A short tour of learning theories related to ict
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A Short Tour of Learning Theories related to ICT. Module: CT10 Friday 22 January 2003. Behaviourism.

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A short tour of learning theories related to ict

A Short Tour of Learning Theories related to ICT

Module: CT10

Friday 22 January 2003



The work of Pavlov’s dogs’ salivating responses to conditioning and Skinner’s rats or pigeons reponses to punishment or reward led to the concept of the learning cycle of stimulus-response-reward (SPR). The SRR concept became central to learning theory, and when Skinner applied his findings to classroom teaching he became critical of teachers for ineffective reinforcement of learning.



Learners are active meaning makers who interact and construct meanings from what is observed and experienced around them. Philosopher John Dewey is one of the founders of constructivism which dates back to the first half of the 20th Century and his concept of discovery-based-learning. The work of psychologists, such as Piaget, Bruner and Vygotsky, led to a division into classical and social constructivism.

Social constructivism

Social Constructivism

It differs from classical constructivism in that learners’ active meaning making is not dependent on either cognitive developmental stages or through exploration as lone scientists. Instead learning takes place through the use of language and dialogue with more knowledgeable others.

By sharing prior knowledge a clearer understanding is achieved and the learner’s schema becomes modified. The “zone of proximal development”, described by Vygotsky, is the gap between what the learner already knows and understands from prior experience, and what will be known and understood from new experiences.

Constructivist teaching practices

Constructivist Teaching Practices

To provide new experiences by allowing learners to build on what they already know, understand and can do with increasing independence.

Piaget – Students are not ready to learn a particular concept until they have reached the apprppriate cognitive developmental stage. All learners, irrespective of ability, have the capability to understand higher level concepts but at different ages.

Constructivist learning

Constructivist Learning

  • Develops lower/higher order thinking skills e.g.problem solving,

  • Frees the student to concentrate on constructing new knowledge and apply it to a non-threatening environment,

  • Also encourages communication away from the computer which is then universalised to other forms of communication e.g. paper, spoken and image

Scaffold the child s learning

Scaffold the child’s learning

Jerome Bruner’s– Scaffolding

The computer provides a context by “scaffolding” even the least experienced learner, enabling him to accomplish complex tasks that may not be possible alone.

Let s challenge the learner

Let’s challenge the learner!

The adult stands in the zone, challenging the child to his/her next level of cognitive development.

“The computer excites learning, making it more appealing. It makes stepping into the ZPD, both for teachers and students, less fearful”



Papert’s work using Logo encourages the learner to to explore mathematical shapes and ideas by using an object to think with “the turtle”. Thus providing learners with a living language with which to talk mathematics to the computer.. The act of programming helps to develop skills such as that of breaking down problems into mangeable units and these skills can be applied to other situations.

Lego Mindstorms under the work of the MIT builds on similar views.

Learning with computers

Learning with Computers


“Computer-based tools and learning environments that have been adapted or developed to function as intellectual partners with the learner in order to engage and facilitate critical thinking and higher order learning.”

“Mindtools are tools for helping learners organise and represent what they know.”

Jonassen, D 1996

Students across the world unite

Students Across the World Unite

Journey North


Over 4,500 schools, representing more than 250,000 students, from all 50 U.S. States and 7 Canadian Provinces, participated in the spring 2002 Journey North Program.

Jason project

JASON Project

Their principle mission is to excite students about and engage them in science and technology and to provide professional development opportunities for educators. It encourages team building and partnership among institutions, students,educators and other experts from different fields.


Natural history project

The Darwin Centre is a major new development at The Natural History Museum. It provides world-class storage facilities for precious collections, new laboratories for Museum scientists, and access behind the scenes for visitors


Natural History Project


Building interaction between learner and teacher

Building Interaction between learner and teacher

  • Computers are often used as way of freeing up the teacher. There is a need for student, teaccher and computer.

  • Interaction forms the control focus of the activity and the basis for learning.

  • Students need to have some control over the environment.

  • Joint activities provide a flexible and motivating context for language acqusition.

Technology can work wonders

Technology can work wonders!

  • Choosing and developing tasks that provide a concept of control and real choice for the learners

  • Successful learning outcomes means greater self-esteem and motivation for actively learning.

A short tour of learning theories related to ict

The Internet is my mind– “I found that when I surf the Internet it works exactly like my mind….. Each memory that I have comes up like a website. And I sort of click through the websites of my mind and they come up like snapshot pictures.”“One of the most profound mysteries of autism has been the remarkable ability of most autistic people to excel at visual spatial skills while performing so poorly at verbal skills.”Temple Grandin – Animal Science Professor at Colorado State University and leading authority on autism in USA.

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