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Four Top Learning Theories in the Digital Age

March 3, 2015 On-Line Learning, SBC-Online, General 0 Comments

Online classrooms have changed the face of education, but the learning theories that inform traditional educational methods still stand when taking a college course over the Internet. Here are the four main learning theories and how they are demonstrated in a digital curriculum:

Four Top Learning Theories in the Digital Age1. Behaviorism

The behaviorism method of learning centers around measurable, predefined goals. It is the basis for many of the most popular types of learning among parents and teachers and is particularly useful when it comes to the rote learning of facts.

While education has changed dramatically with the consumerization of technology, this method of learning is still useful when taking a course online. Its regularly measured goals are essential to time management and effectively completing a course.

2. Cognitivism

Cognitivism works on the theory of conscious thought, conversation, decision-making and emotion and focuses on the mental processes that are essential to cognitive development. The idea is that if we "understand" learning, we are more likely to find meaning and consistency when we search for new knowledge and align it with previous knowledge.

Like behaviorism, cognitivism is very relevant in the digital age since many people take up online learning in an effort to delve deeper into the knowledge they acquired through traditional lessons. Students of this theory can then blend their new digital learning experience with the information and qualifications they already possess.

3. Constructivism

Constructivism emphasizes the importance of social influences, free will and human consciousness. Central to constructivism is the theory that individuals exist in a rapidly and continuously changing world that hinges on experience. For many people working in education, the social element is key in the classroom, where theories and ideas are discussed with and built upon by fellow academics.

When it comes to online education, constructivism is more relevant than ever: Because online leaning demands collaboration, pupils can work together in chat rooms, online forums, blogs and webinars to create, invent and innovate knowledge on top of preexisting ideas. Computers are used to improve communication between teachers and students, and while teachers still provide guidance as needed, they primarily encourage the students to collaborate as users.

4. Connectivism

Connectivism is a newer method of education, giving more autonomy to students and the way they choose to learn. There is more openness today in terms of course content and how it is assessed, and students and tutors use the benefits of this interactivity to give feedback along the way.

The main function of teachers that embrace connectivism is to introduce the learning environment and then, much like a constructivist, let collaborative effort develop naturally between students. This is exactly what happens in online courses when a community builds and creates a whole new "classroom" for modules and courses.

Many traditional learning methods are now very much intertwined. No matter what theories of learning with which you are familiar, today's students can learn with assurance that each method is still very relevant in the digital age.

Photo credit: morgueFile

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