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.