Reflection

Being a classroom teacher for ten years, I wasn’t sure if there was much to learn from a course such as this.  Initially I thought that at the most it would expand my knowledge of the different learning theories. However, after the first week I knew that I would later regret this assumption.  As I look back over the resources provided throughout this course I see that with all that I knew about learning theories and instruction my knowledge on the matter was very limited.  This course would in fact open my eyes to so many different theories and ideas that were once unknown to me despite all my previous classes on such matters.

Of all the things I learned in this course I was most intrigued by all the material presented about the brain and its role in learning.   As a biology major I had previously learned about the various parts of the brains and their roles, however looking at these parts and their functions based on their roles in learning was interesting.  Despite the differences in their functions the “two hemispheres usually work together to understand and respond to the world,” with the “left side being more apt to handle details, and the right side being more fitted for looking at and synthesizing overall (Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M.).  In addition the different functions of the brain I also found the information on long term and short-term memory to be informative as well.  This information was striking to me as a teacher first and future instructional designer second.  This information helped to think about how to present information to my students in different was to allow it to be stored in their long-term memory as opposed to being placed in their short-term memory and possibly lost.  As an instructional designer I have to be aware of the role of encoding and information processing.  I need to learn to plan for instruction that is meaningful and allows learners to integrate previous learning that has already been stored in the LTM.

When researching the various learning theories, and styles as well as the role and importance of motivation on learning.  I found the importance of staying abreast of the latest trends and topics.  Instructional designers should be aware of each of the learning theories in order to properly plan for and accommodate all of them when possible.  “Learning theories provide instructional strategies and techniques for facilitation learning as well as a foundation for intelligent strategy selection.” (Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J.)  With all the different learning theories and learning styles educators and designers need to know that they all work together and are interchangeable depending on the learner and the content of the material.

During the week on learning styles, I took it upon myself to take a web-based form of the Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Test.  The results were and still are a bit surprising to me.  I’m not sure I would completely agree with them, however they do seem to support the notion that “eight intelligences function together in ways unique to each person” (Armstrong, T.).  Each person having the ability to learn all eight intelligences will call on each of the intelligences individually or in conjunction with others as needed.

Through this course I have learned things that I will carry with me as both a teacher and instructional designer.  Keller’s ARCS and the study of motivation has been invaluable.  I recall learning in graduate school that people are motivated by different things be it intrinsic or extrinsic factors.  Learners need different things to keep going.  Some need good grades, praise or career advancement opportunities.  While others do it for the love and enjoyment of learning something they find interesting (Pew, S.).  Others have a mixture of both.  While Keller’s ARCS offer learners, teachers and instructional designers ways to identify and accommodate learners differing motivational needs.

With technology advancing at such a fast pace, it’s difficult for consumers, let alone educational facilities to keep up.  Technology has a growing place in planning and educating learners of all ages and backgrounds.  The concern is not the type of technology or its application, but on making sure teachers are aware of, properly trained for and have access to said form of technology.  This year alone I have been made aware of and advised to attend various training opportunities for technology tools and applications that I will not have access to, at least not until it is obsolete. In order to properly integrate technology teachers and designers need to be both aware of it and actually able to use it, they need to feel comfortable with it.

With all that I have learned during this course it is my hope that as a designer I know that there is no learning style fits all.  Each learner needs what they need, this also means that instructors and designers need to plan for the learners needs to change.  Due to this course I now have an entire tool kit for addressing all these needs and ways to motivate learners when intrinsic motivators are not enough.

References:

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

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50–71.

Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (Chapter 1, “The Foundations of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences” & Chapter 2, “MI and Personal Development”)

Pew, S. (2007). Andragogy and pedagogy as foundational theory for student motivation in higher education. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 2, 14–25

Huett, J., Kalinowski, K., Moller, L., & Huett, K. (2008). Improving the motivation and retention of online students through the use of ARCS-based E-mails. American Journal of Distance Education, 22(3), 159–176.

Fitting the Pieces Together

During the first week of this course we were asked to identify what learning theory we thought best described how we learn.  Originally I stated that I thought that I was a cognitive learner with sprinkles of constructivism.   Now, after seven weeks of learning about different learning theories and the function of the brain and memory in the learning process I have to say that my opinion about my learning has changed a bit.  On second thought it has evolved from my original post.  Felder and Spurlin (1995) describe learning styles as “characteristic strengths and preferences in the ways they take in and process information”. (Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C.)  I know that there is not one learning theory that best fits me as a learner, although I do have a preference.  There were instances during the past seven weeks where I saw myself in each one of the learning theories we explored in this course.

The stimulus and response of behaviorism comes into play for me mainly when dealing with math, but I also saw my use of it when I picked up my crochet needles for the first time in over 9 months.  It was the practice and the repetition of the motion that helped me get back into the rhythm of crocheting.  At work and even in this course I rely on the encouragement and corrective feedback associated with the cognitive theory that I receive from my supervisors and professors to better use the information presented and gain deeper understanding of the material so that I may use it properly in the future.  While researching the outer planets for a unit on astronomy I relied heavily on both my previous knowledge of the gas giants and my ability to navigate my way through various Internet applications and resources to find additional information to connect to information acquired during my elementary years.

In short I have discovered that there are times in my learning that I use the various learning theories independently of one another, jointly and interchangeable as needed.  Since “learning styles are often influenced by heredity, previous experiences, and current environment (Gilbert, & Swanier, 2008)” (Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C.) each skill/concept will require something different of the learner.  Each teacher/facilitator will have their own style that may require something different of the learner, therefore as I learner I must be flexible in how I approach new information.  Choosing to stick to just one or two learning theories will limit my ability to take in and use new information, which in turn will hinder my ability to make connections to previous learning.

During the course of the past seen weeks I have also discovered how heavily I rely on various forms of technology.  “Computer technologies have made an impact on every aspect of society and culture.” (Semple, A.)  This statement is very true in the world of education.  Through this course I was able to gain experience researching learning material through eBooks, academic journals, and the use of blogging in a way that I wan never explored before.  This course has also provided me with my first experience with an online course, which allowed me interact with other learners that I normally wouldn’t have any contact with.  It also has provided me with experience blogging and posting information online in a manner different from social networking sites.  Technology is ever changing and opening up how we use it and how it impacts our thinking and learning.

References:

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

Semple, A. (2000). Learning theories and their influence on the development and use of educational technologies. Australian Science Teachers Journal, 46(3).

Connectivism and My Learning Network

This week’s learning dealt with Connectivism “the learning theory of the digital age.” (Siemens, G.)  The theory of Connectivism states that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, therefore, learning is the ability to construct and transverse those networks. (What is Connectivism)  Due to speedy advances in technology information changes moment to moment and is made available to the public at a much faster rate.  As a result, information is deemed outdated and un-useful resulting in what is know as “half-life knowledge”, the time span from when knowledge is gained until becomes obsolete. (Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V.)

One advantage of the increasing changes in technology is the available resource materials and how and where we obtain knowledge for learning.   We have more options available to use when looking to gin knowledge.  In addition to books there are websites, blogs and discussion board, YouTube clips, social networks, online journals and eBooks at out disposal.

When thinking about my learning network I thought back to just a few weeks ago.  There was a leak in my bathroom sink that had to be fixed.  In order to fix it the bathroom faucet needed to be replaced.  A simple enough task that would take an experience person about an hour.  Being that I am not experienced in this matter meant that I had some learning to do.  In my quest for knowledge I found that I had several outlets at my fingertips literally.

I started by researching various retail sites like home depot and Lowes to find a faucet kit that would fit the needs of a beginner.  Once finding which retailer had what I was looking for I made the trip to home depot to purchase the item.  While I was there I encountered a very knowledgeable customer service person who was able to give me step-by-step instructions on how to take my existing faucets apart in order to install the new one.  Being that we are in the technology age, I found that I did not have any paper or pencil on my person.  I did how ever have my iPad.  Let the note taking begin.

Once I returned home I set out to work.  I started following the directions I received by the nice man at home depot.  Within moments I had successfully taken the old and had everything I would need to.  I set out the change the faucet.  At first, it seemed as if it would be a breeze.  I soon found out that the directions offered on the box were not sufficient enough for my inexperience.  I had to find another means to acquire the information needed to replace the faucet.  I researched the topic and found ehow.com had explicit directions and offered links to YouTube clips on how to install a new faucet.  I spent the better part of an hour reading the various articles and watching YouTube clips.  Then I set out again to complete my journey.  Still when smaller problems arose and no relevant information could be found online or through YouTube, I turned to facebook knowing that several of my male friends have had experience with changing faucets.  Within moments of posting a status I had the information I was seeking.  I was able to repair my leaky faucet and gain new knowledge at the same time.

Through recalling this experience I discovered that my learning network in this situation included several different media and technology outlets as well as friends and nice guys working at home depot.

Reference:

http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-connectivism-is.html

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

Foley, G. (Ed.). (2004). Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. McGraw-Hill Education. (Chapter 4, “Understanding Adult Learners” by Tara Fenwick and Mark Tennant)

Connectivism: http://www.connectivism.ca/

Siemens, G., Connectivisim: A Learning Theory for the Digital Ages.  Retrieved on February 1, 2011 from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Siemens, G., Connectivism: Learning as a Network-Creation.  Retrieved

A different look at the Information Processing Theory

Human Information Processing

The theory of information processing deals with how the human brain learns new information as well as, how it stores information for later application.  The basic structure of the information processing theory is broken down into four parts:

The store model – This is a breakdown of the model which states that the information that has been received can be stored in any of the processing units, or the channels through which it passes. These channels are the sensory register, short-term memory and long-term memory.

The sensory register – This is that part of the mental processing unit that receives all information and then stores it temporarily or permanently.

Short-term memory – That part of the sensory register where the information is stored temporarily. The short-term memory has a limited amount of space to hold new information, and can only hold information for a few seconds.  Therefore, a decision must be made whether to transfer the new information to the long-term memory or to discard it.

Long-term memory – The part where all the information is permanently stored. The learner has the ability to retrieve it later when they need to.

Over the years several people have contributed their thoughts and findings to this general theory.  Two such examples are the parallel process model and John Searle’s “Rediscovery of the Mind.”  The parallel process model looks at the information processing theory and how it relates to decision making.  It does not fully function as a separate theory, but more so as a study of the process of strategic decision making among individuals in top management positions.  According to the parallel process model decision making is a complex, multilevel information processing function.  Within this model the three levels are the individual level, organizational level, and the linking mechanism level (links the individual and organizational levels of information processing).  Just as in information processing the parallel process model relies heavily on attention, encoding, storage and retrieval.  During these four stages of the information processing theory the three levels focus on who is looking at the issue at hand for possible decisions that would produce the desired outcome that best suits their particular level.

Attention: is the first stage of the parallel process model because it is at this point that individuals realize that a decision needs to be made and begin sort through information needed. 

Encoding:  is the understanding of information presented and learned.  It looks at the new information and compares it to existing information stored in the LTM.  If a match is found it adds to the existing information and commits it to LTM. 

Storage and Retrieval:  Storage saves the information, while retrieval is the brains ability to accessed saved/stored information gathered on the issue needed to make a decision. 

The second example I explored this week deals with education and the matter of the mind.  This article takes a look at John Searle’s argument that the information processing theory is flawed.  John Searle’s argument that the information processing theory being flawed is based on the fact that traditionally in IP theory the human brain is compared to a computer and its software systems.  Although he agrees that certain aspects of the human brain functions like a computer, they differ because a computer is incapable of having beliefs, desires and intentions.  All of which can have an effect on human learning.   

I found these articles to be valuable due to the fact that if offered at different way to look at and use the IP Theory.   Its interesting to find that this theory is being used outside of the education and instructional design fields.  Seeing this theory put to good use in other professions shows that ideas and theories in the world of education hold value not just for instructing and designing for young learners but for learners of all ages and in all professions.

Corner, Kincki and Keats. (1994) Integrating Organizational and Individual Information Processing Perspectives on Choice.  University of Waikato

Shelby. (2001) Does Mind Matter? Education and Conceptions of Mind.  Educational Theory Vol. 51 Issue 2, p243, 16p.

Week 1 Assignment: Application/Blog Entry

http://patricksbingham.wordpress.com/

While looking through various blogs for instructional designed, I noticed that a cast majority of the blogs dedicated to this subject matter were put up by current or previous students taking an instructional design course of some sort. 

This particular blog is written by a gentleman by the name of Patrick Bingham, who is also currently pursuing a master’s degree in instructional design. Although, most of the posts on this site are 2 to 3 months old,  I tried to stick to blogs that at least appear to be updated on a more regular basis, however while reading through some of the posts I found them to be very insightful as well as offering up information and ideas that I have never considered .   The information here is still relevant to education and instructional design.   This particular blog deals mainly with the Connectivism learning theory and trends in technology use in the classroom and instructional design.  In addition he also includes links to several other blogs that are also dedicated to instructional design, all of which I have already subscribed to.

http://nkilkenny.wordpress.com/

While reading through entries posted by Mr. Patrick Bingham I discovered the Natalie Laderas-Kilkenny.  Her blog focused mainly on the use and integration of technology into both the planning and the implementing of education.  I found this blog to be especially intriguing due to the fact that technology is always evolving, getting better, faster, and smaller.  I often find myself wondering, with our ever growing attachments and dependencies on our handheld devices, how will this play a part in education within the next few years?  What about our ever growing additions to social networks?  What advantages and disadvantages will this present?  Will it be a distraction for the learner or is it just keeping with the times. 

In this blog some of these issues and ideas are addressed in one form or another, if for nothing else but to foster an active thought process on the matter.

http://blog.cathy-moore.com/

This blog is titled: Making Change: Ideas for Lively E-learning  is written by Cathy Moore.  Although this blog is more geared for individuals who write instructional design materials for the business world.  I chose to bookmark this blog because it offers a lot of good suggestions on how to keep the client happy and the learner motivated.  In this blog she addresses everything from learning styles and planning for e-learners to planning on a effective instructional design for the business world and setting boundaries and instructional design on a budget.

http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/

The Rapid eLearner Blog is written by an individual named Tom.  Of all the blogs I looked through I think this one may be my favorite of them all.  This blog designed to offer tips for the eLearner and the field of instructional design includes a great variety of resources for instructional designers and those looking to become instructional designers.    

In reading the entry titled: The 3 Essential Questions Every Learner Wants Answered, he addresses the differences in motivation for the learner.  When taking courses there are two types of learners those who have to take the course and those who have to take the course.  Those who have to take the course are more interested in gaining information and not necessarily learning.  I found this interesting because it never occurred to me to think about the differences in my learning when I have to take a course as opposed to how I learn when I am taking a course because I want to learn about that particular subject/skill.  The motivation is in fact different and the difference in motivation does affect ones approach to learning and ability to learn.

In addition there is a free eBook that comes along with a subscription to this blog.

Hello

Hello, my name is Erica Wilson.  I am currently residing in Baltimore, Maryland (Eastern Time Zone).  I am a 6th grade science teacher for Baltimore City Public Schools.  This will be my 10th year as a classroom teacher.  When I am not taking Walden courses I enjoy to cook, read, listen to great music and spend time with my ridiculously funny and artistically inclined friends.
This is my first experience as an online learner and I am both excited and nervous about this entire process.  I am pursuing a Certificate in Instructional Design here at Walden because I wand to learn to write curriculum/design instructional framework and material from beginning to end.
I recently set up a blog site for this class, http://ewilsonwalden.edublogs.org/

I look forward to communicating with you all during this course.

Have a safe and happy New Year.

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