Design of Innovative Learning Environment: An Activity System Perspective

  • Juhong Christie LiuEmail author
Living reference work entry


Effective learning takes place in social, cultural, and historical contexts and consists of activities beyond mere dissemination and acquisition of content knowledge. Teaching and learning practice and research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and humanities education, inquiries into educational reforms, and exploration in newer instructional strategies have demonstrated the needs of refreshing perspectives in learning environment design (Freeman et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci 111(23):8410–8415, 2014; Jonassen, Educ Technol Res Dev 48(4):63–85, 2000; Wouters et al., J Educ Psychol 105(2):249–265, 2013). The demand and complexity are accompanied with ever evolving technologies. Related social-cultural changes constantly challenge professionals in instructional design (ID) to take an interdisciplinary and adaptive lens. Experiences in medical education, e-learning design, teacher education, sports coaching, and human-computer interaction have revealed the value and potential of Activity Theory (AT) in the analysis, design, and deployment of transformed learning environments (Benson, Br J Educ Technol 39(3):456–467, 2008; Engeström, J Educ Work 14(1):133–156, 2001; Jones, Sport Educ Soc 21(2), 2016; Kuutti K, Activity theory as a potential framework for human-computer interaction research. In: Nardi BA (ed) Context and consciousness: activity theory and human-computer interaction. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 17–44, 1996; Lazarou, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(5):424–439, 2011). This chapter focuses on the design possibilities of analyzing the characteristics of and reconfiguring the key components in an activity system (AS), including Subject and Object, Tools/Resources, Rules, Division of Labor/Roles, and Community to creatively design an innovative learning environment (ILE). Drawing upon the association between AS and ILE, the author will provide ID recommendations based on the analysis of major AS components.


Activity theory (AT) Activity system (AS) Innovative learning environment (ILE) Instructional design (ID) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.James Madison UniversityHarrisonburgUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Lin Lin
    • 1
  • Bernadette Sibuma
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Learning Technologies, College of InformationUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA
  2. 2.Learning and Teaching DivisionEducation Development CenterWalthamUSA

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