Reflection

writing

Thought this course, I learned a lot of surprising information about how people learn. I have experience teaching in both brick-and-mortar schools and in an online setting and I thought I knew what worked, but after taking this course, I have deeper understanding of why certain teaching techniques work. I learned a lot of new information such as how neuroscience does not always correlate to learning. The learning theory connectivism was entirely new to me. Before learning about connectivism, I overlooked how often I use resources like search engines to gain information and solve problems. Another surprising thing I learned was how philosophical these learning theories can be and how there are no definite answers to questions such as “How do people learn?”. I was surprised that there were not clear, agreed-upon definitions of terms like “knowledge” and “learning”.

This course has deepened my understanding of how I personally learn in a few ways. It has enabled me to see how what I am doing fits in with specific learning theories. I can see the influence of cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism the most in how I learn. This course has also helped illuminate ways in which I am already using these theories in my instructional practice. I often use analogies and stories to share information, which relates to cognitivism. I value clear, measurable objectives which aligns with behaviorism. Whenever I teach hands-on tasks like painting or drawing, I use a constructivist approach.

All of these learning theories have value. There seems to be no one-size-fits-all approach to instruction. We need to adapt our instruction to suit both the content we are teaching and the learner(s). In that sense, all theories have something to offer for different situations. Considering learning styles and motivation is also important. Every learner is an individual with his or her own needs and strengths. Good instruction comes from considering which learning theory and strategies will suit the learner(s) as well as the content being taught.

This course will help me design more effective instruction because it has given me a more comprehensive framework. If I were tasked with designing a course right now, I would be able to incorporate aspects from all of the learning theories if applicable. I would be able to use the ARCS model to maintain learners’ interest. As I mentioned in the fist paragraph, I have always used techniques that I thought worked will in the classroom. Now, I know why they work well and I can get creative with them. This course has also provided me with more learning strategies I can use in my current position. As a facilitator of self-paced courses, I think that helping learners incorporate metacognitive strategies is important. Overall, I feel like I gained more solid instructional techniques that I can use moving forward. 

Advertisements

Week 7: Understanding Learning Theories

writing.jpg

Q: Now that you have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, how has your view on how you learn changed?

A: Initially, I had some misconceptions about learning theories. For example, I thought that constructivism was the same as constructionism. I have since learned that they are different, and that I learn using aspects of all of the learning theories. I do not think I learn best with one theory over the other.  I can still say my favorite way to learn and to teach is to relate new information to previous knowledge through the use of pictures, analogies, and stories. I learn best if I can understand the meaning behind new information. Now I just have a deeper understanding of why I learn best this way.

Q: What have you learned about the various learning theories and learning styles over the past weeks that can further explain your own personal learning preferences?

A: My personal preferences seem aligned most to cognitivism. In cognitivism, knowledge is able to be committed to long term memory if we can make sense of it. Importance lies in being able to properly “file” the information in our minds, so that we can recall it and apply it later. I think this explains why I learn well from stories and analogies. It helps me properly relate and store new information. In addition to this, Cognitivism accepts an objective, external reality. From a philosophical stand-point, I also believe in an objective reality. I believe knowledge is able to be “mapped onto” the mind.

Adult learning and connectivism also relate to how I learn today. As an adult learner, I realized I rely heavily on my network and on technology to learn new information. I am motivated by meeting goals. Andragogy explains that adults are motivated to learn when it can help meet their needs.

Q: What role does technology play in your learning (i.e., as a way to search for information, to record information, to create, etc.)?

A: Technology plays a huge role in my learning process. I use search engines daily to search for new information. The downside is –  if  I am able to search for it, I am less likely to commit it to memory since I can easily access it later. Besides using search engines, I use the Internet to connect with other people and to create content such as this blog. I take online courses as well as facilitate them for my job. Most of my learning takes place online. Along with the Internet, I use other forms of technology to learn such as T.V. (watching documentaries) and radio (listening to podcasts, the news, etc.). Despite all of the wonderful information new technology is able to provide, I still like physical copies of books and notebooks. I have never adapted well to online note-taking. 

Connectivism: My Mindmap

My Learning Connections

My network has changed the way I learn because I am required to know fewer bits of information. Over the years, I have increasingly relied on my network for information and education. A great example of this change is the popular Internet meme about calculators. Whenever I was elementary school in the nineties, teachers often said things like:

You better learn how to do the math in your head because you aren’t always going to have a calculator in your pocket!” Less than ten years later, everyone had cell phones with calculators (literally in their pockets). Now, everyone essentially has a mini-computer in their pocket, which means we could lookup any piece of information imaginable and get answers immediately.

We no longer need to “store”every piece of information within our own minds; we can rely on our network(s). Our network consists of where we gather information (i.e. reference books, friends, Google, seminars, etc.)

My favorite digital tool for facilitating learning are search engine websites like Google. I can find out information about almost anything by using Google. However, I still tend to ask people I know for information whenever I have questions. The way I ask them questions have changed though. I may text the question or ask them via social media rather than call or ask in person.

After creating a mindmap of my personal learning connections, I think my network supports the tenets of connectivism. It highlights where and how I gather information, and how even those places are connected. It made me realize how much I rely on other people and technology to learn. As technology improves, I suppose people will become increasingly more dependent upon their networks (online). I feel fortunate to live in a time where people are connected and we have more information at our disposal than ever before. I just hope we proceed with caution. Networks can become limiting and corrupt. Search Engines can tailor search results to fit an agenda, misinformation can be spread easily, and algorithms are not perfect. With these considerations, critical thinking will continue to be a valuable resource.

 

Information Processing Theory, The Brain and Learning, & Problem-solving Methods during the Learning Process

This week, I learned about Information Processing Theory and how neuroscience relates (and does not relate) to instructional design.

Cognitive Information Processing Theory (CIP Theory)

Cognitive Information Processing Theory, despite its name suggesting it’s one theory, is actually a blanket term for a few different theoretical approaches. In this post, I’m going to share some of the resources I found that have helped me gain a better understanding of CIP theory

http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/information-processing/

I found this website helpful because it highlights G. A. Miller’s theoretical ideas. It states  that our attention span can only handle a certain number of “chunks of information” at once. The chunks, the website says, are “any meaningful unit.” I liked how the website gave examples of applications of these ideas. In addition to it being helpful, it seems like a good source since the citations listed seem credible.

https://sites.google.com/site/cognitiveapproachtolearning/cognitiveinformationprocessing

While this is not a scholarly resource, I found the information on this website to be aligned with what is written in my instructional design course textbook. The references at cited at the bottom of the webpage seemed credible (.edu and Pearson), although I was unable to access many of them because they no longer exist on the web. The information on the website is presented in a way that I can clearly understand. Whenever I initially read the chapter on CIP in the textbook Learning Theories and Instruction, I felt as though I got bogged down in the details and could not get a summary or proper overview of CIP theory. This website helped me understand what was written in my textbook about CIP, so I found it very helpful. I also liked the section including links to relevant YouTube videos about CIP.

The Brain and Learning

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/interviews/bruer.html

John Bruer, the author of the “Myth of the First Three Years” is seemingly an advocate for  referencing neuroscience responsibly and using evidence-based interventions in education. In his words (from the linked article) “If our intent is to use science and research to form policy, to guide educational practice and to give parents assistance, it’s incumbent on people putting forth those arguments to get the science right.” I found this PBS interview with him. I especially liked the line where he highlights the importance of behavioral science — it is a science just like biology is a science. I enjoyed the interview.

https://www.brookings.edu/research/windows-of-opportunity-their-seductive-appeal/

This is an in-depth article that explains how neuroscience can be misused to influence political policy around early childhood education. I found this article easier to read than other resources on the same topic. It covered the “early window of opportunity” and  explained the “seductive appeal of neuroscience” to non-experts. It is a similar perspective to Bruer’s in the link above, but I liked how easy it was to read.

Problem-solving in Relation to the Learning Process

http://theelearningcoach.com/learning/metacognition-and-learning/

I found this website written by an instructional designer describing strategies to help improve learners’ metacognition. I am interested in strategies to help learners “think about thinking” as the blogger mentions in the article. This article was an easy read and very practical for teachers and instructional designers alike.

http://www.ipsascientia.org/blogbits/what-is-meaningful-learning

As any teacher knows, it’s important to make your lessons meaningful to your students. It’s also important to relate new information to students’ prior knowledge. The resource linked above is a blog that cites one of the authors of my ID course textbook (Ormrod). The blogger describes and summarizes what meaningful learning is and how to achieve it. I thought it was a decent summary of how meaningful learning relates to the transfer of knowledge from teacher to learner.

I hope you find these links as helpful as I have.

 

References have been linked above.

Additional References:

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York, NY: Pearson.

 

 

Blogs about Instructional Design

In this post, I’m compiling a list of blogs that focus on Instructional Design and explaining why I think they are good resources.

Resource 1: Infed

article: What is Learning: Exploring Theory, Product, and Process

This website would serve as an extremely useful reference for learning and learning theories. In the article I linked to above, the author describes learning in great detail and explains different learning theories. I always assumed there was a consensus among experts about the definition of the word learning. Most people use the word often, and it seems so simple. It does not seem like you would need to be an expert to discern what the word “learning” means. The author of the article does a great job at explaining how ideas about learning have evolved over time. I appreciated the table towards the bottom of the page with the different theories and the individuals who contributed to them. I also like how the author broke down the different taxonomies.

Resource 2: Instruction @UH

article: Setting Up the First Day of an Online Class

I chose this blog because it relates to my career as an online instructor. Even though the topic is familiar to me, I think it is useful to read about different perspectives. The information in the blog article I linked above is helpful. I like the suggestion about having students complete a non-graded activity. I’m happy to say that I am already implementing most of the suggestions, and they do work! The Instruction @UH website seems to have a lot of resources pertaining to successfully facilitating online learning experiences.

Resource 3: Train Like a Champ: A Learning and Development Blog

This blog provides insight into the life of an eLearning Developer. The articles are personal and well-written. I almost feel like I am learning one-on-one by job shadowing the author(s). It also contains a link to a “Must Read” books section, which could prove helpful.

Resource 4: Instructional Design Central

Whenever I was initially searching for information about Instructional Design, I found this website. It contains descriptions of the field as well as links to important tools designers use like links to various learning management systems. It also contains a blog full of articles on Instructional Design and eLearning.

 

 

Smith, M. K. (2018). ‘Learning theory’, the encyclopedia of informal education. [http://infed.org/mobi/learning-theory-models-product-and-process/. Retrieved: 1/07/19].
Photo credit J Kelly Brito (Unsplash)

First Post, Introduction

Hi, I’m Danyelle.

I have a BA in Art Education from Seton Hill University. I am creating this blog for my continuing education in Instructional Design. I have years of experience in eLearning, but I’m working on taking my education to the next level.