast, animation, photo gallery, video and any combination or 'mash–up' of these).

5. Experiential: study, Experiment, Field trip, Game, Role play, Scavenger hunt, Simulation, interactive problem solving from a field trip to a role–play. Creative Problem Solving techniques might include Heroes, Human Sculpture, and Time Line).


Pegler, C (2009). Preparing for Blended e-Learning (Connecting with E-learning) (Kindle Locations 2442-2444). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

Conole, G (2007) ‘Describing learning activities and tools and resources to guide practice’, in H. Beetham and R. Sharpe (eds) Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and Delivering e-Learning, London: Routledge, (reformatted)

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Engagement between a person or entity outside the self is core to the lesrning process. (LauriLlard, 1993) DISCUSS

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From wk25 H800 of the 'Masters in Open and Distance Education'.
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Paper technologies?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 12 Feb 2011, 19:07

I'm reading 'Re-thinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age' (2007) Rhona Sharpe. I came across this expression in relation to how e-learning will develop coming after hundreds of years of paper-based learning.

'When our education system is making sophisticated use of e-learning it will pervade everything we do, just as paper technology does'. Diana Laurillard.

'Paper technology?'

Sounds like origami or a pop-up book.

Have I missed something?

I guess she's saying e-learning will be as universal as paper and print by which time we'll have dropped the 'e', it'll all just be learning.

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