Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Learning Sciences: A Virtual Round-table (Week Six)

R. Keith Sawyer, Michael A. Evans, Martin J. Packer

Last week, we asked the editors of Reflections on the Learning Sciences about potential barriers to innovation in the realm of learning sciences

This week, we ask:

What does the future have in store for learning sciences? 


Michael A. Evans, North Carolina State University

Martin J. Packer, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

R. Keith Sawyer, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Michael A. Evans

I believe that Part 3: Futures and well as the concluding chapter capture well a few potential future trends and contributions that the learning sciences can make. For example, and again in reference to an earlier response, my sense is that we are approaching a consensus amongst academia, funding agencies, and policy makers that the learning sciences can make substantive contributions to education across the globe. One of the most exciting trends is the increasing interest of the learning sciences in Africa and Asia. Another possible milestone, somewhat hinted at in Chapter 11 of the book, which I co-authored, is that theories or frameworks or perspectives of learning are moving beyond the cognitive realm, which nonetheless was an integral foundation for the field. Evidence of this progress can be found again, with the increasing acceptance of evidence gained from informal learning, game-based learning, and research on identity and interest.

Martin J. Packer

If I could successfully predict the future I would be making much more money than I currently do! However, the learning sciences is paying increasing attention to learning that takes place outside the school classroom. Often this is couched as a distinction between formal and informal learning, but as I suggested in my previous comment this is a misleading way of looking at the matter: out-of-school learning can be quite formal and organized. This is the case in apprenticeship, for example, but equally so in settings such as museums. I anticipate that learning sciences will increasingly conceptualize, investigate, and transform the contexts of learning.

R. Keith Sawyer

The potential is to increasingly use learning sciences research to improve classroom practices. A lot of this research has taken place on university campuses and in research labs, but in recent years, these scientists have increasingly partnered with school districts to make sure that their research can be applied in practice.


*In the final week of the round-table, the authors discuss how learning sciences can be used in different communities

About The Authors

R. Keith Sawyer

R. Keith Sawyer is the Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author or editor of fourteen books, inc...

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Michael A. Evans

Michael A. Evans is Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences at North Carolina State University, where he is also a Senior Research Fellow a...

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Martin J. Packer

Martin J. Packer is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. He is the author of The Structure of Moral Action, Changing Classes: Scho...

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