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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Learning, Knowledge, and Human Development

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Coursera


This course sets out to provide an understanding of theories of learning and development and how these theories relate to educational technology. It has two components. The first is theoretical, in which we attempt to develop an overall frame of reference, locating approaches to the psychology of learning in terms of large paradigm shifts, from ‘behaviorism’ to ‘brain developmentalism’ to ‘social cognitivism’. The second component is practical, in which we will use these theoretical concepts to ‘parse’ a technology-mediated learning environment for its underlying presuppositions.

Recommended Background

This course is designed for people interested in the future of education and the "learning society," including people who may wish to join education as a profession, practicing teachers interested in exploring future directions for a vocation that is currently undergoing transformation, and community and workplace leaders who regard their mission to be in part "educative."

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Take this Course for Credit at the University of Illinois

This course has the same content and anticipates the same level of contribution by students in the Assessment for Learning course offered to graduate certificate, masters, and doctoral level students in the Learning Design and Leadership Program in the College of Education at the University of Illinois.

Of course, in the nature of MOOCs many people will just want to view the videos and casually join some of the discussions. Some people say that these limited kinds of participation offer evidence that MOOCs suffer from low retention rates. Far from it – we say that any level of engagement is good engagement.

On the other hand, if you would like to take this course for credit at the University of Illinois, you will find more information about our program here:

And you can apply here:

The Learning Design and Leadership Series of MOOCs

This course is one of a series of eight MOOCs created by Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis for the Learning Design and Leadership program at the University of Illinois. If you find this MOOC helpful, please join us in others!

e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age

New Learning: Principles and Patterns of Pedagogy

Assessment for Learning

Learning, Knowledge, and Human Development

Ubiquitous Learning and Instructional Technologies

Negotiating Learner Differences: Towards Productive Diversity in Learning

Literacy Teaching and Learning: Aims, Approaches and Pedagogies

Multimodal Literacies: Communication and Learning in the Era of Digital Media


  • COURSE ORIENTATION + Foundations of Educational Psychology
    • This course sets out to provide an introduction to educational psychology. It includes a variety of voices and perspectives from the College of Education at the University of Illinois. Mary Kalantzis and Bill Cope offer a historical and conceptual overview of the field, classified broadly under the terms "behaviorism," "brain developmentalism," and "social cognitivism." This is followed by four quite different practical examples of educational psychology at work. Dorothy Espelage discusses her work on the social and emotional conditions of learning in her research into bullying at school. Denice Hood gives an example of the application of psychology to educational counseling. George Reese speaks about "productive struggle" in learning. And finally, Joe Robinson-Cimpian discusses the application of quantitative psychology to analyze test results for the purposes of school and curricular placement.
  • Brain Developmentalism and Social Cognitivism
    • In this module, we explore the main theories and theorists in approaches to educational psychology that we call "brain developmentalism" and "social cognitivism."
  • Social and Emotional Conditions of Learning and Student Development
    • This module and the following one present four leading educational psychologists from the University of Illinois demonstrating the range of applications of educational psychology. In this module, Dorothy Espelage explores the socio-emotional conditions of learning, with a particular focus on her research into bullying. Then, Denice Hood discusses student development.
  • Productive Struggle in Learning and Quantitative Psychology
    • Two more, quite varied applications of educational psychology: George Reese discusses productive struggle, and Joe Robinson-Cimpian the application of quantitative educational psychology at a systems level.

Taught by

Dr William Cope and Dr Mary Kalantzis


4.5 rating at Coursera based on 173 ratings

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