Document Type

Book Chapter


Idea Group Inc.


Education and Arts


Education and Arts


This chapter was originally published as: McLoughlin, C., & Luca, J. (2006). Applying situated learning theory to the creation of learning environments to enhance socialization and self-regulation. In T. Herrington & J. Herrington (Eds.), Authentic Learning Environments in Higher Education. Hershey: Idea Group Inc.Original chapter available here.


Although much effort is devoted to investigating the use of technology to teach course content, an emerging area of some importance in online teaching is how to enhance the student experience of learning and communicating online. Associated with this is the creation of social and supportive environments for learning when there is little face-to-face contact between distance learners and their teachers. An examination of the literature on authentic learning suggests that there are a variety of frameworks and approaches on how to foster positive learning experiences through online delivery. While there are many frameworks that emphasise the cognitive aspects of learning, it is clear that the socio-affective aspects are of equal importance in creating a positive learning experience for students. Two approaches that balance cognitive and social aspects of learning are: the creation of online knowledge building community, and Social Presence Theory which emphasises interpersonal and social strategies that reduce psychological and physical distance between teachers and students. By synthesising findings from these two areas of research, this chapter provides a framework and a set of strategies that can be used to create an authentic learning climate, and illustrates a range of tasks that create positive social, learning experiences.

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