Situated Learning & Constructivism

What is ‘knowledge’ from a Situated Learning perspective? How does this compare with knowledge from a Constructivist perspective (described by von Glasersfeld, 2008).

In Situated Learning, learners “co-produce knowledge through activity” that occurs in the same environment in which the learning is typically applied (Brown et al., 1989). Situated learning asserts that meaningful learning shouldn’t be removed from its context because situations add structure to cognition. Constructivism views “knowledge and competence as products of the individual’s conceptual organization of the individual’s experience,” which similarly speaks of knowledge built in situations and contexts relevant to the learner (von Glasersfeld, 2008). What I find most interesting about the two theories is that they both seem to support ways of knowing one’s self through a “given collection of experiences” (2008) rather than just knowledge-gathering. This makes the process of knowing “a way of locating yourself in the world and developing a trajectory that makes sense” (Wegner, 1:25).


I enjoy that the online format of the MET can be considered a form of situated learning, since students in this realm (at least those planning to teach online courses) are operating within the “activity, context, and culture in which [our professional knowledge is] developed” (Brown et al., 1989). We are thus operating within a community of practice where expertise and knowledge can be developed and shared.

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.

Wenger, E. (2009). Etienne Wenger talks about ‘walking the landscape of practice.’ [Video File]. Retrieved from Youtube.

Image source: “My Work Desk” by David Joyce is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0

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