2.1 Theoritical Basis of Learning Designs


This section provides a perspective on the theoretical positions underlying different principles and approaches to designing effective learning environment in different contexts. These theoretical positions may be applicable to varying degrees in diverse educational contexts with or without application of technology. While traditional learning theories such as behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism do contribute to designing learning environments, with the emergence of new technology and new theoretical paradigms such as connectivism also becomes relevant in designing networked learning environment. New theoretical understanding and assumptions regarding how adults learn and how principles based on different learning theories contribute to creating effective learning designs are also discussed in this section.

This sub-unit will be presented in four parts as illustrated in the table below:


Text Resources

Media Resources

Supporting Theoretical Background

George Siemens (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age



Learning Theories and Domains of Learning

George Siemens (2005) Learning Development Cycle: Bridging Learning Design and Modern Knowledge Needs



Designing for adult learning


Andragogy (Adult Learning)

A short video from the PC3 team focusing on Malcolm Knowles' theory of andragogy or adult learning.



Enhancing meaningful Interaction in On-line Learning

Mohamed Ally (2004) ‘Foundations of EducationalTheory for Online Learning'in Terry Anderson and Fathi Elloumi (eds) Theory and Practice of Online Learning, Athabasca University, 18-26.


Designing Online Learning

Interview with Richard Culatta about the importance of developing interactive online learning. Online learning should connect learners with each other and with experts and not just content. The more online leverages social learning practices the more effective it will be. Instructional design is essential to effective online learning.



Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you should be able to:

  1. Describe how the different theoretical positions such as behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism and connectivism contribute towards designing effective learning environments.

  2. Describe the inadequacies in traditional learning theories as compared to the connectivist paradigm in understanding creating online networked learning environment.

  3. Describe various learning domains and their relationship with the different learning theories.

  4. Define the term ‘andragogy' as a theoretical paradigm for adult learning.

  5. Explain the assumptions regarding adult learning and how these assumptions decide the instructional techniques and processes for designing learning environments for adults.

  6. Explain how principles emerging from different learning theories can create interactions between the levels of the various types of learning, leading to enhanced effectiveness in learning in an online environment.


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