learning theories

Can learning theories lead to better elearning content? 

The learning theories can take your e-learning content in a new direction because they can improve its comprehension.

So, many learning theories can ensure that learners take a lot of interest in the content. These learning theories state that individuals can be made to imbibe information differently depending on their way of processing it.

Learning theories are needed because employees like to grasp information differently. They can be auditory learners who like to attend seminars because they have good concentration spans. There might be others who want to go through written manuals. Once learning theories are applied, the companies can cater to individual learning styles and ensure higher retention.


First is the behaviorism learning theory, in which the students/employees can be motivated to learn by influencing their behavior. Well, it’s not so tough to understand because teachers use this behavioral theory regularly in classrooms. She gives positive feedback to those students who don’t interrupt when she is delivering a lecture. B.F Skinner advocated this theory.

According to him, free will does not exist, and any action we take depends on the results of similar actions taken earlier. So, if someone faces an excellent result to his action (positive reinforcement), he is likely to repeat it, and if the action gets someone adverse results, he won’t repeat it.

So, as one of the learning theories, this theory ensures that the learners are given incentives when they get a specific score in games. These bonuses are a form of positive reinforcements and ensure that the learners move in the desired direction of completing their courses. Using leaderboards for employees can be a positive reinforcement when they know where their scores fall.


Humanistic learning theory can also be used to get favorable behavior from employees when it comes to e-learning. We all have 5 basic needs, as per Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

These needs are Physiological needs that include water, food, etc., safety needs that imply security, and belongingness needs that mean healthy relationships at work. Esteem needs mean a sense of achievement, and Self-Actualization needs mean the feeling that we have attained our best of abilities.

The employees can only be expected to learn, i.e. realize their self-actualization needs when their lower-level needs as per this hierarchy are met. So, the safety needs are crucial, implying that HR must care for employees’ job security. HR also needs to provide adequate benefits to employees to feel pride in their work because they are getting rewarded well. You can’t expect an employee to enrol in a course even when it’s free when he is not happy with his salary. The working environment should also be comfortable, and camaraderie at the workplace should be encouraged to fulfil belongingness needs. As per this theory, learning comes naturally to people once all the other needs are satisfied because everyone wants to get better at what they do (self-actualization)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the employees were losing their feeling of job security. Hence, the HR’s duty was to ensure that their jobs were secure so that the employees could focus on learning.


As per Constructivism, people create their knowledge depending on their experiences, which act as a foundation. It’s because their prior knowledge determines how they perceive any new knowledge. So, every student has a unique learning approach due to their individual experiences. For example, a student who has been to a particular country might not find it so tough to learn its language and geography because he has experienced some part of it. A student’s background, which also shapes his experiences, determines his learning style. So, social constructivism implies that students need teachers to learn because learning is inherently a collaborative process. Students learn through teachers and their parents, who know more than them.

Hence, social learning must be an essential part of an e-learning software, and there must be chat rooms and forums included. Mentoring the new employees at the workplace is also part of the same social constructivism approach. Hence, the teachers must facilitate learning. The teachers must understand the background and the current understanding level of employees/students because only then they can help the latter absorb knowledge as per their own experiences, which form the basis of their cognition. Hence, in such classrooms, the teachers/instructors must try to understand what the employees are aware of before they begin their lectures. The students also learn in groups to foster a better understanding of concepts.


The coming of technology has also influenced learning. The connectivist learning theory was founded by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. It’s true that over time, learning has been made easier due to the use of gadgets. Hence, as per this theory, 8 principles influence learning.

  • The learning happens when there is a difference of opinions
  • Learning happens when people connect
  • Learning happens through machines or other inanimate appliances
  • The capacity to get the knowledge is more important than the current knowledge
  • Connections must be harbored to learn continuously
  • Connectivist learning ensures that learning is contemporary
  • When we make decisions, we learn something

Connectivist theory suggests that employees can learn when they have the right tools. Hence the LMS must be available on mobile phones. The LMS must also be designed effectively, implying that the course catalogue must be easily accessible. It must also be regularly updated with information so that employees don’t have any redundant knowledge. Connectivity is the most basic tenet of this theory. As per it, the employees must have access to the organization’s resource library, and hence it must be converted into an e-learning format.

These main learning theories ensure that employees learn and remember the e-learning content. These theories can also be used in professional education so that employees can understand the e-learning materials prepared for them.

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