Recapping Learning Theories

What did you find surprising or striking as you furthered your knowledge about how people learn?
Learning is far more than being able to perform (or not perform) a new trait when conditioned to a response. Pavlov’s behaviorist theory of having dogs salivate during a ringing of a bell is not the only theory that relates to how students learn. Students do not always watch a lecture and become instant experts on a topic; also, motivation needs to be maintained by properly engaging students. There might not be a scientific way to measure what and how much students learn other than observing a change in a response, but a student’s change in perception is still learning. There are many learning theories that apply to the learning processes of students and those theories explain learning in parts that, possibly one day, will be unified into a single theory that provides a holistic approach to learning. “There is no one theory that explains how adults learn, just as there is no one theory that explains all human learning. Existing theories provide frameworks or models” (Cercone, 2008, p. 142). “We must seek the viewpoints of others to create a unified whole” (Seimens, 2006, p. 94).
We need to take pieces from each school of thought and apply it effectively because…Cognitivism doesn’t explain 100% how humans process information and neither does Constructivism or Behaviorism. What we need to is take the best from each philosophy and use it wisely to create solid educational experiences for our learners. (Kapp, 2007)

How has this course deepened your understanding of your personal learning process?
At the start of the Learning Theories and Instruction course offered by Walden University, I found my learning style to be in a mix of behaviorism (skill-oriented), cognitivism (concept-oriented), and social-constructivism (concepts get built on through personal experiences). As a science teacher, I was mostly relying on students demonstrating their skill, which falls under the behaviorism learning style. Learning of vocabulary and concepts that did not reflect on assessable skills fell under cognitivism and constructivism. After learning about the multiple intelligence theory, adult learning theory, connectivism, and social learning theory, I find that many learning theories apply to my learning. There are also many factors that will keep students motivated in learning. I tend to complete assignments as a result of not wanting to appear as a failure in the sight of my peers on top of wanting to learn a material to make me a well-rounded individual.

What have you learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation?
In consideration of teaching students through an online course, I understand that there needs to multiple ways of assessing students and multiple ways of approaching learning with students. Traditional classrooms filled with only lectures do not guarantee learning for all students. Technology should be incorporated to ease the learning process and interactivity should be incorporated to help further the learning experience. Connectivism states that learning is distributed within a network that is socially and technologically enhanced (Siemens, 2006). The connectivism theory needs to be taken into consideration as to how resources are used in the instruction. Also, there are many intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence motivation. Overall, the motivation of students needs to be looked at to ensure that the students’ educational goal is met.

How will your learning in this course help you as you further your career in the field of instructional design?
Our field is one that changes often, especially with technology and its various applications towards education and learning. As an instructional designer, I find that learning about learning theories will keep me focused on keeping students motivated and what best tools to use to engage students in their learning process. I will also continue assessing my motivation to provide a well-rounded lesson.

Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137–159. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Reader.ViewAbstract&paper_id=24286
Kapp, K. (2007). Out and About: Discussion on Educational Schools of Thought. Kapp Notes. Retrieved on May 16, 2010 from http://karlkapp.blogspot.com/2007/01/out-and-about-discussion-on-educational.html
Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Retrieved on June 2, 2010 from http://www.elearnspace.org/KnowingKnowledge_LowRes.pdf

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Fitting the Pieces Together

At the start of the Learning Theories and Instruction course offered by Walden University, I found my learning style to be in a mix of behaviorism (skill-oriented), cognitivism (concept-oriented), and social-constructivism (concepts get built on through personal experiences). As a science teacher, I was mostly relying on students demonstrating their skill, which falls under the behaviorism learning style. Learning of vocabulary and concepts that did not reflect on assessable skills fell under cognitivism and constructivism. After learning about the multiple intelligence theory, adult learning theory, connectivism, and social learning theory, I find that many learning theories apply to my learning.

Evolution picture of ape to computer user

Evolution picture of ape to computer user

Online courses have a heavy usage of technology. Connectivism states that learning is distributed within a network that is socially and technologically enhanced (Siemens, 2006). A person can have more connections by building on the places where that person receives information. Connectivism relies heavily on making connections through online media. Activities that I have undergone that deal connectivism is subscribing to blogs, writing blogs, and having interactive online discussions with classmates and other people around the world. I also use search engines and database tools to reference other materials, which adds to my learning nodes.

Social learning theory states that people learn through the observation of others and through the consequences of their actions. With a plethora of online video sources, I am able to learn numerous things through demonstrations and instructions, which also adds to my learning nodes (connectivism).

As an adult learner on a different time zone as compared to my peers, I appreciate that the online discussions take place asynchronously, which fits in line with the adult learning theory. I also appreciate that resources can be found online in easy to find locations. “Encouraging reflection and dialogue, whether with the self, another, or a group, enables learning to take place” (Merriam, 2008, p. 97). Cercone (2008) mentions that adult learners have cultural and societal differences that adds to his or her individuality. Learning tasks need to be self-directed and independent to maintain the adult learning theory concept.

In consideration of teaching students through an online course, I understand that there needs to multiple ways of assessing students and multiple ways of approaching learning with students. Traditional classrooms filled with only lectures do not guarantee learning for all students. Technology should be incorporated to ease the learning process and interactivity should be incorporated to help further the learning experience.

Merriam, S. B. (2008). Adult learning theory for the twenty-first century. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 119, 93–98.
Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Retrieved on June 2, 2010 from http://www.elearnspace.org/KnowingKnowledge_LowRes.pdf

Connectivism: Social Network

Traditional Classroom

Traditional Classroom

Comparing a traditional classroom environment with an online classroom environment, I can say that traditional classroom environment is sorely limited in the amount of connections a person can make.

The Traditional Classroom Social Network
In a traditional classroom, there is a teacher in front of the classroom who lectures, assigns work from a textbook, and the classmates work independently. Conversations occurred between teacher and student, with very little group work and interaction. The use technology and reference material other than the class book are not overly apparent in traditional classroom environments.

The Online Classroom Social Network
My social network allows me to expand my thoughts through a dialogue with my peers through the classroom discussion area. The online class requires that each student leave an insightful comment at least twice per week while citing a resource. There are twenty-four students registered for class and the numbers of students are further divided into two groups, who are randomly assigned to groups each week.
Also, all my classmates have their blogs as well that I could subscribe to via RSS. To add on to the social networking display, my friends/classmates also have blogs that they are subscribed to and comment on. Collectively, there are at least thirty blogs dealing with instructional design that get reviewed on a weekly basis.
The weekly learning resources have several of articles, links to other web sites, book excerpts, videos, audio files, and flash content. Of them all, I think that best digital tool that facilitates learning for me is the weekly video, which either summarizes the material for the week or it provides a teaser to want to learn more. The discussions and other materials require that I read and read and read. The video, brief as they are, allows for a change from the mundane reading. Consequently, I usually watch the video twice; once by itself and second with its subtitles.
When I have questions about the material, I could easily revert to the traditional classroom modality by searching for the answer myself through the weekly learning resources. However, I do what comes even easier; I ask my classmates the question through the online discussions. Other times, I use a search engine to see what other people are blogging about.
Overall, I think that the central tenets of connectivism support my personal learning network in an online classroom social network. “We must create networks which, simply defined, are connections between entities. By using these networks – of people, of technology, of social structures, of systems, of power grids, etc. – learning communities can share their ideas with others, thereby “cross-pollinating” the learning environment” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).

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