Beyond the programmed learning examples provided in Unit 2, are there other ways that a behaviourist approach is or can be utilized in an online learning context?

First, it is important to define what we consider "behaviours" in an online learning context. According to Nash (2007), some online behaviours would include: 

"a) going to the site; b) contacting instructor and/or student; c) doing online research to make connections; d) applying knowledge to one’s life, then reporting on it (a paper or discussion board entry)."

Basically we measure the effects of the learning theory on the activities we are able to record about the learning participant.

A behaviourist approach would mean that students would receive feedback about their activities, it might be in the form of information about the quality of their responses, or regularly graded assignments. One immediate way, which would be a form of programmed learning, to receive feedback in an online context is to participate in pre-tests and post-tests (Saettler, 1990).

One way that we can use a behaviourist approach that we see used in Vista is the introduction of the (# new) links. Click on the link and the messages open up, hence we feel immediate satisfaction that we have accomplished a task, since we know that were we to reopen Vista, our message inbox would be empty. We can access our own statistical information in Vista, and find out how our forum participation is, leading us to improve our performance because of the feedback.

Another way a behaviourist approach is used in Vista is with the "time out" that occurs when we are posting to Vista and take too long to respond. Having Vista log one out after one has submitted a long response (and forgetting to save our response elsewhere) encourages both shorter responses, and more careful self-record keeping.


Nash, S.S.(2007)., Behaviorism vs. Constructivism, as Applied to Online Learning, Retrieved from on September 30th

Mergel, B., (1998). Instructional Design & Learning Theory, Retrieved from on September 30th

Saettler, P., (1990), The History of American Educational Technology