Learning Theories and Instructional Technologies: Reflection of Learning

What did you find surprising or striking as you furthered your knowledge about how people learn?

I found it amazing that we live in a society that has serious debates within our political parties about education, and there are enormous amounts of data that show that the traditional methods in teaching do not work for everyone, yet we continue doing the same thing. At least in online distance learning courses, there is a positive change occurring where instructors are actually pursuing professional development and implementing best research based strategies to improve student success rates. I know that there is not a one-size-fits-all theory of pedagogy or andragogy, but I was happy to learn about several things to aid in helping my students be more successful. In putting things together, I learned that in online courses many students feel anxious or stressed for many different reasons and that brain based learning supports motivational strategies when it comes to dissipating student anxieties or stress within online course settings. In the brain, the amygdala processes emotions and can react so aggressively to stress that it will physically prevent information from reaching the centers of the brain necessary for absorbing new knowledge (Bernard 2010). With this in mind, it makes sense to create a learning environment where students feel safe to be themselves and take risks. This lends itself to the motivational strategies of making students feel welcome and maintain a high instructor-learner dialog from the very onset of the online course (Lewis & Schwer 2013).

How has this course deepened your understanding of your personal learning process?

I feel that this question also ties into what I found surprising or striking in my learning during this course. I knew that as an adult returning to college that I was more motivated and focused, but it never really set into my mind as to how to design a course that meets the needs of adults such as myself. I found it striking that courses need to be designed to meet the needs of a variety of students and that adult learners, such as myself, fit into a category of our own.

In this course I also realized some things about myself. For instance, I always knew that I was a perfectionist and that I would not complete work without making sure that I had read and understood every aspect of the material that I could. I began to realize that this may not be very effective for me due to time constraints and my difficulties with reading materials. Therefore, I began to make myself skim for important information (something I have always struggled with) in reading materials and use other resources such as YouTube and other websites that provided information on the topic. This helped me to not only get a better understanding of the topics, but to work a little faster. However, I had to make myself stop researching and just go with what I had learned. As a self-motivated adult learner, I also realized that I can get caught in the trap of fishing through the depths of the internet for more information on topics rather than focusing on getting enough information to satisfy the learning objectives for the unit. I began to copy and paste the discussion questions in a MS document and focus on answering them individually as I found relevant content. This proved to help keep me on task and to only research enough to satisfy the given requirements.

What have you learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation?

I learned that the different learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation all work together when considering instructional design in any course. Each topic has its importance in educating the individual student. It seems that best individual learning opportunities can be served when the instructor can gather individual preferences in each of these categories in order to facilitate learning resources and assignments that will cater to those specific needs. This can be done in the beginning of a course with student introductions and about me assignments. Instructors can also conduct other learning inventory surveys to gain more insight to the individual needs of the students that compose the class. However, the instructor also needs to provide a clear and concise layout of the course and how learning outcomes will be completed. Gardner’s importance of teaching to the individual rather than just those that have learning inventories that match traditional course instruction, “the law professor mind” as Gardner called it, helped me to realize how traditional educational strategies are actually unfair and hinder academic growth (Gardner 1997).

Not every lesson can be created to exactly meet individual learning strengths; therefore the instructor needs to be involved to guide and support learning through the course. It is important for the instructor to stretch every student’s ability to extract information in different ways and to allow them to see their growth in doing so. As instructors guide students in developing the skills to becoming self-sufficient learners, they will be creating successful lifelong learners in multiple atmospheres. This is especially true when instructional designers develop student centered courses with the adult learner in mind (Conland, Grabowski, & Smith 2003).

How will your learning in this course help you as you further your career in the field of instructional design?

I have learned to design my courses according to several of the learning modules in this course. Upon reading through the resources in Module 5, my interest was spiked and I saw adult education in a way that made sense because I could identify with the concepts in my own needs in education. “Professional development of facilitators of adults should promote dialogue, reflection, and quality. The integrative approach to professional development involves key elements” (Lawler, 2003, used by Conland, Grabowski, & Smith).

Professional development:

  • Is adult education
  • Is learner centered
  • Is transformative learning
  • Needs to address motivation
  • Needs to address technology learning

Adult learning theories made me more aware of what each individual student needs, because how can I expect only my needs to be met in an online course without consideration for my peers needs. I would expect the course facilitator or instructor to be cognizant of every student’s needs. This made me realize, as an instructional designer, that I will need to identify and structure my online courses to meet the needs of my diverse individual students with different learning structures, abilities, and needs. The reality of it is that online courses can be comprised of traditional students fresh out of high school, students with linguistic and cultural diversities, out of state and/or out of country students, learners with special needs or disabilities, adult learners with different goals and experiences, as well as adult learners with different time constraints that are not optional such as jobs, children, technology limitations, or other obligations. Knowing that each course will contain different diversities, I will design my courses to make each student feel welcome and successful in ways that align with their individual goals (Lewis & Schwer 2013).

References:

Bernard, S. (2010, Dec 1). To enable learning, put (emotional) safety first. Edutopia. Retrieved on May 6, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/neuroscience-brain-based-learning-emotional-safety

Lewis, J and Schwer, M. (2013, May 21).  Motivation and online students [Video File]. Retrieved on May 5, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVKEVXX32GQ

Gardner, H. (1997). Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Edutopia. [Video].  Retrieve from  http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-video (Links to an external site.)

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning: review of adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, University of Georgia. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

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?

I still feel that I learn best from videos and when I’m interested in the topic. Perhaps this is because my learning strengths are auditory visual learning formats and I know that when content is delivered in this format, I usually retain more information than if I had to read the same material. However, I have realized that the most important part of anything that I learn is having an interest in the topic and finding how the information is relative to me personally. Otherwise, I will do what I have to in order accomplish the things necessary to satisfy the requirements for completing the course, but will soon forget everything that I learned without having a meaningful use for the information.

I will have to say the one thing that I learned that helped direct my view on learning came from the interview with Howard Gardner where his opening statements were about how students take tests in our schools and get good grades but actual learning is not happening. This is because for many students they are not actively engaged in the learning process by making the learning their own. Therefore, the information our students are receiving is soon forgotten because the personal engagement through meaningful activities and active participation in the learning has not taken place in order for the information to be retained in long term memory for later use (Gardner 1997). Gardner also points out that because of the varying multiple intelligences, students across America are being left behind because the intelligences of individual students are not being reached. I feel that most classrooms across America fall under either Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, or some mixture of these theories. As a face-to-face teacher, I feel that a mixture of theories is necessary in order to meet the diverse needs of the different multiple intelligences that our students bring with them. I would however include a strong presence of Connectivism in my own classroom. I feel that as each lesson, unit, assessment, and activities are brought into your curriculum that the different intellegences of your students should be considered to guide your instructional design. My instructional design should include parts of each theory working in concert with each other in order to actively engage the student in a real learning environment. This in essence is how I learn best as a student and I feel that my students learn best as well.

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?

Learning preferences are a little awkward with me, because I struggle to read materials and get a true understanding the first time around. I normally have to read materials several times over to understand what I am reading. This becomes very irritating and elicits shut down within myself, however when I am truly interested in the topic, I usually get a very good understanding of what I read and can make a deep connection with it. This brings up a question. When is it important to use a student’s learning preferences and when should the student use other means of learning that are not in the learning format the student is strong with? I know that I have benefitted from learning in ways that I am not strong with or did not prefer, which strengthened my abilities to learn in that format. There are other times when I really needed to learn things, yet they are presented in a format that I am uncomfortable with (such as reading) and I don’t feel that I retained as much as I could have if the material would have been presented in a manner that I prefer (YouTube videos).

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

I think that technology gives me the learner options in how I receive information. For instance, there have been several times in my classes that I am struggling with the articles that I was given to read and I will type the topic in as a YouTube search and watch several videos on the topic and ignore the reading in order to not give up. I have spent every night during the week trying to get through one article of reading sometimes and then the instructor will also provide a video as another resource material and I will get annoyed because I could have skipped the reading and just watched the video and learned just as much. As a student, I think it is important for me to make my preferences and struggles known to my instructors so that we can work together in making learning possible. Technology tools will help both me and my instructors to make learning happen to not only fit my learning preferences, but that of other students as well.

Resources:

Gardner, H.(1 Apr. 2009). “Big thinkers: howard gardner on multiple intelligences (Web). Edutopia. Retrieved April 27, 2015, fromhttp://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-video (Links to an external site.)

My Learning Networks

My Learning Network

This mind-map that I created at MindMup gives the viewer a basic idea of the interactions that I have on a weekly basis in order to learn. When I began to consider the different things that I learned from, the first thing that hit my mind was the internet. I often google search related topics to find information and I often prefer video learning over reading so I go to YouTube to see what they have to offer. I often go through the scholarly article sections on the internet or professional type blogs. Because I still have some of my old books from prior classes, I will sometimes refer to them when a topic spurs my memory of something I had read in one of my books. Sometimes I will ask a couple of my fellow teachers about a topic to see what they think or know about a subject. Sometimes they can give me some good insights and direct my attention to other related topics that matter according to the subject at hand. I also learn a lot from my fellow classmates through our weekly discussions and chats that we have about weekly learning topics. I usually get the most from this environment, because it is the most interactive for me.

The new connections that I have made with my classmates helps me to answer questions. Otherwise, I revert to asking my fellow teachers at my school. If I don’t feel satisfied with those avenues, I will then pursue asking my professors. I feel that my personal learning network supports connectivism by making different connections that I can draw information from. Once I have made the connections in my mind and found the information useful I place it in memory to serve me as I continue to learn and create lessons.

3 Keys to Global Instructional Design

I believe that this blog post discusses the importance of using global awareness in designing lessons for our students because we are in an age of being able to go to the web to learn most anything. The author talks about the importance of setting up Personal Learning Networks (PLN) and Personal Learning Environments (PLE) and all of the technological developments that are available to assist you in accomplishing this for your professional growth. She also discusses becoming a blogger and having social presence in order to learn. I feel that this is something that would greatly help me, but as many teacher say, “When do I have time for that?” I hope that as this class develops we will make time to develop our social presence and learn how to blog professionally so that we can learn and create effective instructional design for all of our classrooms that continues after the course is over.

Joan McCullough

Instructional Design is defined as: The process by which instruction is improved through the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of learning materials. Students across the United States want to know each day at school, “When will we ever use this?” and “Why do we have to know this?” They’re both age-old questions, to say the least, and I think it is about time that we empower students to have more flexibility when it comes to their own learning.

With that said, in order to show students how to do so, I charge teachers to model digital competencies that span beyond the confines of the my documents folder on their respective devices. Those of us  who understand this concept have begun to approach instructional design from a broader perspective. Global awareness is trending in education, and we must prepare our kids for success on many levels. Learning is taking place at very rapid rates…

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The ADDIE Series Part 2: Analysis and Design

I found this article on WordPress and it seems a little out of order because I found it in part of the four parts that will be presented on the ADDIE Series of instructional design. I found it very interesting and informative. I think that as a regular classroom teacher, I get caught up in the everyday routines and trying to refine my teaching without looking at it from a design perspective. I realized that I already do some parts of this design, such as starting with assessment to guide my curriculum, but there are other parts, such as developing learner analysis of all my students that I need to learn how to accurately apply to my instructional design. I really like how this blog breaks it down into simple to understand sections.

The videos that are given on this blog are also very important to me, because I learn best from instructional videos than from just reading an article.

readingthinkinglearning

As we continue on with this four-part series, today we will look closely at the first two phases in this instructional design model.

Image from: www.clipartpanda.com Image from: http://www.clipartpanda.com

Analysis

The first step of the ADDIE model is analysis. During this phase, the instructional designer looks closely at the content and the audience. According to Hodell (2011), there are 7 key elements that need to be considered in this phase. These elements include:

  • Identifying the need: What is the reason for this training? Is it an intervention to alleviate a current problem? Is this training a solution to a problem caused by lack of skill or knowledge?
  • Finding the root cause: What is the underlying issue causing this problem that requires training?
  • Identifying the goals of this training: This includes thinking about the reason for the training existing. Hodell (2011) states this is the “rationale for the project” (pg. 37).
  • What information is…

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