Week 8 Assignment – Learning Reflection

In the final week of the course Learning Theories and Instruction, we were asked to reflect upon what we have learned and how we will apply this learning in the future in relationship to a career in instructional design. In this reflection I will share what I found surprising or striking as I furthered my knowledge about how people learn. I will also explain how this course deepened my understanding of my own personal learning process. I will attempt to explain all that I have learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, education technology and motivation. And with all this new information, I will share how I plan to utilize what I have learned in this course to help me as I further my career in field of instructional design.
The most surprising and striking information I learned in this course was the link between learning and social interaction. I have always been very independent in my learning and this concept completely changed the way I viewed course design. There are some very basic ideas involved in the Social Learning theory, including how learning occurs through observation of behaviors of others, how an environment reinforces modeling, and social interaction helps to support retention through memory coding. (Ormond, 2009) When I really considered the impact of social learning, I realized that there are many deep connections that someone can benefit from in a social environment to enhance learning. It is in our nature to be social and develop relationships. After reading the information provided regarding Social Learning Theory, I realized there are so many layers to this learning idea. Some of these layers include; the information being presented, who is presenting this information and how is the learner’s relationship to this person (that relationship could be a distraction to the information in being presented), the reaction given by other members of the learning environment to new and shared ideas can help imprint a certain idea into your memory and can even make you experience a happy or negative feeling when you retrieve the information from your memory, and if the intention of a learning environment and topic can sustain a positive personal interaction and develop a real human connection through learning the retention of knowledge will make a lasting impact.
Before taking this course I knew that I took a very independent and structured approach to learning. In reading the course resource I learned that I connect with may characteristic across a few of the learning styles presented. Some include the Cognitive Theory and how knowledge applied in different contexts can promote learning transfer, the case based theories involved in Constructivist Theory, and especially the network structures and nodes explained with the Connectivism theory. (Ormond, 2009) But the one thing I learned in this course that helped deepen my understanding of my personal learning process was that when I developed an intention to use my assignments and discussion questions as an opportunity to share my feelings and relationship to the course content in an effort to connect and share with other class members, I obtained a deeper understand of the material and completed each assignment and interaction with a positive emotion that I can use to retain much more content.
I have learned that the connection between learning theories, learning styles, education technology and motivation key factors are influenced and utilized based on how they effect and enhance the learning experience. Learning theories and learning styles were studied and developed in order to develop quality learning environment to maximize retention and learning experience. In my opinion technology has not only enhanced learning, but revolutionized learning environments through providing an infinite amount of learning networks and online learning environments that can be accessed with a click of a mouse. (Colan, 2003) Bringing all these ideas together to not only enhance a learning environment, but also to personalize learning in a way that makes a person feel connected to the information and to the people helping to present the information, and providing an environment where personal success can be achieved will provide the best opportunity for motivation in learners. (Keller, 1999)
It is my goal that I can take all the information in this course and create the highest quality instructional design material for every type of learning. By learning multiple learning styles and theories, I can change the focus from how I learn best and incorporate multiple learning styles in instruction to impact many different types of learners. I have learned to recognize the importance of technology and learning connections and plan to stay on top of new technologies that can provide the best quality of instruction. I also have learned that course design is an ongoing task that will require review and close monitoring of learners reactions to material and overall motivation by course content, and how to maximize motivation among learners impacted by course design.
One common thread through all the course material was intention and personal experience when learning. It is so important to ensure the right intention and to create a positive learning experience, regardless of what learning style and theory is presented. Any positive learning experience and quality information presented has the potential to change someone’s life. It is the responsibility as instructional design to ensure the change and transfer of information is positive with the best intention possible.

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
Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning
Ormrod, D. J. (Director) (2012, July 8). “Theory of Social Cognitive Development”. Lecture
conducted from Walden University, Minneapolis
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson

Week 7 Assignment – Fitting the Pieces Together

This week’s assignment asked students to reflect on our Week 1 Discussion topic, which asked how we learn best based on the overview of the learning theories. Then we are asked to consider how our views have changed now that we have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles. What we have learned about the various learning theories and learning styles over the past few weeks that can further explain your own personal learning preferences. We were also asked to explain what role technology plays in our learning.

During Week 1, I explained that I learn most productively when I am able to mentally or physically simulate the topic I am researching. For example, I use and manage software on a daily basis in my current position. In order to gain a complete understanding of new software or software issues, I have to be able to interact with the computer and perform all features or issues being reported. In Week 1 I used Cognitive Theory to best describe how I learn. This theory focuses on the conceptualization of learning and how information is received by the student and stored. It is a very structured approach to learning, which I feel will help me be successful as an instructional designer.

When I think about how my views have changed now that I have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles I do not think my initial evaluation of my learning style has changed, however, I do feel like my learning style is more diverse and expands across many different learning theories and styles. In addition to Cognitive Theory, I would also have to include ideas from Constructivist Theory, Social Learning Theory, and Connectivism. Constructivist Theory involves case based learning that incorporates a meaningful experience. Social Learning Theory states that social interaction, in particular watching and learning from the words and behavior of others aids in learning. Connectivism views learning in terms of a network and is influenced by the diversity of our network and context of occurrences. (Ormond, 2009) But as described in our course material, it would be hard to categorize adult learners into one category of learning preference. Adult learners are influenced by life context, cultural experiences, and social dynamics that help to shape all learning experiences. I think this idea can be describe my learning preferences, in that it is variable based on topic and content.

And finally, what role does technology play in my learning. I would have to report that technology touches every aspect of my learning. The formal learning environment of Walden University starts with an online classroom. I can communicate with students via discussion links and email. All research is done through an online digital library, in addition to internet research outside of the university. All lectures are viewed via online link to a video presentation. All material is consistent and digitally provided to ensure I can gain the most knowledge possible in a condensed time frame. Without technology I would not be able to further my degree.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson. Chapter 1, “Overview” (pp. 1–16)
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.
Emerging theories and online learning environments for adults. (2002). In Theories of Educational Technology. Retrieved November 24l, 2010, from https://sites.google.com/a/boisestate.edu/edtechtheories/

Week 5 Blog Assignment: Mapping Your Learning Connections

This week’s assignment we were asked to develop a mind map that illustrates network connections of learning.  It is important to think about how your networks provide information and support, and how different people and technologies help in learning.  After posting the mind map, we were asked to reflect on how the connections facilitate learning by answering the following questions:

How has your network changed in the way you learn?  Looking at my mind map, it is so clear that the majority of information resources are made available with technology.  I am still young enough to remember how research and information gathering involved very little technology.  It would involve attending classes and looking up topics in a card catalog (not the digital kind.)  Not only has technology given me the gift of unlimited access to unlimited topics, I can access that information any time of day in any location.   The speed of research has increased exponentially. 

Which digital tools best facility learning for you?  I utilize so many learning networks it is hard to pick just one.  I think it would have to be the internet in general.  Keeping in mind it requires data validation and information gathering should only be done with trusted sources. 

How do you gain new knowledge when you have questions?  It depends on the topic.  For class work, my first sources of contact are the students and instructor involved in the current class I am taking.  For other topics I generally start with Google and enter a search term related to the topic. 

In what ways does your personal learning network support or refute the central tenets of connectivism?  The way technology is developed and is stored, it is a good example of connectivism.  Taking a topic you need to research and making that topic the central metaphor, you can type information into the search area of study and be presented with many nodes containing information pertaining to the topic.  Most research websites will contain other connections to more data of the same topic and in a way are the very description of connectivism nodes and connections. 

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

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

Week 2 Assignment – Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources

By using Google, I located the two resources below that help to expand on the week’s topics: the brain and learning, information processing theory, and problem-solving methods during the learning process.  I have cited the resources and added a few comments on the value of these resources.

The first resource I found at http://www.cainelearning.com/ was developed by Geoffrey and Renate Caine.  These co-authors have written many books and articles that integrate brain research, psychology, small group processes, systems thinking and education.  What I like most about these authors, is that they are dedicated to not only providing tools to help educators help people learn, but also continue their research to provide the most up to date discoveries on how people learn and how to apply those discoveries. 

The second resource is http://www.funderstanding.com/educators/learning-on-our-minds-brain-based-classroom-applications/.  The title of this article says a lot about its value, “Learning on Our Minds: Brain Based Classroom Applications.”  For anyone who is just learning about learning processes, it can be hard to both grasp these concepts and also visualize how to apply the concepts in a learning environment.  This article gives some very good examples of theory in practice.

Week 2 Assignment

This week we are required to select one of the instructional design blogs that either we referenced or one of our classmates referenced and thoughtfully contribute by posting an original entry, or by responding to a previous entry.  The post should contribute original thinking or knowledge to the blog, and not merely agree or disagree with the author.

When I read the requirements for this week I could not stop thinking about the blog I read last week called “Guiding principles to help us be more intentional about our course design.”  This blog can be located at http://coffeeandesign.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/guiding-principles-to-help-us-be-more-intentional-about-our-course-designs/.  I want to start off by saying I am not a political person, nor do I have a specific political affiliation.  When I think about intention and learning, it always reminds me of one of the main learning tools in our society, network news.  With election season upon us, we are inundated with political advertisement and news stories with a specific intention of shaping our affiliation to one candidate.  It sometimes feels like the intention is to manipulate facts in order to cause a negative emotion towards another person or an issue.  These continued tactics really weigh heavy on my heart.  I know that each candidate or issue has both good and bad points.  However, if we could come together and focus on resolving issues instead of trying to obtain personal interests by portraying wrong intentions, we would be able to solve so many of the major issues in the world today.  It seems instead that wrong intentions when providing information cause us to lose focus of the real issues and topics.

In the blog “Guiding principles” blog, it suggests asking yourself specific questions when you are designing learning.  What will the course look like, what content needs to be in the course, and what will the learner do with this content?  These questions and blog are designed to make us more intentional in our instructional design.  I hope that my entry will also make you more intentional to the emotion you are portraying in your course content.  Be positive in your intention and avoid emotion that will overshadow your course content.

Week 1 Assignemnt

This week we are required to search for various blogs and resource sites relevant to the field of instructional design or training in our workplace setting.  Below you will see bookmarks for three blogs and brief overview of the type of content that can be found on each of the instructional design blogs. 

The best blog I found this week can be accessed at http://professorjosh.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/social-media-in-education-twitter-being-used-in-arts-and-sciences-courses/ and is called Social Media in Education.  I can’t think of a more useful tool in instructional design that the use of social media.  It seems like today, everyone uses social media tools as a means to keep in contact with every aspect of their life.  This blog site gives detailed ideas on assignments to give students to allow them better interaction and learning using social media.  One assignment asked students of ENG 456 Reading Technology course to post at least once a day to the social media outlet Twitter.  Students were asked to analyze the impact Twitter had on the culture or society of the class in any appreciable way. 

The second useful blog I found this week can be found at http://learnatvivid.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/what-works-in-real-life-works-in-elearning-2/.  The blog is titled, What works in real life works in eLearning.  I found this blog so useful in not only my own eLearning experience but also gave me ideas of how to apply meaning and thought behind instructional design.  I completely agree with the ideas listed on the blog, especially in using a great hook and emotion at the start of a lesson or training program and how that hook can lead to an individual’s need to learn more about the topic being presented.  This blog gives both instructional and video examples of how to create an interesting learning environment for students.  I truly hope I can provide a strong sense of emotion in my instruction design that will inspire students to stay involved in learning and capture their attention and imagination. 

The third blog not only helps with ideas in instructional design, it is a good lesson for everyday life.  You can find Guiding principles to help us be more intentional about our course designs at the link http://coffeeandesign.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/guiding-principles-to-help-us-be-more-intentional-about-our-course-designs/.  This blog ask some very important questions that are designed to make designers more intentional in their course design.  Some of the questions include “What will the course look like?”  “What content needs to be in the course?”  “What will the learner do with this content?”  It is so important to always consider the person who will be using the course material you design.  This blog helps you to take a moment and evaluate your progress and if it meets all requirements.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments on these blogs.  Please send me any other blogs you have found useful.