The Relevance of Situated Cognition Theory for ICT-Mediated Instruction

Situated learning theory, also known as situated learning, encompasses the act of learning by performing rather than by knowing.  The nature of the situated learning theory is based on the premise that persons learn within the context of what they are currently experiencing or doing at a particular time and place and they learn authentically as they put into practice previous knowledge they had acquired.  This theory postulates that a person’s knowledge is lodged in the context in which it was learned (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989). Brown et al. further expounded on the theory by giving a relevant example. They explained that proficient readers know very well that words are situated and the only way to fully interpret the meanings of them is to use them in context. They expressed that “Learning from dictionaries, like any method that tries to teach abstract concepts independently of authentic situations, overlooks the way understanding is developed through continued situated use” (p. 33). 

According to Semin and Smith (2013), cognition is embodied and situated.  A person cannot gain meaning by groups of abstract features and disengagement with objects; meaning is determined by the way in which a person interacts with these objects and the way in which they experience these abstract features in context.  They further stated that cognition does not only refer to the processes of brain activity alone but utilizes the brain’s resources, together with the body and the environment to come to a full understanding of a situation or a concept.

In view of the meaning of cognition and how it is situated, the situated cognition theory can influence ICT-mediated instruction in a social perspective.  Educators can put this theory into practice by exposing students to a number of ICT tools to encourage meaningful interaction and active engagement among their peers and the wider world, giving students the opportunity to create their own knowledge and to have authentic experiences of abstract concepts.  This theory can have an influence over many subject areas and can take away the boredom and tedium of rote learning, replacing it with genuine learning experiences. Embi and Yunus (2012), as cited in Lorain (n.d.) stated that students’ active engagement in their learning allows for the processing and retaining of information and the practice of higher order thinking and when teachers promote active engagement with relevant activities, students become interested and learning is fun.  The use of wikis is a very effective way to encourage social interaction and active engagement for authentic learning.  Wikis are specifically designed for peer collaboration and presents the opportunity for students to reflect with their colleagues (Ferriter, 2009).  Another collaborative ICT tool which can encourage authentic learning is Google apps.  Google Apps such as shared notes, virtual art gallery, interactive whiteboard and sharing learning ( Miller, 2014) are some of the mediums students can also use to connect and share information with other students in their classrooms as well as with others throughout the globe.  As they share in this way with others, they get the chance to apply their knowledge to many different situations and contexts. These collaborative and interactive ICT tools all provide opportunities for students to experience situated cognition in the social perspective where they learn through continuous relationships with others.


Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning.

Educational researcher, 18(1), 32-34. Retrieved from:

Ferriter, B. (2009) Educational leadership. Learning with blogs and wikis. Retrieved from:

Kean, A. C., Embi, M. A., & Yunus, M. M. (2012). Incorporating ICT tools in an active

engagement strategy-based classroom to promote learning awareness and self-monitoring. International Education Studies, 5(4), 139-149. Retrieved from:

Miller, M. (2014) Ditch that textbook. 20 collaborative google apps activities for schools.

Retrieved from:

Semin, G., & Smith, E. R. (2013). Socially situated cognition in perspective. Social

Cognition, 31(2), 125-146. doi: Retrieved from:


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