E-Learning Pedagogy: The Situative Perspective Part 3

June 13, 2014

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We’ve reviewed the associative and cognitive perspectives of e-learning pedagogy in the two previous posts of this series. In this final post, we’ll take a look at the situative perspective.

Situative Learning

This perspective sees learning as directly linked to real life situations, social participation, and interpersonal relationships—learning by making topics meaningful through social practice.

What does that Mean?

Situative teaching methods involve imitation, modeling, and collaborative construction of knowledge. In an online environment, this depends heavily on social platforms.

Related Models and Frameworks

Activity Theory

Activity theory focuses on context—the setting an idea exists within—as the key to finding meaning in any activity. The theory identifies eight parameters that play a role in activity-based learning:

  1. Activity of interest
  2. The objective
  3. The subjects
  4. Tools
  5. Rules and regulations
  6. Divisions of labour
  7. Community
  8. Outcome

Communities of Practice

This theory has four main aspects which help guide different, interconnected parts of learning:

  1. Learning as community (belonging)
  2. Learning as identity (becoming)
  3. Learning as meaning (experiences)
  4. Learning as practice (doing)

E-Moderating Model

This model is specific to e-learning, and describes the stages of increasing competence in participation in an online community, such as a discussion forum, blog comments, or social network:

  1. Access and motivation (setting up the system, accessing it)
  2. Online socialization (sending and receiving messages)
  3. Information exchange (searching for content, personalizing system preferences)
  4. Knowledge and construction (conferencing with other participants)
  5. Development (providing links and content outside conferences)


This approach emphasizes the connected, networked learning that e-learning environments provide. It addresses the question: How does learning change when technology induces information overload and replaces many basic tasks people previously performed? Components of this viewpoint include:

  • Learning concepts (such as data, information, and wisdom)
  • Dimensions of learning (learning about, learning to do, learning where, etc)
  • Filters (values, beliefs, and perspectives)
  • Conduits (language, media, and technology)

Online Communities

This framework helps establish and support online communities around two dimensions:

  1. Sociability: purpose, people, and policy
  2. Usability: social support, navigation, access

How is this Applied in E-Learning?

In applying situative pedagogy in an e-learning environment, social platforms and wikis can be used for shared knowledge banks and social media can be used to collect feedback and adapt learning content concurrent with learner progress. All of these tools can be used to enhance and develop community among learners.

How to Use Pedagogical Models when Developing Virtual Courses

Models and frameworks can be used:

  • To guide the design process for individual learning activities or whole learning environments,
  • As guides for students to help them understand and guide them through the learning process, and
  • As a way to review and understand teaching practices currently deployed.

They are particularly useful in an e-learning environment because, though technology enables educators to reach students in more and new ways, it also adds a deeper level of abstraction to the learning process. Pedagogical models can help us understand what that abstraction looks like and means—how and why we succeed in teaching and learning online.

Based on Gráinne Conole’s Review of pedagogical models and their use in e-learning.


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