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Reflection: Learning Theories in Education

July 1, 2013 Leave a comment

I’d like to reflect on what I have learned and how I can apply it as an instructional designer.

This course focused on learning theories. Regardless of their names, all theories serve as frameworks for conducting research, organizing specific pieces of information, demonstrating the complexity and subtly of events, and finally bringing new insights to situations. (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)

Based on what we’ve studied, I’ve come to believe learning theories are connected in three ways.

  1. They all are formally considered theories when they specifically illustrate the theorist’s basic beliefs, explicitly define key terms, and provide assumptions that can be tested via research.  (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)
  2. The can morph or support subsequent theories and generalizations (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)
  3. They can guide, based on the content and delivery, an instructional designers approach to teaching and learning (Kerr, 2009)

I’ve also learned there is no “one-size-fits-all” reference for learning theories. While outdated, I believe theories like behaviorism can be applicable. For example, telling my child to say, “You’re Welcome” after someone says, “Thank you.”

When she was younger, it was a response. As she became older should could cognitively process the logic behind the exchange and subsequently initiate the phrase “Thank you.”

I also believe social learning theory and connectivism are buoys for – and buoyed by — online learning environments. They promote fast-changing networks of information that are evolving with the shortest half-lives we’ve seen in decades. (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman) Half-life has not shrunk in all areas but Milton (2013) wrote learners are most competitive when they have the most valid knowledge. Hanging on to old knowledge or information past its half-life is potentially dangerous.

What I found most striking as I studied these theories was the amazing body of work focusing on how people think. We spent an entire eight weeks steeped in metacognition or thinking about thinking. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.)

The chapter on neuroscience was fascinating.  I thought it was particularly interesting that declaring something simple and singular as my home address or phone number could simultaneously involve information retrieval from multiple areas of my brain. (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)

Also during this course, I realized my personal learning process had been formed by factors that were environmental, social, cultural – even biological. (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)

Learning about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has helped me to appreciate the cognitive strengths or acumens of humans and understand the positive or negative impacts of physical and social environments to support or curtail them.

Concluding, as I move forward in my career as an instructional designer I fully intend to:

Design all instruction based on my knowledge of learning theories. Additionally, I will be cognizant of how the brain works to acquire, store, and retrieve information. I will couple the former with sensitivity to humans’ multiple intelligences.

It is my intention moving forward to apply the best practices for engaging and motivating students to successfully acquire new knowledge or behaviors.

References

Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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

Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/2007/01/isms-as-filter-not-blinker.html

Milton, N. (2013, January 14) The shrinking half-life of knowledge. Knocko Stories: From the Knowledge Management Front Line. [Weblog]. Retrieved from http://www.nickmilton.com/2013/01/the-shrinking-half-life-of-knowledge.html

Ormrod, J. (nd). Information Processing and Problem Solving. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD.

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

Categories: Walden 6115

Fitting the Pieces Together

June 28, 2013 Leave a comment

I initially wrote my learning style reflected behaviorist, cognitive, and constructivist theories. I have a deeper understanding of each of the afore-mentioned theories, however, I don’t think my core styles have changed.

In fact I believe Bill Kerr (2007) supported my notion of subscribing to multiple theories when he said learning theories or “isms” evolve. They don’t stand still. Ideally, people grow and expand also.

Finally, I still believe learning objectives can help instructional designers determine the best applied theory to guide instruction.

I mentioned earlier that my understanding of learning theories and styles had grown over the past seven weeks. When it comes to my personal learning preferences, I must say I was surprised when realized I respond to connectivism and embraced adult learning theory. For example, I’m an introvert. I am reluctant to chat with peers in face-to-face environments. Yet, my education online is facilitated by technology and social networks. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) I’d like to share a true scenario of connectivist learning. My textbooks for another Walden course have not arrived. I reached out to the professor for advice. She said, I shouldn’t wait for the books to be delivered. Instead she suggested I contact other students in the lounge and ask them to copy the chapter and send it to me or better yet, we could read it together via Skype or Google Hang Out. Again, I want to emphasize the speed. Fed Ex can deliver my learning materials quickly, but today’s technology is even more agile and flexible. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.)

As an adult learner, I appreciate activities that require us to share our actual experiences as they relate to instruction. (Conlan, Grabowski & Smith, 2008)

Concluding, I’d like to discuss technology’s impact on my overall learning. I mentioned technology above with regard to connectivism but the pace of this course and the amount of data we received forced me to embrace technology in new ways. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) I will outline two.

First, I’ve had to expand my personal knowledge of learning possibilities and technology tools. I had never heard of an “eBrary” and experienced the concept of borrowing books for eReaders prior to studying at Walden.

Second, I had one course application that allowed students to use a range of tools e.g. PowerPoint or Flash to create a product. I used the tools I knew, but the exercise of having to review the products of my peers exposed me even more. The process also expanded my zone of proximal developments – whereas I knew how to create a PowerPoint, but my more technically-savvy peers showed me how to put the PowerPoint on YouTube.

Works cited:

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/2007/01/isms-as-filter-not-blinker.html

Siemens, G. (nd) Connectivism.” Laureate Inc. Baltimore, MD

Categories: Walden 6115

Connectivism

June 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Sheala Durant
EDUC 6115-1

Connectivism: Mapping Your Learning Connections

The theory of connectivism combines chaos theory, learning networks, and self organization. (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman, 2008)

According to connectivist theorists such as George Siemens, Ph.D., learning resides in:

  • Acceptance of diverse opinions
  • Connection of specialized information sources
  • Use of electronic tools
  • Knowledge that learners have to capacity to know more that they are currently exposed to
  • Maintenance of connections for continued learning
  • Accuracy and currency of content and learning activities

Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism were fine models for understanding how humans acquired knowledge and behaviors. However recent technological advances have forced learners to process and apply knowledge in new ways. This knowledge must be processed quickly and must be fluid. For example, the right answer today may change tomorrow based on the climate affecting decisions. (DEK, 2008)

George Siemens, PhD., in a resource video indicated technologies such as social media would fuel the acceptance of distance learning (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.)

I support his notion because today’s learner has practical experience with new tools, growing comfort with online discourse, and the ability to communicate with diverse global groups. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) We are able to learn via our connections. They represent a nexus of our prior knowledge and experience as well as our perception and reality. (DEK, 2008)

For example,

I rely on my social networks for acquiring new personal and professional skills. I also use these dialogue with new with subject matter experts.

These networks include e-newsletters such as IconLogic (http://www.iconlogic.com/), DC Web Women (http://www.dcwebwomen.com) and eLearning Guild (http://www.elearningguild.com). My network also supports topic-specific groups on Yahoo, GroupSites, Yammer, LinkedIn, and Facebook. For example, I belong to a Yahoo group on digital journalism, a GroupSite for local women entrepreneurs, a Yammer site for my workplace, several LinkedIn groups including industry and alumni affiliations, and a Facebook group or minority adoptees. I also rely on blogs for personal support examples include D.C. Thrifty Mom and A Parent in Silver Spring.

Each of these groups allows me to ask a specific question and receive answers and support from peers who may know more about the topic than I. This expands my zone of proximal development.

Finally, Siemens in a resource video, also mentioned the importance of visualization. It allows learners to see levels of connection and map concepts. I’ve inserted a “mind map” below that outlines my learning network.

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Works cited:

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epitt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

Siemens, G. (2010). The Future of Distance Education. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD

Siemens, G. (nd). Connectivism. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD

Categories: Walden 6115

Evaluating and identifying Online Resources

May 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Luckily, neither the University library system nor popular Internet search engines lacked published materials on the brain and learning and problem-solving methods.

I chose two articles to discuss. One dealt with brain-based learning. The other outlined processes for problem solving.

Eric Jensen (2000) strongly cautioned educators against strictly following brain-based research. He said it could lead to bad teaching. This article outlined several myths about brain-based learning and offered tangible advice for applying brain research in the classroom.

One of the myths was brain-based research could be used to justify good teaching strategies. Jensen (2000) said good teaching was a combination — not of research — but of basic psychology, common sense, and trial and error.

Brain-based research was acceptable to Jensen (2000) only if it  was used to help educators make intentional teaching decisions, not run schools based solely the brain’s biology.

Another article I found helpful was the University of Pennsylvania’s (n.d.) Seven Steps to Problem Solving. The seven steps included:

  1. Defining the problem
  2. Analyzing the problem
  3. Identifying possible solutions
  4. Selecting optimal solutions
  5. Evaluating solutions
  6. Developing action plans
  7. Implementing solutions

This article was helpful because it outlined techniques for performing each of the problem-solving tasks above. For example, when defining a problem, a learner must first be able to understand the difference between hard and soft data or facts vs. opinions. (University of Pennsylvania, n.d.)

When it came to analysis, learners were encouraged to view problems from several viewpoints.

The article also identified strategies for identifying solutions that included brainstorming, focus groups, nominal groups, and application of Delphi methods.

Additionally, learners were given methods for evaluating solutions. These options included t-charts that measured pros and cons as well as weighing and prioritizing criteria.

Implementation was the final step in the process. However strict monitoring of the implementation process and contingency plans were recommended. (University of Pennsylvania, n.d.)

Works cited

Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-Based Learning: A Reality Check. Educational Leadership, 57(7), 76.

University of Pennsylvania. (nd). Seven Steps to Problem Solving. Retrieved from http://www.pitt.edu/~groups/probsolv.html

Categories: Walden 6115

The Doorway to Professional Learning Communities

May 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Sheala Durant
EDUC-6115-1

I will briefly outline three e-Learning blogs and explain why Instructional Design students might find them helpful.

The Rapid E-Learning blog
http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/

This blog is written by Tom Kuhlmann for members of the Articulate-user community. However, his choice of topics is germane to all instructional designers regardless of software. For example recent posts included ways to improve instructional design skills, debates on whether instructional design degrees were helpful, and ways to create eLearning templates. Finally, Kuhlmann’s blog had distinct categories including:

  • Scenarios for E-Learning
  • Project management for E-Learning
  • Graphic Design and Visuals, and
  • Audio. (Kuhlmann, 2013)

The eLearning Coach
http://theelearningcoach.com/

This e-Learning blog is written by Connie Malamed. She offers practical tips for instructional designers on a range of topics. For example, she recently covered tools for capturing knowledge from subject matter experts, ways to gather visual ideas, and how to adapt in-person trainings into virtual ones. Additionally, Malamed offers “freebies” that include storyboard templates, glossaries, and even a listing of Master’s degree programs in Instructional Design. Walden’s program was on her list. (Malamed, 2013)

E-Learning 24/7
http://elearninfo247.com/

Craig Weiss’ blog is different from the previous two. He focuses on product trends and industry forecasts. He presents regularly at international conferences.  According to his own blog entry, his projections have been more than 90 percent accurate. Many of his recent posts were focused on Learning Management Systems. He discussed LMS user complaints, LMS “ecosystems,” and LMS communities. (Weiss, 2013)

Works cited:

Kuhlmann, T. (2013). The Rapid E-Learning Blog [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/

Malamed, C. (2013). The eLearning Coach [Blog]. Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/

Weiss, C. (2013). E-Learning 24/7 [Blog]. Retrieved from http://elearninfo247.com/

Categories: Walden 6115