Virtual Teaching and Learning

#OLTAK Learning theories


I enjoyed the readings this week and was grateful to be reading on Behaviorist theory again because I have to give a presentation on it in another class next week! Ha!

I think there is a bit of truth and something to glean from all three theories when it comes to aspects that would benefit an online learning format.

In Blooms Taxonomy of Learning, he discusses the importance of “the cognitive domain, which involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills including recall or recognition of specific facts, procedural patterns and concepts that serve in the development of intellectual abilities and skills” (Harasim, 2012, p. 39).  Gange’s subdivision of the nine events of instruction; gaining attention, informing the learner of the objective, stimulating recall prior to learning, presenting the stimulus, providing learning guidance, eliciting performance, providing feedback, assessing performance, and enhancing retention and transfer (Harasim, 2012, p. 51), and Vygotsky’s “Zone of Proximal Development.”

All of these theories provide valuable insight into providing a disciplined, conscientious and well-rounded approach to teaching. The ideas presented create an opportunity for the instructor to take a deeper look at the potential learning capabilities of the student by delving into the why and how people’s minds work.

I think I most closely relate to the cognitivist learning theory with a strong slant towards constructivist. While I think there is much benefit to what behaviorists have brought to the table with understanding stimulus and response within human behavior, I agree that there are important variables within our own perceptions and experiences that affect our decision making and lifestyle choices. In my own classroom I have such a wide range of diverse learners that all come to the classroom with different backgrounds. As I get to know them, I am able to understand that they all vary in how they respond, remember, produce, and retain information. It actually took me quite some time to figure out that I had to pay attention to how each students learning style was and to use that as a tool to better teach them as individuals instead of one group that perceives information in the same way…before that, I found myself frustrated and beating my head against the wall! I wish I had known this when I was in management when I was first starting out in a career field.

I think that all of these concepts are transferable from a synchronous environment to an asynchronous environment but definitely more challenging. As we learn more about our group project, I am realizing how important it will be to be engaging and create a diverse format as well as very comprehensive support materials.


Harasim, L. (2012), Learning Theory and Online Technologies, London: Routledge

Atherton J S (2013) Learning and Teaching; Constructivism in learning [On-line: UK] retrieved 23 January 2014 from


4 thoughts on “#OLTAK Learning theories

  1. Naomi,
    Nice post. I agree that all of the theories from this weeks reading carry weight in the field of education whether online or otherwise. I’m nervous about the courses we are going to create and how they will work with students who may not be very motivated in the first place.

    • I know… I think back to when I was in high school and I was completely unmotivated! I wanted to graduate but I was already working full time and living my life. I ended up going to SAVE in order to make up the credits I needed to finish my senior year on time. We’ll have to focus on keeping those students engaged…. Pretty challenging in an online course!!

  2. Remember that we will have a para or parent to help us! Building in some engagement with the content or with peers that these assistants can manage might assist in keeping the student “on task”…

  3. Hey, Naomi…

    Had to smile when I read your note about the timing of reading related to Behaviorist Theory this week…because it dovetails with a presentation you have for another class. 🙂 I’m not in that exact same boat, but I am taking two other courses this semester and found that this week’s reading really contributed to what I’m learning in the other classes, as well. More than anything, reading about some of the “stuff” I’ve read before (e.g., learning theories) takes on a whole new meaning when I view it through the lens of online learning.

    You wrote: “I think that all of these concepts are transferable from a synchronous environment to an asynchronous environment but definitely more challenging.” I couldn’t agree more! If we were creating a garden-variety English class, in our group’s case, I think it would be pretty straight-forward: square away the objectives; think about best practices in online learning; identify the content; and plan away! However, each time I think of an online credit recovery class, the faces of individual students I have known over the years (including this year!) step front-and-center into my mind’s eye. They already don’t like school…which is why they failed the course in the first place. They often lack basic skills necessary for success in an ELA class, which contributed to the initial failure. They don’t seem much point to school, and especially to all of that “literature and junk”…so they are LESS than motivated. The challenge of creating a credit recovery class is huge … and keeping learning theory in mind while we’re at it will be so important. What DOES motivate them? What helps CR students be successful when taking a class the second time around? How does the information that’s out there about credit recovery, in general, transfer when the delivery model is an online, asynchronous learning environment?

    It’s all had me thinking a LOT about what we will need to do to make the course content-specific enough to qualify for an English credit, yet tailored enough for “credit recovery-type students” that they can be successful, learn something, and (maybe?!) enjoy the course. I re-read an oldie-but-goodie from an ASCD Ed Leadership issue on supporting struggling high school students (Darling-Hammond, 2006); it certainly provides some great reminders about what makes a difference for these students!


    Darling-Hammond, L. and Ifill-Lynch, O. (February, 2006). If they’d only do their work! _Educational Leadership_. Retrieved from!.aspx

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