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

Week 2: Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources

In this post, I would like to list some resources in which you could find information about the brain and learning, information processing theory, and problem-solving methods during the learning process:

 Journals:

The Journal of Interactive online learning, this journal is a peer reviewed electronic journal. The focus is on interactive online learning, in terms of research, theory and practice. I found  articles related to information processing and problem-solving methods during the learning process. Here is an some example of the papers available through this journal “Self-Explanation Prompts on Problem-Solving Performance in an Interactive Learning Environment”, in this article the authors examined the effects of self-explanation on problem-solving performance, and they studied self-explanation strategies in the online environments, which require students to be more self-regulated (Kyungbin, Kumalasari & Howland, 2011).

The Journal of Educational Psychology, a collection of articles about psychological research in relation to education for all ages and educational levels (American Psychological Association, 2011). The journal started in 1910, and published enormous articles in relation to the brain and learning. Access to all articles is available through Walden University’s Library website here. This journal is very popular; many researchers are publishing their work through this journal.

The Mind, Brain and Education Journal, the journal features several articles by educators and researches. Some of the topics discussed through the journal are about “connecting cognitive neuroscience to education and historical changes in concepts of person in relation to brain science” (Wiley Online Library, n.d.). Read the complete list of highlights and topics here. Note that you will need an account to view articles, as a member of Walden University you could login here.


Websites:

Faculty Focus  Website,  I have been following this site for a while; it has very informative articles, reports and newsletter about education. The reports are based on extensive research; they survey educators and send reports with data, notes and recommendations. The site includes access to free reports, newsletters and a wide range of articles; including brain-based learning in classroom and information processing. In the article about “A Brain-Friendly Environment for Learning”, the author lists methods used in teaching and learning that is based on the brain’s function and cognitive research (Davis, 2008).  Davis (2008) findings include alternating teaching modes to maintain students’ attention, the use of prior knowledge in learning, and the associating learning with feeling and values. The information on this website is very organized and easy to track, with pictures, podcasts and videos. It also has a section on instructional design.

Brains.org offers information about applying practical application in the classroom based on current brain research. The site is created and maintained by Dr. Kathie Nunley, her publications and research is on the brain and teaching in mixed-ability classrooms (Brains.org, n.d). The site includes a free newsletter, with teaching tips and a section on the latest research on neuro and educational psychology.

What is valuable about these journals and websites is that the articles are based on extensive research which is supported by literature reviews for each topic. They present reliable sources of information that reflect original ideas and its applications. The journals are either peer reviewed or are reviewed by professional editors. The research provided through these resources is mostly supported by evidence. As the internet now is full of information that could be based on personal opinions and views, it is always recommended basing our study on credible and well referenced resources. When looking into evaluating electronic resources, many factors should be taken into consideration, like the reason for the research, the author, author bias and citation and references (Cornell University Library, 2010). This website from Cornell University offers tips on how to evaluate websites and electronic resources http://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/ref/research/webeval.html

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References:

Braine.org (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.brains.org/

Cornell University Library (2010, October 5). Evaluating web sites: criteria and tools. Retrieved from: http://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/ref/research/webeval.html

Davis, D. (2008). A Brain-Friendly Environment for Learning. Retrieved from the Faculty Focus website: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/a-brain-friendly-environment-for-learning/

Kyungbin K., Kumalasari C. D., & Howland J. L. (2011). Self-explanation prompts on problem-solving performance in an interactive learning environment. Journal of Interactive Online Learning. 10(2), 96-112. Retrieved from: http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/pdf/10.2.3.pdf

Wiley Online Library. (n.d.). Mind, brain, and education. Retrieved from: http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=1751-2271

Week 1: The Doorway to Professional Learning Communities

I am excited about starting my blog in instructional design, in this post I am going to highlight some resources that I will be using through my study. I am planning to contribute to the blogs and use the resources in the instructional design and e-learning fields.

I connected to the blog, “IDEAS: Instructional Design for eLearning ApporoacheS” by Ferdinand Krauss. This blog has various links to topics related to instructional design and e-learning. Krauss, provides a concise overview about each resource, whether it is a book, an article or an interview with a faculty member. Moreover, the entries are cited and referenced professionally. His focus is on faculty development in higher education which is related to my current work. The information provided on his site will be helpful in my work, and in creating online learning tools for faculty in higher education at my institution. It is interesting that Krauss is from the University of Toronto, in the same city where my institution, Ryerson University, is located; maybe in the future we could collaborate on some projects that could benefit our institutions.

This is a feed that aggregates different blogs about instructional design posted through WordPress using tags, there are blogs by teachers, instructional designers and students who are enrolled in instructional design programs. It is very valuable  to read entries from various instructional designers in their different career stages. There are professional posts, like the blog by Dianne Rees, here blog’s title is “Instructional Design Infusion“. For example, in her post on October 21, 2011 she described how to create digital booklets and how to use these booklets as an instructional tool in education and social learning (Rees, 2011). Another  example is by a student who just created a blog, design2instruct, on his first post he shares his anxiety about using blogs then he posts his reflections and assignments from a graduate course he is taking at the University of Utah (Gallagher, 2011). This wordpress feed is a source of many networks, and as Ferriter (2009) indicated, networked learning is going to be the future of learning. Learning from others and contributing to their posts serve as a learning process for me and help in expanding my knowledge in instructional design.

Blogging about the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom: A Blend of Technology and Education” by Steven W. Anderson. Anderson is a blogger, teacher and speaker and his posts are about using social media and Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. His posts are very helpful as I am also interested in these tools and how to use them effectively in classrooms. These tools are used in e-learning and blended models, and using it effectively could enhance learning; in addition, the tips and ideas provided in his blog are simple and easy to use among students. He also provides information about the latest technology, I find it useful to be up-to-date about technology, and understand how student use it in the classroom. He is also very active on twitter @web20classroom.

I subscribed to Bill Ferriter’s blog “The Tempered Radical” I enjoyed his article about “Learning with blogs and wikis”, he is dedicated to professional development, and he writes with integrity; additionally, he describes the educators as leaders. As a future instructional designer, I see myself as a leader in my organization in which I could promote innovation and change.

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References:

Ferriter, B. (2009). Learning with blogs and wikis. Educational Leadership, 66(5),  34–38.

Gallagher, A. (2011). Re: About. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://design2instruct.wordpress.com/about/

Rees, D. (2011, October 21). Re: Create versatile digital booklets  with Simple Booklet. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://instructionaldesignfusions.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/create-versatile-digital-booklets-with-simple-booklet/

Welcome to my blog

I will post on my blog regularly as part of my course, EDUC-6115-2 Learning Theories and Instruction. This course is part of a Master’s of Instructional Design and Technology program at Walden University, my specialization is in online learning. I look forward to reading your comments and feedback.