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P is for your Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 3 Jun 2014, 12:49


My personal learning environment

  • Piaget

  • Chris Pegler

  • Personas

  • Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

  • Practice-based Learning

  • Randy Pausch

  • Punk Rock People Management

  • Produsers

Across the period I have been studying MAODE modules the nature, shape, scape and emphasis of my 'personal learning environment' has changed, in part as finances have waxed and wained, I have gone from a borrowed laptop working from print outs to making considerable use of a Kindle and then an iPad, before adding to this armoury a desktop and laptop and keeping all working 'in the cloud' so that it is readily accessed from any device. THIS is how I work 'anytime, anywhere' - each device allows me to tap into a module whether I'm travelling, on the kitchen table, in bed ... in the middle of the night, in the back of the car, on a walk. Whilst I have, typically, a three hour stint when I work during the day, much is picked up at other times, in particular reading on the fly, highlighting passages and then picking these out in notes later. I swear by the mind-mapping app 'SimpleMinds' and have even taken to screen-grabbing pages of books or papers to illustrate and annotate in a graphics app called Studio.

Piaget is an historic name in education that you'll need to read.

Chris Pegler has made her presence felt across the MAODE while I've been doing it ... she may even have been an associate lecturer in 2001 when I made a hesitant start on the thing. More of a doer than many of the academics you read - she has been present as the Chair, at conferences, and online. The kind of educator who engages with students rather than being sniffy about student engagement as too many research-bound academics can be.

Personas are a vital way to visualise your students when designing learning ... or creating any form of communication. As relevant to the creation of e-learning as the creation of anything else.

Practice-based learning or applied learning, sometimes 'just in time' learning has also to be blended learning. It is about effecting direct change in situ, supportive learning in the work-place. A smartphone or tablet with access to the Internet is all it takes rather than specialist papers or books. It's been around for far longer than may be apparent; in 1996 I was working for the RAC when they launched a bespoke handheld device that combined diagnostics, instruction and car payment in a single device called the 'hard body'.

Randy Pausch was an inspirational lecturer on 3d at Carnegie-Mellon University - go see his TED lectures.

Punk Rock People Management is the brain child of an OU MBA alumnus.

Produsers is a term that has not caught on, but sums up the idea of 'user generated content' where we, as students, not only consume or use information, but generate it too. This would include curating or aggregating content to share. It puts the onus of learning in amongst the students.


Piaget, J. (1970) Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child, New York: Orion Press.

Pegler, C and Littlejohn, A (2004) Preparing for Blended e-Learning, Routledge.

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Constructivism and social constructivism for learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:29

Constructivism is an epistemological belief about what "knowing" is and how one "come to know." Contructivists believe in individual interpretations of the reality, i.e. the knower and the known are interactive and inseparable.

Constructivism rejects the notions that

  1. Knowledge is an identifiable entity with absolute truth value
  2. Meaning can be passed on to learners via symbols or transmission
  3. Learners can incorporate exact copies of teacher's understanding for their own use
  4. The whole concepts can be broken into discrete sub-skills, and that concepts can be taught out of context.

Constructivism, with focus on social nature of cognition, suggests an approach that

  1. Gives learners the opportunity for concrete, contextually meaningful experience through which they can search for patterns, raise their own questions, and construct their own models.
  2. Facilitates a community of learners to engage in activity, discourse, and reflection
  3. Encourages students to take on more ownership of the ideas, and to pursue autonomy, mutual reciprocity of social relations, and empowerment to be the goals.

Who are primary contributors?
Perkins (1992) pointed out the origins of the constructivism:

"Constructivism has multiple roots in psychology and philosophy of this century: the developmental perspective of Jean Piaget, the emergence of cognitive psychology under the guidance of such figures as Jerome Bruner and Ulric Neisser, the constructivist perspective of philosophers such as Nelson Goodman."

This knowledge base will discuss particular the major influence from the field of cognitive science, i.e. the work of Piaget and Bruner, as well as from the work of socio-historical psychologists, such as Vygotsky.

Piaget (Also see Cognitivism)

Piaget's theory is fundamental to cognitivism and to constructivism. His central idea is that "knowledge proceeds neither solely from the experience of objects nor from an innate programming performed in the subject but from successive constructions." (Fosnot, 1996). Piaget (1985) proposed that the mechanism of learning is the process of equilibration, in which cognitive structure assimilates and accommodates to generate new possibilities when it is disturbed based on human's self-organizing tendency.

Lev Vygotsky

Vygotsky's sociohistorical development psychology focuses on the dialectic between the individual and society, and the effect of social interaction, language, and culture on learning. To Vygosky (1978), learning is a continual movement from the current intellectual level to a higher level which more closely approximates the learner's potential. This movement occurs in the so-called "zone of proximal development" as a result of social interaction. Thus, an understanding of human thinking depends in turn on an understanding of the mechanism of social experience; the force of the cognitive process deriving from the social interaction is emphasized. Also, the role of the adult and the learners' peers as they conversed, questioned, explained, and negotiated meaning is emphasized.

Vygostky's Sociohistorical Learning Theory or Sociocultural theory

Vygotsky was disappointed with the overwhelming control of environment over human behavior that is represented in behaviorism. Vygotsky (1978) objected to any tendency to equate human beings with animals on the basis of innate reflexes and conditional reflexes. He recognized the higher psychological functions of humans, especially the distinguishing mental process of signification by which humans assign meanings to arbitrary stimuli and with which human learning is determined by the social and historical context. He believed that human development and learning occur through their interactions with the environment and the other people in it.

Three themes that form the core of Vygotsky's theoretical framework: (Wertsch, 1992)

  1. A reliance on a genetic or developmental method:

    Vygotsky (1978) recognized two basic processes operating continuously at every level of human activity: internalization and externalization. Vygotsky proposed that even though every complex mental function is first an interaction between people, it subsequently becomes a process within individuals. It is the transition from the external operation to internal development which undergoes qualitative changes. This transformation involves the mastery of external means of thinking and learning to use symbols to control and regulate one's thinking.

  2. The claim that higher mental processes in the individual have their origin in social processes.
  3. The concept of Zone of Proximal Development: to Vygosky, learning is a continual movement from the current intellectual level to a higher level which more closely approximates the learner's potential. This movement occurs in the so-called "zone of proximal development" as a result of social interaction. The zone of proximal development is the distance between the actual independent development level and the potential development level under the guidance of or in collaboration with peers (Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky believes that human mental activity is a particular case of social experience. Thus, an understanding of human thinking depends in turn on an understanding of the mechanism of social experience; the force of the cognitive process deriving from the social interaction is emphasized.

  4. Mediation: the claim is that mental processes can be understood only if we understand the tools and signs that mediate them. Changing a stimulus situation in the process of responding to it establish mediation, e.g. the gesture of pointing could not have been established as a sign without the reaction of the other person. This also implies that any higher mental function necessarily goes through an external stage in its development because it is initially a social function.

Implications to learning and instruction:

  1. Learning in authentic context: The conception of mediation gives the emphasis to the interaction between individuals and the historical and cultural development. Situate learners in an authentic context, in which learners construct via dialectical relations among people acting, the contexts of their activity, and the activity itself.
  2. Providing Scaffolding: Learning takes place in the social interaction with older, more learned members of the society: learning occurs when individual is prompted to move past current levels of performance and develop new abilities. Thus, provide external support from the instructor, peers, experts, artifacts or tools as the learners construct knowledge.


A major theme of Bruner's construction theory is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure, e.g. schema and mental models, to do so. The interconnection of the new experience with the prior knowledge results in the reorganization of the cognitive structure, which creates meaning and allows the individual to "go beyond the information given".

According to TIP's (Theory Into Practice database) abstract of Bruner's theory, the principles of instruction based on Bruner include:

  1. Readiness: Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn
  2. Spiral organization: Instruction must be structured so that it can be easily grasped by the student
  3. Going beyond the information given: Instruction should be designed to facilitate extrapolation and or fill in the gaps

Bruner's Constructive Learning

Bruner (1986) claims that constructivism began with Kant's concepts of a priori knowledge, which focuses on the importance of prior knowledge (what we know) to what we perceive from out interactions with the environment. Jonassen (1991) described Kant's ideas of individual construction of reality: " Kant believed in the external, physical world (noumena), but we know it only through our sensation (phenomena) - how the world appears to us."

TIP (Theory Into Practice database) described that Bruner's major theoretical framework is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. In other words, Learning is an active, social process in which students construct new ideas or concepts based on current knowledge. The student selects information, originates hypotheses, and makes decisions in the process of integrating experiences into their existing mental constructs.

What are Bruner's key concepts? (Driscoll, 2000)

Three Modes of presenting understanding
  1. Enactive representation, a mode of representing past events through appropriate motor responses
  2. Iconic representation, which enables the perceiver to "summarize events by organization of percepts and of images
  3. Symbolic representation, "a symbol system which represents things by design features that can be arbitrary and remote, e.g. language
    1. Different from a fixed sequence of developmental stages, Bruner emphasizes the influences from the environment on amplification of the internal capabilities that learners possess.
Bruner's readiness
Piaget's readiness
Ausubel's readiness
Readiness of the subject matter for the learner: how to match instruction to the child's dominant mode of thinking Cognitive readiness of the learner to understand the logical operations in a subject matter Appropriateness in terms of the child's prior knowledge, i.e. what she knows and how she structure that knowledge in memory


Different from Piaget's cognitive development, which proposed that the qualitative difference in thinking is a stage-like development, Bruner's concept is that whereas symbolic representation is likely to be used for learning something new in a familiar topic; learners of all ages may resort to enactive or iconic representation when they encounter unfamiliar materials. Thus, to determine what mode of representation will be optimal for instruction requires knowing something about the learner's prior knowledge and dominant modes of thinking.

  1. Schooling as an instrument of culture. Knowing is a process, not a product. Children should be accepted as members and participants in the culture and provide opportunities to make and remake the culture in each generation.

Bruner (1966) states that a theory of instruction should address four major aspects:

  1. Predisposition towards learning
  2. The ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner
  3. The most effective sequences in which to present material
  4. The nature and pacing of rewards and punishments..

Bruner's influence on instruction

  • Spiral Curriculum: Translating material into children's modes of thought: presenting topics consistent with children's forms of thought at an early age and then reintroducing those topics again later in a different form
  • Interpersonal interaction is a means that enable learners to develop cognitive growth: questioning, prompting
  • Discovery learning: discovery as" all forms of obtaining knowledge for oneself by the use of one's own mind"

    Students need to determine what variables are relevant, what information should be sought about those variables, and when the information is obtained, what should be done with it.

    Discovery of a concept proceeds from a systematic comparison of instances for what distinguishes examples from non-examples. To promote concept discovery, the teacher presents the set of instances that will best help learners to develop an appropriate model of the concept.

    Contrast that lead to cognitive conflicts can set the stage for discovery

  • Variables in instruction: nature of knowledge, nature of the knower, and nature of the knowledge-getting process

  • Promote discovery in the exercise of problem solving

  • Feedback must be provided in a mode that is both meaningful and within the information-processing capacity of the learner.

  • Intrinsic pleasure of discovery promote a sense of self-reward

Von Glasersfeld

Von Glasersfeld development of the epistemological basis of the psychological variant incorporates both the Piagetian notion of assimilation and accommodation and the cybernetic concept of viability (Cobb, 1994). The value of knowledge no longer lies in its conveyance of truth, but its viability in individual experience.

Von Glasersfeld (1992) stated that "Truths are replaced by viable models, and viability is always relative to a chosen goal."

Similar to Piaget, von Glasersfeld sees learning as an active process of self-organization in which the individual eliminate 'perturbation' (disequlibrium in Piaget's term) from the interaction with others as well as an active construction of viable knowledge adapted from the interaction with others.

Individuals' construction of their ways of knowing is the focus of von Glaserfeld. But, he also recognizes the importance of social interaction as a process of meaning negotiation in this subjective construction of knowing.

What does it mean to learning?

Constructivism, applied as an explanatory framework of learning, describes how the learner constructs knowledge from experience, which makes it unique to each individual.

Points of view of constructivism bring forth two major trends of explaining how leaning occurs:

  1. cognitive constructivists, focusing on the individual cognitive construction of mental structures
  2. sociocultural constructivists, emphasizing the social interaction and cultural practice on the construction of knowledge.

Both trends believe that:

  1. Knowledge cannot exist independently from the knower; knowledge cannot be reproduced and transmitted to another person.
  2. Learning is viewed as self-regulatory process:
    • Cognitive constructivists focus on the active mental construction struggling with the conflict between existing personal models of the world, and incoming information in the environment.
    • Sociocultural constructivists emphasis the process of enculturation into a community of practice, in which learners construct their models of reality as a meaning-making undertaking with culturally developed tools and symbols (Vygotsky, 1978), and negotiate such meaning thorough cooperative social activity, discourse and debate (Von Glaserfeld, 1992)
  3. Learners are active in making sense of things instead of responding to stimuli. Unlike information processor taking in and storing up information, learners " make tentative interpretations of experience and go on to elaborate and test those interpretations"(Perkins, 1992)

Impacts on Instructional Design

Constructivism provides different views of learning. Learners are no longer passive recipients and reproducers of information.

Learners are active constructors of their own conceptual understanding, and active meaning makers interacting with the physical and social world.

The design of learning environment based on constructivist view of learning emphasizes the integration of three types of human experiences (Vygotsky, 1978):

  1. historical experience, e.g. the traditions and practices of a culture
  2. social experience
  3. adaptation experience, in which people engage in active adaptation, changing the environment.

Below are some general principles of learning derived form constructivism (Smith and Ragan, 2000; Driscoll, 2001; Duffy & Jonassen, 1992):

  1. Learning requires invention and self-organization on the part of learners
  2. Disequilibrium facilitates learning: Errors need to be perceived as a result of learners' conceptions and therefore not minimized or avoided. Thus, challenge students with open-ended investigations in realistic, meaningful contexts need to be offered; allow learners to explore and generate many possibilities, both affirming and contradictory.
  3. Reflective abstraction is the driving force of learning: As meaning-makers, humans seek to organize and generalize across experiences in a representational form
  4. Dialogue within a community engenders further thinking: the learners are responsible for defending, proving, justifying, and communicating their ideas to the classroom community.

Principles of designing learning environment

Jonassen (1996) proposed that learning environments should provide active, intentional, complex, contextualized, reflective, conversational, collaborative, and constructive learning.

Image from David Jonassen's site

Driscoll (2000) listed constructivist principles for designing learning:

  • Embed learning in complex, realistic and relevant environments
  • Provide a social negotiation as an integral part of learning
  • Support multiple perspectives and the use of multiple modes of representation
  • Encourage ownership in learning
  • Nurture self-awareness of the knowledge construction process

About design of instruction

Based on Jonassen (1992) and Driscoll (2000), constructivism has the following impacts on instructional design:

  1. Instructional goals and objectives would be negotiated not imposed
  2. Task analysis would concentrate more on considering appropriate interpretations and providing the intellectual tools that are necessary for helping learners to construct knowledge
  3. Designers would provide generative, mental construction tool kits embedded in relevant learning environments that facilitate knowledge construction by learners
  4. About evaluation:
    Since constructivism does not hold the that the function of instruction is to transmit knowledge that mirrors the reality and its structures to the learner's mind, criterion-referenced evaluation, which is based on predetermined objective standards, is not an appropriate evaluation tool to constructivistic environments (Jonassen, 1992). The focus of evaluation should be placed on the process of knowledge construction rather than the end products of learning. And even if the end results are evaluated, it should emphasize the higher order thinking of human being.
  • The evaluation of learning focus on the higher order thinking, the knowledge construction process, and the building of the awareness of such process.
  • The context of evaluation should be embedded in the authentic tasks and meaningful real-world context.
  • The criteria of evaluation should represent multiple perspectives in learning environment. From the perspective of socio-cultural constructivist, since "no objective reality is uniformly interpretable by all learners, then assessing the acquisition of such reality is not possible" (Jonassen, 1992). Thus, the evaluation should focus on the learning process rather than the product.
  • Portfolio evaluation: different student interpretation at different stages in their learning process. Learning is multifaceted and multiperspectival, so as the results of learning.
  • The function of evaluation is not in the reinforcement or behavior control tool but more of "a self-analysis and metacognitive tool".


Bruner, J. (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Driscoll, M. P. (2000). Psychology of learning for instruction. 2nd ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Cobb, P. (1994). Where is the Mind? Constructivist and sociocultural perspectives on mathematic development. Educational Researcher, 23 (7), pp. 13-20

Fosnot, C. T. (1996). (Ed.) Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Jonassen, D. H. (1992). Evaluating constructivist learning. In T. M. Duffy, & D. H. Jonassen (eds), Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Association.

Piaget, J. (1985). The equilibration of cognitive structures. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (1999). Instructional Design. 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Von Glaserfeld (1992). Constructivism reconstruction: A reply to Suchting. Science and Education, 1, 379-384.

Vyogtsky, L. S. (1979). Consciousness as a problem in the psychology of behavior.Soviet Psychology, 17 (4), 3-35. (Original work published in 19-24).

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychology process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original published in 1930).

Wertsch, J. V. (1992). L. S. Vygotsky and contemporary developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 28 *4), 548-557. Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Original work published 1962).

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Transformational Learning - with an angle on accessibility (H810)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 13:29

'If we were to look at the whole of contemporary culture in the West culture as a kind of school and consider adult roles as courses in which we are enrolled, most adults have a full and demanding schedule'. Kegan (2006:39)

Piaget (1954) Assimilative or accommodative processes?

  • Understand your students - don't presuppose anything.
  • Learning for knowledge and skills, everyone will be challenged to improve the repertoire of their skills.
  • Not what I want to teach, but what, after assessment, they need to learn. No longer had a flexible peg jumping through an institutional, departmental, and academic or LD designed module, but a flexible peg and an accommodating hole.

No two people can possibly be learning the same thing, no matter what common assessment students undertake – the student with a disability, or disabilities, whatever these are and how they affect or impact on this individual – will be acquiring knowledge or a skill that has or is in some way transformed or  translated, the focus diluted or pinpointed through a note–taker, reduced range,  voice of an audio–reader, missing a lecture or seeing it from only one perspective, access denied or field or lab work excluded through their choices,  risk assessment, health and safety, time, money, people and other such barriers – though sometimes enhanced if a live debate becomes an asynchronous forum or verbatim transcripts of audio and provided to all. Having a much different take on the lesson can be advantwgeous as a differentiator.

What is the disabled person's frame of reference?

  • Each learner's experience of learning and their relationship with the subject.  Kegan (2006:45)
  • Where the learner is coming from as well as where they are hoping to go in order to bridge the two – this applies to all learners whatever their circumstances.
  • Where the bridge metaphor is week is to visualise the physical person in transit rather than a myriad of billions of complex bridging actions occurring between neurones in the learner's brain. (Kegan, 2006:47) So a spider gram might be better, showing how close to a goal the learner is.
  • Not just knowing more, but knowing differently. (Ronald Heifetz, 1995)

Mezirow (2000) Transfer of authority from educator to learner. How rapidly will this transformational shift occur, which is a function of how far along they are on a particular bridge.

How do define an adult, self–directed learner?

Skill, style, self–confidence.

What if, for example, we define, say Boris Johnson by what he can do – read Latin, ride a bicycle through traffic and play whiff-whaff, not by what he cannot do, say brush his hair or swim 1000m Front crawl.

While what if I define X by what he cannot do – say, get up in the morning or speak in anything shorter than a paragraph, rather than what he can do, swim the Channel and empathise with others.

Need to read: Hegel, The phemonology of mind.

This is why:

Hegel attempts to outline the fundamental nature and conditions of human knowledge in these first three chapters. He asserts that the mind does not immediately grasp the objects in the world, concurring with Kant, who said that knowledge is not knowledge of “things-in-themselves,” or of pure inputs from the  senses. A long-standing debate raged in philosophy between those who believed that “matter” was the most important part of knowledge and those who privileged “mind.”


Kegan, R (2006) 'What "form" transformstions? A constructive-developmental approach to transformative learning. An abridged version of a chapter that appeared in Jack Mezirow et al. in 'Learning as Transformation' (2000). In ‘Contemporary Theories of Learning' (2009) Knud Illeris.

Mezirow, J. (2000) "Learning to think like an adult - Core concepts of Transformational Theory." IN J.Mezirow and Associates: Learning as Transformaton: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.

Piaget, J. (1954) The Construction of Reality in the Child. New York: Basic Books.

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How people learn and the implications for design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Feb 2014, 15:43

Had this been the title of a post-graduate diploma in e–learning it would have been precisely what I was looking for a decade ago – the application of theory, based on research and case studies, to the design and production of interactive learning – whether DVD or online.

A few excellent, practical guides did this, but as a statement of fact, like a recipe in a cook book: do this and it’ll work, rather than suggesting actions based on research, evidence-based understanding and case studies.

Mayes and de Frietas (2004) are featured in detail in Appendix 1 of Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age (2007) Beetham and Sharpe.

Four types of learning are featured:

  • 1. associative
  • 2. constructive (individual)
  • 3. constructive (social)
  • 4. and situative.

Of these I see associative used in corporate training online – with some constructive (individual), while constructive (social) is surely the OU's approach?

Situative learning may be the most powerful – through application in a collaborative, working environment I can see that this is perhaps describes what goes on in any case, with the wiser and experienced passing on knowledge and know how to juniors, formally as trainees or apprentices, or informally by 'being there' and taking part.

Each if these approaches have their champions:

Associative – Skinner, Gagné (1985).

Constructive (individual) – Piaget (1970), Papert (1993), Kolb (1984), Biggs (1999).

Constructive (social) – Vygotsky (1978).

Situative – Wenger (1998), Cole (1993), Wertsch. (Also Cox, Seely Brown). Wertsch (1981), Engestrom (), Cole and Engeström (1993)

Beetham and Sharpe (2007:L5987) – the ‘L’ refers to the location in a Kindle Edition. I can’t figure out how to translate this into a page reference.

How people learn and the implications for design

Associative – Skinner, Gagné (1985) (in Mayes and de Frietas, 2004)

Building concepts or competences step by step.

The Theory

People learn by association through:

  • basic stimulus–response conditioning,
  • later association concepts in a chain of reasoning,
  • or associating steps in a chain of activity to build a composite skill.

Associativity leads to accuracy of reproduction. (Mnemonics are associative devices).

  • Routines of organized activity.
  • Progression through component concepts or skills.
  • Clear goals and feedback.
  • Individualized pathways matched to performance.
  • Analysis into component units.
  • Progressive sequences of component–to–composite skills or concepts.
  • Clear instructional approach for each unit.
  • Highly focused objectives.

For Assessment

  • Accurate reproduction of knowledge.
  • Component performance.
  • Clear criteria: rapid, reliable feedback.
  • Guided instruction.
  • Drill and practice.
  • Instructional design.
  • Socratic dialogue.

FURTHER READING (and viewing)

Brown, J.S. (2002) The Social Life of Information

Brown, J.S. (2007) October 2007 webcast: http://stadium.open.ac.uk/stadia/preview.php?whichevent=1063&s=31

+My notes on this:


+The transcript of that session:



Biggs, J (1999) Teaching for Quality Learning at University, Buckingham: The Society for Research in Higher Education and Open University Press.  (Constructive alignment)

Cole, M. and Engestrom, Y. (1993) ‘A cultural-historical approach to distributed cognition’, in G. Salomon (ed.) Distributed Cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations, New Work: Cambridge University Press.

Conole, G. (2004) Report on the Effectiveness of Tools for e-Learning, Bristol: JISC (Research Study on the Effectiveness of Resources, Tools and Support Services used by Practitioners in Designing and Delivering E-Learning Activities)

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

Engeström, Y (1999) ‘Activity theory and individual and social transformation’, in Y. Engeström, R, Miettinen and R.-L. Punamaki (eds) Perspectives on Activity Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Eraut, M (2000) ‘Non-formal learning and tacit knowledge in professional work’, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70:113-36

Gagné, R. (1985) The Conditions of Learning, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Gagné, R.M., Briggs, L.J. and Wagner, W.W. (1992) Principles of Instructional Design, New Work: Hoplt, Reihhart & Winston Inc.

Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as a Source of Learning and Development, (Kolb’s Learning Cycle) Englewoods Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall

Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall.

Littlejohn, A. and McGill, L. (2004) Effective Resources for E-learning, Bristol: JISC (Research Study on the Effectiveness of Resources, Tools and Support Services used by Practitioners in Designing and Delivering E-learning Activities).

Mayes, T. and de Frietas, S. (2004) 'Review of e–learning theories, frameworks and models. Stage 2 of the e–learning models disk study', Bristol. JISC. Online.

Piaget, J. (1970) Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child (Constructivist Theory of Knowledge), New Work: Orion Press.

Papert, S. (1993) Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas, New Work: Perseus.

Piaget, J. (2001) The Language and Thought of the Child, London: Routledge Modern Classics.

Seely-Brown, J.S and Duguid, P. (1991) ‘Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: toward a unified view of working, learning and innovation’, Organizational Science, 2 (1): 40-57

Schon, D (1983) The Reflective Practioner: How Professional Think in Action, New York: Basic Books.

Sharpe, R (2004) ‘How do professionals learn and develop? In D.Baume and P.Kahn (eds) Enhancing Staff and Educational Development, London: Routledge-Flamer, pp. 132-53.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind in Society, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1986) Thought and Languages, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wertsch, J.V. (1981) (ed.) The Concept of Activity in Soviet Psychology, Armonk, N

Appendix and references largely from Beetham, H, and Sharpe, R (2007) Rethinking Pedagogy in a digital age.

See also Appendix 4: Learning activity design: a checklist

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More on 'Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age'.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:24

Why does the OU put the novice and expert together in the MAODE?

Although I praise this approach and after two years have been a beneficiary I wonder if the research points to the need for greater flexibility and mixing, more akin to several cohorts of students being able to move around, between their own tutor group, contributing to discussions with the newcomers while also being able to hobnob with the experts?

The learning theory that I am coming to understand does not favour a fixed approach.

It isn't simply a case of playing to the individual, though this is certainly very important as some people will favour being the teacher or the taught, or simply relish periods when they sit at the feet of the expert or stand up in front of newcomers. Rather it is apparent that people learn well within a peer group of like-minds, with people at a similar stage to themselves while having planned opportunities to hear and participate with 'great minds' while also from time to time contributing to the efforts and feeding off the enthusiasms of the 'new minds'.

Nothing is fixed, neither learning vicariously (Cox, 2006), or learning from the periphery to the centre (Seely Brown and Duguid, 1999).

Stage one of my approach to reading these days is to highlight, even share quotes and notes on Twitter as I go through a book.

I then type up my notes and add further thoughts either by cutting and pasting from the aggregates notes in my Twitter feed (eBooks don't allow you to cut and paste) or from handwritten notes I take on cards.

Then I share my notes here, tagged so that I can revisit and others can draw on my notes too or take the hint and read the chapter or book for themselves.

This too is but a stage - next step is to wrap up my developing thoughts, comments and other conversations and put a version of this entry into my external blog my mind bursts.

Sometimes an exchange here or elsewhere develops my thinking further - today I will be sitting down with a senior learning designer, one of five or six in the office of an international e-learning agency to talk learning theory and educational principles.

Chapter 2

Regarding Quality Assurance - there should be no inconsistencies between:

  • Curriculum
  • Teaching methods
  • Learning environment
  • Assessment procedures

So align assumptions:

  • Learning outcomes
  • Suitable assessment

N.B. Each outcome requires a different kind of theoretical perspective and a different pedagogical approach. L757

(Easy to say in theory, not so easy to deliver in practice?)

Three clusters of broad perspectives:

  • Associationism
  • Behaviourism
  • Connectionism

Associationist: gradual building of patterns of associations and skill components. Therefore activity followed by feedback.

Simple tasks prerequisites to more complex.

Gagné (1985 and 1992)

  • Instructional task analysis of discrimination, classifications and response sequences.
  • Simpler tasks built step by step followed by coordination to the whole structure.

Instructional Systems Design

  • Analyse the domain into a hierarchy of small units.
  • Sequence the units so that a combination of units is not taught until its component units are grasped individually.
  • Design an instructional approach for each unit in the sequence.

Then add:

  • Immediate feedback
  • Individualization of instruction

Behaviourism: active learning by design. Immediate feedback on success, careful analysis of learning outcomes, alignment of learning objectives.

The Cognitive Perspective

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Concept Formation

Knowledge acquisition as the outcome of an interaction between new experiences and the structures for understanding that have already been created. Therefore building a framework for learning vs. learning as the strengthening of associations.

Piaget (1970) Constructivist Theory of Knowledge.

‘Conceptual development occurs through intellectual activity rather than by the absorption of information'. L819

Vygotsky (1928:1931) Importance of social interaction.

Interactions – that e-learning teams call ‘interactivities’.

The Situative Perspective

  • Learning must be personally meaningful
  • Authentic to the social context

(problem-based learning and cognitive apprenticeship). L862

The concept of community practice

Wenger (1998) identify as a learner derived from the community. (Aspires, defines, accredited).

Mayes et al (2001) learning through relating to others. E.g. Master Class

Social-anthropological belonging to the community. L882.

Beliefs, attitudes, common endeavour, also ‘activity systems’ Engestrom 1993

Learning relationships

Identify, participate, individual relations. Dependent on: context, characteristics and strength of relationships in the group (Fowler and Mayes, 1999) L902

What was exotic in 2007 in common place today?

See Appendix 1 L912

Learning as a cycle through stages.

  • J F Vernon (2011) H809 assignments and end of module assessment. The concept of riding a thermal of gently rising circles.
  • Various references L923.
  • Fitts and Posner (1968)
  • Remelhart and Norman (1978)
  • Kolb (1984)
  • Mayes and Fowler (1999)
  • Welford (1968)

If ‘as it proceeds from service to expert, the nature of learning changes profoundly and the pedagogy based on one stage will be inappropriate for another’. L923

Fowler and Mayes (1999)

Primary: preventing information

Secondary: active learning and feedback

Tertiary: dialogue and new learning.


Beetham, H and Sharpe, R. (2007) Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and delivering e-learning.

Cole, M and Engestrom, Y (1993) A cultural-historical approach to distributed cognition. In G.Salmon (ed.) Distributed cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations, New York, CVP.

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

Gagné, R (1985) The conditions of learning. New York. Holt, Rhinehart and Wilson.

Jonassen, D.H. and Rohrer-Murphy, L (1999) ‘Activity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments’. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47 (1) 61-80

Seely-Brown, J.S and Duguid, P. (1991) ‘Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: toward a unified view of working, learning and innovation’, Organizational Science, 2 (1): 40-57

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An exciting new way to share the learning experience

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 13:04


This is just me mashing it all up, but at times I've moaned about wanting to read a relevant book from cover to cover, taking and sharing notes, following references, having a chin-wag and learning by default, on the fly 'vicariously'.

This I've discovered is possible by doing the following:

Buy an eBook, I'm currently doing this to Prof Martin Weller's 'The Digital Scholar' (One of ours, from the Knowledge Media Institute)

You'll come across his name as often as those of:

  • Grainne Conole
  • Denise Kirkpartrick
  • Chris Pegler
  • Diane Laurillard et al
  • Vygotsky
  • Engestrom

on any of the Masters in Open & Distance Education modules. H807, H808, H809, H800 and H810.

As you read through Kindle (which can be on your desktop, laptop, Kindle, iPad, iPhone etcsmile when you 'highlight' something interesting click SHARE and send it to Twitter (my prefered, though it can also go to Facebook).

In this way you indicate what interests you (and where you are up to). Step away from reading mode to chat a bit, then press on or go back.

I like it.

Already done this with:

  • Steve Jobs: the exclusive biography. Walter Isaacson
  • The Blind Giant.Being Human in a Digital World. Nick Harkaway

Currently doing this with:

  • The Digital Scholar: How technology is transforming Scholarly Practice. Martin Weller.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front. Erich Maria Remarque
  • Rethinking Pedagogy in a Digital Age. Rhona Sharpe

I'm thinking of doing the same with:

  • Educational Psychology. Vygotsky
  • Mindstorms. Piaget.
  • Flow. The classic book on how to achieve happiness. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

P.S. I'm between modules!

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B822 9.2 Conceptions of development

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Nov 2011, 19:49
  • Team Forming  (Henry, 2006:189)
  • Forming and storming in which members establish their identities (Tuckman, 1965)
  • Establish group norms and practices.

'Only after people feel recognised and norms are agreed is the group likely to perform well.  (Henry, 2006:189)

A problem to solve:

  • Problem exploration
  • Idea generation
  • Implementation
  • Analyse the situation
  • Define the problem
  • Develop options
  • Select a strategy
  • Develop an action plan

Parallel and sequential activities required for new product development.

Personal development:

  • Piaget (1929) referred to often and read for the MAODE (Masters in Open and Distance Education, with the OU)
  • Erickson (1959)
  • Maslow (1962)
  • Kohlberg (1969)
  • Perry (1970)

Development of society, civilisations, agriculture, and industrial.

'It is possible to subdivide the onotogenetic and phylogenetic stages differently'. (Henry, 2006:190)

  • Ontogentic means: 'The origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult'.
  • Phylogenetic: 'Relating to or based on evolutionary development or history: a phylogenetic classification of species'

(See more: Henry on 'Creativity, Management and Well-Being').

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H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 00:26

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are 'H' and '800' and '807' and '808' as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

I can draw on any notes I've taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to 'Education' and 'Metaphor' going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days.

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year ... or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I've kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A'Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool ... to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I'm not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I'll be through 'Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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