This excellent book provides a critical and insightful analysis of the key components of effective teaching and learning. Laurillard's aim is to provide a framework for analysing and designing the T&L activities in a course, T&L "patterns", and I think that she succeeds brilliantly. This is a step up from books that discuss broad design principles, e.g. "constructive alignment", to a detailed analysis of the key interactions between the learner and the teacher, and between the learner and his/her peers. The framework for this analysis is Laurillard's "Conversational Framework" model of T&L. While this model looks cumbersome, its complexity is the key to its power. The model is developed in the early chapters and is based on the evidence on the nature of learning - numerous references to key papers, including recent work, are provided throughout the book. Later chapters explore the nature of learning through acquisition, learning through inquiry, learning through collaboration, etc. and analyse their strengths and weaknesses in terms of how well they invoke the effective interactions captured in the conversational framework model. These chapters are really impressive for the clarity and insightfullness of the analysis. There is no demolition of straw men here, and no uncritical promotion of popular trends, instead you will find a balanced and thoughtful discussion, grounded in a consistent theoretical framework. Although Laurillard is particularly interested in applying the analytical framework to the use of technology in T&L, most of the book is concerned with more traditional face-to-face T&L activities and this book will still be very useful for teachers who have no particular interest in educational technology. I find that I keep coming back to this book and finding key insights into what works and what does not work in T&L. The complex model used may not be to everyone's taste, but it really struck a chord with me, and if I could only keep one book on T&L this would be my choice.
This book discusses how the use of technology can influence teaching, namely using technology to teach as a design science.
To consider what a design science is I would make reference to Dick and Cary - the systematic design of instruction, this being that instructional material can be developed through a series of predefined criteria. So therefore you can consider this book as a template for those who wish to move away from traditional teaching and embrace technology.
A clear and well written book, I doubt many people will read it who do not have an interest in this area, however for those who do this book will not disappoint.
I read most of this work last year as part of a PG class, and knew I had to have a copy. It is a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to teaching and learning in general, with an emphasis on formal learning in the latter chapters. Very useful for teachers who want to understand how and why they do what they do, and how to make it better.
This book enables more than any other I have come across teachers in higher education to review the development of the theory of teaching and learning, develop that theory into more cogent and useful forms and,at the same time understand why theory remains a necessary concomitant of best practice.