Volume 18 · Number 2 · Pages 325–337
Autopoiesis and 4E+ Cognition in the Design of Digital Learning Affordances

Claudio Aguayo

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Context: Challenges in designing digital learning come from the complexity and ever-changing nature of socio-technological systems. Following an autopoietic logic can assist the design of technology-enhanced learning (TEL) systems and their digital learning affordances in education. Problem: The lack of self-maintenance and adaptability considerations in educational technology design, to maintain the efficiency and engagement of TEL systems within ever-changing conditions over time. The concept of autopoiesis, and the 4E+ cognition framework can provide a guiding framework for a more adequate type of the design of TEL systems in education. Method: I exlplore the philosophical and practical aspects of the concept of autopoiesis and 4E+ cognition in the design of digital learning affordances and TEL systems in education. This is motivated by the apparent potential of autopoiesis principles and ideas to inform the design of efficient and engaging digital learning affordances and TEL systems over time. The 4E+ cognition framework is applied to understand the learners’ experience, which in turn informs design principles. Results: Following an autopoiesis and 4E+ cognition framework to configure TEL systems and digital learning affordances has the potential, in theory, to increase the ongoing efficiency and learning engagement of TEL systems in education. An increased efficiency of TEL systems, in turn, can improve the learning process and outcomes for learners, by offering them enhanced digital learning affordances over time. Implications: Embedding autopoiesis, along with 4E+ cognition, in the design of educational technology can guide educational technologists, designers, researchers and practitioners to design more efficient, engaging and long-lasting TEL systems, while addressing the challenges found today in education. Constructivist content: The constructivist content is grounded in the epistemology of the Santiago school of cognition, coming from the work of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela.

Key words: 4E+ cognition, affectivity, autopoiesis, digital affordance, educational design, enaction, Santiago school of cognition.


Aguayo C. (2023) Autopoiesis and 4e+ cognition in the design of digital learning affordances. Constructivist Foundations 18(2): 325–337. https://constructivist.info/18/2/325

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