The literature on serendipitous learning is still in its infancy compared to more mature theories of learning. However, it seems to have emerged as a subset of exploratory learning, which itself is rooted within the constructivist tradition. Whilst serendipitous learning may not yet have gained the academic support that more established theories of learning enjoy, there does appear to be some acceptance that learning can take place as a result of serendipitous online discovery. However, there is insufficient evidence at this stage to assert that serendipitous learning is a consequence or by-product of “intuitive sagacity” or unconscious motives.
There can be little doubt that anything which encourages
exploratory behaviour and therefore learning should be
encouraged, but whether serendipitous browsing is a
sensible or prudent learning strategy is another matter.
Serendipitous browsing does however have the potential to
reveal connections between ideas that may otherwise go
unnoticed, to stimulate “out-of-the-box”
thinking, and to challenge our mental models so that
new learning can take place. In this regard,
serendipity, free association and aimless browsing can
lead to serendipitous learning.