Week8: Reflection-Learning Theories and Instruction

I started the course with very limited knowledge about the various learning theories. From the first beginning, I learned that learners construct their own knowledge and meaning from around them (Ormord, Schunk & Gredler, 2009). It was also very interesting to know how these theories developed from being a myth to traditional wisdom, which became then philosophies, and then developed to be theories based on research (Ormord et al, 2009).

What I found striking about how people learn is the wide range of theories and the very different ways people learn. Additionally, each theory has valid points that could be applied to today’s learning and also have some downsides that an instructional designer should be aware off when designing instruction (Mergel, 1993). It was also striking to find an enormous amount of information about each theory, and how people are researching and relating to it, through articles, blogs or papers. One outstanding fact that I learned about, is how the brain is working, I enjoyed reading and watching videos about how the data is transferred and stored in the brain.

Through the weeks, while taking a deeper look at each theory, I was able to understand more about how I learn. For example, as an adult learner, I enjoy being self-directed in my learning, be able to set my own goals, and gain more skills to improve my work and my life (Conlan, Grabowski & Smith, 2003). Technology has a prominent role in the way I learn, and I became aware that my learning is happening through social networks and connections (Laureate Education Inc., 2009). I usually remember and understand information through the discussion groups, applications, and by researching information (Russell, 2006). Starting my blog was a wonderful way to share my learning experience and contribute to the learning community. It was a step forward in building my confidence as a learner. Also, I was motivated by learning through scaffolding and the expansion of my zone of proximal development (Ormord et al, 2009).

I see that the theories complement each other. They all have distinct strategies and unique features, but each theory still discuss the same concept which is learning (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). The difference is more about the interpretation of learning than the definition of learning (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). Understanding the learning styles can help in designing more effective learning experiences; hence, helping the learners to develop various strategies in learning (Laureate Education Inc., 2009). Consequently, we could use different technological tools in delivering the information in many formats, taking into consideration the factors that influence and motivate the learners (Laureate Education Inc., 2009). For example, I was motivated by the different choices, the use of rubrics, the feedback and being in a group with contribution to the discussion board (Ormord et al, 2009).

In my learning journey to be an instructional designer, and from this course, I am taking with me the concept of considering the different approaches to learning (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008). I am also taking with me that there are many ways to be intelligent; and all forms of intelligence should be equally recognized (Giles, Pitre, & Womack, 2003). As an instructional designer, it is crucial to recognize the strengths and limitations of each learning theory and apply an appropriate strategy in the designing process (Mergel, 1993). In this course, I acquired and developed new research skills, in terms of finding relevant and valid information on the internet and through the library. Moreover, I gained more knowledge about the use of technology in the learning process, and how to use it in presenting information (Conlan et al, 2003).

In conclusion, this was a wonderful journey and a discovery about learning theories, and how I learn. I will continue in discovering the instructional design field and continue learning. Armstrong (2009) stated that “Before applying any model of learning in a classroom environment, we should first apply it to ourselves as educators and adult learners” (p. 20).

References

Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

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

Giles, E., Pitre, S., & Womack, S. (2003). Multiple intelligences and learning styles. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved December 7,2011 from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

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

Ertmer, P.A. & Newby, T. J.  (1993). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4).

Laureate Education Inc. (2009). Learning styles and strategies. [Transcript]. Baltimore, MD: Ormord

Laureate Education Inc. (2009). Motivation in learning. [Transcript]. Baltimore, MD: Ormord

Laureate Education Inc. (2009). Connectivism. [Transcript]. Baltimore, MD: Siemens

Mergel, B. (1993). Instructional design and learning theory. Retrieved from http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/802papers/mergel/brenda.htm

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

Russell, S. S. (2006). An overview of adult learning processes: Adult-learning principles. Retrieved December 18, 2011 from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/547417_2

Week 7: Fitting the Pieces Together

When I wrote my first post on the discussion board in this course, I had very limited knowledge of learning theories.  Initially and after reading information about the various thinkers and their theories, I felt that Knowles theory about adult learning is the closest to how I learn. Now, after reading rich resources about each theory I still believe that adult learning theory is the closest to my learning, but with more deep understanding to what it means. I enjoy the independence of finding information and the self-direction. Connectivesim, which I also mentioned in my post in Week 1 as a discovery for me, is a theory that I use in my learning. But over all I feel that I am using part of each theory in my learning.

The part of the behaviorism theory that I use in my learning is setting goals and outcomes to my learning, in terms if asking myself why I want to study this, and where do I want to end up in my learning (Laureate Education Inc., 2009). As a self-regulated learner with metacognitive awareness (Gitomer & Glaser as cited in Ormord, Schunk & Gredler, 2009), I am learner that always monitor and direct my learning towards my set goals, and use different strategies to complete the tasks (Ormord et al, 2009). From the constructivism theory, I consider myself an active learner that thrives to construct knowledge by discovering and researching information by myself (Ormord et al, 2009).  In this course, about “Learning Theories and Instruction” and through the social interactions in discussion boards, I was challenged to learn within the bounds of my Zone of Proximal Development (ZDP) and experienced instructional scaffolding (Ormord et al, 2009).

Online learning in a social environment, and communication with my learning community helped me in understanding new information (Kim, 2001). In addition, I became a member in many connected networks and learning communities. Through these networks and connections, I acquire further information continually, and I am able to distinguish between the important and irrelevant information (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). As an adult learner, I am self-directed, and I am motivated by gaining new skills and knowledge to improve my work performance (Conlan, Grabowski & Smith, 2003).

I believe that technology plays a significant role in my learning, for example, when researching information I use Google and Walden Library resources. Through Google reader and Diigo, I am able to connect information together and arrange it in a way that is easy for me to follow and find. With social media tools like Twitter, I could read instant and short updates about topics that I selected, and people I wanted to follow.

Through this course, I started this blog site, which I am planning to maintain through the study in my Master’s and beyond. I use my laptop and sometimes my smart phone to access the course resources and search for information. My main study is online, through a learning management system (LMS); now through the understanding of the various learning theory I am more convinced that online learning is the most convenient and suitable environment to learn. Through online learning, I have more control over my learning and I am more engaged in it (Lim, 2004).

In conclusion, I gained a wide and deep knowledge about how I learn; my learning networks help in enhancing my learning experience. Understanding how I learn will help in understanding how others learn when designing instruction.

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References

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

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

Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Social_Constructivism

Laureate Education Inc. (2009). Behaviorism and instructional design. [Transcript]. Baltimore: MD. Ormrod.

Lim, C. P. (2004). Engaging learners in online learning environments. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 48(4), 16–23

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

Week 5: Mapping My Learning Connections

Dalia's Mind Map

From my mind map that I just created, I realized that I am connected to many resources using various tools. The map is an effective tool to visualize my connections (Laureate Education Inc., 2009). Being part of bigger networks changed the way I learn. I am no longer a proactive learner waiting to know about information, rather, I am an active learner who seeks information and researches for answers. For example, I am currently learning from my online study network, I am gaining new knowledge and skills which I am now applying in projects in my other ‘professional work’ network. Thus, as I interact across the communities I am bringing meanings from one group to another (Foley, 20014), which enhances my learning experience.

In my comment on November 11, 2011 to Christy Tucker’ s blog about the ‘Top Ten Tools for Learning 2011” I listed 10 of the most useful tools that I used in 2011. I am now listing the three most useful learning tools for me:

So far I am finding Twitter a very useful tool to learn about many topics instantly. The reason is that I get a very short instant message from the various contributors that I chose to follow, and then I am able to do a quick scan and select the topics that I would like to learn more about, and read it carefully. In this blog post about “Twitter Goes to College,” the author lists different  twitter usage in education stating that the information could be overwhelming, so it depends on how the individual use twitter (Miners, 2010). Twitter was rated first of 100 digital tools for learning in 2011. The poll was created by Jane Hart, and she published the results through her blog, see the list of the 100 tools here.

Aggregators and RSS feed are very powerful tools; I personally use ‘Google Reader’. What I found helpful about this tool is that I could organize information by topic, categorize it, input notes and rename links in a way that is related to the area of interest that I need in my work, study and personal life. The tool is helpful in giving a glimpse of each post from different blogs with more details than Twitter.

Diigo is a bookmarking tool which I found very helpful in keeping my bookmarks organized and accessible from different computers. I created lists for my study and my work. I am still using one of its basic tools, the Diigolet button which I placed on my browsers’ toolbar. It helps me in my learning as it is an easy tool to bookmark the resources that I will be using through my study, and then directs me to the resources that I need for a certain topic according to the categories that I created. So I am able to find information faster and relevant to my search.

Furthermore, when I have questions, I check my aggregators and book marking tools for answers and then I just use Google Search for any information needed personally and professionally. I find also that the help toolbars in many software programs are very helpful in learning new software, as well as the online tutorials from sites like Lynda.com and You Tube. I signed up for an Adobe account which gave me access to many online tutorials and webinars about new software programs, also access to many educational resources in higher education. I found that searching for information helps in understanding and memorizing the information.

My personal network is based on the principles of connictivisim. Learning through my network could be classified as complex. There are many factors involved in my learning process; mainly, technology, the relations between the tools I am using, and the way I could retrieve and organize information; complexity is part of the connictivism principles as described by Siemens in the transcript about “Connectavism” (Laureate Education Inc., 2009; Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). One of the principals of connectavisim is the need to maintain and nurture connections to facilitate continual learning (Davis et al, 2008); for me, this is an ongoing process. I try to maintain my participation in class and my connections to all resources which is needed for my study, work and personal life. I am part of a self-organized system that I created and chose to be part of which gave me the ability to differentiate between the important and unimportant information and I learn from my decisions (Davis et al, 2008).

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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.php?title=Connectivism

Foley, G. (Ed.). (2004). Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. McGraw-Hill Education.

Laureate Education Inc. (2009). Connectivism. [Transcript]. Baltimore, MD: Siemens

Miners, Z. (2010, August 16). Twitter goes to college. [Blog message]. Retrieved from: http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2010/08/16/twitter-goes-to-college-?PageNr=1