Learning Theories

Bloom's TaxonomyThe design of a successful online course is very dependent upon the teaching and learning strategies that a faculty member employs. The resources below provide a broad array of strategies that may help you with the development or refinement of a course.

Many online courses are often built upon the principles of constructivist theory which states that we construct new knowledge as we are actively engaged in learning and that learning is tied to past experiences. Being involved in your own learning is often referred to as Active Learning.

As more formally described in the book, Constructivism in Practice:

“Constructivism suggests that learners are particularly likely to make new ideas when they are actively engaged in making some type of external artifact—be it a robot, a poem, a sand castle, or a computer program—which they can reflect upon and share with others. Thus, constructivism involves two intertwined types of construction: the construction of knowledge in the context of building personally meaningful artifacts.” (Kafai and Resnick, 1996, Introduction)

Additional Sources

  • The Community of Inquiry framework is a constructivist model that focuses on the development of a community in online learning and there are three essential elements to a satisfying educational experience: Cognitive Presence, Social Presence and Teaching Presence.
  • Mode Neutral Pedagogy is a set of teaching and learning principles that shifts the control and responsibility for learning to the student. The model attempts to define and create one learning experience regardless of learner location: on-ground or online.
  • Connectivism has been called a ‘learning theory for the digital age.’ It seeks to overcome the perceived limitations of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. The theory embraces and accounts for the utilization of technology on our learning.
  • Blooms taxonomy seeks to organize educational objectives according to cognitive complexity (evaluate, analyze, comprehend, etc.) which in turn would provide a more concrete way to assess students and and educational outcomes.

The taxonomy was recently updated/revised and places create, rather than evaluate, as the highest order and the term knowledge has been renamed to remember.


Below is a list of links to resources that will be helpful to you as you design your online courses.