Learning Theories: The Role of Epistemology, Science, and Technology

  • Linda HarasimEmail author
Living reference work entry


Scientific theories emerged in the nineteenth century to explain natural and social phenomena and became the basis for the twentieth century theories of learning: Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. Behaviorism and cognitivism were based on an objectivist epistemology emphasizing an absolute “truth,” efficiency, and the superiority of technology; constructivist learning theory was based on an epistemology of progressive change, knowledge building, and human agency. The rise of educational computing and computer networking in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries sharpened epistemological and pedagogical differences: objectivist epistemologies emphasized the role of technology to replace human teachers. Learning theories based on constructivist epistemologies also emerged, emphasizing the role of technology to augment rather than replace human intelligence. Online collaborative learning theory, later renamed collaborativism, is the major learning theory and pedagogy that argues for technology to advance rather than replace human agency and provides empirical evidence of augmenting human learning in the digital age.


Behaviourism Cognitivism Constructivism Constructivist Epistemology Connectionism Connectivism Collaborativism Learning Theory Technology Online Learning Education Theory Epistemology Pedagogy Discourse Educators Science, Scientific Thought or Scientific Epistemology Metaphysical Thought or Metaphysical Epistemology Positivism Conditioning Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning Artificial Intelligence Augmented Human Intelligence Computer Networking Machine Learning MOOCs Objectivist Epistemology Open AI Facebook Google Apple Microsoft Pavlov Watson Thorndike Skinner Piaget Vygotsky Siemens Downes 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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