Geeking out in Theories

Education is a constantly evolving force of nature. There are new ideas, remixed ideas, old ideas that have been re-packaged or tweaked. Learning theories are part of this ever evolving process, too.

Since Plato, there have been many theorists and theories that have emerged. Each one with a different take on how students learn. Learning theories describe “how students absorb, process, and retain knowledge during learning.” The amount of different theories can make it feel like swimming through treacle! Luckily there is a wonderful graphic created by Richard Millwood from his blog “A new learning landscape”

Image courtesy of Richard Millwood

This week our focus turns to some of these learning theories as we reflect on the question “How might we utilize learning theories to engage and motivate our students and colleagues?”

Here are a few big ones to consider that are central to many of the ideas, concepts and key understandings during our time together in COETAIL.


Constructivism is based on the premise that we construct learning new ideas based on our own prior knowledge and experiences. Learning, therefore, is unique to the individual learner. Students adapt their models of understanding either by reflecting on prior theories or resolving misconceptions.

If you think about what this looks like in the classroom then this could be problem based learning, research projects, group collaborations and inquiry based learning.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay


Connectivism is a learning theory for understanding learning in a digital age. It emphasizes how internet technologies have created new opportunities for people to learn and share information. These digital tools such as web browsers, search engines, wikis, online discussion forums, and social networks have changed the learning that is happening in and out of our classrooms and schools.

If you think about what this looks like then this could be googling a fact or information that no one knows the answer or have you ever listened to a speaker and thought to yourself, “I want to know more,” and used technology to dig a little deeper well that is connectivism, too!

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy, for example, is not a new model but it’s revision into Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy and then Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy by Andrew Churches, turned it into a very actionable set of elements that apply to how we conduct our teaching practices today. The video below from Common Sense Media does a great job of explaining how “educators are reframing Bloom’s Taxonomy through the lens of educational technology.”

I am looking forward to reading your thoughts and reflections on the topic this week! Some questions to think about this week.

  • How do you use the learning theories in your everyday practice to support student learning?
  • Are you starting to notice different things in your classroom/school?
  • Have you begun modifying what you do in your classroom/school?
  • How has your understanding of learning theories affected your planning and implementation of online learning (if you have been affected by COVID-19)?

Reflecting on last week posts

There were so many great action plans shared last week in your posts. I just wanted to give you all a huge digital high five on the great writing, reflection and sharing. If you haven’t had the chance to read everyone’s posts I would highly recommend doing so. You will be inspired to take up activities such as Birthday Party Planning, preparing a soigné dinner for two, effective VLE for Art Class, painting an army of Space Marines and Prussian Ceramics. What an amazing group of learners you all are

Going through this process led to a number of “ah ha” moments. Like this from Julija , who reflected on the process behind “messing around” with a new skill. “Having written this blog post I’ve realized that even planning of putting myself into the “learners’” chair already made me understand the feelings and frustration of my students much better. Moreover, now I see how much students and learners can benefit from simple messing around.”

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

As a reminder…

Hard to believe that we are in Week 5 already! If you are behind for some reason please make an effort to catch up. There is a great community being built by our participants and if you fall behind you may not be as present in the conversations already happening on our blogs and at #COETAIL. The program policy for late work can be found here. As a reminder to be up to date:

  • Read and completed all units up to Week 5 in the My Courses tab
  • Written 4 blog posts and commented on at least 4 of your peer’s posts
  • Recorded the URL’s for each blog post and the comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on the gradesheet you shared with me
  • Begun thinking about your Course 1 final project

Please, please let me know how I can support you at any time during the course of this program. If you want feedback on an idea or a blog post just shout!

Finally, I wanted to let you know that I am going on a residential field trip (with Grade 5) this week for 4 days, from Tuesday to Friday. I will have access to the internet but only in the evenings, so please bear with me!