Embodied Learning Vs Coupled Learning

What resonated with me after reading Winn’s (2003) article, was that students can learn the same way in artificial environments just as they would in natural environments. He prefers to say students to be coupled with the environment as opposed to embedded in it.  Zeltzer (1991) states the correct term to use when a student is being coupled with the environment is “presence” (as cited in Winn, 2003). That you are in an artificial environment, not in a classroom interacting with a computer. What does he mean by this? When a student is using a computer to immerse him/herself by learning various math or science concepts, it’s then not considered embodied learning? I beg to differ. What about Minecraft? I personally don’t have experience with this game but have heard from many colleagues and friends that this game is perfect to learn math concepts such as problem solving, ratios and proportions. Isn’t this considered to be a student interacting with a computer? This is an artificial environment after all, perhaps to create a true “presence” the student could wear a virtual reality helmet? In any case, Minecraft could be considered embodied learning and is already being implemented in classes around the world.

A question I have has been lingering throughout this lesson, “What about the shy, reluctant  learners?” Dede (1995) has answered this question perfectly. He states that these type of learners, will actually benefit more through a virtual reality setting since it’s more in their comfort zone.  They have valuable contributions to share with others, but prefer it to be in written form as opposed to spoken. Looking back at my previous students, I can see how some of them would prefer this type of learning style. Then comes the question of funding for these types of technologies. How are schools to implement virtual technologies with the lack of funding?


Dede, C. (1995). The evolution of constructivist learning environments: Immersion in distributed, virtual worlds. Educational technology35(5), 46-52.

Winn, W. (2003). Learning in artificial environments: Embodiment, embeddedness and dynamic adaptation. Technology, Instruction, Cognition and Learning1(1), 87-114.


  1. Hi Sean

    I agree with you on the lack of funding. New technologies – companies release better versions of VR and AR technologies every year, but these technologies are costly to integrate them into classes. It would be tough to bring them into classes without help from government funding. The pair of Oculus Rift VR headset is around $ 680 + tax and Microsoft Hololense $3000 + tax. These technologies are already used in some corporations and Universities which are financially supported.

    1. Hi Yoo,

      I can see private schools implementing newer technologies at a faster rate than public schools. Why is this? I have a feeling government funding towards private schools is the new norm and in more cases than not, have a stronger PAC in these type of schools. It’s hard enough to replace a broken iPad or computer in public schools let alone have a set of VR technologies.

  2. Sean,

    I like the fact that you challenged that “artificial environments” may be as good as a “natural environment”.

    I wonder if the face-to-face classroom is more of an “artificial environment” than a natural one?

    A good next step might be to add a couple more questions that connect to PCK or TPACK.

    To keep the conversation going — make sure to respond to at least three other learners as well respond to all learners that respond to your own post.


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