Saturday, 24 October 2015

Final Reflections

There are a multitude of factors that contribute to our ability to acquire knowledge and skills.  Learning can be examined from a biological, philosophical and learning theory perspective.  In addition, there are learning styles, multiple intelligences, affect, and motivational considerations that can be applied to children (pedagogy), adult learners (andragogy), and more recently, online learners.  Technology continues to play an increasing role in education and will require us to continue learning by following the research and developments in educational technology.

As I furthered my knowledge about how people learn, it made me realize that people are not just diverse physically and culturally, but also in the way they learn.   By examining and comparing the various learning theories throughout this course, I have gained an awareness, understanding and appreciation of why the theories were developed and in which contexts they appear to be more relevant.  I also identified the learning theory that best describes my own personal learning process.  As an instructional designer, I must always be cognizant of my own learning preferences and processes so that they do not overly influence my work.  It is vital to recognize and appropriately design instruction to meet the needs of all learners.

I have worked in higher education throughout my career yet I am able to see how learning theories, learning styles, educational technology and motivation equally applies to K-12 educators and instructional designers.   Adult learners have different challenges than children, such as balancing work, school and family life. (Cercone, 2008) They also bring life experience and prior learning to the classroom and tend to be self-directed and motivated.  As an adult learner, I am primarily intrinsically motivated and enjoy the autonomy of the online learning environment.  

Our learning path in this course was well-constructed and demonstrated the effectiveness of scaffolding.  Once the foundation of learning theories was established, we were able to build upon this foundation by examining adult learners, online learners, using technology effectively and the role of motivation.  Using the ARCS model as well as constructing the Learning Theory Matrix provided me with an excellent opportunity to consolidate many of the topics studied in the course.  The Learning Theory Matrix allowed me to compare and contrast the various learning theories and I was able to apply the ARCS model in a problem-solving context to address the issue of motivation in an online course.

As an instructional designer, recognizing and understanding the many factors that impact learning is essential if I am to effectively meet the needs of a wide variety of learners.   Even with well-designed instruction, students will be more successful if they are motivated to learn.  In an online learning environment, it may be even more challenging to motivate students.

I now can appreciate how complex learning is and why there are so many different articles, journals, publications and resources available to instructional designers and educators.  I look forward to my next course in Instruction Design where I hope to further apply my knowledge of learning theories and instruction.

source:  http://elearningindustry.com/what-does-an-instructional-designer-do-infographic

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Fitting the Pieces Together

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

My view on how I learn has not changed significantly. Cognitivism and constructivism best describe how I learn at this point in my life. What has changed is my understanding of the many learning theories and how they were developed in response to deficiencies in existing learning theories.  I now have a better understanding of learning styles, learning strategies, and learning theories and how each helps to explain how I learn.

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?

My week one posting included a reference to connectivism that I "discovered" accidentally during my research and I am glad we had an opportunity to examine it.  Connectivism resonates with me because I have witnessed firsthand the significant changes in the volume and nature of information available to us as a result of technology and the Internet.   The mind-mapping application clearly demonstrated my reliance on technology for my personal learning network and the many of the resources I use while I learn.   I recognize that when I label myself as a "visual learner", I am using visualizations to construct and connect new material.  As an adult learner, I have greater motivation and am self-directed and independent and this allows me to be a more successful online student.

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

Looking back, my early learning years now seem very one-dimensional with respect to learning materials (books, pencil, paper), learning environment (classroom) and the time when my learning occurred (Monday to Friday between 9 and 3).  Today, information is available and communicated in multiple formats (appealing to a variety of learning styles) and is accessible at home, at work, at school, on the bus or train --  24 hours a day and seven days a week.

"Google" was added to both the Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2006.   Google is derived from the word googol which means 10100 (an incredibly large number).   We continue to be exposed to an incredibly large amount of new information, innovations, and applications as a result of technology.     Using technology to search for information saves me significant time as I do not have to personally visit libraries in order to conduct my research.  Technology has enabled me to learn and share with my classmates who are thousands of miles away.  Video brings words to life as I watch and listen rather than just read words on a page (but I still have the option of reading words on a page).  The work I produce is more visually appealing (by using colours and images) and I can easily share it with others.  We seem to be using technology more than ever to help us learn and it provides convenience, variety and currency to my learning.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Learning Connections


I created this mind map using a Google app from MindMup.com

Mapping my learning connections has greatly reinforced and demonstrated the relevance of Connectivism learning theory.  I am constantly drawing on a wide variety of resources in all aspects of my life and more and more of these resources are digital.  My work, education and personal interests intersect through the use of many of the technologies shown on the above mind map.   

Technology has allowed us to develop extensive learning networks that can be accessed by the click of a mouse.  Much of the information I consume does not differ in content but rather in how I access it (online versus paper-based).  I no longer have to personally visit the library or wait until I am at work to view a file that I was working on last week or ask someone a question.

Technology has enabled me to store/bookmark/download/subscribe and otherwise access a vast knowledge base.   Tools also allow me to decide how to organize these resources so that I can subsequently find the information I need. 

Tools that best facilitate learning for me allow me to structure digital resources in a way that mimics how I store and access information in my long-term memory.  What is intuitive for one person may not be intuitive for me so I prefer tools and resources that mirror my own internal processes.

I gain new knowledge when I have questions by defining what is needed to bridge the gap between what I know and what I need to know.   This is a systems approach and when I have a clearer understanding of my requirements, it is easier to find a solution as well as the approach to use -- should I talk to someone, can I look the information up in my existing knowledge network, do I need to access specific resources or must I begin with a more general search.

I have had a "personal learning network" for many, many years (as many people do) but now it can be greatly enhanced through online interactions with people you don't necessarily know but who have similar interests and share their ideas, questions and resources.



References

Burt, R. (2014).  What is a Personal Learning Network.  Retrieved from  http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/pln-challenge-1-what-the-heck-is-a-pln/