Week 8: A Final Reflection: Moving Forward

What is the most surprising thing I have learned this term? What is the connection between learning theory, technology, and motivation? How will this knowledge impact my instructional design career?

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Ertmer and Newby (2013) explain that, “Learning is a complex process that has generated numerous interpretations and theories of how it is effectively accomplished” (p. 44). In recent weeks, I have been afforded the opportunity to explore the validity of this description, and in this final reflection assignment, I attempt to offer a comprehensive overview of my discoveries. Herein, I will share my most surprising revelation about how people learn; how this course has enhanced my understanding of the ways in which I learn; the connection between learning theories and styles, educational technology, and motivation; and, how what I have learned in this course will guide me as I continue on my pursuit to become a successful instructional design professional.

My Most Surprising Revelation about Learning
Throughout this course, we have learned many surprising things about learning. For example, it turns out that early learning theorists made remarkable findings about how people learn by observing animals (behaviorism) and comparing us to machines (cognitivism) (Atkisson, 2010). But, even more so than that, it shocked me the most to learn that, “There is no strong scientific evidence to support” teaching learners based on their learning styles [i.e., audio, visual, etc.]; yet, “people are [still] selling tests and programs for customizing education…” in this way (Glenn, 2009). Cognitive psychologist Dr. Jean Ormrod reveals that learning strategies have been proven to be much more effective in facilitating learning for diverse students (Laureate Education, n.d.). This course has also taught me so much more about how I learn.

A Deeper Understanding of How I Learn
At the beginning of this course, I mostly just knew that I loved to learn. By the end of week one, I was completely convinced that I was a constructivist learner—a complex, constantly evolving, high-level thinker, capable of forming my own ideas about the world around me (Ertmer & Newby, 2013). In this final week, I now understand that I am a behaviorist, cognitivist, constructivist, connectivist social learner that has and does apply these theories to learning all the time; however, it is the constructivist in me that has formed this realization.

The Big Connection: Learning Theories and Styles, Technology, and Motivation
Ormrod et al. (2009) explain that theory exists for identifying how people learn. Learning styles are essentially learner preferences (Laureate Education, n.d.); however, they are still valuable in the sense that exposing learners to different formats simultaneously (i.e., seeing and hearing), helps people to better remember what they have learned (Laureate Education, n.d.). Technology plays a major role in the way people learn today, and connectivist perspective submits that learners can no longer ‘keep up’ in today’s chaotic information age without it (Siemens, 2004); and, motivation—a “key ingredient” to learning— “determines whether and to what extent we actually learn…” (Ormrod et al., 2009, p. 224).

Moving Forward: Learning Theory and Instructional Design
This course has taught me that, “no single theory can adequately account for all learning” (Ormrod et al. 2009, p. 6). Therefore, instructional designers (IDs) must be well-versed in multiple theories, “to translate relevant aspects of… learning theories into optimal instructional actions” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p. 43). I now understand that there are unique considerations when dealing with adult and distant learners, and that various learning strategies and motivational tactics can further engage these students, create optimal instructional experiences, empower them to keep going when obstacles arise. Lastly, I have discovered that I must understand how I best learn, because this is a field in which this action never ceases; these are the concepts that I will carry with me as I move forward in the field of ID.

As always, thanks so much for joining me on this amazing journey!

-Ahisha, The Ecstatic Learning Addict

References
Atkisson, M. (2010). Behaviorism vs. Cognitivism. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://woknowing.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/behaviorism-vs-cognitivisim/

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71. doi:10.1002/piq.21143

Glenn, D. (2009, December 16). Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help Students. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://www.chronicle.com/article/Matching-Teaching-Style-to/49497

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Information processing and problem solving [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Learning styles and strategies [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

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

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. [online]. Retrieved on April 29, 2018, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

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Week 7: Fitting the Pieces Together—A Moment of Self-Reflection

How has my view of learning changed in the past few weeks? What have I learned about my own learning preferences? How does technology affect my learning?

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First, let me start out by saying: “Wow! Are we really almost done with this wonderful phase of instructional design education?” (insert tear drop here).

As a true ‘addict’ of learning, I must say that this course on learning theory has been an exhilarating one. After learning so much about different philosophies, theories, styles, and strategies for learning, I realize that my love and appreciation for learning has grown even more so than before, and I am delighted to see what lies ahead as I move forward.

At the onset of this journey, my colleagues and I were tasked with describing our personal learning styles and with sharing our views about learning in general. The following excerpt is from my original response:

“In review of my personal beliefs about learning, it can be said that: I best thrive in situations that allow me to acquire hands-on experience and to build upon concepts in which I am already familiar; I enjoy both conventional and unconventional methods; and, I believe that the learner and their environment influence this experience. The following theories and philosophies are most closely associated with my views on learning, both personally and generally: Constructivist theory, Bandura’s social cognitive theory, and the philosophies of Socrates and John Dewy.”

After careful deliberation of learning materials each week, I find that these views still reign true for me, although I now have additional insights and comprehensions that I did not have when my current learning theories course began several weeks ago. Today, I understand and appreciate the concept of connectivism. I support the notion that, “knowledge rests in diversity of opinions”, and that, “We can no longer personally experience and acquire learning that we need to act” in today’s rapidly evolving knowledge economy (Siemens, 2004); therefore, connections with other communities is so essential. For more information about my personal learning connections, I invite you to check out my previous blog post: “Mapping Learning Connections”—we really do learn so much from other sources!

The study of connectivism has really helped me to further understand that technology significantly influences the ways in which I learn. I rely heavily on the internet, social media, and even blogs now, when I want to learn about new things. The collaborative discussions in my online class have also been very instrumental in my learning for this term. It has helped to really strengthen my appreciation for connectivism, social cognitive theory, constructivism, and Socratic philosophy as well. It is so amazing how individuals can be exposed to the same learning content, and yet derive such different interpretations of the material (constructivism); I find that further questioning does inspire higher-level thinking (Socratic philosophy); and, there is no doubt that there is so much to be learned from one another (connectivism and social cognitive theory).
In my effort to ‘piece’ all that I have learned together this term, I offer the following insights:

• Learning theories are circumstantial and are better suited for certain types of learning situations over others, which is why instructional designers must be well-versed in many theories (Ertmer & Newby, 2013).

• It is not as effective to design instructional experiences based learning styles—i.e., visual, audio, kinesthetic, etc.—as it is to create courses using learning strategies, which are better equipped for facilitating learning for all, irrespective of preferences (Laureate Education, n.d.).

• Technology plays a major role in learning, is always rapidly advancing and changing, and has the potential to offer unprecedented learning opportunities in the coming years (The New Media Consortium, n.d.). (Please check out this resource below… This stuff is seriously amazing!)

• And last, but certainly not least, instructional designers really should NEVER stop learning.

The field of instructional design is highly-dependent on technological advancements and understanding diverse learners and their needs—all things that are constantly changing. Beyond this, learning is just downright fun! Our goal as professionals should be to make sure that our end-users feel this way as well, as they engage in our amazingly crafted, theory-based and learner-focused creations that recognize their multiple intelligences and inspire them to join us in the glorious pursuit of becoming life-long learners.

Please feel free to share your thoughts about how you learn and your favorite learning theories and technologies below. I would love to hear from you! Until next time, my friends, thank you always for joining me as our journey continues…

-Ahisha, The Ecstatic Learning Fanatic

References
Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective, Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26, 43-71.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Learning styles and strategies [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. [online]. Retrieved on April 6, 2018, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

The New Media Consortium Publications. (n.d.). NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from http://www.nmc.org/publications

Week 5: Mapping Learning Connections

What is connectivism? Does it influence the way that you learn?

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This week, we have been exploring the concept of adult learning as it relates to connectivism, and I must admit that this fascinating ideal has greatly expanded my understanding of learning theories in the context of designing effective learning experiences for such learners in a digital era.

Siemens (2004) explains that our knowledge-rich and rapidly advancing economy requires us to create useful information patterns by forming connections between sources of information—a phenomenon known as connectivism. He further adds that as the conditions used to make decisions change, that we too, must cultivate our abilities to recognize and adapt to these shifts, if we are to utilize available resources efficiently (Siemens, 2004). Another central tenet of connectivism is that, “we can no longer personally experience everything there is to experience as we try to learn something new. We must create networks which, simply defined, are connections between entities” (Orey, 2010, pp. 62-63).

These and other insights from this week have prompted me to really think more about my personal learning network (pictured above), which I find undoubtedly supports the core elements of connectivism. For example, my network strongly influences how I learn. Entities like family, my community, the technologies I use, and even the college I attend influence the ways in which I acquire and construct meaning about the world around me. Digital tools, like social media, have become primary sources of information when I am interested in learning how to do something new. YouTube has been particularly useful for this purpose; I find myself exploring all kinds of new activities like how to prepare some of my favorite restaurant dishes at home, how to successfully complete different types of workout routines, and tons of reviews about products of interest that I may purchase in the near future. Google has also been an invaluable resource for retrieving quick and extensive information about virtually every subject imaginable. Even still, this reiterates the importance of my previous blog post—Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources (if you haven’t already, I encourage you to check it out!)—which underscores the importance of critically evaluating the credibility of a source before consuming its content.

Upon reflection of my personal learning network, I realize that I am constantly being introduced to new ways of learning. I am still very new to blogging; yet, I have already managed to connect with several feeds that share a wealth of useful information. The collaborative discussions that I have with my online classmates continue to provide valuable insight to my learning experiences week after week in school, and social media never ceases to amaze me. I can recall a time when I took great pride in being a Myspace ‘guru’; however, I am certain that most would agree that this is not a very relevant skill set to have in today’s technological climate, which further substantiates Siemens’ claim that learners must become accustomed to recognizing the patterns of their environments and altering their networks accordingly for success.

As one blog explains, “we have to shift education from focusing mainly on the acquisition of knowledge… to the development of learner states of being (affect, emotion, self-regulation, goal setting, and so on)”, as this is “central to the future of work and society” (Elearnspace, n.d.). Orey (2010) solidifies this statement in noting that, “In today’s technology-rich society, it has become increasingly important to learn how to learn” (p. 65). Connectivism is a useful concept, because it provides learners with a guide of how to navigate the “…cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) [which] allows [them] to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed” (Elearnspace, n.d.).

Does your personal learning network also support the idea of connectivism? Which digital tools best help you to learn? Has your personal learning network changed the way you learn at all? If so, please feel free to share how. Thanks so much for taking the time to learn with me yet again, and I look forward to your feedback!

-Ahisha, The Ecstatic Learning Addict

References
Elearnspace, learning, networks, knowledge, technology, community. (n.d.). Retrieved on April 08, 2018, from http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/

Orey, M. (2010). Behaviorism—Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved on April 8, 2018, from http://textbookequity.org/Textbooks/Orey_Emergin_Perspectives_Learning.pdf

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. [online]. Retrieved on April 7, 2018, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Week 2: Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources

Are you using credible sources when conducting research online? How do you know? What characteristics should you be looking for?

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One of the cornerstones of being an instructional design (ID) professional, is that one must engage in an endless pursuit of learning for success. Moreover, it is imperative to understand that technological advancements, such as the internet, have become the essential learning tools of today. The good news in this is that individuals now have access to enormous amounts of valuable information at unprecedented speeds; however, the potentially bad news is that these same learners will often be exposed to inaccurate and unreliable sources perceived as truth, ultimately establishing an erroneous knowledge base to build upon. Therefore, Leu and Zawilinski (2007) urge online researchers “to be “healthy skeptics” while reading online, always checking first to see who created the information at a new web site they encounter” to better examine one’s credibility (p. 2). Purdue Owl (n.d.) offers the following five criteria for analyzing source credibility:

1. Consider the author.
2. Determine the recency of the work.
3. Determine the author’s intent.
4. Determine the kinds of sources your audience will deem credible.
5. Thoroughly examine internet sources.

This blog post will feature two credible sources that offer unique perspectives about how neuroscience directly correlates with intelligence levels, and how information processing theory needs revision to best understand the human learning process.

The meticulous cognitive processes often described in information processing theory are said to have little value in the context of instructional design; however, this theory is significant to our industry in that it helps ID professionals to better understand how end users think about and interpret content, as well as how to effectively engage these individuals (Laureate Education, n.d.). Though useful in this sense, information processing theory, “which explains human cognition like computer processing has limitations” (Gurbin, 2015, p. 2332).

The peer-reviewed scholarly article, located in the 7th World Conference on Educational Sciences, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences academic journal, is a credible source titled: Enlivening The Machinist Perspective: Humanising The Information Processing Theory With Social And Cultural Influences. Herein, author Tracey Gurbin posits that information processing theory is a machinist, and overly generalized view of learning and that teachers and ID professionals must instead acknowledge cultural and social differences and create inclusive learning environments, ultimately facilitating better connections for learners (Gurbin, 2015). This is a quality source because it is peer-reviewed, recent, located in a credible database, and sites credible sources within. The next source to be evaluated comes from a blog.

Learningandthebrain.com/blog is a credible public information resource, that features a blog entry by Rebecca Gotlieb, a doctoral student at the University of Southern California, who reviews a book with the blog title: “The Neuroscience of Intelligence by Richard Haier”. Haier is a “professor emeritus at the University of California… a former president of the International Society for Intelligence Research, and a pioneer in the use of neuroscientific methods to study intelligence” (Gotlieb, 2018). This is an exceptionally dependable source in consideration of these author’s respective levels of expertise and experience, as well as the recency of this post. Most notably, Haier posits that, “the vast majority of variability in intelligence is due to genes, rather than environmental factors… [and] that many genes influence intelligence”; he further exhibits optimism that an increased knowledge of genes will eventually allow learning professionals to heighten one’s level of intelligence, irrespective of any environmental limitations that exist (Gotlieb, 2018).

These are both riveting and trustworthy accounts, despite their opposing views. What do you think fellow ID superstars? Does information processing theory need to be modified? Should we be examining the brain, or considering the environment (social and cultural) when trying to understand the learning process? Maybe both? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. As always, thanks for joining me!

-Ahisha, The Ecstatic Learning Addict

References
Gotlieb, R. (2018, March 14). The Neuroscience of Intelligence by Richard Haier [Web log post]. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from https://www.learningandthebrain.com/blog/intelligence-haier/

Gurbin, T. (2015). Enlivening the machinist perspective: Humanizing the information processing theory with social and cultural influences. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 197(7th World Conference on Educational Sciences), 2331-2338. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.07.263

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Information processing and the brain [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Leu, D. J., & Zawilinski, L. (2007). The new literacies of online reading comprehension. New England Reading Association Journal, 43(1), 1-7.

Welcome to the Purdue OWL. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/02/

Week 1: The Doorway to Professional Learning Communities

Are you new to the field of Instructional Design? Where should you begin? How do you become an expert in this exciting and challenging field?

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Do any of the abovementioned questions resonate with you? No worries—you are in the right place, and we will figure this out together. Blogs are an effective tool for instructional design (ID) professionals and have been shown to offer uniquely authentic, collaborative learning experiences that better equip practitioners for the realities of working in this complex and rewarding field (Ferriter, 2009). As my first blog post, I present the following blog analyses as an initial contribution to our global ID learning community:

E-Learning Industry is an invaluable resource for instructional design practitioners. Tess Taylor, a human resources and career coaching professional, provides a very informative blog titled: Top 10 In Demand Instructional Designer Skills. Herein, Taylor provides aspiring ID professionals with an overview of the skill sets that they should be cultivating to secure work and advancement opportunities in this field. Noteworthy capabilities include: intensely comprehending learning models, being artistically inclined, and having project management skills. This is a very useful site for new and aspiring ID candidates as it guides what competencies matter in this field, and it illuminates what is needed to best serve future clients. I plan to reflect on this resource throughout my educational journey, as well as in my career; it is important to ensure that I am developing in the right areas as I progress, and that I know the latest trends in the industry. This informative resource can be accessed here: https://elearningindustry.com/instructional-designer-skills-top-10

Love 2 Techwrite is another great blog written by marketing specialist and graduate student of Technical Communications, Helena Dixon. Particularly, her post, Design for All, is significant, because it addresses a key consideration for ID professionals: to design diverse and inclusive content. “The learning process itself is constantly changing, both in nature and diversity” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013), and additional complexities arise in consideration of accommodating disabilities. Dixon explains that ID professionals must strive to improve the accessibility of their project by being mindful of learners that may have visual or auditory impairments, as well as those with dyslexia and other permanent or situational limitations. This site has a wealth of insightful knowledge, and as a fellow student and up and coming technology specialist myself, I look forward to learning from and sharing ideas with this blogger moving forward. Here is the link for this post: https://love2techwrite.wordpress.com/2018/03/10/design-for-all/

 

21st Century Teaching is a blog that provides a plethora of resources for teaching college-level and adult learners.  Making it ‘Real’ For Students: 4 Real-World Application Tips is one of the many posts that will greatly benefit future and current individuals working in ID. The author explains the importance of connecting course content with relatable, real-life scenarios to increase learner engagement. This fundamental understanding is crucial for specialists in our field, because the ultimate goal of any design project is to create learning experiences that are relevant and applicable to student needs. This can serve as an ongoing resource as I will always strive to create meaningful content for end users. The link for access is as follows: https://goaskeli.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/making-it-real-for-students-4-real-world-application-tips/

Do you know of additional ways to ensure success as an Instructional Design practitioner? I would love to hear your ideas in the comment section below. Thanks so much for joining me on this exciting pursuit!

-Ahisha, The Ecstatic Learning Addict 

References

Dixon, H. (2018, March 10). Design for All. [Web log post]. Retrieved March 11, 2018, from https://love2techwrite.wordpress.com/2018/03/10/design-for-all/

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly26(2), 43-71. doi:10.1002/piq.21143

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

Goaskeli. (2018, February 26). Making it ‘Real’ For Students: 4 Real-World Application Tips [Web log post]. Retrieved March 11, 2018, from https://goaskeli.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/making-it-real-for-students-4-real-world-application-tips/ Taylor, T. (2017, July 22). Top 10 In Demand Instructional Designer Skills [Web log post]. Retrieved March 8, 2018, from https://elearningindustry.com/instructional-designer-skills-top-10

Taylor, T. (2017, July 22). Top 10 In Demand Instructional Designer Skills [Web log post]. Retrieved March 10, 2018, from https://elearningindustry.com/instructional-designer-skills-top-10