Reflection

What did you find surprising or striking as you furthered your knowledge about how people learn?

As is the case with nearly every educational course I take, I found some surprising things in this Learning Theories and Instruction course. As I furthered my knowledge about how people learn, I was surprised to learn that true social environments can in fact be created in online classrooms. The way Walden courses are designed, although not face-to-face, allows me to interact with my peers through online discussion posts and other forums. This cooperate learning helps further understanding of information and introduces me to different points of view. Additionally, Walden’s curriculum makes me an active participant where I can construct meaning both from my teachers and from other learners. This meaningful social learning drives me to higher levels of comprehension on topics critical to my practice in instructional design.

How has this course deepened your understanding of your personal learning process?

Learning about connectivism deepened my understanding of my personal learning process. Prior to this course, I hadn’t given much thought to how my digital connections and networks relate to how I learn. However, while developing my mind map in week 5, it became apparent that how I learn new things is deeply infused with digital age technologies. Specifically, the way I interact and use social networks, electronic devices, and personal learning resources, brings me vast amounts of up-to-date information at speeds once thought impossible. These digital learning nodes and the way I use them play a huge part in my personal learning processes.

What have you learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation?

This course taught me the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation. The foundation of an effectively designed course should be built on learning theories. Learning theories explain how learning occurs, which factors influence learning, the role of memory in learning, how to apply knowledge in real-world situations, and how best to use technology to teach students new information. Educational technology is an important avenue to create intellectually stimulating and objective focused courses. However, no matter how well a course is designed, motivation is the key to learning. Instructional designers who create courses targeted at students’ need for affiliation, need for approval, need for achievement, allow for self-determination, and that include a level of autonomy are likely to effectively cultivate both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and be successful (Keller, 1999, & Laureate Education, n.d.).

How will your learning in this course help you as you further your career in the field of instructional design?

I have learned vital theories, concepts, learning styles and strategies, motivational techniques, and applications of technology that will help me further my career in the field of instructional design. I am in the sunset of my military career and excited to begin a second career in instructional design. I am hopeful to join a company with a culture that values and treats employees with dignity and respect. To that point, nearly every job ad for instructional designers and learning and development managers lists understanding adult learning theories as a requirement. Furthermore, the knowledge I have attained and resources I have been given in this course emphasize the importance of stimulating creativity, being learner centered, infusing technology, and motivating students to help them effectively acquire new knowledge.

Regards,

Brandon

References

Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS Motivational Process in Computer-Based Instruction and Distance Education. New Directions For Teaching & Learning, 1999(78), 37-47.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Motivation in learning [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

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Fitting the Pieces Together

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, how has your view on how you learn changed?

Looking back to Week 1, I asserted my learning style was a mix between auditory and visual. Additionally, the learning theories best matched with my learning preference were constructivism and cognitivism. However, I have learned much since that first week of class. I learned, as Dr. Artino discusses in his article, Promoting Academic Motivation and Self-Regulation, the importance of regulating my own learning. Specifically, whether in a face-to-face or online learning environment, my success is directly linked to my ability to adapt my cognition, motivation, and behavior and regulate my feelings, strategies, and behavior to attain goals (Artino, 2008). In other words, keeping a keen focus on achieving both my short and long-term goals fuels my inner motivation to do well academically. Certainly obtaining a Master’s Degree in Instructional Design and Technology will make me a more sought after employee. However, more importantly, I need to internalize and understand the effective principles, concepts, and strategies for teaching adult learners so I can develop employees and hopefully make them better workers and happier human beings.

What have you learned about the various learning theories and learning styles over the past weeks that can further explain your own personal learning preferences?

Now that I have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and styles, I can further explain my own personal learning preferences. Now I believe depending on the type of content I’m trying to learn, the learning theory most effective to my comprehension also varies. For example, the behaviorist theory of stimulus and response is best suited for less complex topics and to commit facts to memory. The cognitive theory is better for learning more complex material. For example, problem-solving and information processing (Ertmer & Newby, 2013). The constructivist theory, which I believe is the best overall theory suited for me, allows me to learn information by engaging in real-world situations and environments where improvisation and inventiveness are key to performance (Ertmer & Newby, 2013).  For example, being able to do an oil change on a car comes from learning in the real-world on how to do oil changes; not just reading about it in an auto manual. Finally, infusing both the social learning and connectivism theories adds knowledge depth and facilitates new material comprehension.

What role does technology play in your learning (i.e., as a way to search for information, to record information, to create, etc.)?

Technology touches nearly every aspect of my learning. It helps me create, organize, retrieve, store, and relate new information to existing knowledge (Ertmer & Newby, 2013). A great example of the role technology plays in my learning is shown through online education. Through online learning I engage in true social environments; I am an active participant who continually creates and constructs meaning from both instructors and other students (Kim, 2001). Additionally, after creating my connectivism mind map, it became apparent that the multitude of networks and nodes of the digital age I am actively engaged in are the life blood of my scholarly pursuits and also key players in my daily life.

Regards,

Brandon

References

Artino, A. (2008). Promoting Academic Motivation and Self-Regulation: Practical Guidelines for Online Instructors. TechTrends, 52(3), 37-45. doi:10.1007/s11528-008-0153-x

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

Connectivism

new-mind-map-1

As Mr. George Siemens discusses in his article, Connectivism, A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, “Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations…and learning can reside outside ourselves [within an organization or a database] (2004, section 6). It seems that connectivism has infused itself into the fabric of learning; ingrained in ways once unthought-of of by giants in the field. My digital connections and networks have certainly changed the ways I learn. While developing my ‘mind map’, it became clear that my learning is now connected to and by social networks, electronic devices, personal learning resources, and other sources like internet search engines and job sites. In fact, I gain new knowledge by swimming inside these resources and by allowing information to permeate and shape existing knowledge that I already have stored. For example, within the last year I decided to retire from the Air Force and begin a new career. At first, and because I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Development, I was certain my next position would be in human resources. However, as I searched job sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, the instructional design field of practice captured my interest. Furthermore, through these and other interconnected nodes of information sources, I determined my existing career experience and true interest were near perfectly aligned with teaching adult learners. To gain new knowledge and answer my fast amount of questions on the instructional design topic, I delved deeper into resources like the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Online Handbook, You Tube, and LinkedIn just to name a few.

Connectivism facilitated my decision to pursue instructional design as a career; although that is only one example of its usefulness. Going further, I can see how my personal learning network supports the central tenets of connectivism. First, connectivism asserts that learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources (Siemens, 2004). My mind map paints a picture of how my learning nodes are interconnected and lead to gaining new knowledge and understanding of topics. Also, connectivism provides the ability to see connections between ideas, fields, and concepts. To that point, I was able to see which types of experience, knowledge, and education are needed to work as an instructional designer and also determine the average income of someone working in the field. While the importance of traditional learning resources like textbooks and lectures cannot be set-aside, connectivism brings vast amounts of up-to-date resources to me at speeds once thought impossible.

Brandon

Reference

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

Evaluating Two Online Resources

This week on my blog I will discuss two resources on the topics of the information processing theory and problem-solving methods during learning processes. Specifically, since there is a large array of resources on the topic, I will focus in on just two such resources and comment on their value.

The Case of Mandy: Applying Holland’s Theory and Cognitive Information Processing

The first resource is a journal article by Robert Reardon and Laura Wright titled, The Case of Mandy: Applying Holland’s Theory and Cognitive Information Processing Theory. I located this article through the Walden University library. This journal article includes a case study of a student named Mandy. Mandy, not unlike many undergraduate college students, is struggling with the decision on what to declare as her major field of study. The college she attends requires students to declare a major once accumulating 50 credit hours. Fortunately, her institution offered a Career Planning class as a type of intervention to help students choose a major. Interestingly, the course used cognitive information processing (CIP) theory principles as key attributes of their curriculum. Specifically, the class focused on three levels of CIP: self-knowledge and occupational knowledge, decision-making skills, and finally the executive processing domain (thinking about thinking). The result of CIP on Mandy was not just that she decided on a major (elementary education), but also that the course taught her how to work through challenges by being aware of how she processes information. Overall, this journal article was a valuable resource that has practical application for everyday challenges.

Reference

Reardon, R. C., & Wright, L. K. (1999). The case of Mandy: applying Holland’s theory and    cognitive information processing theory. Career Development Quarterly47(3), 195-203.

Problem Solving: Classroom Learning

The second resource I will review is an article found on the website, Education.com. The article is titled Problem Solving under the subject area of ‘Classroom Learning’. I found this resource very useful because it provides a worthwhile definition of both a problem and problem solving itself. Additionally, after defining these areas it delivers a broad discussion on six linked topics: Problem Solving as a Kind of Thinking, Types of Problems, Cognitive Processes in Problem Solving, Theories of Problem Solving, Teaching for Problem Solving, and Teaching Problem Solving itself. Regarding the sixth topic, the article asserts “cognitive science suggests that students benefit from training in describing and evaluating the methods used to solve problems” (Mayer and Wittrock, 2009, para. 21). I think teaching people the process of problem-solving is critical since it goes further than just teaching a learner how to solve a problem.

Reference

Mayer, R. & Wittrock, M. (2009). Problem Solving. Education.com. Retrieved from        http://www.education.com/reference/article/problem-solving1/

Brandon

The Doorway to Professional Learning Communities

The sun rays of instructional design (ID) mastery peek over the horizon gently warming my face. Embedded in the sunny rays are resources I’ll tap into to light my path into the world of ID. This first blog entry provides a brief overview of three blogs, thoughtfully critiques their usefulness, and reflects upon how these sites can serve as ongoing resources as I venture into the field.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog

 As its author states, The Rapid E-Learning Blog is targeted at sharing practical tips and tricks to help the audience to rapidly become e-learning professionals. The blog is written and hosted by Tom Kuhlmann, an ID professional with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the training field. A cursory review of the site reveals some of the useful content: how to get better at building courses, tips on how to simplify instruction, offers hundreds of free resources for course design, and provides interactive tutorials on a variety of e-learning topics. This site will be extremely useful as I travel the road of instructional design.

IDDblog

Named one of the 50 must-read instructional design blogs in higher education, this site is a service provided by DePaul University. Unlike other blogs with single authors, this site publishes contributions from a variety of award-winning instructional designers and educational technology experts. With laser-focused discussions and articles on an assortment of topics, this site is another valuable resource to add to my growing toolbox. More than just technical tips and tricks, this blog also includes the social and relationship building aspect of instructional design. For example, there are entries on dealing with stress, building better team collaboration, and it shares insights on creating personalized learning and instruction.

LET’S SAVE THE WORLD FROM BORING TRAINING!

The blog’s name itself immediately caught my eye. Like its author, Cathy Moore, I also understand the critical value in creating and providing training that gets and keeps peoples’ attention. As the Air Force taught me numerous years ago; motivation is the key to learning! According to the blog’s information section, Cathy is “an internationally recognized training designer dedicated to saving the world from boring instruction”. Adding to the previous two blogs I reviewed, Cathy’s site seems to take instructional design blogs to the next level. I’m not alone in seeing the sites usefulness, she has over 15,000 subscribers. She taps into topics like designing courses for what people can use, not just what they need to know and designing experiences, not just information. I subscribed to Cathy’s blog because it’s clear to me I can use it as a valuable resource now and as I begin my second career in ID.

 Well, I hope you find this first blog useful; I know I have really enjoyed creating it.

BdO