How Do I See Learning?

Do you ever feel like you are drowning in information and ideas? Dr. Sarah Eaton, instructor of my first graduate level course, described our intensive two-week learning this past summer as “drinking from a fire hose”.  This analogy continues to describe my sense of overload during my second graduate level course on the integration of educational technology.  The overlap of concepts and ideas in  “learning about learning” has at times blurred my vision.  Combine this with my notable discomfort in using Web 2.0 technology, and you have a rather dizzy individual trying to regain some balance.

During the past few weeks I have explored learning theories such as Constructivism, Socio-culturalism, Cognitive Flexibility and Connectivism.  I have also acquiring knowledge and experience using Web 2.0 technologies such as twitter, QR codes, blogging, and online learning through Illuminate-Live. As I try to pull it all together, I am myself engaged in learning processes highlighted in the very things I am learning about.  I am connecting with the ideas of others, constructing knowledge through social media, and utilizing technology as a tool for authentic learning.

In my search for cognitive adhesion, I came across a video by Marc-André Lalande, in which he eloquently describes his own view of learning, as influenced by the ideas of such individuals as Sir Ken Robinson, Salman Khan, Lev Vygotsky, Benjamin Bloom, and Jonathan Bergmann & Aaron Samms.  Lalande describes learning as a convergence between two axes: want/can, and fun/need.  He highlights the non-static nature of learning, acknowledging that what someone wants to learn or what they can learn, shrinks and grows over time.  This interacts with the perception of value in learning – is it something that a learner sees as fun or is it merely learning that is required? I found his inclusion of desire a welcome addition to learning theory, especially as I reflect on my own reasons for pursuing graduate studies in educational technology.  It is not because I necessarily want to, nor do I feel entirely capable.  The primary driving force for me is a sense of need – if I do not learn to integrate technology effectively into my teaching practice, I will not be able to teach effectively in the 21st Century.  Perhaps my struggles in learning are a result of my relative position within Lalande’s ideal intersection of want, can, fun and need.


from Want Can Fun Need, Lalande, 2012

Lalande’s depiction of three hurdles in achieving successful learning resonated with my own beliefs about current issues facing the field of education.  He points to the classroom and bell structure of schools, the assembly line paradigm of education, and the continued prevalence of cognitively non-engaging learning activities as significant barriers to effective learning.  I also concur with Lalande’s statement that “technology integration is not the goal, it is the means to the end,” and support the notion that an entirely new structure for schools is required.

At the end of his video, Lalande poses the question “How do you see learning?”  I am not sure I am ready to pull together my own theory of learning in the same, well-developed manner as Lalande.  But my recipe will likely include many of the ingredients found in Lalande’s video, along with a sprinkling of CFT and Connectivism.

I will continue to work on my recipe, and will keep you posted on my journey.  In the meantime, how do YOU see learning?


Lalande, Marc-André. (2012) Want Can Fun Need. [Video File]. Retrieved September 2012 from

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