There are many way to refer to a field of research that focuses on what makes learning happen. How do we learn? How is our learning affected by our body, our tools and materials, our resources, our relationships or our environment? How do these factors all come together to shape what and how we learn? These questions are complex and not easily answered by just one field of research.
Thus was born the learning sciences, an interdisciplinary field that brings together many disciplines including cognitive science, educational psychology, neurosciences, education, design studies, instructional design, computer science, anthropology, sociology and information sciences. Learning sciences, as a standalone discipline, has grown substantially in the last 20 years or so, but each of the disciplines themselves have been around for decades, closer to a century, making the learning sciences a powerful ally for those engaged in teaching and learning, K-12 and beyond.
At ISTE, the focus has always been on putting pedagogy ahead of technology. We wake up every morning asking many of the same questions you have: How do our students learn? How do we know they have learned? How do they know they have learned? What helps them? What doesn’t? How do we design instruction and facilitate learning so that teaching is efficient and learning is effective? What role does technology play in this learning process? What does this look like in the classroom?
Listen to ISTE’s Chief Learning Officer Joseph South share his thoughts in this podcast episode on what the learning sciences are and why they matter — to ISTE and to educators.
The Course of Mind
Course of Mind, ISTE’s learning sciences initiative, offers courses, case studies, articles, blogs, podcasts and policy toolkits for educators, education leaders, specialists in edtech procurement and policymakers who want to make learning more impactful, efficient and inclusive through a deeper understanding of the learning sciences. Course of Mind seeks to empower educators and leaders to understand how to use the learning sciences to build on existing teaching practices to more fully realize the power of education for learners of any age.
Why? At ISTE, we strongly believe that when educators — whether they are teachers, administrators or other folks in the system — know the how of learning, they can identify why some students succeed and others struggle. They can begin to solve situations in class, teach students how to learn and adapt their teaching practices with the comfort of knowing that these practices are based on decades of scientific evidence.
Over time, the little changes add up and further an equitable educational experience for all students. Moreover, when educators understand the science of learning, they can be more intentional about how they use educational technology meaningfully.
Sign up for updates. Clicking on the "Get Involved" tab on the Course of Mind website to learn about new content, courses and events.
Take the course. ISTE's Launch Into Learning Sciences course is a a 15-hour, self-paced course with ongoing instructor support where you can work with other teachers to bring the learning sciences to your practice.
Learn from educators. Read blog posts by educators who are sharing their experiences applying learning science strategies in the classroom.
Listen and subscribe to the Course of Mind podcast. We speak with learning scientists and get answers to educators’ questions about how to apply them in the classroom.
NarayanKripa Sundararajan (@KripaSundar) is a learning science specialist. She loves learning, learning about learning, and sharing what she learned — so much that she earned her doctorate in educational psychology and has published a few research articles. Now, she spends her time plotting how to spread the love of learning sciences wider.
This blog post is part of the Course of Mind project, an ISTE initiative made possible in part by a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative DAF, an advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Tell us what you’ve learned and your story @courseofmind.
This is an updated version of a post that originally published on May 17, 2019.