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

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