Online Learning Theory

Does learning need to be all of: community-centered, knowledge-centered, learner-centered, and assessment-centered for effective learning to occur. In other words are each of these characteristics weighted equally in their impact on effective learning?

First, I tend to agree with Anderson’s (2008) assertion that there is no “formulaic specification that dictates the type of interaction most conductive to learning in all domains and with all learners (pg. 67).” It’s useful to note the author asserts that “sufficient levels of deep and meaningful learning can be developed” as the result of high levels of different types of interaction.


I contend that effective online learning then needs to be based on a quality effort in each scenario to recognize the most appropriate types of interaction. I recognize that the different attributes (community-centered, knowledge-centered, learner-centered and assessment-centered learning) are not always suited equally to every scenario.  For example, which types of interaction best support the activities that typically occur within the discipline of study? What types of interactions would an expert in this area need to be adept in? Which best supports learning needs and curricular goals? At the adult level, the importance of each of these needs to adjusted based on the topic, the domain, different learning styles, learning objectives, context, personal/professional, institutional and curricular needs. Yes, ideally all types of interaction should be implemented and supported but not always evenly weighted.

Anderson, T. (2008). Towards a theory of online learning. In T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.), Theory and practice of online learning. Edmonton AB: Athabasca University.

Image source: “Light through the smoke” by Beatrice Murch is licensed under CC by 2.0.

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