RIED: Revista Iberoamericana de Educación a Distancia (Jan 2018)

Constructivism and connectivism in education technology: Active, situated, authentic, experiential, and anchored learning

  • João Mattar

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21, no. 2
pp. 201 – 217


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The main objectives of this theoretical paper are to compare some constructivist-related learning theories and explore how they can be adequately used in educational technology and distance education. After a brief introduction, constructivism is defined as a general philosophy of education encompassing several different learning theories. The article then presents and discusses the following theories: situated cognition, activity theory, experiential learning, anchored instruction, and authentic learning. Connectivism or distributed learning is also presented as a new and important theory, including its pedagogical view and practice in massive open online courses (MOOCs). These theories are then organized in a coherent way, classified under the constructivist umbrella, pointing their common and distinctive features. Connectivism is positioned as a new philosophy of education for the digital age, making Vygotsky’s concept of zone of proximal development (ZPD) more flexible and stretching it to include learning that lies outside the learner, in social networks and technological tools. The text finally proposes further work on how these theories can be properly combined and used as frameworks for constructivist projects and activities in the fields of educational technology and distance education. The article is based on the search and review of peer-reviewed articles on constructivism, connectivism, the other aforementioned theories, and education technology and distance education.