Diana Laurilliard’s six learning types – the summary and examples

May 17, 2021 2 By admin
Diana Laurilliard’s six learning types – the summary and examples

I this post, I am giving a summary of the six learning types introduced by Professor Diana Laurillard from the University College London. These learning types are different activities that you can include in your online or traditional training. They are encapsulated in the Conversational Framework (a pedagogical theory proposed by Prof. Laurillard [1].

Six Learning Types:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Investigation
  3. Practice
  4. Production 
  5. Collaboration
  6. Discussion
 You can also find the examples of the Six learning types course storyboarding cards at the end of the post and you can download printable versions of the cards. 

Diana Laurilliard's Conversational Framework 

This framework can be both a learning theory and can be used as a practical framework for designing educational environments.[2]

It is used by higher education. Many practical guides and curriculum design models developed in higher-ed are underpinned by these principles and revolve around these six learning types. One of the most popular is the ABC curriculum design model, also developed by the UCL team [3].

I find all this framework and the notion of six learning types very helpful when planning online courses – they provide excellent prompts and ideas for online activities which are supported by pedagogical theories.

1. Acquisition

This is the least active learning type; it is delivered – learners are presented with the information. They read the text (short articles, blog posts, or papers) or acquire knowledge by watching videos or listening to audio clips or podcasts. You can combine this with follow up tasks such as discussion or reflection.

Learners will:

  • Read
  • Observe
  • Name
  • Tell
  • Recall
  • Define
  • Repeat
  • Describe
  • Arrange
  • Memorise
  • Recognise
  • State

2. Investigation

Investigation or an inquiry is about allowing learners to control their learning and skills development. The essence of it is that the learner develops their knowledge and understanding through activities close to the discipline's authentic practice. Learners explore, compare and critique concepts and ideas being taught or included in the training resources.

Examples and ideas for investigation based learning:

  • Browsing, seeking and collecting information
  • Problem-solving or answering big questions
  • Inquiry driven investigation of authentic situations
  • Case-based study of individual cases
  • Evaluating and using online guidance
  • Analysis of ideas and information
  • Comparison and analysis of the range of digital sources
  • Finding and evaluating information and ideas
six learning types - investigation

Learners will:

  • Locate
  • Match
  • Explain
  • Experiment
  • Record
  • Solve
  • Collect
  • List
  • Arrange
  • Define
  • Describe
  • Categorise
  • Recognise
  • Identify

3. Practice

Learners perform a practical task to practice the skill or knowledge and use the feedback to improve their next action. You can combine and follow this with providing feedback, embedding peer feedback or self-reflection to help learners improve their following activity or future performance.

Examples and ideas for practical activities:

  • Simulation to interact with the simulated world or branching scenarios
  • Cross-context learning across physical, social settings
  • Game-based learning engaging learners with the game environments and
  • practising exercises
  • Role-play activities
  • Virtual labs and field trips
six learning types - practice

Learners will:

  • List
  • Arrange
  • Define
  • Describe
  • Categorise
  • Recognise
  • Identify
  • Locate
  • Match
  • Explain
  • Experiment
  • Record
  • Solve
  • Collect

4. Production

Learners apply their knowledge in practice. They consolidate their learning by creating actual artefacts or articulating their current understanding and how they use it in practice.

Examples and ideas for production learning activities:

  • Constructing, designing and making objects drawings, models, representations of designs.
  • Performing or presenting to an audience
  • Reflecting on activities (discussion, writing, production)
  • Assessing learners (learning through giving / receiving constructive feedback)
  • Creating digital artefacts and designs (e-portfolio, blog, website, videos, animations, photos, slides)
six learning types - production

Learners will:

  • Create
  • Show
  • Explain
  • Describe
  • Develop
  • Review
  • Record
  • Evaluate

5. Collaboration

Learners build knowledge by working together on a project or a task. They try to find meaning, a solution to a problem or demonstrate what they learn by creating something. Collaboration builds on investigations and acquisition and happens during the online or offline discussion, practice and production. When designing the collaborative task, consider groups' size and whether it will be a synchronous or an asynchronous task.

Examples and ideas for collaborative tasks:

  • Small group projects
  • Building something together
  • Discussing each others' projects and giving feedback
six learning types - collaboration

Learners will:

  • Create
  • Share
  • Discuss
  • Investigate
  • Review
  • Role-play
  • Practice
  • Demonstrate
  • Employ
  • Support

6. Discussion

Socially situated learning that happens through conversation. Learners need to articulate their ideas and questions. They also need to respond to and critically reflect on others' questions and ideas. You can combine this with follow up tasks such as reflection.

Examples and ideas for discussion:

  • Discussion groups and forums
  • Web-conferencing and chat tools (synchronous & asynchronous)
  • Seminars
  • Sharing experiences
  • Applying concepts to experiences or examples
  • Interacting with others
six learning types - Discussion

Learners will: 

  • Comment 
  • Debate 
  • Reflect 
  • Contribute 
  • Critique 
  • Compare 
  • Defend 
  • Argue 
  • Rationalise 
  • Define 
  • Describe

Printable Learning Types Cards

The below flipbook outlines each of the learning types. The cards also have prompts and examples of online activities. I have experience of using similar aids to design courses and modules for universities, colleges and schools. The learning types are very intuitive and easy to understand – they have proved to be very helpful for teachers and course creators to plan and describe the learning process. They are often used in combination with various aids in the curriculum and course planning.

I used similar cards while working on developing MOOCs Massive Open Online courses for the Future Learn Platform and using them to plan courses following the ABC curriculum design model.

I created my version of the curriculum design cards, where I included some additional details.
I expanded on the short description of each learning type and included prompts and examples of activities. They great when creating courses and can be used by anyone – even those with no prior learning design experience.
If you like them, I can share the printable version – just complete the request form below, and you will receive a printable version into your inbox.

Subscribe and get the printable learning cards for free! 

More resources on learning types

[1] Laurillard, D, 2002. Rethinking University Teaching: A Conversational Framework for the Effective Use of Learning Technologies, 2nd edition. London: Routledge.

[2] Laurillard conversational framework 

[3] ABC curriculum design 

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