Boundary Crossing between Formal and Informal Learning Opportunities: A Pathway for Advancing e-Learning Sustainability


  • Kathlyn Bradshaw Algonquin College
  • Jennifer Lock University of Calgary
  • Gale Parchoma University of Saskatchewan



In this article, third generation cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) (Engeström, 2011) will be the means for analyzing tensions and contradictions between formal and informal learning within a MOOC design. This article builds on previous work (Bradshaw, Parchoma & Lock, 2017) wherein cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) was used to establish formal and informal learning as activity systems. Formal and informal learning are considered in relation to designing learning for a MOOC environment.  Findings from an in situ study specifically examining CHAT elements in the process of design are considered in a movement towards making visible what those tasked with designing courses normally do not see in relation to informal learning. Implications for practice are presented in a CHAT-Informed MOOC design model intended to augment typical approaches to instructional design. The outcome is an argument for CHAT-Informed MOOC design model can intentionally address both formal and informal opportunities for learning.

Author Biographies

Kathlyn Bradshaw, Algonquin College

Kathlyn Bradshaw, EdD is a Professor in the School of Business, Algonquin College. Her specialization is in professional and workplace communications. Dr. Bradshaw’s research interests involved research into open educational resources (OER), specifically cultural historical activity theory and massive open online course (MOOC) design.

Jennifer Lock, University of Calgary

Jennifer Lock, PhD, is a Professor and Vice Dean in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. Her area of specialization is in the Learning Sciences. Dr. Lock’s research interests are in e-learning, change and innovation in education, scholarship of teaching and learning, and learning in makerspaces.

Gale Parchoma, University of Saskatchewan

Gale Parchoma was an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum Studies: Educational Technology and Design in the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan.


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