A meta-model for learning

I recently read an article which described a conceptual framework for mediated environments (Childs 2010). The model augments Activity Theory (Cole, Engeström et al. 1997) (subject, objected, Mediating Artefacts, division of labour, community, and rules and conventions), with two aspects of  Wenger’s Community of Practice (Wenger 1998) (presence and identity) (Figure 1).

merm.jpg Figure 1

The paper reminded me of the meta-model for learning (Figure 2) we developed about ten years ago (Conole, Dyke et al. 2004). The model consists of three dimensions of learning:

  • Learning individually or learning sociably
  • Learning through information or through experience
  • Non-reflective versus reflection learning. 


Figure 2

Non-reflective learning needs unpacking. If I am driving across America, sub-consciously I am learning about American culture. If I am sitting in a bar in Spain, I am improving my Spanish through the conversations going on around me. It is what Jarvis calls ‘pre-conscious’ learning.

The model can be used in two ways. Firstly, as a means of mapping an activity using a particular tool. For example a reflective blog would be individual, experience-based and reflective, whereas a group blog aggregating resources for a course would be social, information based and reflective. Secondly, it can be used to map different pedagogical models. Three examples are illustrated in Figures 3-5. 


Figure 3






 Figure 4slide4.jpg

 Figure 5



Childs, M. (2010). “A conceptual framework for mediated environments.” Educational Researcher 52(2).

Cole, M., Y. Engeström, et al. (1997). Mind, culture, and activity: Seminal papers from the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, Cambridge Univ Pr.           

Conole, G., M. Dyke, et al. (2004). “Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design.” Computers and Education 43(1-2): 17-33.

Wenger, E. (1998). “Communities of practice: Learning as a social system.” Systems thinker 9(5): 1–5.