A view of learning that construes it as integral to the process of taking part in various social practices and shared activities. The process of knowing (and activities and practices in general) is seen as more important than knowledge per se.

According to Anna Sfard (1998), this is one of two basic ways of understanding learning besides the acquisition metaphor of learning in current educational literature.

See also the knowledge creation metaphor of learning.


Edwards, Anne (2005). Let’s get beyond community and practice: the many meanings of learning by participating. The Curriculum Journal 16(1), 49-65.

Engeström, Y. & Sannino, Annalisa (2010). Studies of expansive learning: Foundations, findings and future challenges. "Educational Research Review" 5(1), 1-24.

Paavola, S., Lipponen, L. & Hakkarainen, K. (2002) Epistemological Foundations for CSCL: A Comparison of Three Models of Innovative Knowledge Communities . In Gerry Stahl (ed.) Computer Support for Collaborative Learning: Foundations for a CSCL Community, Proceedings of: CSCL 2002 (January 7-11, 2002, Boulder, Colorado, USA). Distributed by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Hilldale, New Jersey, USA.

Paavola, S., Lipponen, L., & Hakkarainen, K. (2004). Models of Innovative Knowledge Communities and Three Metaphors of Learning. Review of Educational Research 74(4), 557-576.

Sfard, A. (1998). On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one. Educational Researcher, 27(2), 4–13.

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