No one student is alike, and how you approach them when educating will affect their response to learning. This is particularly true when teaching with technology, as old schools of thought are challenged with technological advances.
There are four fundamental learning theories that unpack how a student learns and the role of the educator in that experience. Understanding these theories will help you if you’re an educator hoping to incorporate technology in your classroom because they identify the potential ways in which a student might be learning. This then encourages you to think about the ways in which technology in education might aid your students’ learning experiences, and where teaching with technology should be applied for maximum impact.
These four theories are covered in Module 2 of the Teaching with Technology online short course from the University of the Witwatersrand, an education technology course designed to help you elevate your teaching methods by embracing key digital learning devices. This interactive infographic explores the question how do people learn, giving you insight into your students, your role as an educator, and the potential for teaching with technology. The infographic also gives you a look into some of the subject matter you’ll cover on this teaching with technology course.
This infographic is best suited for desktop viewing.
How do people learn? Here are the four learning theories:
Behaviourism emerged in the Industrial Age, a time of mass production and mechanisation, with its impact on education first felt in the 1920s. The behaviourist approach to learning focuses on what can be observed and measured. It began as an attempt to make psychology as objective and empirical as science.
The rise of cognitivism coincides roughly with the popularisation of computer technology in the 1950s and 60s. It is a direct response to the behaviourist approach to learning. Cognitivism proposes that exploring the mind and the mental processes, rather than just the learning environment, is crucial for understanding how people learn. The student plays a much more participatory role in learning as opposed to behaviourism and, as a result, this theory opens up more ways for teaching with technology. Thinking of how students can participate in a lesson is improved with the introduction of technology in education.
Constructivism became prominent at the onset of the Information Age, a technology-driven period in which knowledge is the most valued commodity. It asserts that individuals actively construct knowledge rather than simply acquiring it. In a constructivist approach, an individual’s understanding of the world is continuously moulded through experience and subsequent reflection on those experiences. There are ways in which teaching with technology can be used in this theory to help students use and challenge their own prior knowledge, something you’ll explore on this education technology course.
Connectivism is the latest pedagogical approach. It’s often referred to as a learning theory for the digital age. This is because it attempts to address the impact digital technologies are having on the nature of knowledge and what it means to learn. This theory embraces the idea of teaching with technology the most, believing that the student is a part of a learning network and often, learning happens online.
Do you want to better understand how people learn to embrace the idea of teaching with technology? Find out more about the Wits Teaching with Technology online short course.