The theory of situated learning: what it is and what it offers in education

Pedagogy is a science that continues to develop and study new theories to better understand the processes underlying teaching.

Among them is situated learning theory, Associated with a methodology that we will analyze in detail in these lines to know its functioning, its main characteristics and its differences with the methods traditionally used.

    What is situational learning theory?

    Localized learning theory offers a different way of understanding the way we acquire knowledge. According to this, the key underlying this methodology would be the social environment in which the learning itself takes place. The opposite view would be the traditional one, which sees learning as a process in which an individual acquires knowledge in a propositional way.

    In this sense, the key to this way of understanding pedagogy would be the socio-cultural context, because this would be the engine that would move teaching and give meaning to the name of situated learning theory, as he situates it. literally. student, of his daily environment, rather than limiting himself to talking about teaching subjects in an abstract way or simply about paper.

    Another key to situational learning theory is the importance of doing cooperative work, Since projects are carried out by working as a team with a group of peers, thus making it easier for some to learn from others. This methodology promotes collaborative working styles and improves relationships between project members.

    The theory of situated learning was proposed by Etienne Wenger and Jean Renteu within the framework of communities of practice. These authors saw this concept as the social procedure by which knowledge was built between different participants through their own practice in the context to which that knowledge belongs.

    It is a revolutionary vision with the classic scheme of masters and apprentices. According to this new paradigm, students would actively participate in the acquisition and creation of knowledge, As they would do through social practice, which is inseparable from this whole procedure. Renti and Wenger set an example of new members of a community of practice and how they gradually interact, being part of the group, learning and teaching at the same time.

      Components of situated learning theory

      Author William Rankin says that in learning theory a number of things are essential. Below we can see each of them.

      1. Knowledge content

      Obviously, in every learning process there has to be some knowledge involved. The content of this knowledge would be the first fundamental factor. In that case it is not a theoretical content that the learner must memorize and then be assessed, But you have to learn in a practical way, thanks to its useful application.

      2. Situational context

      This application must take place in a specific situational context. It will be this environment that will facilitate the acquisition of knowledge according to the theory of situated learning. It is through the context that the student will be able to have the necessary experience in relation to the learning in question..

      3. Community of participants

      The situated learning process takes place within a community. Through, different students will be able to develop their own experiences and also learn from those of others through a process of interaction between them all.

      4. Participation process

      The final element that constitutes the theory of situated learning is the participation itself. It is through participation as students exchange ideas and opinions and thus build knowledge among all.

        The keys to this type of learning

        If we are to get the most out of situation learning theory, there are a number of tips that different authors have provided to consider. Let’s go over some of the most important.

        1. Place thought in problems

        The learning process begins when there are individuals who have encountered a problem and are trying to solve it.. As in situational learning, students face real problems, they will acquire knowledge throughout the decision-making process. This process is also social, it takes place in the company of other people who also participate in it.

        Authors like Hung argue that the potential for students’ thought processes to focus on concrete and real problems must be taken into account, as this will enable them to implement elaborate cognitive processes that will lead to better knowledge generation.

        2. Take ICT into account

        Information and communication technologies are an integral part of our daily life and, as such, we must value them in the processes linked to the theory of situated learning. The authors Collins and Halverson appreciate these technologies to improve the possible forms of interaction between the participants. of the community involved in the learning.

        They even enhance the usefulness of video games as tools for creating virtual learning environments that allow students to expose themselves to a wide variety of contexts without having to leave the classroom.

        3. Educators trained in the digital age

        But it is of little use to have all these technological means intended to improve the learning process if the teachers or those in charge of leading this process are not familiar with the devices or programs to be used. for that it is essential that teachers are aware of all these elements and integrate them correctly into the curriculum.

        The more realistic the digital environment that the teacher offers to the student, the more likely he is to transfer the acquired knowledge in everyday contexts, thus improving the acquisition of knowledge. It’s a great way to generate practice before taking on the world of work.

        4. Constant learning

        Another key that accompanies the theory of situational learning is that this learning does not end at the end of the training, But you have to keep practicing it in order to improve yourself more and more. The more the pupil is confronted with problems, whether real or virtual, the more he will generate new ideas and the easier it will be in the future for him to find the solution to new challenges in this field or in fields. similar.

        5. Online education

        In line with the use of ICT, more and more educational centers are taking advantage of the benefits of Internet education. But do not make the mistake of bombarding the student with isolated theoretical content, divided by themes. Instead, the content should be exposed as completely interrelated parts. They should not be viewed as small, unrelated activities.

        The training offer via the Internet is increasingly rich and accessible to all. But to be effective and take advantage of the concepts of learning theory, it must meet the criteria just described.

        6. The new paradigm of work

        Some time ago, companies chose to acquire theoretical manuals developed by a third party in order to train employees on certain issues. On the contrary, communities of practice are being created today and the theory of situated learning is used, generating knowledge among the workers themselves through their ideas and experiences and making an active process shared by all.

        So instead of being bombarded with a huge amount of theoretical content, much of which may not be used later, they will learn in a real and practical contextExactly the knowledge and skills they need to effectively perform their tasks in the workplace.

        7. The usefulness of blogs

        Blogs and other digital tools can be powerful allies for students in their knowledge building through situational learning theory. Have to write on a subject, they must document it, Go through a research process and also learn to use different tools. In addition, if this process is done as a team, it is even more powerful.

        8. Creating projects

        The creation of projects this is another way to take full advantage of the theory of situated learning. Thanks to the projects, we will bring the students to go further and put into practice all the knowledge acquired, bringing them closer to the real context they would have in the work environment for which these courses are intended.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Anderson, JR, Reder, LM, Simon, HA (1996). Learning and education located. Education researcher.
        • Lave, J., Wenger, E. (1991). Learning in situation: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press.
        • Niemeyer, B. (2006). Situational learning: an opportunity to escape the deficit approach. Education magazine.
        • Sagástegui, D. (2004). A commitment to culture: learning in situ. Synectics, Electronic Journal of Education.

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