Laurillard - Background Work & Recent Writings

Diana Laurillard proposes the Conversational Model, in which she states dialogue between teacher and learner is central to the process of learning. Her recent research carried out emphasises the importance of also using technology to enhance this learning.

The book "Diana Laurillard: Rethinking University Teaching, (1993)" gives the basis for Laurillard's research and later work.

The recent article: "The Teacher as Action Researcher: using technology to capture pedagogic form, (2008)" looks into how teachers can address problems in education and look to technology for solutions, using the Conversational Model to produce effective learning.

Background - The Conversational Framework

Laurillard claims that there are 4 main aspects to the teaching-learning process within the Conversational Framework:

Dialogue must take place at both discursive and experiential levels, thus enabling students to link theory with practice and to allow the tutor to evaluate whether or not they have set appropriate tasks for the student.

Within this framework are particular characteristics important for the way the teacher and learner interact:

Recent Research - Technology Enhanced Learning

A current issue in education is the concern with the achievement of better learning outcomes, how can these be improved? Technology may be the answer.

Recent research by Laurillard seems to take a shift from the initial Conversational Framework for the process of learning - and looks more into ways in which teachers can use 'technology' to improve learning.

Laurillard believes that the best use of technology in learning will come from understanding the problems in education, thus solutions can them be demanded from the technology. These issues are addressed by the teaching community, who become researchers, building knowledge of what it takes to support learning.

There is a main emphasis on 'Collaboration'. An online collaborative environment provides a framework for a "community of innovation" in which teachers participate both as learners and researchers. Enabling teachers to share, discuss and exchange ideas and digital products through different online social networking technologies can support learning. Collaboration allows for a focus to the discussion, allowing learning and improvements to be made from the outputs of peers, reflections can be shared and interpretations of what occurred within practice can be made - these fit in with the aspects of the Conversational Framework.


Overall, in society today, it seems that education needs to improve and it is proposed that technology enhanced learning could help do this. Technology could broaden access to education without the need to increase funding. Thus, teachers could use technology within the Conversational Framework  to meet the demands from the government and produce an effective learning experience.


The classifications used by Laurillard can be confusing, it is questionable how consistent 'discussion', 'adaptation', 'interaction' and 'reflection' are within the Conversational Framework. The technology believed to support the model is not identical to these different classifications, thus it is difficult to understand how they can be mapped together onto the model. Laurillard's classifications may be thought of as too broad to map onto pedagogical usefulness. Furthermore, if technology is to be used to support learning, teachers need to learn how to use these technologies. This may produce an issue in that teachers may not be willing to take on the demands of understanding new technologies, thus to reduce this possibility, the technology introduced needs to be simple, yet effective to comprehend.

Key Reference

Laurillard, D. (2008). Teacher as Action Researcher: using technology to capture pedagogic form, Studies in Higher Education, 33 (2), 139-154

Further References

Laurillard, D. (2007). Modelling Benefits-Oriented Costs for Technology Enhanced Learning, Higher Education, 54, 21-39

Laurillard, D. (2009). The Pedagogical Challenges to Collaborative Technologies, International Journal of Computer-Supported Learning, 4 (10), 5-20

Laurillard, D. & Masterman, E. (2009). TPD as Online Collaborative Learning  - Book Chapter

San Diego, J.P., Laurillard, D., Boyle, T., Bradley, C., Llubojevic, D., Neumann, T. & Pearce, D. (2008). Toward a User-Oriented Analytical Approach to Learning Design, ALT-J Research in Learning Technology, 16 (1), 15-29