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A timeline of constructivist thought

I started this timeline with a focus on hi-lighting some key contributions to constructivist views and epistemology. So, you'll find the giants of constructivism in this timeline … Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner. However, you'll also find some players such as Nicholas Burbules and George Siemens, theorists who contributed views on Ubiquitous Learning and Connectivism, respectively. Their views may not be technically constructivist, and indeed a number of academics don't even consider them true theories, Nonetheless, they bring current and topical views of how modern learning environments are impacted by technology, and therefore impact teaching and learning. And, after all, aren't we constructivists supposed to adapt to challenges and new problems in our environment? Isn't that how we learn?

I would ask a bit of academic license here. My doctoral training was in Management and Organization, not Education. So, much of the information presented here has been drawn from my misguided wanderings through the Education literature as I attempted to become a better teacher. By nature, my teaching has always focused on conversation and shared social experience. That may reflect the 20-some years in business that preceded my academic training. So, exhibiting the most egregious confirmation bias, I let my research wander to those teaching approaches that best fit my natural disposition of discussion and conversation. A theoretical mash-up, I admit, but I think there is a bit of a common epistemological thread throughout.

So, if I violate any deep academic notions of who is, or is not a constructivist with this timeline, please give me a bit of license. This timeline is just a capsule view of some noted contributors to pedagogy and andragogy associated with the construction of knowledge and cognition. It is what interests me, and may be of interest or help to you. It is organic in nature, and I am always delighted to hear from you if you would suggest a contribution or offer a correction/update to the info on the timeline.

By the way, if you'd like to start today and work back in time, click the scroll mouse and it will take you to the other end of the timeline.
Scroll to most recent contribution

Active Learning Thru the Ages

Use the search tool below to hi-lite terms of interest within the timeline. After entering the term/name, scroll down to find all instances of the term within the timeline.

  • Constructivism 1725

    Giambattista Vico

    Credited with articulating the first statement of knowledge as constructed by the individual:

    "The human mind can know only what the human mind has made"

  • Pedagogy 1806

    Johan Friedrich Herbart

    Herbart publishes Allgemeine Pädagogik aus dem Zweck der Erziehung abgeleitet (General Pedagogy derived from the Aim of Education).

    Herbart's progressive views of education focused on developing a "many-sided" individual, wholly capable of functioning in society. Knowledge arose from teachers who helped students become engrossed in knowledge representations, guided reflection on these novel representations, allowing the student to develop new conceptualizations, or in Herbart's term, "apperceptions."

    You can see the faint rustlings of a constructivist view of knowledge as a structured alignment and realignment of experience and existing knowledge (apperceptions) in Herbart's writings, as well as the whisper of holistic education theory.

    As an aside, Herbart is credited with the development of "pedagogy" as a term of educational science.
  • Andragogy 1833

    Alexander Kapp

    Drawing on Plato's view that learning continues into adulthood, Kapp coined the term "andragogy"
  • Experiential 1897

    John Dewey

    Dewey publishes My Pedagogical Creed.

    In this tome, Dewey states: "The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these.......I believe, therefore, in the so-called expressive or constructive activities as the centre of correlation." The constructive activities refer to learning by doing, perhaps the first modern hint of project-based learning.

    Dewey's student, William Heard Kilpatrick, expounds upon this hint of a theory in 1918, introducing his Project Method.
  • Experiential 1907

    John Dewey

    Publication of Pragmatism

    Dewey suggests that truth (knowledge) only arises when that truth becomes known by way of solving a person's (learner's) problem.
  • Constructivism 1907

    Maria Montessori

    Montessori opens her first Casa dei Bambini, or Children's House, to some 50 students in Rome.

    This was the beginning of Montessori's effort to "craft" a learning place and learning experience for children. Evoking the role of the teacher as guide as well as learner, she closely observes the students as they experience their learning environment. She said, “I followed these children, studying them, studied them closely, and they taught me how to teach them.”
  • Constructivism 1909

    Maria Montessori

    Montessori publishes The Method of Scientific Pedagogy Applied to the Education of Children in the Children's Houses (translated and republished as The Montessori Method in 1912).

    Montessori's publication is built upon two years of observations at the Casa dei Bambini. Here she outlines what she has learned from her observations of the children interacting and learning under her system, and lays the foundations of her pedagogy. Coincident with this publication, she opens the first training school for Montessori teachers, thus launching a truly unique and successful pedagogical approach that still flourishes today.
  • Constructivism 1910

    John Dewey

    Publication of Dewey's first version of How We Think

    Identifies reflection as a critical mode of thought.

    “Reflection is a meaning-making process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and connections to other experiences and ideas. It is the thread that makes continuity of learning possible"
  • Constructivism 1915

    Maria Montessori

    Established an observable classroom at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Observers could watch a Montessori classroom from behind a glass observation wall for a period of four months, exposing her innovative pedagogy to the U.S.
  • Experiential 1918

    William Heard Kilpatrick

    Kilpatrick introduced the Project Method. Kilpatrick's focus on experiential problem solving and explication laid the foundation for today's focus on Project-based Learning.
  • Constructivism 1924

    Jean Piaget

    Piaget publishes Judgement and Reasoning in the Child in which he describes how children use representational structures, or schemata, to respond to discontinuous situations.
  • Andragogy 1925

    Eduard Lindeman

    Lineman refreshs Kapp's concept of andragogy and publishes The Meaning of Adult Education, described as “a book widely regarded as America's andragogical bible”.
  • Schema 1932

    Sir Frederic Bartlett

    Bartlett's writings in Remembering explores the interaction of previous knowledge and new stimuli in his famous “portrait d’homme” series of experiments, setting the stage for the development of Schema Theory.
  • Constructivism 1934

    Gaston Bachelard

    In his La formation de l'esprit scientifique, (1934), Bachelard considers the scientific mind and how it reconciles new information into paradigms, suggesting that, "Nothing proceeds from itself. Nothing is given. All is constructed."
  • Constructivism 1934

    Lev Vygotsky

    The first English translation of Thinking and Speech is published. Vygotsky develops the idea that language and interaction with others provides the mechanism for children to begin to construct "complexes," or arrangement of words/categories.

    “Complex thinking begins the unification of scattered impressions; by organising discrete elements into groups, it creates the basis for later generalizations.”
  • Constructivism 1936

    Jean Piaget

    Piaget publishes The Origins of Intelligence in the Child, positing that knowledge is restructured (accommodated) when the learner faces a disequilibrium, or a situation that cannot be solved with an existing schema (assimilation). Constructivism is off to the races now, with knowledge construed as structures/schemas constructed to adapt to dilemmas in the learner's environment.
  • Enactivism 1936

    Edmund Husserl

    Husserl publishes Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie: Eine Einleitung in die phänomenologische Philosophie (published in English in 1970 as The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy). Husserl is best known as the founder of phenomenology. His work on cognition was fully developed to suggest that cognition is inherently embedded in the learner's consciousness and his/her attempt to cognitively structure lived experience. Husserl's work hinted at the development of Transformative Theory and set the very foundation of Enactivism.
  • Experiential 1938

    John Dewey

    Dewey publishes Experience and Education, setting the cornerstone of experiential education.

    Dewey suggested that experiences that compel the learner to move forward to new experiences (continuous), and can satisfy the internal needs of the learner (interactive). Thus, experience can be seen as an opportunity for the individual to learn more through the experiential process, establishing a new and relevant situation, an experience that modifies both the learner and the context of his/her relationship to the environment.
  • Metacognition 1942

    Gregory Bateson

    Bateson authors a symposium paper entitled: Social Planning and the Concept of Deutero Learning. Later described by Bateson as Learning II, deutero learning is essentially an early description of learning to learn, or meta-cognition.
  • Constructivism 1949

    Maria Montessori

    Montessori publishes The Absorbent Mind. She describes learning as inherently constructivist, stating: "Impressions do not merely enter his mind; they form it. They incarnate themselves into him. The child creates his own 'mental muscles,' using for this what he finds in the world about him. We have named this type of mentality, The Absorbent Mind. …".

    We also see tantalizing hints of other theories of learning, not explicated yet present in her pedagogy. She amplifies her views of children being implicitly self-directed to learn by way of an "inner guide." Learning for her, is transformative: "the child undergoes a transformation." She presages Bandura's Social Learning Theory, suggesting the child needs to “imitate the actions he sees in his home” while the learners need to "do it myself" evokes the value of experiential learning.

    Sure, The Absorbent Mind is written about kids under the age of six. Still, you have to admit that Montessori's theories, grounded as they were in her keen observations, really did touch a lot of pedagogical bases.
  • Andragogy 1950

    Malcolm Knowles

    Knowles publishes Informal Adult Education, and outgrowth of his Masters thesis.

    After working with Lindeman, Knowles pursued his Masters degree. Knowles laid out the need for adult-centric education, how those needs implied a different approach to learning than non-adult education, and presented a dichotomy between a more traditional, formal education, and a more informal approach suitable for adult learners.

    This publication provided the bridge from Lindeman's somewhat instrumental version of andragogy to Knowles' future as the foundational architect of modern-day andragogical theories and practices.
  • Cognition 1956

    George Armitage Miller

    Miller publishes The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity to process information in Psychological Review.

    Miller articulates the idea that short-term memory is limited, setting the foundation for what will come to be known as cognitive load theory.
  • Schema 1958

    Sir Frederic Bartlett

    Bartlett publishes Thinking: An Experimental and Social Study. His 'story completion' experiments give support to the unconscious process of adding existing knowledge to new, incomplete situations. His work "sheds light on how schemas, as a way of organizing past experiences, lead one towards constructive and predictive processes”.
  • Constructivism 1960

    Jerome Bruner

    Bruner publishes a classic tome: Process of Education.

    Bruner hi-lites the importance of structure, arguing, "The teaching and learning of structure, rather than simply the mastery of facts and techniques, is at the center of the classic problem of transfer… If earlier learning is to render later learning easier, it must do so by providing a general picture in terms of which the relations between things encountered earlier and later are made as clear as possible"

    Bruner also suggests that children are intuitively able to tackle concepts much earlier than previously thought, and that instruction should circle back to, and build from, previous concepts when the learner faces new, more complex problems. And thus is born Briuner's concept of spiral curriculum.

  • Cognition 1960

    Karl Pribham, George Miller, and Eugene Galanter

    Pribham, Miller, and Galanter coin the term working memory in Plans and the structure of behavior.

  • Constructivism 1961

    Jerome Bruner

    Bruner explores Discovery Learning in The Act of Discovery for the Harvard Education Review. He describes what he calls cumulative constructionism. This process finds the learner stringing together previous knowledge to construct viable solutions to problems or dilemmas. This is counterposed to episodic empiricism, which finds the learner juggling disparate knowledge and information in a disorganized, haphazard attempt to make meaning of the dilemma.
  • Constructivism 1966

    Jerome Bruner

    Bruner publishes another landmark: Constructivist Learning Theory.

    Building on his views of experiential learning, he lays out a framework of context and experience as a path to help the learner build knowledge.

  • Constructivism 1967

    Jean Piaget

    Piaget first used the term "constructivist epistemology" in Six psychological studies, thereby conferring theoretical gravitas to constructionism.
  • Andragogy 1968

    Malcolm Knowles

    Writing in Adult Leadership, 16(10), 350–352, Knowles authors Pedagogy, not Andragogy.

    This is Knowles' first formal treatment of andragogy as a set of practices separate and distinct from pedagogy.
  • Critical learning 1969

    Paulo Freire

    Freire publishes the classic Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

    Freire postulates that there is a political realm to the teacher/learner environment. Since learning by nature adapts and alters the learners relationship to that environment, the learner must take responsibility for the change. This, for Freire, holds true for the political realm, or power structure of that environment. As a result, pedagogy must be seen as an instrument of power and political action.

  • Andragogy 1970

    Malcolm Knowles

    Knowles publishes the first edition of The Modern Practice of Adult Education. Andragogy versus pedagogy

    Although Lindeman was the first U.S. educator to write about androgogy, it was nearly 45 years later that Knowles extended the discussion of andragogy and gave substance to it as a unique teaching and learning challenge.

    Knowles based his theoretical defense of andragogy on the premise that adult learners were significantly different from non-adult learners in terms of: 1) self-concept, 2) life-experience, 3) readiness to learn, and 4) their orientation to learning. He subsequently added a fifth differentiating characteristic, internal motivation to learn. Given these differences, adults face entirely different challenges, approach these challenges with different knowledge structures, and have more urgent needs for viable solutions to dilemmas. As such, adult learners require a teaching/learning modality that differs from non-adult students.
  • Constructivism 1970

    Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

    Rosenstock-Huessy draws attention to speech (and grammar in particular) as the mechanism by which we exchange our knowledge within social interaction in his class Speech and Reality. If you, like me, believe in discussion as a pedagogical and andragogical tool, this matters a great deal.

    Although some constructivists would argue that knowledge is inherently generated within the individual, most would agree that that knowledge is constructed in reference to environmental adaptation. To the extent others exist in that environment and interact with the learner, the structure of their representations of the environment in social exchanges can affect the learner's interpretation of the environment and his generation of viable solutions to the environment, i.e. their learning.

    "The grammatical method is the way in which man becomes conscious of his place in history (backward), world (outward), society (inward), and destiny (forward). The grammatical method is, then, an additional development of speech itself; for, speech having given man this direction and orientation about his place in the universe through the ages, what is needed today is an additional consciousness of the power of direction and orientation."
  • Dual-coding Theory 1971

    Allan Paivio

    Paivio postulated in 1971 that learners reconstruct knowledge using both verbal clues as well as imagery. He theorized that while visual and verbal information was acquired via differing paths and stored as separate representations, those representations could be drawn upon, cognitively manipulated and combined to construct new knowledge.

    His work was based on research of recall of images or text, finding that subjects were able to recall images more easily than text, but that they were better able to recall the order of the presentation of text as opposed to images. This evidenced his theory that both text and imagery was available for recall, but that they were processed in different manners.

    Paivio's work also set the foundation for Mayer's later work on the effective use of verbal cues with imagery when constructing multimedia learning episodes.
  • Social Learning 1971

    Albert Bandura

    Bandura publishes Social Learning Theory.

    Bandura would clearly be construed more as a cognitivist than a constructivist. Still, his articulation of how individuals learn by way of modeling others is a key contribution, it seems, to a constructivist vein. Bandura posits that individuals learn by watching others and observing the consequences of those others' behaviors. This is not simply a behaviorist approach. Rather, the learner observers an actor in their environment, they observe how that behavior interacts with the shared environment, cognitively assesses whether that is a viable solution to the shared environment, and adopts (models) that behavior if the learner judges it to be a useful solution to the problem/dilemma. They adapt that perception to existing knowledge structures and construct a new solution to the environment, i.e. adjust their schemata (learn).
  • Deschooling 1971

    Ivan Illich

    Illich publishes Deschooling society.

    Illich presaged the development of Connectivism when he argued for the evolution of "learning webs." Illich was passionate about the democratization of learning and freeing education from institutionalized control. In his discussion of learning webs, he suggested that modern technology could provide "new networks, readily available to the public and designed to spread equal opportunity for learning and teaching" and "provide the learner with new links to the world instead of continuing to funnel all educational programs through the teacher.”

    Illich saw the promise of technology to open learning avenues well before many other educators, hearkening the ability to continuously connect students to learning objects, facilitators, and episodes by way of technology … a clear precursor to Connectivism.

    See: Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling society. New York: Harper & Row. pp: 55 and 52.
  • Self-directed learning 1975

    Malcolm Knowles

    Knowles publishes Self-Directed Learning. A guide for learners and teachers.

    Building on his work with andragogy, Knowles suggested that some learners, particularly adults, may be better equipped to take ownership of their learning and actually direct it in a way that best suits their needs. He described this as self-directed learning, "a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating their learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes".

  • Experiential learning 1975

    David Kolb and Ronald Fry

    Kolb and Fry author Towards and Applied Theory of Experiential Learning in G. Cooper, Ed. (1975) Theories of Group Processes. New York: Wiley

    Kolb and Fry suggest that learning is an iterative process of experience, reflection, and reaction, that "learning is best facilitated in an environment where there is dialectic tension and conflict between immediate, concrete experience and analytic detachment."

    They suggest that the learner will adopt a learning style (Diverging, Assimilating, Converging, Accommodating) that reflects her/his resolution of ways of relating to their experience: Concrete Experience vs. Abstract Conceptualization and Active Experimentation vs. Reflective Observation.
  • Constructivism 1976

    David Wood, Jerome Bruner, and Gail Ross

    Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Child Psychiatry, 17, 89−100.

    The authors build upon Vygotsky's concept of a "More Knowledgeable Other" and introduce the concept of scaffolding as a process "that enables a child or novice to solve a task or achieve a goal that would be beyond his unassisted efforts." (1976: 90)
  • Constructivism 1978

    Lev Vygotsky

    Mind in society: Development of higher psychological processes is published.

    This publication is actually an edited collection of Vygotsky's writings. It is hard to overestimate the contributions within this collection. Here we find Vygotsky's view that children can perceive and express reconstructed views of their environment, structuring “elements of past experience with the present.” Most importantly, this collection lays out Vygotsky's critical contribution of the Zone of Proximal Development, suggesting the importance of a more experienced other person helping the learner to build knowledge.

    A classic, generational contribution.
  • Constructivism 1978

    Humberto Maturana

    Maturana set the stage for the development of the Santiago theory of cognition with the publication of Biology of Cognition. Building upon his earlier work with his student Francisco Varela, Maturana suggests that cognition is a continual process by which living organisms adapt to their environments. Cognitive restructuring occurs continually as the organism (learner) interacts with and responds to environmental changes, or perturbations.
  • Transformative Learning 1978

    Jack Mezirow

    Mezirow publishes Perspective Transformation

    Mezirow an interesting concept of meaning-making. He suggests that when a learner confronts a dilemma that her existing knowledge cannot accommodate, and altering existing structures does not help, she encounters a disequilibrium in her perception of the environment. This requires a fundamental and critical examination of her own beliefs, attitudes, and dispositions. Any resultant realignment of these beliefs to regain alignment with the environment is akin to a Kuhnian paradigmatic shift, a transformation of perspective. Mezirow suggests: “a conscious recognition of the difference between the old viewpoint and the new one and makes a decision to appropriate the newer perspective as being of more value.”

    It doesn't have a name yet, but it will in about 12 years: Transformative Learning Theory.
  • Ecological Systems Theory 1979

    Urie Bronfenbrenner

    Bronfenbrenner is thought of principally as a social psychologist. His classic work, The Ecology of Human Development, is published in 1979, and shines a compelling light on how multiple environmental forces can influence the social, psychological, and cognitive development of the child. This set the stage for the development of Ecological Systems Theory, and perhaps more importantly, helped set the stage for the development of the Head Start program.

    Bonfrenbrenner went beyond the typical dyadic research frame of child and actor (teacher, for instance), and suggested that the learner is affected by interconnected systems of influences that extend far beyond the learner. He posited that we best understand development as "the person’s evolving conception of the ecological environment, and his relation to it, as well as the person’s growing capacity to discover, sustain, or alter its properties."

  • Metacognition 1979

    John Flavell

    Flavell coins the term "metacognition" in his article for American Psychologist entitled. Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive-developmental inquiry.

    Flavell defines metacognition as, "one's knowledge concerning one's own cognitive process and products or anything related to them." He postulates two aspects of metacognition: 1. metacognitive knowledge about how individuals (including the learner) learn, and 2. metacognitive regulation. Metacognitive regulation comprises the cognitive activities of the individual pursuant to accomplishing the cognitive goal.

    Of course, in today's haste to be efficient, we have boiled all of Flavell's deep thinking down to "thinking about thinking."

  • Constructionism 1980

    Seymour Papert

    Papert publishes Mindstorms. Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas.

    recounts Papert's experiences observing elementary students coding the movements of a computerized turtle using LOGO, a coding language designed by Papert, Wally Feurzeig and Cynthia Solomon. A constructivist who studied with Piaget, Papert documents the powerful learning that occurred when the students not only learned the abstract aspect of coding language, but also produced an artifact of their effort (a Public Entity in Papert's terms) and debugged their computer program. For Papert, the generation of a public entity was the completing piece for cognition and learning: "Constructionism means "Giving children good things to do so that they can learn by doing much better than they could before.”

    The production of a Public Entity essentially transformed constructivism to what we now know as constructionism. In turn, Papert's work provided a springboard for today's pedagogical interest in Project Learning and the Maker approach to learning. All in all, not a minimal contribution.

  • Andragogy 1980

    Malcolm Knowles

    Knowles publishes The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy.

    With this publication, practical flesh is put to theoretical bone and andragogy becomes both articulated theory and substantive practice.

  • Complexity Theory 1981

    Edgar Morin

    Morin, E. (1981). La méthode. 1. La nature de la nature [Method. 1. The nature of nature]. Paris: Seuil

    Morin's first volume of Méthode introduces his concept of Complex Thought. Although not strictly an invocation of Complexity Theory, Morin extrapolates his views of Complexity Theory to conceptualize knowledge as an interdisciplinary melding of otherwise soloed or paradigmatic schemas of knowledge. Knowledge that is pertinent is not bound by area of study, rather it should be conceived of as emerging from the interrelationships among various fields of study. Morin's theorizing sows the seeds of Complexity Theory as a lens to how knowledge is constructed.
  • Action Learning 1982

    Reginald "Reg" Revans

    Revans, R. W. 1982. The origin and growth of action learning. Brickley, UK: Chartwell-Bratt.

    Revans proposed a model of problem solving that relied upon active questioning of alternative interpretations and possible solutions among a group of actors (learners). Learning occurred as the actors involved in the questioning reflected upon the action process and the results of the action. Note the intersection of extending existing knowledge to the context of real-world problems, the role of social interaction with knowledgeable others, and the capstone of reflection to help construct new knowledge … hallmarks all of a fully developed constructivist perspective.
  • Cognition 1983

    Howard Gardner

    Gardner publishes the influential Frames of mind. The theory of multiple intelligences.

    Gardner suggests that individuals learn in different ways: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal ,and intrapersonal. He ties learning by the intelligences to environmental participation, "to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings."
  • Sensory stimulation theory 1985

    Dugan Laird

    Laird publishes Approaches to training and development.

    Laird's theory was based upon research suggesting learning was enhanced when multiple senses were activated in a learning episode. He stated that fully 75% of adult knowledge arose through seeing, 13% by way of auditory stimuli, while the balance was obtained through the other senses. Simultaneous stimulation of multiple senses helps construct more robust knowledge schemas. His thoughts are an interesting confluence of Montessori's use of inanimate manipulatives, Mayer's work with multimedia learning, and the research that suggests that scent can enhance memory development.
  • Cognitive load theory 1988

    John Sweller

    Sweller authors Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning for Cognitive Science.

    Sweller views expert knowledge as resident in complex, domain-relevant schemas available to the learner. His observations of problem-solving as a means to develop schemas, though, suggest that the cognitive load associated with problem-solving leaves too little cognitive capacity for schema development: "Conventional problem-solving activity via means-ends analysis normally leads to problem-solution, not to schema acquisition."

    Sweller suggests that instructors need to be mindful of educational designs to allow sufficient cognitive load for schema development. And there we have it … the foundation for Cognitive Load Theory.

  • Situated learning 1989

    John Seely Brown, Allan Collins, & Paul Duguid

    Brown, Collins & Duguid publish Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. This classic paper argued that knowledge cannot be thought of as distinct and separable from the context within which it is found. Knowledge is, in their word, situated, "being in part a product of the activity, context, and culture in which it is developed."

    This foundational piece placed the focus of pedagogical research not just on learning and teaching, but on the setting within which learning takes place. Situational Learning Theory was born: "Teaching, however, often overlooks the central, but restrictive, contribution made by the activities, context, and culture of schools to what is learned there. A theory of situated knowledge, by contrast, calls for learning and teaching methods that take these into account."
  • Metacognition 1990

    Philip Candy

    Candy authors “How people learn to learn” in Robert Smith's (ed.) Learning to learn across the life span (1990)

    Arguing that there is no evident definition of "learning to learn," Candy suggests three characteristics:
    1. developmental - learning evolves over time/experience, offering more evolved solutions
    2. fluid - learning is necessarily changeable as the learner confronts new experiences and contexts
    3. multidimensional - reflecting both generic constructs and context-specific elements

    Metacognition now has layers.
  • Situated learning 1991

    Jean Lave and Etienne Wegner

    Lave and Wegner publish Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation.

    Lave and Wegner's seminal book extend the work of Brown, Collins and Duigood, further cementing the acceptance of Situated Learning. For Lave and Wegner, learning occurs when the learner is situated in a community of expertise or practice, allowing the learner to begin to construct knowledge of an experience through increased social interaction with others in that community of practice. Beginning at the periphery of the community (peripheral participation), learners progress from simple tasks within the community to a deeper knowledge structures developed through social interaction within the learning experience. Thus, learning is not distinct from the experience, learning is resident within (situated) in the experience itself.
  • Andragogy/Transformative Learning 1991

    Jack Mezirow

    Mezirow publishes Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning

    Mezirow offers a "charter for andragogy" in this publication, reflecting his continued focus on education for adults. In the same vein, though, he describes meaning-making as encompassing not just cognitive reflection, but personal and psychological reflection, as well. Although he initially described it as perspective transformation, it set the stage for his recognized foundation of Transformative Learning Theory.
  • Cognition 1991

    Howard Gardner

    Gardner publishes another home run: The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach

    Gardner takes an unabashedly constructivist tone in his pedagogy, suggesting "each child must construct his own forms of knowledge painstakingly over time with each tentative action or hypothesis representing his current attempt to make sense of the world". He identifies three types of learners: the naive, the traditional, and the expert, each of which requires differentiated interaction with the instructional design.
  • Andragogy/Self-directed learning 1991

    Philip Candy

    Candy publishes Self-direction for lifelong learning: A comprehensive guide to theory and practice.

    Candy positions his views within constructivism, writing: "Learning consists of the construction of personal meaning and the assimilation of new information, attitudes, and skills into the existing framework of personally meaningful constructs" (1991: xix).

    He then posits that life-long learning needs to be seen as both institutionally housed as well as emergent in the learner's life experiences. He suggests self-directed learning comprises:
    1. interaction among learner and their environment
    2. socially-constructed, iterative adaptations
    3. qualitative reinterpretations of phenomena
    4. interdependent social relationships among learners and the characteristics of and within their environments

    This presages the concept of independent learners situated within connected environments.
  • Mindtools 1993

    David Jonassen

    Jonassen publishes Changes in knowledge structures from building semantic net versus production rule representations of subject content.

    An interesting article that explores the differences in knowledge restructuring using two computer-based technologies, what Jonassen coined as "Mindtools." This is a critical bridge from formal constructivism to the future development of connectivism and ubiquitous learning … Jonassen positions the computer as an interface that places the learner in broader, multiple, and distributed environments.
  • Transformative learning 1998

    John Dirkx

    Dirkx publishes Transformative Learning Theory in the Practice of Adult Education: An Overview.

    I don't claim to be a big proponent of Transformational Learning, but I do like how Dirkx writes about it. He writes from a constructivist vein, suggesting that if meaning-making involves developing solutions to environmental dilemmas, those solutions would depend upon "a full understanding of one's personal situation" which "depends on a deeper understanding of the social, political, and cultural context in which one lives. In order to foster transformative learning we must understand the self of the learner in context."

    For transformative learning "represents a potential that is eternally present within ourselves and our learners. The more I learn about transformative learning the more I regard it as a way of being rather than a process of becoming. As educators, it is a stance we take toward our relationships with learners rather than a strategy that we use on them."
  • Cognitive Load Theory 1998

    John Sweller, Jeroen van Merrienboer, and Fred Paas

    Sweller, van Merrienboer and Paas co-author "Cognitive architecture and instructional design" for Educational Psychology Review

    The authors build upon Seller's concept that expert knowledge resides in complex schemata within longterm memory, and coin the term germane cognitive load as the mental effort expended to construct these schemata.

    The authors posit that up to this point in time, "most work within a cognitive load framework has been concerned with techniques designed to reduce extraneous cognitive load." They argue that "appropriate instructional designs decrease extraneous cognitive load but increase germane cognitive load."
  • Multimedia Learning 2001

    Richard Mayer

    Mayer proposes his Cognitive Multimedia Learning Theory in Multimedia Learning

    Mayer's development of Cognitive Multimedia Learning Theory (CMLT) was groundbreaking. Just as the use of multimedia in online education was exploding, Mayer built upon Paivio's Dual-coding theory, integrated Sweller's concept of memory structures, and showed all of us how to design multimedia to maximize the learning outcomes.

    Mayer believed that sensory information was absorbed by the learner in two different modalities: a verbal modality and a visual modality. These two modalities operate separately allowing much more information to be sensed. The information is briefly apparent in working memory before being integrated with existing schemas. Once reconstructed, the new schemata is stored in long term memory, evidencing deep learning.
  • Connectivism 2004

    George Siemens

    Siemens publishes Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.

    This proceedings paper, along with Downes' An Introduction to Connective Knowledge, established the foundation for Connectivism. Siemens explored the nature of learning and understanding in networked space. In conjunction with Situated Learning, we can now see knowledge creation as situated not just in community experience, but also resident in the nodes and connections of physical, relational, and computational environments. For Siemens, the ability to apprehend and exploit connections between fields, concepts, and ideas is at the core of connected learning.
  • Connectivism 2005

    Stephen Downes

    Downes publishes An Introduction to Connective Knowledge.

    In concert with Siemens, Downes suggests that knowledge is emergent from the realization of interaction among nodes in connected networks. Downes would amplify this later, stating that "the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks” (Downes, 2007).
  • Maker 2013

    Dale Dougherty

    Dougherty authors a chapter, The Maker Mindset, in Honey and Kantner's (eds.) 2013 book Design, make, play : growing the next generation of STEM innovators.

    A key influences in the beginning of the Maker movement, Dougherty uses the term Maker Education for the first time, igniting a minor revolution in classroom teaching techniques. Maker approaches knit together the learning concepts of social interaction, experiential learning, self-identification and correction of error, production of artifacts, as well as peer education.
Take me back to 1725!