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How does digital technology support learning?

Diana Laurillard explains how six learning types can help teachers create online learning experiences.

This video presents a framework to show what it takes to learn in formal education. It is called The Conversational Framework, and it is based on a synthesis of different theories of learning.

It shows how all our conventional teaching and learning methods can be related to one or more of six types of learning:

  • Acquisition;
  • Inquiry;
  • Discussion;
  • Practice;
  • Collaboration;
  • Production.

There are implications here for how we teach. The best possible learning environment will use all six learning types – if you are using them in your teaching, then you know you have covered the Conversational Framework. That is, you have created the conditions necessary for learning to take place.

That’s about as much as we can do as teachers. And thinking about teaching this way takes the emphasis off what the teacher does in the classroom and instead focuses on what the teacher puts in place for learners to experience.

It also helps us think about how to use digital methods. We need to find digital tools that enhance each of the learning types.

The most important reason for using digital methods is to improve the learning experience. So it’s essential to begin by thinking about the most serious problems or challenges we have as teachers and then ask how technology might help.

We can begin with the learning need, and then find out which technology can help. Can we use technology to enable learners to find their own voice, to feel self-confident, to be able to think critically, to be creative, to be able to learn from and with their peers?

For example, independent learning is so important at all ages because the teacher cannot be with their learners all the time. So if this is the experience we want to design for our learners then we need to look for technologies that can serve this goal.


On this Learning Types and Learning Technologies Padlet, you will find 6 columns for each of the 6 learning types. Add a post underneath each learning type with your suggestion for a digital tool that could support that type of learning – you might need to scroll across to find all 6 types!

If you are mentioning specific tools, why not add a link to them too, so other people can investigate? On Padlet, you can create a thumbnail image of a website by clicking on the link icon at the bottom of your post and pasting the url into the box that appears. Then explain why the tool is good for that type of learning.

If you are already using a tool someone else has suggested, rate your experience of the tool by clicking on the stars (1 star = poor, 5 stars = very good) and reply to the post and tell us a bit about your experience with it.

If you can’t think of a digital support, add a conventional technology – this helps us see some of the parallels between old and new technologies for education.

Over to you

Look at others’ suggestions on Padlet.

  • Did you see any suggestions you think you could use? You might want to expand on your own use of these tools, and share any tips for using them.

  • Are there other digital tools you know of that you cannot fit to a learning type? You can also make these suggestions here.

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