Acclimation by Design: Using 4C/ID to Scaffold Digital Learning Environments

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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Publication Title

Proceedings of SITE Interactive 2020 Online Conference

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Traditional learning environments consist of learners physically present together in classroom-based ecosystems (El Mansour & Mupinga, 2007). Digital learning environments remove the requirement of physical proximity by leveraging technology-based ecosystems. Within each ecosystem learning is situated, where usable knowledge and schema work to build conceptual understandings (McCarthy & Wright, 2004). As learners experience novel environments a domain-based acclimation stage occurs (Alexander, 2004). Traditionally, learners acclimate to classroom-based rules, norms, and procedures as they engage with learning tasks, facilitated by instructor-provided just-in-time information and corrective feedback. Digitally, students must be acclimated not only to the content but also the system in which the content is taught. To compensate for the lack of physical instructor presence, the intentional design of content that scaffolds the introduction of system-based rules, norms, and procedures is required. The 4C/ID model can be employed to create a structured acclimation stage (van Merriënboer, 2019), designed to attenuate learners to the constraints and affordances of the digital learning environment. Without this scaffolded acclimation stage, learners are tasked with simultaneously learning the system and the content. As a result, student construction of knowledge to attain conceptual understanding may be hampered.


Traditional learning environments; TLE; Digital learning environments; Classroom-based; Digitally-based


Education | Higher Education | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning



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