Creative learning

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What does learning mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, learning is:

  • 1 : the act or experience of one that learns
  • 2 : knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study
  • 3 : modification of a behavioral tendency by experience (as exposure to conditioning)

There are various theories about how humans learn:


  • a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own understanding of the world we live in. Each of us generates our own “rules” and “mental models,” which we use to make sense of our experiences. Learning, therefore, is simply the process of adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences.


  • a theory of animal and human learning that only focuses on objectively observable behaviors and discounts mental activities. Behavior theorists define learning as nothing more than the acquisition of new behavior.

Piaget’s Developmental Theory

  • is based on the idea that the developing child builds cognitive structures–in other words, mental “maps,” schemes, or networked concepts for understanding and responding to physical experiences within his or her environment. Piaget further attested that a child’s cognitive structure increases in sophistication with development, moving from a few innate reflexes such as crying and sucking to highly complex mental activities.


  • is the study of the human nervous system, the brain, and the biological basis of consciousness, perception, memory, and learning. The nervous system and the brain are the physical foundation of the human learning process. Neuroscience links our observations about cognitive behavior with the actual physical processes that support such behavior. This theory is still “young” and is undergoing rapid, controversial development.

Brain-Based Learning

  • learning theory based on the structure and function of the brain. As long as the brain is not prohibited from fulfilling its normal processes, learning will occur.

Learning Styles

  • This approach to learning emphasizes the fact that individuals perceive and process information in very different ways. The learning styles theory implies that how much individuals learn has more to do with whether the educational experience is geared toward their particular style of learning than whether or not they are “smart.” This theory is based on research that shows that, as the result of heredity, upbringing, and current environmental demands, different individuals have a tendency to both perceive and process information differently. The different ways of doing so are generally classified as:
    • 1. Concrete and abstract perceivers–Concrete perceivers absorb information through direct experience, by doing, acting, sensing, and feeling. Abstract perceivers, however, take in information through analysis, observation, and thinking.
    • 2. Active and reflective processors–Active processors make sense of an experience by immediately using the new information. Reflective processors make sense of an experience by reflecting on and thinking about it.

Multiple Intelligences

  • theory developed by psychologist Howard Gardner, suggesting there are at least seven ways that people have of perceiving and understanding the world. Gardner labels each of these ways a distinct “intelligence”–in other words, a set of skills allowing individuals to find and resolve genuine problems they face.

Gardner defines an “intelligence” as a group of abilities that:

  • Is somewhat autonomous from other human capacities
  • Has a core set of information-processing operations
  • Has a distinct history in the stages of development we each pass through
  • Has plausible roots in evolutionary history

While Gardner suggests his list of intelligences may not be exhaustive, he identifies the following seven:

  • 1. Verbal-Linguistic–The ability to use words and language
  • 2. Logical-Mathematical–The capacity for inductive and deductive thinking and reasoning, as well as the use of numbers and the recognition of abstract patterns
  • 3. Visual-Spatial–The ability to visualize objects and spatial dimensions, and create internal images and pictures
  • 4. Body-Kinesthetic–The wisdom of the body and the ability to control physical motion
  • 5. Musical-Rhythmic–The ability to recognize tonal patterns and sounds, as well as a sensitivity to rhythms and beats
  • 6. Interpersonal–The capacity for person-to-person communications and relationships
  • 7. Intrapersonal–The spiritual, inner states of being, self-reflection, and awareness

Right Brain/Left Brain Thinking

  • theory of the structure and functions of the mind suggesting that the two different sides of the brain control two different “modes” of thinking. It also suggests that each of us prefers one mode over the other.

Experimentation has shown that the two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking. The following attributes illustrate the differences between left-brain and right-brain thinking:

  • Left Brain: Logical,Sequential, Rational, Analytical, Objective, Looks at parts
  • Right Brain: Random, Intuitive, Holistic, Synthesizing,

Subjective, Looks at wholes

Communities of Practice

  • this approach views learning as an act of membership in a “community of practice.” The theory seeks to understand both the structure of communities and how learning occurs in them.

The communities of practice theory is based on the following assumptions:

    • Learning is fundamentally a social phenomenon.
    • People organize their learning around the social communities to which they belong.
    • Therefore, schools are only powerful learning environments for students whose social communities coincide with that school.

Control Theory

  • This theory of motivation proposed by William Glasser contends that behavior is never caused by a response to an outside stimulus. Instead, the control theory states that behavior is inspired by what a person wants most at any given time: survival, love, power, freedom, or any other basic human need.

Responding to complaints that today’s students are “unmotivated,” Glasser attests that all living creatures “control” their behavior to maximize their need satisfaction. According to Glasser, if students are not motivated to do their schoolwork, it’s because they view schoolwork as irrelevant to their basic human needs.

Observational Learning

Observational learning, also called social learning theory, occurs when an observer’s behavior changes after viewing the behavior of a model. An observer’s behavior can be affected by the positive or negative consequences–called vicarious reinforcement or vicarious punishment– of a model’s behavior.

A person’s cognitive abilities, physical characteristics, personality, beliefs, attitudes, and so on influence both his or her behavior and environment. These influences are reciprocal, however.

Vygotsky and Social Cognition

The social cognition learning model asserts that culture is the prime determinant of individual development. Humans are the only species to have created culture, and every human child develops in the context of a culture. Therefore, a child’s learning development is affected in ways large and small by the culture–including the culture of family environment–in which he or she is enmeshed.

Source: Funderstanding - About Learning

Education and its organisation

  • Curriculum: What Should Be Learned?
  • Instruction: How Should Learning Be Designed?
  • Assessment: How Will We Know If Learning Occurs?
  • Organizational Theory: How Should Schools Be Designed?

Types of learning

  • Formal learning takes place in education and training institutions, leading to recognised diplomas and qualifications.
  • Non-formal learning takes place alongside the mainstream systems of education and training and does not typically lead to formalised certificates. Non-formal learning may be provided in the workplace and through the activities of civil society organisations and groups (such as in youth organisations, trades unions and political parties). lt can also be provided through organisations or services that have been set up to complement formal systems (such as arts, music and sports classes or private tutoring to prepare for examinations).
  • Informal learning is a natural accompaniment to everyday life. Unlike formal and non­-formal learning, informal learning is not necessarily intentional learning, and so may well not be recognised even by individuals themselves as contributing to their knowledge and skills.

Source: A Memorandum on Lifelong Learning, European Commission, Unit E-3

Learning Styles

  • Are you a visual, auditiv or tactile learner? Take the test and find out!

Computer-support for learning


  • eLearning is an umbrella term, used to describe any type of learning environment that is computer enhanced. There are multiple technologies that can be employed in eLearning.
  • Distance learning is a term used to describe a learning environment that takes place away from the actual traditional classroom and campus.

Although there are multiple connections between the two, they are different things.

  • the term "eLearning" appeared in the mid 90s, as a result of the e- trend (e-mail, e-commerce and so on).
  • Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is a research domain focused on supporting collaborative learning using computers and the Internet. It is related to Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) and cuts across research in psychology, computer science, and education. In the case of CSCL, the emphasis is on collaboration.


  • Computer-assisted instruction was a behaviorist approach that dominated the early years of educational computer applications beginning in the 1960s. It conceived of learning as the memorization of facts. Domains of knowledge were broken down into elemental facts that were presented to students in a logical sequence through computerized drill and practice. Many commercial educational software products still take this approach.
  • Intelligent tutoring systems were based on a cognitivist philosophy that analyzed student learning in terms of mental models and

potentially faulty mental representations. They rejected the behaviorist view that learning could be supported without concern for how students represented and processed knowledge. Considered particularly promising in the 1970s, this approach created computer models of student understanding and then responded to student actions based on occurrences of typical errors identified in student mental models.

  • Efforts in the 1980s, epitomized by the teaching of the Logo programming language, took a constructivist approach, arguing that students must build their knowledge themselves. It provided stimulating environments for students to explore and to discover the power of reasoning, as illustrated in software programming constructs: functions, subroutines, loops, variables, recursion, etc.
  • During the mid-1990s, CSCL approaches began to explore how computers could bring students together to learn collaboratively in small groups and in learning communities. Motivated by social constructivist and dialogical theories, these efforts sought to provide and support opportunities for students to learn together by directed discourse that would construct shared knowledge.

(according to Stahl, G., Koschmann, T., & Suthers, D. (2006).Computer-supported collaborative learning: An historical perspective. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 409-426). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.)

Computer applications supporting learning

(according to Wikipedia)

  • Wikis
  • Blogs
  • Learning management systems
  • Survey systems
  • Online Image/Video Sharing
  • Video-conferencing/chat/file sharing applications
  • Online Collaborative Work spaces
  • Online Whiteboards
  • Virtual worlds
  • Mind maps

The adoption of Web 2.0 applications for education has been labelled eLearning 2.0 (see Stephen Downes - E-Learning 2.0 in eLearn Magazine October 16, 2005)

Learning and Creativity

Is institutionalised education obsolete?

  • Today's education system was designed for the industrial age. It was based on educating masses.
  • We're in the information age. Education as practised today needs to be redesigned. Institutionalised education cannot foster creativity in an appropriate way. One alternative was proposed by Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher: "self-directed education, supported by intentional social relations, in fluid informal arrangements".
  • The book that brought Ivan Illich to public attention was Deschooling Society (1971), a critical discourse on education as practised in "modern" economies.

Universal education through schooling is not feasible. It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools. Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom), nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue's responsibility until it engulfs his pupils' lifetimes will deliver universal education. The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring. We hope to contribute concepts needed by those who conduct such counterfoil research on education--and also to those who seek alternatives to other established service industries.

Fostering creativity

A few projects and studies looking at learning and creativity in the context of available technologies for education.

  • Identity formation in online social networks

Greenhow, C. & Robelia, E. (2009). Informal learning and identity formation in online social networks. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 119-140

    • informal learning - spontaneous, experiential, unplanned (e.g. observation, imitation, collaboration and apprenticeship by using social software)
    • nonformal learning - one has certain objectives and actively seeks information from sources that might include peers, mentors or media.
    • a learning ecology (Barron 2006) - bridging learning across the spaces of home, school, work and community
    • 21st century competencies( International Society for Technology in Education -US): creative thinking, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, problem solving, technological fluency, digital citizenship
  • Blending by Blogging

ORAVEC J.A (2003)Blending by Blogging: weblogs in blended learning initiatives. Journal of Educational Media, Volume 28, Numbers 2-3,

  • Inclusion of blogging in blended learning initiatives:
    • posting student work
    • exchanging hyperlinks
    • fostering reflective approaches to educational genres
    • forming and maintaining blogging communities
  • Mobile Phones as Creative Learning Tools

McGreen, N., & I. Arnedillo Sánchez (2005)Mobile Phones: Creative Learning Tools,in Isaias, P., C. Borg, P. Kommers, & P. Bonanno,International Association for Development of the Information Society Press

  • design of a tool (MMS composer) to capture images, record sound, annotate images and send any of these to a blog
  • Facebook as learning environment

Clare Madge, Julia Meek, Jane Wellens, Tristram Hooley (2009) Facebook, social integration and informal learning at university: 'It is more for socialising and talking to friends about work than for actually doing work'

  • Augmented Reality and what can it do for learning

Matt Dunleavy, Chris Dede,Rebecca Mitchell (2008)Affordances and Limitations of Immersive Participatory Augmented Reality Simulations for Teaching and Learning



  • Lawrence Lessig (2004)Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity
  • Jo Ann Oravec (2003) Blending by Blogging: weblogs in blended learning initiatives, Learning, Media and Technology, Volume 28, Issue 2 & 3 October 2003 , pages 225 - 233
  • Ken Robinson(2001) Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative


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