Theories and Frameworks for Online Education: Seeking an Integrated Model

Anthony G. Picciano, Online Learning (OLJ), Sept 05, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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I don't think this article is nuanced enough in some important ways, but it is interesting in its own right and serves as a breezy introduction to some of the major theories of learning and pedagogy. It begins by defining what a theory is and then identifying three major branches of theory: behaviourism, cognitivism, and social constructivism. It then looks at "extensions" of these approaches, including the Community of Inquiry and Connectivism. Pulling the concepts together, it describes Anderson's 2011 model, and from there, drafts a simplified account that can be used to characterze different types of theory. Where it fails, I think, is where most such theories fail: it is to a large extent a taxonomy, defining theories in this case by different types of interaction. But taxonomies are not theories. They merely describe, and do not explain, and without an explanation, a description is arbitrary and subjective.

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