Define learning

My search on defining learning led to a host of learning theories that define learning in different ways. Depending what is entered into the search engine i.e. learning, learning styles, learning theories, learning methodologies, learning frameworks,

My Google search – Google serves up different results with information pertaining an overview of these many theories. The list below show some of the most common theories.

  • Behaviourist Theories
  • Cognitive Theories
  • Constructivist Theories
  • Descriptive Theories
  • Design Theories & Models
  • Humanist Theories
  • Identity Theories
  • Learning Theories & Models
  • Motivation Theories
  • Paradigms and Perspectives
  • Social Learning Theories

My Google Scholar search – using the same search terms will provide a very different set of results and as the term Scholar denotes, the results provide scholarly papers and links to journals of the various theories and research in the subject.

My OU Library search – using the same terms in the OU library is very different again and tricky if searching by subject, as learning potentially comes under a host of sub titles in the education section. Either way, the search will produce countless papers on the subject and the content is likely to contain heavyweight peer-reviewed theories that are well respected in academia. This search is unlike Google or Scholar as it takes time and some knowledge of the subject and author to produce fruitful results. I would argue the searches in the OU Library are excellent for well-oiled academics use to searching in this manner and familiar with the protocol these type of databases use. But to the everyday student at undergraduate level, the searches are mind blowing and ‘one visit to a journal database is one too many’ given their archaic and clumbersome nature. Week 1 reading (Teaching/reaching the Net Generation and The Google Generation) support this argument and I don’t think it will goes away quietly.

screen grab of OU Library
OU Library search online collections by subject

My own definition (shown below) of learning fits into a number of my found learning results, only the terminology is different.

Observation – using my senses to find out new things

Experimenting – playing, trying something out and responding or making associations to my acquired knowledge and to explore further using this knowledge

Participation – using knowledge to participate with other things such as other technologies, environments or people

Collaboration – working, sharing, communicating and interacting in joint ventures with or without people


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