From E-pedagogies to M-pedagogies and W-pedagogies

Both in my coursework this week, and in a discussion on the mailing list of Association for Learning Technology, the issue of e-pedagogies came up — pedagogical approaches which are especially well-suited to e-learning (or simply to the use of technology in learning). In the ALT discussion, several frameworks were discussed including Laurillard’s Conversational Framework (Laurillard, 2002) and Salmon’s Five-stage model for E-tivities (Salmon, 2011). Along with these, I recommend Grainne Conole’s Review of pedagogical models and frameworks (Conole, 2010). It is very comprensive, building on earlier an JISC work by Mayes & DeFreitas, Review of e-learning theories, models, and frameworks (Mayes & DeFreitas, 2004).


Figure 1. E-Pedagogies to M-Pedagogies — four perspectives with examples

Conole and also Mayes & DeFreitas recognise three main perspectives as most-cited in e-learning: Associative, Cognitive, and Situative.

The associative perspective emphasises learning which happens when the learner makes new associations and receives feedback to reinforce these associations. This may include the technique of answering questions or responding to flash cards, and receiving feedback on whether it is correct or not. Much computer-based learning was founded on this approach, with programmed instructions teaching routine skills. The cognitive perspective sees learners processing knowledge declared to them until it is in a compiled form. Learners can then perform skills associated with this compiled knowledge. Through repetition the skills become routine to the learner, who can then turn attention to higher levels of new understanding. The constructivist view of learning expressed by Piaget and Vygotsky’s notions of social development fall within the realm of the cognitive perspective (Piaget, 1971)⁠ (Vygotsky, 1978)⁠. The situative perspective sees learning as happening within authentic social environments. Wenger’s notion of the community of practice in which learners develop patterns of successful practice is a situative perspective (Wenger, 1998)⁠.

In subsequent presentations, Conole began to include Connectivism as a fourth perspective. Connectivism was first introduced by George Siemens who saw the process of learning as a network, ever increasing in complexity (Siemens, 2005), and seems to well explain social and participatory learning which happens within social media.

The image in Figure 1 is from a presentation Grainne and I gave at MobiLearnAsia 2013 conference in Singapore (Bird & Conole, 2013). We attempted to bring the four e-pedagogies up to date as mobile pedagogies, or m-pedagogies — pedagogical perspectives well-suited for learning facilitated by mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The green box in each quadrant contains an app or a learning event which is done using mobile devices and which pertains to that quadrant. Today I notice that at least one of the apps (I’m thinking here of Springpad) have since closed down. Also, note that Grainne specifies Constructivist rather than the broader Cognitive perspective.

Today I would like to update and sharpen this model to describe learning I see happening at the University of Leicester Medical School, where first- and second-year undergrads have been given iPads for their learning. I have changed the examples in the green boxes to apps and learning practices actually happening or being planned to happen in the Medical School (with the exception of the Connectivism example which does not currently happen as a formal part of learning but which certainly could be and may be happening as informal learning). And one more update I’ve added — w-pedagogy. W is for wearable. One of my examples will happen by means of Google Glass, which is more wearable than mobile, and so I include w-pedagogy in the image.

M- and W-Pedagogies for Meded

Figure 2. M- and W-Pedagogies for Medical Education

The Connectivist example is one I’ve just discovered recently. #FOAMrad takes the idea of Twitter discussions around Free Open Access Medical Education, and adds a Radiology twist. Radiologists share cases on Twitter and ask a question, and other radiologists reply. (NOTE: My colleague Vikas Shah corrects me on this — in fact anyone shares #FOAMrad cases on Twitter, and anyone replies. 14 April 2015. TB) Some cases are then added to an archive at (NOTE: Again, Vikas corrects and clarifies this for me: “There is no direct connection of the hashtag to Radiopaedia, other than the fact that the prominent Radiopaedians are tweeting most of the stuff. My cases aren’t going on Radiopaedia. Radiopaedia is a huge free wiki type image archive.” Thank you for clarifying, Vikas. 14 April 2015. TB) Figure 3 shows a couple of #FOAMrad tweets from today, 10 January 2015.


Figure 3. #FOAMrad tweets 10 January, 2015

Are there other pedagogical perspectives which you think should be added to the above four? Or do you think any of the four should not be included? Would love to read what you think.

Terese Bird, University of Leicester


Bird, T. and Conole, G. (2013) “From E-Learning to M-Learning,” In From E-Learning to M-Learning, Singapore, [online] Available from: (Accessed 19 February 2014).

Conole, G. (2010) “Paper: Review of pedagogical models and frameworks – Cloudworks,” Cloudworks Wiki, [online] Available from: (Accessed 6 May 2014).

Dixon, A. (2014) “FOAMrad – Free Open Access Radiology Education | Radiology Blog Post |,” Radiopaedia.Org Website, [online] Available from: (Accessed 10 January 2015).

Jean Piaget (1971) “Measurement and Piaget,” In The theory of stages in cognitive development.

Laurillard, D. (2002) Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies, Rethinking university teaching A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies, [online] Available from:

Mayes, T. and DeFreitas, S. (2004) “JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study Stage 2 : Review of e-learning theories , frameworks and models,” JISC Website.

Salmon, G. (2011) E-Moderating: The Key to Teaching & Learning Online (Third Edition, Three. New York and London, Routledge.

Siemens, G. (2005) “Connectivism: Learning as network-creation,” elearnspace, [online] Available from:

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978) Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes, Mind in Society The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, [online] Available from:

Wenger, E. (1998) “Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity,” Systems thinker, 9, pp. 2–3.


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