Archive for April, 2012

Reflection

As Walden University’s graduate course ‘Learning Theories and Instruction’ comes to a close, in this assignment I will reflect upon what I have learned and how I will apply that learning in future courses and in my career in the instructional design field. Specifically, I will identify the concepts I found surprising about how people learn, recall how this course deepened my understanding of my own learning process, and examine the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation. In addition, I will explore how my learning in this course furthers my career as an instructional designer.

Prior to enrolling in this course, I had a working knowledge of the general concepts of adult learning theories primarily due to my 15 year experience as an adult educator in a hospital, but I was not knowledgeable of other learning theories with the exception of recognizing names such as Pavlov, Skinner, Piaget, and Maslow from psychology and human growth and development courses as an undergraduate student. Thoroughly examining the learning theories of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism provided the key concepts for understanding how people learn, factors influencing their learning, the role of memory, how transfer occurs, and the types of learning best explained by each theory (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 53). This knowledge became the foundation for understanding key concepts of more advanced learning theories such as Social Learning Theory (Hill, Song, & West, 2009), Connectivism (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008), Adult Learning (Fenwick & Tennant, 2004), and Multiple Intelligences Theory (Armstrong, 2000). Knowing key concepts of these learning theories is not enough. What really matters is being able to incorporate learning strategies into my instructional designs based on these theories and applicable to the objectives and desired outcomes of the learning events.

This course deepened my understanding of my own learning process through the reading of required and supplemental resources and the viewing of online videos. For example, I saw the correlation between Behaviorism theories and teaching methods used in my elementary and secondary education, Cognitivist theories of learning and its “explanations, demonstrations, and emphasis on practice with corrective feedback” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 64) utilized during my basic nursing training, and the elements of Constructivist learning style I use in my professional career as an instructional technology educator. Learning details of cognitive information processing and its key concepts including levels of processing, attention, sensory registers, short term memory, long term memory, learning tasks, encoding, elaboration, schemata, skill acquisition, practice and feedback, and meaningfulness (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009, p. 48-97) provided the foundation of knowledge I need to understand my own learning process as well as transfer that knowledge to others through the utilization of new and improved instructional design skills.

As an educator in my professional career, I now recognize the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation. Learning theories provide a “source of verified instructional strategies, tactics, and techniques” as well as a “foundation for intelligent and reasoned strategy selection” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 51). Learning styles are the “characteristics, strengths, and preferences in the way people receive and process information” (Felder & Silverman, 1988 as cited in Franzoni & Assar, 2009, p. 18). Whether designing face-to-face instructional programs or online learning, according to Felder et al. (2002), “understanding learning style differences is an important step in designing balanced instruction that is effective for all students” (as cited in Gilbert & Swanier, 2008, p. 31). Franzoni & Assar recommends the use of an “adaptive taxonomy” (2009, p. 23) to select teaching strategies based on learning style dimensions and electronic media relationships, therefore providing a link between all three. “There are three factors affecting the choice of application method: teacher, student, and the method itself” (Franzoni & Assar, 2009, p. 25). In addition, motivation, the “level of effort an individual is willing to expend toward the achievement of a certain goal” (Brennen, 2006, as cited in Pew, 2007, p. 14) plays a critical role in “energizing, directing, and sustaining behavior” (McDevitt, 2006, as cited in Pew, 2007, p. 14).

The knowledge I have learned in this course will enable me to immediately start incorporating different instructional strategies into my classroom and e-learning courses based on learning theories and researched-based instructional methods. Having marketable skills as a as an instructional designer opens the door to new and different career opportunities in the event I choose to seek employment in another organization.

In conclusion, this course has been a valuable learning experience. I am confident I will utilize the theoretical foundations of learning theory and instructional methods in my professional career as well as in future graduate courses.

References

Armstrong, T. (2000). Chapter 1: “The foundations of the theory of multiple intelligences. In Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/waldenu/docDownload.action?commonId=10326283&type=qv&page=16

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

Ertmer, P.A., & Newby, T.J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), pp. 50-72. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/courses/81238/CRS-CW-6493349/6115%20Readings/Wk1_Ertmer-Newby-beh-cog-const.pdf

Fenwick, T., & Tennant, M. (2004). Chapter 4: understanding adult learners”. In G. Foley (Ed.), Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/nlebk_108285_AN?sid=b2d72912-8810-49e5-ac2d-2c71e5241873@sessionmgr10&vid=1&lpid=lp_55

Franzoni, A. L., & Assar, S. (2009). Student learning styles adaptation method based on teaching strategies and electronic media. Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 15-29. Retrieved from http://ezp.waldenulibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=44785095&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Gilbert, J. E., & Swanier, C. A. (2008). Learning styles: how do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal, [Vol. 1], p. 29-40. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~witteje/ilsrj/Journal%20Volumes/Fall%202008%20Volume%201%20PDFs/Learning%20Styles%20How%20do%20They%20Fluctuate.pdf

Hill, J.R., Song, L., & West, R.E. (2009). Social learning theory and web-based learning environments: a review of research and discussion of implications. The American Journal of Distance Education, 23, 88-103. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1080/ 08923640902857713

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

Pew, S. (2007). Andragogy and pedagogy as foundational theory for student motivation in higher education. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 2, 14-25. Retrieved from http://ezp. waldenulibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=32917503&site=ehost-live&scope=site

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Fitting the Pieces Together

I am amazed as to how things can change in a short period of time. As a graduate student in Instructional Design and Technology, seven weeks ago I began the course ‘Learning Theories and Instruction’. Readings, discussions, and assignments have included the learning theories of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, Social Learning, Connectivism, Adult Learning, and Multiple Intelligences as well as learning styles and strategies, and integrating technology into instruction.

In the initial discussion posting for Week One ‘Understanding the Learning Process’ I described my learning style in this manner: “Of the learning theories presented this week, the Behaviorism and Cognitivist are most represented of my style of learning though I also have elements of Constructivism style of learning because I prefer to include “practice, knowledge, and context” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 64) in my learning activities.”

A few days later in a posting, my response included this statement about my learning style: “…Considering the overlap, instructional designers would be wise in designing content which incorporates all three types of strategies (Behavioral, Cognitive, and Constructivist) into the curriculum at the location on the time line when each strategy will have the greatest impact. Teachers and other educators such as me may be Constructivists at heart but we can learn new techniques to successfully teach those who require a more direct approach.”

Week Two’s initial discussion posting ‘Understanding How the Brain Processes Information’ included this statement regarding my learning style: “Almost 20 years later as I begin my graduate studies, I remain disciplined in my study habits. I am a visual learner, preferring to study independently. This online graduate program perfectly suits my learning style.”

In a blog posting from Week Five regarding ‘Connectivism’ I shared this information about myself: “Almost 40 years later, I am fascinated by the many options people have for obtaining knowledge. There is no denying the impact the digital world, especially computers and the internet have had on learning. To show the impact of networks on my learning, I constructed a mind map, identifying seven areas having a direct influence on my learning connections: academia, professional, informal learning, personal, spiritual, passions, and health and wellness. My personal learning network as presented in my mind map supports the central tenets of connectivism including the connection of information sources, nurturing and maintaining connections to facilitate continual learning, and the ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).”

During Week Six in response to a comment about me always linking the subject material with my own ‘real-life, real-work’ scenarios, I shared this information about being an adult learner: “If I cannot apply this new learning to my professional career and life experiences then it would be a waste of time for me to complete a graduate degree. For adult learners, experience is a “critical component of their self-identity” (Knowles, 1974, as cited in Kenner & Weinerman, 2011, p.88).”

As these quotes illustrate, in seven short weeks I have gone from being a Behaviorist to a Cognitivist, from Cognitivist to a Constructivist, from Constructivist to a Connectivist, and from Connectivist to an Adult Learner. Now that I have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, did my view of how I learn change? The answer is “yes” and “no”. Yes, depending on the learning activity and its goals, I learned I have some of each of the major learning theories in me. As an educator in a healthcare setting, incorporating instructional strategies into the design of educational programs, I am now able to recognize the learning theories behind the chosen strategies. On the other hand, my perception of my preferred learning style of being a visual learner has not changed.

In regards to my personal learning preferences, I consider myself to be an adult learner. I prefer to learn independently by quietly reading and digesting information and yet, I also learn by doing through hands-on activities. Like other adult learners, I am results-oriented, self-directed, seeks information as it relates to previous experiences, and accepts responsibility for my own learning (Rochester Institute of Technology, 2012). Since starting the graduate program for Instructional Design and Technology, I am amazed as to how much I have learned from discussions and blogs with my instructor and classmates in a social learning context.

Technology plays a huge role in my learning. On a daily basis I use internet search engines, electronic libraries, websites, blogs, and wikis to search for information. I use desktop applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access to record and create information. Additionally, I use electronic email including Microsoft Outlook and Walden University’s My Dashboard for all personal, professional, and school-related communications which represent technology skills learned as an adult learner. On a professional level, I utilize advanced database and SQL skills as well as e-learning course development skills while functioning as the system administrator for my organization’s learning management system. These skills were learned through a variety of different learning methods including instructor-led classes, online learning courses, books, websites, technology resource manuals, demonstrations, and hands-on skills applications.

To conclude, in a previous blog posting I shared information about the influence of technology on my learning connections. This information bears repeating: “It is important to note, without technology I would not be enrolled in an online graduate program for instructional design or have a job in the training and development field. Also, without the opportunity to learn new skills through internet websites, I would not have the opportunity to use the same computer skills across a continuum of professional and personal events and activities. Computer applications and internet websites continue to be the digital tools I use on a daily basis to facilitate my learning.”

References:

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.phptitle=Connectivism

Ertmer, P.A., & Newby, T.J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), pp. 50-72. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/courses/81238/CRS-CW-6493349/6115%20Readings/Wk1_Ertmer-Newby-beh-cog-const.pdf

Kenner, C., & Weinerman, J. (2011). Adult learning theory: applications to non-traditional college students. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 42(2), 87-96. Retrieved from http://ezp.waldenulibrary.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/docview/863852200?accountid=14872

Rochester Institute of Technology (2012). Characteristics of adult learners. Retrieved from http://online.rit.edu/faculty/teaching_strategies/adult_learners.cfm

Connectivism

Connectivism, a learning theory for the digital age consists of three components: chaos theory, importance of networks, complexity and self-organization (Siemens, 2005, as cited in Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). In this posting I am reflecting on how connectivism’s network connections facilitate learning in my life.

Starting out as an adult learner in the early 1970s when the primary technologies in use were blackboards, chalk, paper exams, and number two pencils, the predominant way to learn was in a setting where teachers and professors lectured while students sat passively in chairs taking copious class notes. Almost 40 years later, I am fascinated by the many options people have for obtaining knowledge. There is no denying the impact the digital world, especially computers and the internet have had on learning.

To show the impact of networks on my learning, I constructed a mind map, identifying seven areas having a direct influence on my learning connections: academia, professional, informal learning, personal, spiritual, passions, and health and wellness. Almost every area of my mind map includes a reference to technology, most often in the form of computer and internet skills. It is important to note, without technology I would not be enrolled in an online graduate program for instructional design or have a job in the training and development field. Also, without the opportunity to learn new skills through internet websites, I would not have the opportunity to use the same computer skills across a continuum of professional and personal events and activities. Computer applications and internet websites continue to be the digital tools I use on a daily basis to facilitate my learning.

Using computers and internet websites often produce questions which need to be answered. When questions arise, the first level of help I seek is the “Help” section of the computer application being used. When my questions remain un-answered, I use a search engine on the internet to find the answers to my questions or to point me towards a website with the answers. My personal learning network as presented in my mind map supports the central tenets of connectivism including the connection of information sources, nurturing and maintaining connections to facilitate continual learning, and the ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).

Connectivism Penny’s Learning Connections

Reference:

Davis, C. , Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism