Despite our similarities, no two people are the same, nor are two brains that operate in the same way. We understand that learning styles can be different from one person to another. You will recall that during our academic journey, theories were taught to us through writing and documentation. With technological advancement, it is now possible to bring a certain dynamism to the learning of ideas. Despite the obsolete nature that some attribute to the use of learning theories, we consider that it is particularly relevant to address the usefulness of these in the digital age to optimize your training programs and the performance of your employees. This article will clarify what learning theories are and show you how they are helpful in a training program.
What is a Theory?
First, it is important to understand the notion of “theory” to grasp the essence of learning theories. A theory represents a set of concepts and ideas, relatively organized, intended to explain and detail a collection of facts related to a particular field. Much like a cookbook, it helps us analyze, better understand, and clarify situations to be considered a whole.
What about Learning Theories?
As we have mentioned, it can be challenging to understand how knowledge acquisition works since everyone has a different way of absorbing information. The quality of learning depends on quantity, clarity, organization, and knowledge acquired previously. Learning theories, therefore, aim to clarify the course of the learning process. More precisely, according to Bien Enseigné,
« [They are] an organized set of principles explaining how individuals acquire, retain and recall knowledge during the learning experience. »
Learning theories, therefore, make it possible to understand the cognitive and metacognitive processes dedicated to integrating information. Here are some variations.
Cognitivism asserts that learning is a series of information transformations through different structures of the brain. Learning is therefore not necessarily perceived in behaviour, nor is it intentional, unlike behaviourism.
Constructivism indicates that each individual actively constructs their knowledge while building on their prior knowledge. It is then a matter of reorganizing the known information with the help of the newly acquired information.
Socio-constructivism asserts that learning is the result of experimentation, discovery and social interactions. Therefore, the social component plays an important role knowing that the integration of new knowledge depends on the cultural and social environment.
Connectivism draws on the theories above to describe the importance of new information sciences and technologies resources in the learning process. It highlights the many cognitive tasks that can be delegated technologically.
According to behaviourism, all observable behaviours are conditioned by reflexes in response to the environment. Learning is therefore explained by the principle that these reflective mechanisms teach new things necessary for our adaptation.
In the Digital Age
Instead, it is about using existing theories of learning and applying them to your technological use to achieve better educational outcomes in the digital age. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each learning theory, trainers can combine and apply an amalgamation of these theories that best meet the needs of their learners.
An Opportunity to Seize
Learning theories represent an opportunity for training designers in the digital age to provide a conceptual framework for interpreting the observations of their learners. This notion helps contextualize and organize the ideas to be shared to make it easier to retain them. Theories also offer guidelines for finding solutions to problems or even anticipating them. This makes it even more attractive to use learning theories when designing digital training courses, knowing that they have the power to optimize them. Setting up a training course based on such theories makes it possible to predict its success, even before implementation. Learning theories have the power to revolutionize training programs.
Even today, when it comes to teaching techniques, learning theories are crucial. As an instructor in the digital age, it is essential to know precisely the needs to be met when building training. There isn’t one suitable education method, applicable everywhere and always, but a variety of strategies, depending on the topics, times and learners. Educational planning is always dependant on an analysis of the situation. While everyone has their way of learning, understanding and recording information, ideally, all learning should be successful.