General description

Education has three fundamental interrelated aspects:

The learner
The teacher
and the available resources, references and tools

Each of these are complex within their separate realms, however education is in the main about the interrelationship between them.

Naturally enough just one of these aspects can play a dominant role in the learning and teaching process but they inevitably need to be considered in concert.

All learning is the result of a process, a process that may be specific (i.e. a lesson) or may occur implicitly over a long time or as a result of an experience that may at first seem unrelated. But all education is by definition explicit and has an expected discernible outcome.

In many cases students do not recognise their learning unless they have some sort of feedback that catalyses a metacognitive awareness that tells them "I know this." (Dewey, 1934) An important aspect of the teaching process is not only to provide students with experience it should provide an ability to recognise their learning and then apply that to the broadest possible range of circumstances.

This multimdimensional nature of education has given rise to the cognitive hierachies such as Bloom's and the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomies. The easiest and narrowest education process (and most common) is to lecture students in a class room, provide a limited number of exercises, then test them within this narrow scope of intended outcomes providing them with a ranked mark as a result. The students role in this process is to cope and absorb, resources are referred to simply in order to retrieve just enough information. The interaction between the three domains is limited but purposeful. Feedback is either a summative report or adhoc advice given to students who ask or demonstrate, either positively or negatively, through their behaviour - expressing their inability to cope.

This sort of educational process only gets the student so far and the learning generally goes out the window immediatey after the exam or the student leaves school. Norm-referenced assessment accommodates failure and poor performance within the process by institutionalising low grades, medium grades and high achievement according to the bell curve.

Online education makes the interaction between the three domains of teacher, student and resources more critical in that there is an enormous availability of external resources, student motivation is a key factor and integration within the various formal educational contexts has many possibilities through information and communication technologies (ICT). (Loveless & Williamson, 2013).

The learner becomes central to the process as they need to negotiate the complexity and multitudinous nature of knowledge available to them. The executive functioning of the learner is a key fundamental tool students need to acquire and teachers need to encourage and could teach explicitly.



The learner

Which involves:
experience, both that which has been before and that which they undergo as a learning process.
social context
individual predilection, enthusiasm and ability
need, which includes expectations and ambition

The teacher

This can include the school as a broader construct of the individual teacher and may of course include any number of mentors and exemplars.

Resources and tools

This may include activities, books, the web, diverse range of media that can be referred to or utilised for learning.

Education is a process

Education is indeed a process, and it has a beginning, a middle and an end. There are multiple and overlapping processes, some as brief as simply reading a paragraph or looking at an illustration and others will last a lifetime. It is always important to recognise the time frame of any learning process.
While it is often said that learning is lifelong, education occupies short moments of our life.

The time-frame within an educational system is predefined to the class, the term, semester year and coursed duration. Each of these have a set of objectives, outcomes, capabilities and dispositions that need to be met. Even within a single class there are time-framed learning activities. For practical application the smallest learning period is often 15 minutes, with the longer time frames structured of chunks and the outcomes defined more generally the longer the period.

i.e. the outcomes of a specific piece of learning may take one hour, made up of 4 learning chunks. Capabilities would be expected to be achieved over a three year period.


Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York: Minton Balch and Co.

Loveless, A., & Williamson, B. (. (Educator). (2013). Learning identities in a digital age : rethinking creativity, education and technology. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, 2013.