Useful links to sites, books, and papers related to learning

Useful books, presentations, and publications

Thought and Language (book)

By Lev S. Vygotsky, 1934, revised and expanded edition, MIT, 2012

“Since it was introduced to the English-speaking world in 1962, Lev Vygotsky’s Thought and Language has become recognized as a classic foundational work of cognitive science. Its 1962 English translation must certainly be considered one of the most important and influential books ever published by the MIT Press. In this highly original exploration of human mental development, Vygotsky analyzes the relationship between words and consciousness, arguing that speech is social in its origins and that only as children develop does it become internalized verbal thought.”

Source: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/thought-and-language

Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes (book)

By Lev S. Vygotsky, 1934, English translation, Harvard, 1978

“The great Russian psychologist L. S. Vygotsky has long been recognized as a pioneer in developmental psychology. But somewhat ironically, his theory of development has never been well understood in the West. Mind in Society should correct much of this misunderstanding. Carefully edited by a group of outstanding Vygotsky scholars, the book presents a unique selection of Vygotsky’s important essays, most of which have previously been unavailable in English.

The Vygotsky who emerges from these pages can no longer be glibly included among the neobehaviorists. In these essays he outlines a dialectical-materialist theory of cognitive development that anticipates much recent work in American social science. The mind, Vygotsky argues, cannot be understood in isolation from the surrounding society. Man is the only animal who uses tools to alter his own inner world as well as the world around him. From the handkerchief knotted as a simple mnemonic device to the complexities of symbolic language, society provides the individual with technology that can be used to shape the private processes of mind. In Mind in Society Vygotsky applies this theoretical framework to the development of perception, attention, memory, language, and play, and he examines its implications for education. The result is a remarkably interesting book that is bound to renew Vygotsky’s relevance to modern psychological thought.”

Source: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674576292

Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools (book)

By Mara Krechevsky, Ben Mardell, Melissa Rivard, and Daniel Wilson, Jossey-Bass, 2013

“Based on the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, Visible Learners highlights learning through interpreting objects and artifacts, group learning, and documentation to make students’ learning evident to teachers. Visible classrooms are committed to five key principles: that learning is purposeful, social, emotional, empowering, and representational. The book includes visual essays, key practices, classroom and examples.

  • Show how to make learning happen in relation to others, spark emotional connections, give students power over their learning, and express ideas in multiple ways
  • Illustrate Reggio-inspired principles and approaches via quotes, photos, student and teacher reflections, and examples of student work
  • Offer a new way to enhance learning using progressive, research-based practices for increasing collaboration and critical thinking in and outside the classroom

Visible Learners asks that teachers look beyond surface-level to understand who students are, what they come to know, and how they come to know it.”

Source: http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-111834569X,descCd-buy.html

Tools for Teaching (book)

By Barbara Gross Davis, 2nd edition, Jossey-Bass, 2009.

“This is the long-awaited update on the best selling book that offers a practical, accessible reference manual for faculty in any discipline. This new edition contains up-to-date information on technology as well as expanding on the ideas and strategies presented in the first edition. It includes more than sixty-one chapters designed to improve the teaching of beginning, mid-career, or senior faculty members. The topics cover both traditional tasks of teaching as well as broader concerns, such as diversity and inclusion in the classroom and technology in educational settings.”

Source: http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0787965677.html

Self-Directed Learning: A Guide for Learners and Teachers (book)

By Malcolm S. Knowles, Cambridge, 1975

With a self-explanatory title, it comes in three sections:

For the learner

  • Why self-directed learning?
  • What is self-directed learning?
  • What competencies are required for self-directed learning?
  • Designing a learning plan.

For the teacher

  • Setting a climate
  • Defining a new role
  • Developing self-directed learners
  • Implementing the role of facilitator


  • General
  • Climate setting and relationship building
  • Diagnosing learning needs
  • Formulating objectives
  • Using learning strategies and resources
  • Evaluation
  • The learning contract

This book appears to be out of print but can be found at many second-hand book shops and online book merchants’ sites.

Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning (book)

By Stephen D. Brookfield, Jossey-Bass, 1986

This book analyzes current approaches to adult learning and presents a comprehensive review of the research on how adults learn.

Table of Contents

  1. Adult Learners: Motives for Learning and Implications for Practice
  2. Understanding How Adults Learn
  3. Exploring Self-Directedness in Learning
  4. Facilitating Self-Directed Learning
  5. Andragogy: Alternative Interpretations and Applications
  6. The Facilitator’s Role in Adult Learning
  7. Learning in Informal Settings
  8. Learning in Formal Settings
  9. Program Development for Adults: Challenging the Institutional Approach
  10. Structuring Programs Around Learners’ Needs and Abilities
  11. Evaluating Learning and Its Facilitation
  12. Facilitating Learning: Toward Guidelines for Good Practice

Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods (website)

By Graham Gibbs, 1988

“The relationship between theory and its practical applications has been at the top of the education and training agenda for a decade or so. Traditionally, teachers have seen it as their job to teach learners how to apply theory, which they may well have learned in a very different context, either on the job, or in some practically contrived context which simulates aspects of the real world experience.

However, as this manual suggests, this may be to put the cart before the horse, since many, if not most, learners seem to benefit from being able to draw on their experience through opportunities for reflection and concept development, and to reapply to new experience what has become a much clearer understanding based on competence of which they can truly claim ownership. The suggestion is therefore that learners ought to be using practice in order to develop and test theory and not the other way round.”

Source: http://www2.glos.ac.uk/gdn/gibbs/foreward.htm

Communities of Inquiry (website)

“An educational community of inquiry is a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.

The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements – social, cognitive and teaching presence.

Social presence is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.” (Garrison, 2009)

Teaching Presence  is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001).

Cognitive Presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001).

Source: https://coi.athabascau.ca/coi-model/

Communities of Practice

“The term “community of practice” is of relatively recent coinage, even though the phenomenon it refers to is age-old. The concept has turned out to provide a useful perspective on knowing and learning. A growing number of people and organizations in various sectors are now focusing on communities of practice as a key to improving their performance.”

Source: http://www.ewenger.com/theory/index.htm

ALE 2011 Dave Snowden – Complex Adaptive Systems (video)

Language is a complex adaptive system (Nick C. Ellis, Diane Larsen-Freeman, Richard Blythe, et al). As such, managing learners on their journeys through second language acquisition is particularly complex and traditional systems management approaches, applied in the classroom, seem to be ineffective in many cases.

“Dave Snowden and Cognitive Edge are the foremost thinkers and rejuvenators of the muddy field of management practises that over the years have become stagnant and rigid, and have failed to meet the requirements of today’s complex social business practises and needs. Head and shoulders above others in terms of leveraging sound cross-disciplinary theory, and being able to formulate a coherent novel approach for sense-making and research with practical, scalable applicability.”

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTZKVlP2un8

Here’s a 3 minute introduction to his version of applied complexity theory, “How to organise a Children’s Party”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Miwb92eZaJg Please note that he has a particularly wry, dry sense of humour!

Alfie Kohn (website)

Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. The author of twelve books and scores of articles, he lectures at education conferences and universities as well as to parent groups and corporations. Kohn’s criticisms of competition and rewards have been widely discussed and debated, and he has been described in Time magazine as “perhaps the country’s most outspoken critic of education’s fixation on grades [and] test scores.”

Source: http://www.alfiekohn.org/index.php

Kohn’s ideas on education would currently be described as progressive and have been influenced by the works of John Dewey and Jean Piaget. He believes in a constructivist account of learning in which the learner is seen as actively making meaning rather than absorbing information, and he argues that knowledge should be taught “in a context and for a purpose.” Kohn has also written that learning should be organized around “problems, projects, and questions — rather than around lists of facts, skills, and separate disciplines.” Along with this belief, Kohn feels that students should have an active voice in the classroom with the ability to have a meaningful impact on the curriculum, structure of the room, and any necessary discipline measures, among other things.

Kohn has been critical of several aspects of traditional schooling. Classroom management and discipline are, in Kohn’s view, focused more on eliciting compliance than on helping students become caring, responsible problem-solvers. He has also denounced the effects of the test-driven “accountability” movement — in general, but particularly on low-income and minority students — arguing that “the more poor children fill in worksheets on command (in an effort to raise their test scores), the further they fall behind affluent kids who are more likely to get lessons that help them understand ideas.” More recently, Kohn has been critical of the place homework holds in the American classroom, noting that research does not support claims of any benefit to homework, academically or otherwise.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfie_Kohn

Seymour Papert (Website)

“At MIT, Seymour Papert created the Epistemology and Learning Research Group at the MIT Architecture Machine Group which later became the MIT Media Lab. Here, he was the developer of an original and highly influential theory on learning called constructionism, built upon the work of Jean Piaget in Constructivism learning theories. Papert worked with Jean Piaget at the University of Geneva from 1958 to 1963 and is widely considered the most brilliant and successful of Piaget’s protégés; Piaget once said that “no one understands my ideas as well as Papert.” Papert has rethought how schools should work based on these theories of learning.”

Source: Wikipedia.org

Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching (book)

By Jeff Stanford, Packt Publishing, 2009

This book demystifies Moodle and provides you with answers to your queries. It helps you create engaging online language learning activities using the Moodle platform. It has suggestions and fully working examples for adapting classroom activities to the Virtual Learning Environment.

This book breaks down the core components of a typical language syllabus – speaking, pronunciation, listening, reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar, and assessment – and shows you how to use Moodle 1.9 to create complete, usable activities that practise them. Each chapter starts with activities that are easier to set up and progresses to more complex ones. Nevertheless, it’s a recipe book so each activity is independent. We start off with a brief introduction to Moodle so that you’re ready to deal with those specific syllabus topics, and conclude with building extended activities that combine all syllabus elements, making your course attractive and effective. Building activities based on the models in this book, you will develop the confidence to set up your own Moodle site with impressive results.

Source: http://www.packtpub.com/moodle-1-9-for-second-language-teaching/book

Moodle 1.9 Teaching Techniques (book)

By Susan Smith Nash, William Rice, Packt Publishing, 2010

This book brings together step-by-step, easy-to-follow instructions and learning theory to give you new tools and new power with Moodle. It will show you how to connect with your online students, and how and where they develop an enthusiastic, open, and trusting relationship with their fellow students and with you, their instructor. With this book, you’ll learn to get the best from Moodle.

This book helps you develop good, solid, dynamic courses that will last by making sure that your instructional design is robust, and that they are built around satisfying learning objectives and course outcomes. With this book, you’ll have excellent support and step-by-step guidance for putting together courses that incorporate your choice of the many features that Moodle offers. You will also find the best way to create effective assessments, and how to create them for now and in the future. The book will also introduce you to many modules, which you can use to make your course unique and create an environment where your students will get maximum benefit. In addition, you will learn how you can save time and reuse your best ideas by taking advantage of Moodle’s unique features.

Source: http://www.packtpub.com/moodle-1-9-teaching-techniques/book


All journals listed here must be open access and not require any membership or enrolment in order to view them. If you know of any more, please let me know.



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Source: http://www.englishteacherwebsites.com/index.html

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