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Social Approaches to Learning

COURSE:  ETEC 512, Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction, Course Description


TITLE:  Social Approaches to Learning



To work as part of a group to coordinate one of the ETEC 512 course modules by presenting the topic and the readings.  To link the theoretical ideas presented to an actual learning context.  To coordinate, moderate and bring closure to the discussion for the week.  To design interactive activities for clarifying the readings and to allow for inclusive participation.


ETEC 512 was my first course in the MET program.  I was very grateful to work with a group of veterans; Fetya Ahmed, Nancy Castonguay, Andrew Jevne and Paul Klintworth for this group project.  As a group, our task was to read and interpret the course readings on Social Approaches to Learning, specifically, Situated Cognition, Distributed Cognition and Activity Theory.  My role in this project was to research and create the content for our section on Situated Cognition.  Each section also had interactivities in order to demonstrate each approach to learning in a practical way.  We developed our project using Google Sites.

Through this project and my research, I was introduced to Lave and Wenger’s work on Communities of Practice (CoP).  Wenger (as cited in Smith, 2003, 2009) defines a community of practice as groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.  Being in my first course, I found the discussions around CoPs very interesting as it brought up the fact that in some groups we are core members and in others, we are on the periphery, as I was in 512.  As the program went on, I gained more confidence, and I found myself being more at the core of each course, able to help and mentor newer students to the program.

As teachers design their instruction around the UDL model, I would argue that it is important to keep the principles of CoPs in mind, as some students may be at the core of the class, while others work in the periphery.  As a teacher striving to provide a flexible learning environment, I believe it is important to design learning activities where each student can experience the core and the periphery of the CoP at some or multiple points of the school year.


Social Approaches to Learning


representation & expression

UDL Guidelines:

  • 1.1 Offer ways of customizing the display of information
  • 5.1 Use multiple media for communication
  • 5.2 Use multiple tools for construction and composition

Google Sites is a tool that could be used by both students and teachers.  Students could use this web tool to create websites for individual or group projects and teachers could use Google Sites to communicate and display the information that they are teaching.  After having had this first group project experience with Google Sites, I created this site: “Petits Astronautes” for my grade one French Immersion class.  I used it to present the content of the unit on the SMART Board in our classroom and to have students work through different interactivities using the SMART Board.




Smith, M. K. (2003, 2009) ‘Communities of practice’, the encyclopedia of informal


representation    |     expression    |     engagement