2012. Vol.3, No.6, 712-720
Published Online October 2012 in SciRes (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2012.36106
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Viewing Learning through a New Lens: The Quantum
Perspective of Learing
Katherine J. Janzen¹, Beth Perry2, Margaret Edwards2
1Faculty of Health and Community Studies, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada
2Faculty of Health Disciplines, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Canada
Received April 11th, 2012; revised May 12th, 2012; accepted May 28th, 2012
We are living in a quantum world where virtuality allows us to transcend time and space. Boundaries,
which were considered to be predetermined, are no longer absolute. This has important implications for
the field of education as educators advance e-learning. However, education theory has been outpaced by
practice. In this paper the authors propose a new learning perspective—the quantum perspective of learning
which moves beyond current popular educational theories of constructivism (Siemens, 2005) and connec-
tivism (Vygotsky, 1978). The five assumptions of the quantum perspective of learning are explored. Spe-
cifically, learning is multi-dimensional, occurs in various planes simultaneously, consists of potentialities
which exist infinitely, is holistic/holographic in nature and is patterned within holographic realities, and
learning environments are living systems. Implications that arise from this perspective are discussed.
Keywords: Quantum Perspective of Learning; Pedagogy; Holism; Holographic; Potentialities; Living
Systems; Quantum States; Quantum Dimensions; E-Learning
Technology is rapidly developing making boundaries which
were considered absolute no longer so. The virtual world has
largely transcended time and space. Digital technology allows
individuals to virtually co-exist in several places at one time
(Andone, Dron, Boyne, & Pemberton, 2006) often simultane-
ously interacting with innumerable others with the touch of a
screen. We have begun to experience living in a quantum world
without limits and constraints. This change has implications for
education, as e-learning becomes common.
Developments in educational theory compatible with e-learning
have been outpaced by advances in practice. New theory is
needed. Emerging learning theories serve two purposes (Kerr,
2007). They replace outdated inferior theories and they address
gaps in current theory which older theories do not explain (2007).
However, no single model, perspective, or theory exists that
explains all learning phenomenon (Calvani, 2008). Hence, a
new learning perspective—the quantum perspective of learning
(QL)—was conceptualized by the authors to begin to address
existing gaps and to establish a common ground for bridging
existing learning theories. QL does not explain all learning phe-
nomenon, however, the principles of QL open an effectual door
To situate QL within existing learning theory, six theories are
reviewed. The primary principles of quantum mechanics (the
foundation of quantum learning), key definitions, and five prin-
ciple assumptions of QL are described. Implications arising
from QL are presented.
Learning Theories: A Review
Notable learning theories of the last century are behaviouralism
(Skinner, 1954), cognitivism (Dewey, 1916; Piaget, 1960/1981),
invitational theory (Purkey, 1992), experiential learning (Kolb,
1994), and constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978). Recently, connec-
tivism (Siemens, 2005, 2006) emerged and has gained attention
in online education. A brief review of these theories provides a
foundation for exploring QL.
Behaviourism regards learning as observable behaviour that
results from stimuli, reward, or punishment (Davis, Edmunds &
Kelly-Bateman, 2010). While Locke in the 17th century first
identified what is known today as behaviourism, Skinner was
the first to officially explicate behaviourism as a learning the-
ory (Williamson, Gunderman, Cohen, & Frank, 2004). Skinner
and other behaviourists that followed believed that it was im-
possible to determine what went on in the human mind (2004).
To a behaviourist learning results from operant conditioning.
Memory occurs when the brain is “hardwired” by repeated
experiences. Hardwiring is influenced by reward or punishment
where learning is task-based (Davis et al., 2010). A stimulus is
repeated until the desired behaviour is observed. Learning is
seen as having the product of being right or wrong; correct or
incorrect. (Williamson et al., 2004). If a change in behaviour is
observed, then learning is thought to have occurred (McLeod,
Cognitivism is attributed to Dewey (1916) and Piaget (1960/
1981) who were primarily “interested in what went on in the
minds of learners” (p. 16). Cognitivists believe that learning is
achieved internally rather than externally (McLeod, 2003). The
properties of cognitivism are seen as being “structured” or “com-
putational” where prior experiences and current mental patterns
(as schema) influence learning (Davis et al., 2010: para. 10).
Learning is based on knowledge that is abstract rather than
K. J. JANZEN ET AL.
concrete (Handley, Sturdy, Finchman, & Clark, 2006). Memory
is a process of encoding, storage, and retrieval and the resultant
knowledge is a product of duplication (Davis et al., 2010). The
connections of ideas and concepts are important. Knowledge as
an end product is “processed on multiple levels,” connected to
prior experience, and transmitted to new situations (Williamson
et al., 2004: p. 16).
Invitational theory and practice (ITP), pioneered by Purkey
(1992a) is referred to as “invitational education” where it exists
as both a theory of practice (where total learning environments
are created) and a theory of learning (Hunter & Smith, 2007;
Paxton, 2003). ITP proposes that effective learning is based on
self-concept and that self-concept is vital to successful learning
Humans are considered interdependent, having the utmost au-
thority for their own personal existence, and possessing the abil-
ity to “find their own best ways of being and becoming” (Pur-
key, 1992b: p. 1). Cooperation, empathetic understanding, and
genuineness characterize the invitational learning environment
(Paxton, 2003). Although ITP has been criticized for the logic
of its Pygmalion Effect (self-efficacy), successful learning is
viewed as a product of not solely the belief of self and of others,
but rather the result of actions stemming from that belief Riner,
2003; Usher & Pajeres, 2006). In ITP, “living and learning suc-
cess is nurtured and supported by assisting [learners] in under-
standing these perceptions and accepting invitations, and op-
portunities to develop [their] abilities” (Riner, 2003).
Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning theory suggests that learn-
ing is “the process whereby knowledge is created through the
transformation of experience” and posits that learning occurs on
a holistic level where the concepts of experience (feeling), per-
ception (perceiving), cognition (thinking), and behaviour (be-
having) are integrated into the “total organism” (p. 38).
The father of constructivism is Vygotsky (1978) with theo-
rists such as Clark (1983, 1985), Papert and Idit (1991), and Lave
and Wenger (2002), providing additional insights into this so-
cial learning theory. Constructivism is both a learning theory
and a philosophy of education (Mattar, 2010). Constructivism
as a learning theory proposes that “language” and “scaffolding”
exist as the two most important elements in the learning process
where social interaction becomes the catalyst for learning (Kop
& Hill, 2008). Through social interaction, a relationship exists
between what the individual learner knows and the knowledge
that the learner renders from others (2008). Meaning is con-
structed socially and learning is influenced by the processes of
engagement and participation, as well by society and culture
(Davis et al., 2010).
Connectivism has been touted as the “learning theory for the
digital age” (Kop & Hill, 2010: p. 1). Connectivism goes be-
yond learning within humans to include in learning that is stored
and manipulated in forms of technology and organizational learn-
ing (Mattar, 2010). Nodes—which can consist of thoughts, feel-
ings, and interactions with others and/or with technology (in-
formation sources), and connections which are the links between
the nodes, are the basic building blocks of connectivism (Guder,
2010; Siemens, 2005). While constructivism focused on con-
structing knowledge, connectivism focuses on the constant con-
nections humans make (Siemens, 2006). Learning is seen as
processes where “informal information exchange [becomes]
organized into networks and [is] supported with electronic tools”
(Bessenyei, 2007: p. 11).
Quantum Mechanics: A Foundation for
Understanding the Quantum Perspective of
The primary concepts of quantum mechanics provide back-
ground for understanding QL. While quantum mechanics is
complex when seen through the eyes of a quantum physicist,
the foundational elements which make up quantum mechanics
can be readily understood. This understanding begins with the
Quantum is derived from the Latin singular quantus meaning
“how great” and was first used in quantum mechanics in 1900
by Max Plank (Online Etymology Dictionary, 2011). A quan-
tum is the smallest unit of a physical entity that exists, yet is the
most substantial component of quantum mechanics (Princeton
University, 2011). This paradox underscores both the complex-
ity and simplicity of quantum mechanics.
Deconstruction in its simplest form allows humans to deline-
ate their assumptions of the world (Longuenesse, 2001). In phys-
ics these assumptions diverge into two schools of thought: clas-
sical mechanics and quantum mechanics (Bohm, 1973; Raković,
2007). Classical mechanics considers the world to be reducible
to machine-like parts which are measurable, orderable, classi-
fiable, and which operate under immutable laws (Bohm, 1971;
Kibble & Berkshire, 2005; Zaman, 2001). Quantum mechanics
on the other hand arises from an organismic view where every-
thing is highly connected (Arntz, Chasse & Vincente, 2006) and
operates upon paradoxical laws—laws which operate in time
and space and are governed by a unique set of quantum princi-
ples. Classical mechanics explains large scale phenomena or
dynamics such as the earth’s orbit, or the laws that pertain to
energy and motion (Kibble & Berkshire, 2005; Gallego, 2008).
However, it does not explain atomistic or sub-atomistic phe-
nomena such as behaviours of electrons and time-reversal sym-
metry where events go forward and backward in time (Arntz et
al. 2006; Kibble & Berkshire, 2005; Pribram, 2006). It is within
this sub-atomistic world where quantum mechanics begins to
explain events within this almost imperceptible atomistic bio-
sphere. Quantum mechanics operates on three main concepts:
particles and waves, superposition, and entanglement.
Particles and Waves
The concept of particles and waves is paradoxical. Particles
can be waves, and waves can be particles (Aczel, 2002). Parti-
cles are electrons. Electrons demonstrate properties of waves or
act as indicators of the behaviour of the electrons or particles
(Haberken & Deepak, 2002). Pribram (2006) describes the rela-
tionship of waves and particles. “Waves anticipate the future
whereas particles remember the past” where particles are the
medium and waves “perturb the medium, making a connection
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 713
K. J. JANZEN ET AL.
between two locations in space and time” (p. 42) Wave “energy
is [only] potential until it manifests its effects on a substrate” (p.
42). For example, waves in the ocean are only potential until
they transform into breakers which demonstrate their energy
through the movement of sand on a beach (2006).
Superposition suggests multiple possibilities exist in waves
of potential (Artnz et al., 2006). Before the technological age, it
was impossible for an individual to exist in two places at the
same time and all actions had a cause and effect sequence (Ac-
zel, 2002). The concept of superposition changes this finite view.
To illustrate this, if an individual is in a room with two doors, it
is impossible to go through both doors at the same time. Quan-
tum mechanics has demonstrated that an “electron, neutron, or
even an atom when presented with a barrier with two slits in it,
will go through both of them at once” (p. 250). Hence the parti-
cle can be in more than one place at one time occupying multi-
ple positions. A single wave function can have 3000 positions
simultaneously and yet remains a single wave function (Cafiero
& Adamowicz, 2001). For example, if gelatin and boiling water
are placed in a bowl and stirred, each particle of gelatin is su-
perpositioned with the others as the gelatin solidifies. With time
and chilling the gelatin solution is transformed into a viscous
and eventually solidified medium. When the bowl is perturbed,
just as in a wave function, the jiggling of gelatin causes all
other parts of the gelatin to move. Thus particles of gelatin are
Plank noted spaces between particles are made up of energy
rather than existing in an empty vacuum-like state (Arntz et al.,
2006; Haberken & Deepak, 2002). The universe operates the
same way where “all phenomena are caused by energy transfer”
(Hrokopos, 2005: p. 90). The concept of entanglement explains
this energy transfer. Where the classical mechanics worldview
suggests fragmentation and separation, quantum physicists have
shown that the universe operates on principles of unity and
connectedness (Rossado, 2008). Taking the principle of super-
position further, two or more particles existing in superposition
become entangled with one other and exist as one system rather
than two distinct particles (Aczel, 2002). These particles do not
touch, yet are bound up (Arntz et al., 2006). As in gelatin, each
particle of gelatin remains distinct and yet is part of each other
particle. The spaces between gelatin particles are not empty but
are interconnected making a unified whole.
For example, consider interfacing used in tailoring. Seam-
stresses sew two pieces of fabric together with plain interfacing
in between creating a stronger fabric. The interfacing creates a
link or a connection with the other pieces of fabric. While the
two fabric pieces do not physically touch each other, they are
still bound to each other and become inextricably connected.
Through the interfacing each piece of fabric becomes part of
the other and exists holistically. In a similar way, Aczel notes
that systems of particles (two or more particles) can exist and
“share some of the properties of the combined states” (Aczel,
2002: p. 25). In quantum mechanics, unlike the two pieces of
fabric which are close in proximity, “two particles that [are]
miles, or light years, apart may behave in a concerted way: what
happens to one happens to the other instantaneously, regardless
of the distance between them” (p. 250).
The Quantum Perspective of Learning:
Kop and Hill (2008) note that the underpinnings of any per-
spective begin with clear definitions of terms. QL perspective
builds upon existing terms. The terms quantum, quanta, quan-
tum state, quantum dimension, and intelligence as conceptual-
ized and presented in this paper are offered as foundational
terminologies proposed by the authors that are unique and
original to QL. All other terms are extensions of previous defi-
nitions in the literature. A summary of definitions for all terms
related to QL are delineated in Table 1.
The Quantum Perspective of Learning Explored
To understand QL, it is necessary to understand the four ba-
sic building blocks of quantum learning: quantum, quanta, quan-
tum dimensions, and quantum states. QL occurs in bits of in-
formation. These bits of information borrow their name from
quantum mechanics and are known as quantum. A quantum
represents the smallest unit of learning that exists.
Key terms used in the quantum perspective of learning.
Quanta The smallest unit of learning that exists.
Quantum Multiple units of learning combined or grouped together.
Quantum StateThe conditions or states upon which learning takes place
or is experienced.
Intelligence The purest form of quanta that exists in a quantum state.
Dimension “Single observable pattern[s] which when viewed togethe
become on indivisble whole.” (Bohm, 1971: p. 376, 380)
The intersection of cognitive, behavioural, social, cultural,
spiritual and technologoical dimensions which which tog-
ether create a unified whole.
The correlation and interacton of multiple entities which
are not dependent on their spatial position/orientation with
each other (CIO Midmarket, 2010). “The linking of these
entities, even though they may be far apart…immediately
causes change in the other [entities]” (Aczel, 2002: p. ix).
Holism The conception and description of reality as whole entites
instead of parts (Jammer, 1988).
Holographic A multi-dimensional thought, feeling or action/interaction
(Guder, 2012; Siemens, 2005).
“Multiple explict manifestations of matter… representing
different outcomes of unfolding a single implicate orde
that is infinitely connected” (Gallego, 2008: p. 724).
A multi-dimensional surface in which each dimension int-
ersects, interacts, touches or borders all others (Siemens,
2005; Gallego, 2008).
The activation and realization of possibilities which reflect
stability and predictabilty as well as variability (Marquez,
“Open, self-organizing systems [having special character-
istics of life and [interacting] with their environment…by
means of information exchanges (Parent, 2000: para. 2).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
K. J. JANZEN ET AL.
These units or bits of information, when combined or grouped
together are known as quanta. Quantum, while they can and
certainly do exist singularly, manifest themselves primarily as
quanta and exist both within and without the human confines.
Within humans, the manifestation of quanta occurs in a wide
spectrum of learning outcomes. This learning ranges from im-
perceptible learning, structured learning, serendipitous learning,
states of epiphany, and ultimately reaches toward learning that
change not only the world of the individual but also the world
of the collective human family. Quanta, also reside within tech-
nology where they are made manifest within technological ad-
vances. For example, quanta exist in computers in the form of
bits and bytes. As technology continues to develop, new forms
of quanta will be discovered and named. It is important to note
that quanta have always existed and are in and of themselves
infinite in nature. Quanta reach into the past, reside in the pre-
sent, but also exist in the future. In this way quanta exist in
terms of time and space in perfect symmetry in both the past
and the future (Aczel, 2002).
Quantum dimensions draw together the multiple dimensions
of the cognitive, social, cultural, spiritual, behavioural, and tech-
nological that has been named as well as other dimensions that
have yet to be discovered. In classical learning theory these
dimensions primarily exist separately and are expressed as in-
dividual learning theories. QL is instead expressed in terms of
quantum dimensions where together these individual dimensions
create a unified whole. If humans are holistic beings, dismissing
or discarding any individual dimension of this holism causes the
being to cease to exist. The same concept applies to the uni-
verse where all dimensions—named or un-named; discovered
or undiscovered—are necessary components of the whole. Quan-
tum dimensions, when expressed in terms of learning, become
Quantum states are conditions that exist, upon which learn-
ing takes place. These states are predicated upon two principles:
1) quantum states are states of being and 2) quantum states
represent states of readiness for learning. While Heidegger pro-
posed a state of being-in-the-world, quantum states exist as both
temporal (human) and universal states occurring together. This
universality is reflected in a state where “the intelligibility of
[the quantum state is articulated] in [such] primordial a manner
that it gives rise to a potentiality-for-learning which is genuine
and… transparent” (Heidegger, 1962: p. 165).
If quantum states represent states of learning readiness, and if
is accepted that learning occurs ubiquitously, it follows that learn-
ing can occur either imperceptibly, in a state of heightened aware-
ness, or both. This polarity only exists however within the finite
human mind as we “learn” every moment of our existence. Neu-
ral brain structures constantly communicate and process infor-
mation in a continual action of re-wiring or re-integrating the
existing neural net (Smith, Hood, Stock, Pimm, & Lemke,
2006). Even when we sleep, this process continues. QL, how-
ever, goes beyond the confines of the human body and also
occurs outside of our mortal beings. Everything (human and
technological) exists and does so in a quantum state or a state of
readiness or perpetual quantum state. Likewise, the universe
presents in a quantum state. Learning occurs through constant
communication (or in other words entanglement) in the medium
of time and space. Therefore quantum states occur based on the
principle of superposition and exist in all things, in all places,
and at all times. Quantum states are holographic in nature.
Rosado offers that we live in a “divided world” which extends
infinitely (Rossado, p. 2075). In this divided world, learning and
learning theory is not viewed holistically, but rather as “inher-
ently discrete, distanced and disconnected” (p. 2075). QL draws
its precepts from quantum mechanics where learning is seen as
a holographic entity and where we navigate space and time in
terms of holism (Pribram, 2006). QL does not exist “here or
there” but rather comes about “here and there” encompassing
“everywhere and everywhen” (p. 43).
QL operates on the quantum principle of entanglement where
divisible entities act and interact, and a change in one inextrica-
bly enacts a change in the other. Where Siemens sees learning
as a process of progressively connecting nodes, QL suggests
that the various entities that make up the unified whole of
quantum learning are already connected. Learning is the proc-
ess of discovering those connections (Siemens, 2006). As Lip-
ton (2005) noted,
Einstein revealed that we do not live in a [learning] uni-
verse with discrete, physical objects separated by dead
space. The [learning] universe is one indivisible, dynamic
whole in which energy and matter are so deeply entangled
it is impossible to consider them as independent elements.
QL purports that learning comes about through infinite in-
teractions that occur as we temporally and virtually exist. Learn-
ing is about the realization of those interactions and how they
impact our everyday lives. Learning then, “is not [solely] a
motion [or an action]... but rather a state of being” (Rossado,
2008: p. 2081). This state of being is referred to as a quantum
state or a state of readiness upon which learning is predicated.
While QL “underlies our everyday experience” it also exists
as a “domain” of learning that resides outside our immediate,
temporal experience in terms of technology and ultimately in
the largely uncharted domains of time and space (Pribram, 2006:
p. 43). Pribram illustrates the principle of entanglement with
the use of a slide projector image. If the lens is taken out of the
projector what is viewed is seen as distributed or entangled.
With the lens in, individual entities are visible. The lens makes
the difference. QL provides a “lens” to view learning in a dif-
ferent way as “we search for the transformations that lead us
from one set of observations to a complementary set” (pp.
45-46) which more fully explains learning.
Assumptions of the Quantum Perspective of
Assumptions of QL
QL is based upon five assumptions:
1) Learning is multi-dimensional;
2) Learning occurs in various planes simultaneously;
3) Learning consists of potentialities which exist infinitely;
4) Learning is holistic/holographic in nature and is patterned
within holographic realities;
5) Learning environments are living systems.
Each assumption is explained in more detail to move quan-
tum learning forward toward theory.
Learning Is Multi-Dimensional
While other learning theories focus primarily on one dimen-
sion of learning, QL recognizes that learning is multi-dimen-
sional an intersection of the cognitive, behavioural, social, cul-
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K. J. JANZEN ET AL.
tural, and technological. Past and present experiences, in which
memory has a significant role to play, shape learning in terms
of what has been learned (present and past), role modeling
(present and past), exposure to technology (past and present),
and cultural customs, norms and mores (present and past).
Learning expressed as knowledge is “processed on multiple lev-
els” (Williamson et al., 2004: p. 14) or through various lenses
through which we experience our worlds. “Learning is not sim-
ply about developing one’s knowledge and practice, it also in-
volves understanding who we are and in which communities of
practice we belong and are accepted (Hanley et al., 2006: p.
644). Learning is continually negotiated “within and across”
multiple dimensions (p. 648). Together the dimensions create a
unified whole or what is called a quantum dimension.
Vygotsky saw the learning process working from “the out-
side in” (Glassman, 2001: p. 3). QL recognizes that learning
occurs both within and outside individuals as humans interact
with and within their temporal and virtual worlds. Siemens (2004)
illustrated this in terms of learning or knowledge existing in
“non-human appliances” as well as within humans (p. 3). In this
way learning is not only consciously created, but it also exists
within technology. These temporal-virtual worlds experience con-
stant change as the pace of technology increases exponentially.
What is considered cutting-edge pedagogy today may be brought
into question for its pragmatism tomorrow. While our human-
ness creates an anchor to the temporal world, technology cre-
ates an anchor to the virtual world. In the virtual world knowl-
edge is “stored and manipulated by technology” (Mattar, 2010:
p. 10). While temporal knowledge or quanta exists in technol-
ogy because of humans, it would be naïve to assume that as
human we are the only creators of quanta. Within the confines
of what we have discovered however, quantum learners engage
with and choose from an abundance of information—both hu-
man and technological. This allows the scope of their worlds to
increase and learning begins to occur in multi-planar environ-
Learning Occurs in Various Planes Simultaneously
Siemens (2006b) identifies that “knowledge structures [are not
one-dimensional], hierarchical, flat [or] confined belief spaces”
(p. 29). Likewise, learning is not restricted to the Cartesian dual-
ity of the mind or body, but exists within cognitive, emotional,
social (Calvani, 2008; Clark, 1997), spiritual and technological
planes. While each of these elements exists singularly, they con-
tinually interface with others creating learning that has both depth
and breadth. This interface creates a medium for learning where
all elements simultaneously co-exist (Andone et al., 2006).
Returning to the example of the seamstress using interfacing,
the surfaces of these multiple planes are connected and yet sepa-
rate; existing as divisible properties and yet as one. With heat-
activated or fusible interfacing polymers exist on one side of
the interfacing. When activated by heat and pressure the mor-
phology of the polymers is changed to a tack surface which
dries upon the removal of the heat source (Dar et al., 2008).
Thus the interfacing becomes fused with the fabric. Applying
this example to QL, envision an interfacing that has polymers
on both sides of the interfacing which connect multiple layers
of fabric with multiple pieces of interfacing. In QL these planes
are not flat surfaces but rather holograms existing in all direc-
tions. Learning occurs and becomes fused and interconnected
(in terms of space) on multiple planes.
To take this precept further, it is posited that learning be-
comes connected by time as well as space. Within this connec-
tion there are realms of knowledge that simultaneously exist
and communicate within space and time (See Figure 1). The
primary realm of knowledge is quantasic knowledge where intel-
ligence exists in its purest form. Atomistic knowledge pertains
to the realm of the atom and subatomic, while temporalistic
knowledge relates to the earth and our existence/experience upon
the earth. Universalistic knowledge moves outward from tem-
poralistic knowledge and encompasses the knowledge of, or per-
taining to, the universe. This can be defined both in terms of
what we know about the universe and the knowledge that is
possessed by the universe. Through science and space travel,
universalistic knowledge is becoming more understood. These
realms of knowledge, identified at this point in human history,
do not preclude that other realms of knowledge exist either in
smaller realms or greater realms. At some point these may be
named and identified.
Learning is past, present oriented and future oriented. This is
consistent with the principles of quantum physics where time
exists in perfect symmetry in both the future and the past (Ac-
zel, 2002). From a human perspective our future hopes, expec-
tations and dreams mediate and influence the learning trajectory.
From a technological perspective we are transcending bounda-
ries that limit learning. Learning creates “quantum [relationships
which] evoke new [realities] that could have not been predicted
by breaking down... [the] relational entities [of the various planes
or dimensions of quantum learning] into their individual prop-
erties” (University of Oregon, n.d., p. 2). When human and tech-
nological perspectives merge, potential is infinite.
Learning Consists of Potentialities Which Exist
Human beings only use a fraction of their mental capacity.
Infinite potential exists within humans to create, experience, learn,
and grow (Stressing, 2011). Looking at learning from “a [tem-
poral] sense, from the first breath at birth to the last moments
before death, each individual exists in a plane of never-ending
input and output... [where] organizing this information [be-
comes] the process of learning” (Janzen, 2010: p. 520). While
the human mind processes four billion bits of information per
second, we only have awareness of 2000 of these (Arntz et al.,
2006). Our awareness of these bits of information (quantum)
Realms of knowledge expressed within QL.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
K. J. JANZEN ET AL.
does not negate the presence of the four billion bits of informa-
tion (quanta) that exist. Likewise our limited awareness of the
universe does not negate the existence of an infinite number of
quanta. Thus, QL is considered infinite in nature—learning which
exists within a time and space without boundaries without be-
ginning or end.
We consider intelligence to be directly correlated with learn-
ing potential and cognitive ability. Instead, consider intelligence
as a physical entity rather than cognitive ability. Cognitive abil-
ity when it is reduced to atomistic proportions is ultimately about
chemicals (Pert, 1997). These chemicals, made up of molecules,
and are reducible to sub-atomistic elements that communicate
and connect via synaptic spaces between neurons in an expan-
sive neural net (Arntz et al., 2006). Learning is purposefully
created in these neural nets. This learning, or communication, is
not hardwired as the neural net operates upon constant re-rewiring
and re-integration (2006). In viewing intelligence as a physical
entity there exists infinite potentialities within the body/brain to
Intelligence in QL is the purest form of quanta that can exist
in a quantum state. In the universe and that which is virtual,
intelligence is expressed in waves and particles in the form of
quantum which entangle and constantly communicate. In the
human body intelligence is likewise expressed neurally as neu-
rons connect to all other neurons and communicate in the neural
net. Intelligence, when looked at in this way, presents a plat-
form for the existence of infinite potentiality. While we as hu-
man beings express this potentiality in many ways, one of the
ways intelligence is expressed is the aptitude to construct and
Vision allows humans to transcend what it currently known
and become future orientated. QL exists within the power of
having a vision of what can be, or what can become. The vision
of the teacher (whether that be a human teacher or a techno-
logical teacher) intersects with the vision of the student. Within
the intersection of these two “visions” learning occurs. QL
(existing within quantum states) becomes a way of being-
in-the-world (Heidegger, 1962) where there are no boundaries
except those which we set ourselves (Merleau-Ponty, 1967). In
this way learning becomes holographic.
Learning Is Holistic/Holographic and Is Patterned
within Holographic Realities
In a “holographic universe... everything is connected to eve-
rything else (Rossado, 2008: p. 2080). Siemens (2004) explains
that “people, groups, systems, nodes, entities can [become] con-
nected to create an integrated whole” (p. 3). Likewise it is holo-
graphic connections or entanglements that result in both knowl-
edge formation and knowledge translation. Knowledge is not
linear (Mattar, 2010) but instead is holographic.
In a temporal sense, finiteness only exists within the learner’s
perceptions. In a temporal world the capacity to learn grows
and expands with time. In the virtual world learning exists infi-
nitely and exponentially. QL allows the virtual world “as [an]
invisible, enfolded universe,” (Rossado, 2008: p. 2081) to merge
with the temporal world. Merging this duality “creates an ex-
perience of non-duality” (2085) where the virtual and the tem-
poral are perceived as one and become the learner’s reality.
Elizabeth Sahtouis, the evolutionary biologist noted
learning and thus intelligence means being able to see the
many levels of the whole in space and time and taking
them into account when making a decision. It’s all about
context. The larger your context is the more intelligent your
decisions will be. It is about being able to think about dif-
ferent levels of reality at the same time. (Touber, 2006:
Holographic realities are about being able to view learning
holistically as a continuation of time and space. Holographic
realities do not exist on a continuum but rather as holographic
matrices that exist in all directions. Consider the presence of
waves and particles as quanta existing in superposition and hav-
ing properties of entanglement. Learning which exists in infi-
nite potentialities occurs within, or is reflected in, the presence
of a quantum state. This quantum state is holographic. In a holo-
graphic reality learners are not separated from the environment
but are a continuation of an environment within a living system.
As human beings exist on a sub-atomic level, ultimately we
exist in an atomistic reality of waves and particles which inter-
act with other waves and particles. These waves and particles
do not differentiate between that which is human and virtual as
all exists holistically. Human-virtual environments communi-
cate holistically or as if they were one. It is only our finite
minds that see them as separate. QL suggests that learning en-
vironments, as part of the holographic reality, also exist as liv-
Learning Environments Are Living Systems
QL environments (QLEs) are living systems that become
“real” to those who engage with them. Reality becomes a single
merged entity, rather than one based on either virtuality or
temporality. “Alterations within [QLEs] have ripple effects on
the whole” (Siemens, 2004: p. 3) as these environments de-
velop and adapt (Handley et al., 2006).
Consider a pond as a living system. Within the water a mul-
titude of life forms exist in a complex microcosm. A pebble
tossed into a pond creates ripples which have an immediate
effect on the whole pond. Not only the face of the pond is
changed but the pebble may change or affect that which exists
within that pond. When learning is introduced into a living
system, just as the pebble is introduced into the pond, there are
immediate changes in that living system which ripple outward
and affect all aspects of that system.
We rarely learn in single units of information (quantum). Rather
we learn within multiple bits of information (quanta). To fur-
ther the analogy of the pebbles and the pond, consider the effect
multiple pebbles tossed into the pond at the same time have upon
the pond environment. The ripples in the water, which arise from
the pebbles, intersect. Even though we only visually see the rip-
ples as being flat, they are instead wave-like and extend every-
where. QLEs are similar. The living learning system as a wave-
like system extends in all directions. The difference between
the pond and QLEs is that while the pond has finite parameters
which we can easily see, quantum learning environments do not.
QLEs “are [made up of] connections [where]—everything is con-
nected to everything else” (Touber, 2006: para. 6) and have the
ability to grow without the constraints or borders of the pond.
QLEs expand, grow and transform through time and space as
do the individuals who engage with them.
QLE’s unlike the machine-like design of [behavioralist
environments] operate according to the principles of living
systems. They operate the way nature does—at the edge
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 717
K. J. JANZEN ET AL.
of chaos.... They are organic webs of life: dynamic, inter-
connected networks of relationships that are constantly
learning, adapting and evolving (Youngblood, 1997: p.
QLEs take into account humanity and technology. Learning
does not take place only within face-to-face or virtual class-
rooms, quantum learning takes place ubiquitously. With a shift
in seeing learning environments as living systems, ultimately
the context of learning is enlarged exponentially. Quantum me-
chanics, when applied to learning theory, allows learning to
expand beyond science and technology to become inexplicably
connected to humans—humans who are interconnected and
interact with the real world (Rossado, 2008).
Overview of Common Assumptions between the
Quantum Perspective of Learning and
QL, as mentioned previously, takes elements of contempo-
rary learning theories and builds upon them to create a new
perspective. Thus QL neither dismisses nor negates previous
theory but instead attempts to come to an understanding about
commonalities. It is beyond the scope of this paper to fully
explore the intersections of QL and the many forms of learning
theory. This will be explored in a future paper. As such, Ap-
pendix A presents an overview of the commonalities in as-
sumptions of the six contemporary learning theories that have
been presented in this paper and situates them with corre-
sponding assumptions of QL.
Implications and Conclusion
QL facilitates re-thinking of learning theory by building upon
existing theory to explain learning in a fresh and inviting way.
QL extracts the best elements of previous learning theory and
builds upon them to explain learning in a more holistic sense.
The lens of QL, like the lens of a projector, helps us view learn-
ing in a clear new light.
Existing learning theories have varying degrees of relevance,
being embraced by some and discarded by others. However, we
can examine relevant elements of existing theories, and use this
analysis to illuminate our understanding of learning. If we ne-
gate and refute existing theories without extracting relevant axi-
oms, our efforts to further understand learning could be equated
with van Manen’s (2002) precept of Writing in the Dark. If we
find ourselves “writing in the dark”, we are left not only sight-
less in terms of vision but also directionless in terms of reach-
ing toward the future—for the past influences the future. As the
philosopher Merleau-Ponty (1967) so aptly expressed,
I may close my eyes, and stop my ears, I shall neverthe-
less, not cease to hear, if it is only the blackness before my
eyes, or to hear, if only the silence, and in the same way I
can “bracket” my opinion or beliefs [or the understanding
of learning] that I have acquired, but, whatever I think or
decide, it is always against the background of what I have
previously believed or done (p. 395).
Our discoveries regarding learning are like realizations en-
countered when shining a flashlight in the dark (Arntz et al., 2006).
Each movement of the flashlight results in new discoveries or
paradigms. While the flashlight can only focus on one element
at a time, this does not negate the existence of other paradigms
or theories that currently exist or that will eventually arise. Imagine
a darkened room where one cannot see and visualize the very
moment the electrical switch is engaged. What results is a uni-
fied paradigm—one which we envision for the very first time.
This unified paradigm always existed, but due to our finiteness
it is difficult to comprehend without a significant source of illu-
mination. QL helps provide that illumination.
Future learning theories built on what we have known and
what we know today are waiting to be explicated and named.
Perhaps it is the time to embrace a new paradigm of learning.
QL offers an effectual door which we can open and step
through in a new view of learning.
This paper was funded by the Social Sciences and Humani-
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Intersecting assumptions of QL and contemporary theory.
Assumptions of QL
Multi-Dimensional Multiple Planes Infinite Potential Holistic and
Holographic Realties Living Systems
Learning dependent on
Cognitivism Ideas and patterns fit
(Williamson et al., 2004)
Knowledge processed on
(Williamson et al., 2004)
Freedom of inquiry =
link to future
“Continuity of learning”
(Schmidt, 2010: p. 141)
(Hunter & Smith, 2007)
(Purkey, 1992b: p. 2)
Constructivism Learning is contextual
Active engagement with
Learning active process
Connectivism Exchange of information
organized into networks
fields, ideas and
(Guider, 2010: p. 37)
Capacity to know
network have ripple effect
(Siemens, 2004: p. 3)
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