Theories for learning with emerging technologies

According to Larreamendy-Joerns and Leinhardt there are three views or visions that propel educational technology use and development. These are:

  • the presentational view_focuses on theory and practice to make disourse visualizations clearly accessible to learner (on the cognitive effect)
  • the performance-tutoring view_it derives its roots from the feedback and the theory of behavioural psychology
  • the epistemic-engagement view_this has been the most recent educational vision driving the relative technology. It focuses on the evolutionary propensity for curiosity, discovery, sharing and understanding for the skillful use of tools and it is most closely associated with social constructivist learninhg theories. Constructivism is a theory of learning and not one of teaching.


Terry Anderson further introduces:

  • Complexity Theory_it arises from the study of “living syetms” and evolutionary study where organisms adapt and modify complex environments_everything is understood according to context_the point where at which emergent behaviours inexplicably arise_complex systems produce spontaneous, systemic bouts_it supports the learner’s acquisition of skills to articulate learning goals_it is structured not around understanding learning but creating systems in which learning emerges rapidly_learning contexts as entities in themselves_teaching and learning theories derive from pre-Internet visions
  • Net-Aware Theories of Learning_capacity for powerful communications forms a platform upon which epistemic-engagement visions of learning are instantlated_great variety of modes of learning_information abundance and many formats_active autonomous agents_does little to teaching and learning methods
  • Heutagogy_self directed learning_it renounces the teacher dependency_it supports learners in a journey to capacity to learn in unfamiliar contexts_instructor as facilitator
  • Connectivism_the metaphor of the network whose nodes consist of learning resources_learning occurs as individuals discover and build connections through these nodes_learning expands based on the power of the network_lack of substantive role for the instructor and extensive requirements placed on the learner_criticism says that it is unable to explain significant learning phenomena.
  • Groups, Nets, and Sets_three contexts in which connectivist learning is employed: the familiar group, the netwotk and the set_familiar groups are where students aggregate, they are closed environments_networked learning activities expand connectivity beyond LMS and leadership is emergent rather than imposed_sets are created by a shared interest, they have enormous value for education



Anderson, T., 2016, ‘Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies’, in ‘Emergence and Innovation inn Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications’, ed. George Veletsianos, Edmonton: AU Press, doi:10.15215/aupress/9781771991490.01, available here

Larreamendy-Joerns, J., & Leinhardt, G. (2006). ‘Going the distance with online education’. Review of Educational Research, 76(4), 567–605.


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