Learning approaches

Associative Learning is understood as: building concepts or competences step-by-step Constructive (individual) achieving understanding through active discovery People learn by actively exploring the world around them, receiving feedback on their actions, and drawing conclusions. Constructivity leads to integration of concepts and skills into the learner’s existing conceptual or competency structures. Learning can be applied to new contexts and expressed in new ways. Experimentation or experiential learning (Kolb’s cycle), are typical constructive approaches. Constructive theories are more concerned with how knowledges and skills are internalised than how they are manifest in external behaviour. As in associative approaches, attention will be paid to how learning opportunities are presented so as to allow progressive Constructive (social) achieving understanding through dialogue and collaboration Individual discovery of principles is heavily scaffolded by the social environment. Peer learners and teachers play a key role in development by engaging in dialogue with the learner, developing a shared understanding of the task, and providing feedback on the learner’s activities and representations. Collaborative work is typical of social constructive approaches. Social constructive theories are concerned with how emerging concepts and skills are supported by others, enabling learners to reach beyond what they are individually capable of (learning in the ‘zone of proximal development’). Attention is paid to learners’ roles in collaborative activities, as well as the nature of Situative developing practice in a particular community People learn by participating in communities of practice, progressing from novice to expert through observation, reflection, mentorship, and ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ in community activities. Like social constructivism, situativity emphasises the social context of learning, but this context is likely to be close – or identical – to the situation in which the learner will eventually practice. Workbased learning, continuing professional development, and apprenticeships are typical examples of situated learning. The authenticity of the environment is at least as significant as the support it provides: much less attention is paid to formal learning activities.

The theory

People learn by association, initially through basic stimulus-response conditioning, later by associating 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: for example when safety-critical skills are learned, or factual material is committed to memory. Mnemonics are essentially associative devices. Associative theories are not concerned with how concepts or skills are represented internally, but in how they are manifested in external behaviours, and how different training/instruction regimes manifest themselves in observable learning. However, all formal learning relies to some extent on external evidence (behaviour) as an index of what has been learned.

discovery of relevant concepts/skills. Associative Your own notes Constructive (individual)

the tasks they undertake.

Constructive (social)


Areas of training in which this approach is valued

Practical examples


Online training platforms resources and activities
Resources A resource is an item that a teacher can use to support learning, such as a file or link. Moodle supports a range of resource types which teachers can add to their courses. In edit mode, a teacher can add resources via a drop down menu. Resources appear as a single link with an icon in front of it that represents the type of resource. • Label: Can be a few displayed words or an image used to separate resources and activities in a topic section, or can be a lengthy description or instructions • Page: The student sees a single, scrollable screen that a teacher creates with the robust HTML editor • File: A picture, a pdf document, a spreadsheet, a sound file, a video file • Folder: For helping organize files and one folder may contain other folders • URL: You can send the student to any place they can reach on their web browser, for example Wikipedia • IMS content package: Add static material from other sources in the standard IMS content package format Activities An activity is a general name for a group of features in a Moodle course. Usually an activity is something that a student will do that interacts with other students and or the teacher. There are different types of activities in the standard Moodle that can be found on the "add an activity" drop down menu. • Assignments: Enable teachers to grade and give comments on uploaded files and assignments created on and off line • Chat: Allows participants to have a real-time synchronous discussion • Choice: A teacher asks a question and specifies a choice of multiple responses • Database: Enables participants to create, maintain and search a bank of record entries • Forum: Allows participants to have asynchronous discussions • Glossary: Enables participants to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary • Lesson: For delivering content in flexible ways • Quiz: Allows the teacher to design and set quiz tests, which may be automatically marked and feedback and/or to correct answers shown • SCORM: Enables SCORM packages to be included as course content • Survey: For gathering data from students to help teachers learn about their class and reflect on their own teaching • Wiki: A collection of web pages that anyone can add to or edit


New technologies
Technology Features What are the potential advantages for learning? What are the potential risks?

Evaluation Grid
Reflecting on a learning activity in a technology-rich context
Describing what happened

Your description

What learners actually did (learning activity/ies) Did learners do what you expected/asked? How did this support learning? Were there alternatives for learners to choose, and did you notice any patterns in their choices? How learners interacted What kinds of dialogue took place between learners and with the tutor or other support staff? How significant was this? How did it support learning? How learners received feedback Did feedback come from learners (self or peer), from you, or was it intrinsic to the activity itself? How did feedback support learning? Learning resources Did these prove useful and relevant? Were they accessible and available to all learners? Were there any interesting patterns of use/nonuse? Learning technologies Were these accessible and available to all learners? Did learners have the skills to use them effectively? Were equipment and support adequate? The e-learning advantage What advantages were there to using electronic resources or technologies? Consider: accessibility, inclusion, motivation, personalisation. Or: what challenges did this help you to meet? (Optional) Your approach and rationale How did this learning scenario express your preferred approach to teaching and learning (ideals, values, beliefs)? How did it change your approach?

Evaluating what happened Collecting evaluation evidence What evidence do you have from actual learning outcomes (e.g. assessed tasks)? What evidence do you have from monitoring learners’ activities during learning? Have you any other feedback e.g. conversations, feedback forms, observations? Remember your own reflections are also important What was the experience like for learners? Did they meet the learning outcomes? Did they enjoy the experience? Were they motivated and involved? Have there been any unexpected benefits? What was the experience like for the tutor? Were there any costs to you of taking this approach? Were there any benefits? Did you enjoy it? Did it involve working with other staff, and how was this experience? What do you think has worked well?

Your reflection or evaluation

What would you have done differently?

What advice would you give to another teacher working in a similar context to your own?

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