Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week 7: Fitting the Pieces Together

It is the end of Week 7 of my Educational Theory class, we are nearing the end of the class.  This class has proven to be interesting as well as difficult in there are quite a few different theories on how we, human beings, learn and process information.  

This week's learning resources contained suggestions on how to integrate technology into learning based instruction-an important concept for an Instructional Designer to understand. With this week's resources in mind, as well as our analysis of the major learning theories, we were to revisit and reflect upon our initial Week 1 response of "how you learn best"... In that reflection we were to consider the three following questions:

  1. Now that you have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, how has your view on how you learn changed?
  2. 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?
  3. What role does technology play in your learning (i.e., as a way to search for information, to record information, to create, etc.)

Question #1:
In my Week 1 Class Discussion I stated "In my assessment, I feel that I learn most productively through conventional and traditional teaching methods. I am an auditory and visual learner, with auditory learning being my preferred method. I am 80% auditory, 15% visual, and 5% kinesthetic. Typically I am able to listen to the relayed information, write the information down, and then simply remember it. On rare occasions is it necessary for me to “do” the action in order to understand the theory of how something works".

I still feel that I learn most productively via conventional and traditional learning methods.  I have discovered that I am fairly adaptive and am adjusting non traditional learning such as by utilizing web based applications and forums to increase my knowledge base.  I have also discovered that being an auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learner is a "learning style and intelligence strength". When I initially entered this class I had little experience and knowledge in this field of study and had to research or read the blogs of my colleagues to understand what my Professor was "asking".  Granted I still lack experience, I have gained knowledge in which I can build upon in the future academically as well as professionally.  

I also will admit that learning is much more complicated than I realized as it is an individual process for everyone.  Everyone learns differently, and what works for me, may not work for another person.  This is something that I will need to learn to address as I begin to design learning applications as an Instructional Designer.  The information that I have learned will greatly assist me in that...

Upon further examination I realize that I utilize several of the learning theories that we have studied.  I utilize adult learning theories, connectivism, constructivism, social learning, cognitivist theories, and finally behaviorist theories.  Initially I felt that cognitivism was the way that I learned.  We all adapt as needed on the information, context, and stimulus...

Question #2:
In my initial assessment during Week 1, I stated that the cognitive theory appeared to best apply for my preferred learning method.  I realize now that one learning theory is not necessarily better than the other, but it may be better suited depending on the material, stimuli, and student.  For example the behaviorist learning theory may be useful when students need to learn information that depends on rapid recall-such as basic math or learning historical dates.  To instill analytical and problem solving skills the cognitive or constructivism theory may be better suited or applied.  For a full time professional seeking to further their career by returning to school Connectivism and Adult Learning techniques are better suited.  The key of course is knowing when to apply what theory and to what degree.

I am still confused from a neuroscience stand point exactly how my brain stores information.  I have discovered however that social learning plays a strong role on how I form my opinions and therefore "learn"...

Question #3:
Technology plays a huge role in education in the 21st Century.  With the discovery and development of the Internet and the World Wide Web we are able to learn and communicate from sources outside of our geographical radius-the world is more connected than ever! Research and learning can be done from anywhere there is a Internet connection.  Students are no longer limited to the hours of their local library or their professor's office hours.  

I enjoy using technology to increase my knowledge and understanding.  I utilize RSS Feeds, various Search Engines, Personal Web  (websites such as Diigo and LinkedIn, for example), and Blogs to increase my understanding of subject academically, personally, and professionally.  Online Social Networking, for example, is an excellent way to communicate with people with like interests.  
I was not aware that I was already involved and practicing the learning theory of Connectivism until this course. 

My only fear with this influx of data is how to validate the information that I am receiving.  Without a SME or a professor as a guide it is easy to get on the wrong track and not develop an accurate understanding....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How My Connections Facilitate My Learning

Hello again,
As I mentioned earlier this week, I have returned to complete my assignment for this week.  Part I was to post my mind map.  Based on the mind maps of my classmates, not so sure I achieved the goal of this particular assignment.  I guess I will see when my grade is posted...

Part II is to discuss the questions that I posted to you all earlier this week...many of these questions were addressed in/on my mind map that I posted this week.

1.  How has your network changed the way you learn?
I have discussed this a few times within my discussion group(s), until this class I never considered a formal network as a way to learn.  I have utilized social networks such as,, and as a way to stay in touch with friends and network with others with similar interests to my own.  With my educational theory class, I have realized that these sites, as well as the internet are  full of information that I can use to advance my academic, and professional interests as well. 

2.  Which digital tools best facilitate learning for you?
I utilize many of the available applications on web 2.0 to facilitate my learning.  A particular digital tool that I enjoy is the RSS Feed.  Until this class, I was clueless to the little "orange icon with sound waves"and what it was used for.  Our Professor included a link to a online video that explained RSS Feed, their function, and how they are used.  RSS Feeds in Plain English is a great website for beginners to get an idea on how RSS Feeds work. RSS Feeds are a great way to organize your favorite websites, blogs, professional as well as personal.
I also enjoy following various blogs of fellow instructional designers and others within the field of eLearning.  Again our Professor included a link to an online video that explained Blogs, their function, and how they are used. Blogs in Plain English is a wonderful resource for new bloggers to learn the function of blogs and how they can be used to connect with others.
These are just two examples of digital tools that I use.  In addition to these I utilize the internet's search engines, as well as my Macbook Pro by Apple!

3.  How do you gain new knowledge when you have questions?
When I have questions I first seek the expertise of someone that I feel will have the information.  In some cases this can be a personal acquaintance and in other situations it may be a professional associate.  If I still seek additional information then I also will refer to the various websites, and blogs that I have available in my networks.  Sometimes with having so much information available it is difficult to discern the proper answer as the wealth of information typically leads to more questions...

4.  In what ways does your personal learning network support or refute the central tenets of connectivism?
My personal learning network supports the central tenets of connectivism. I think connectivism is an important concept especially in the 21st century.  In this "digital era" it is easier than ever to connect with  people all over the world from various professions and walks of life.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Week 5: Connectivism-Mapping Your Learning Connections

Hello everyone,

This week we started our study on the Connectivism Learning Theory as well as educating the "adult learner".  

Part 1 of this week's assignment is to create a "mind map" that illustrates our network connections. This, network connections, being a centralized idea or theme of Connectivism. People learn via the various networks they construct, and these networks then directly influence their learning. I had no idea, up until this week, that the social networking that I love and enjoy is actually part of a learning theory! There is such a wealth of information available...

My current online course is definitely based on this theme, and has proved to be interesting, as well as challenging, as I am accustomed to traditional learning theories. I haven't been in a "classroom" environment in several I am still a little "old school". 

Now there are several applications and programs available for "mind mapping" AKA concept mapping. As this was my first attempt-I chose a program that is SUPER easy to use, a web-based, freeware application called Webspiration. Unfortunately, with this application I was unable to convert the map to a .jpeg file, but I have published the document instead.  My Connectivism document can be accessed by selecting the link contained in this sentence.

Mind mapping is a great visual aid and tool and is something I will definitely use from this point on academically, personally, and professionally.  

I will update my post later this week with reflections on how my connections facilitate my personal learning and knowledge base.

A few questions for you to ponder until then:
  • How has your network changed the way you learn?
  • Which digital tools best facilitate learning for you?
  • How do you gain new knowledge when you have questions?
  • In what ways does your personal learning network support or refute the central tenets of connectivism?
Feel free to post your comments and thoughts!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Post # 2: Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources

Part of this week’s assignment was to locate two resources (web sites and/or online journals) on this week’s topics: the brain and learning, information processing theory, and problem-solving methods during the learning process. Write a blog entry that cites the websites and/or online journals, and comment on the value of these resources.

I decided to utilize the school’s library for one article, and the World Wide Web for the second.  In the school’s library there were several databases and journals to choose from, and the results of my search query displayed thousands of articles for this week’s topic.  I finally decided on an article from the European Journal of Education called Brain Research, Learning and Emotions: Implications for Education Research, Policy and Practice. From the Internet, I decided on an article featured on titled Information Processing Theory and its Effect on Children and Learning.

The article from the European Journal of Education discusses the field of educational neuroscience and explores the implications for education research, policy and practice. The specific core concepts that are discussed in the article are:
  • Human development is shaped by a synergy of biology and experience
  • Emotion is fundamental to learning
  • There are developmental sensitivities for certain aspects of language learning
  • The literate brain can be created through multiple developmental pathways
  • Mathematics is created in the brain with biology and instruction                                            (Hinton, Miyamoto, Della-Chiesa, 2008)
Based on the discussion of the article’s core concepts the author’s propose specific education policies should be implemented:

Focus on the learning environment
Rather than focus on treating the individual policy should shift its attention to restructuring the environment.  The “nature” of the individual is often already in place; however the “nurture” (environment) can also greatly affect the shaping of the brain’s structure and overall function.

Make use of formative assessment
Formative Assessment is a tool that can be used to assess the learning of an individual vs. the performance.  Emphasis is placed on the comprehension and understanding of information and concepts.

Take into account the importance of emotions
Neuroscience has confirmed that emotions are fundamental to learning. Because emotion is fundamental to learning, it is valuable to support research that considers emotional dimensions of learning, such as research on math anxiety.

Consider sensitive periods for language learning
Foreign language should be studied at an earlier age.  Neuroscience confirms The earlier foreign language instruction begins, the more efficiently and effectively the brain is able to learn its accent and grammar.

Inform reading instruction with neuroscience findings
Teacher training programs would ideally include information about literacy in the brain. It is particularly crucial that teachers are trained to recognize indicators of dyslexia because early dyslexia interventions are generally more successful than later interventions. Researchers can pinpoint neural causes of reading disorders.

Inform mathematics instruction with neuroscience findings
Since humans are born with a biological inclination to understand the world numerically, formal mathematics instruction might build on existing informal numerical understandings. Because number and space are tightly linked in the brain, instructional methods that link these are powerful teaching tools. It would be useful to provide teachers with programs to include information about mathematics and the brain. (Hinton et al., 2008)

I found this information especially interesting and useful when I compared it with the Internet article from titled Information Processing Theory and its Effect on Children and Learning. This particular article discusses the information process theory and how it specifically affects children and their learning. The discussion begins with the sensory register and the transfer of the information from WM (Working Memory) and LTM (Long Term Memory). As we learned previously this week, components such as attention, rehearsal, organization, and elaboration, all affect what, if and how, that information is actually transferred to the memory banks.  As a person develops and grows in age, the way in which they process information also changes.  “As a child grows the way they process information and how the process work develops and changes as the child grows. In infancy babies show signs of learning as soon as they are born; they also show a "preference for moderately complex stimuli" at this age” (Ganley, 2002-2010)Lastly the article takes into consideration the influence that one’s environment can have on learning ability and information processing. “Children are born into environments and the information they are first confronted with comes from direct stimulation from the environments they are in. The environment inevitably has an affect on what a child perceives and what information is remembered and thought about. Environments vary and the factors instilled in children in relation to knowledge vary as well” (Ganley, 2002-2010).

The two articles have similar theories and beliefs regarding information processing theory, and brain development and learning in children.  The article as presented in the European Journal of Education takes the evidence of neuroscience a step further by presenting specific solutions educators can implement within their school systems to better facilitate the natural brain development and information processing of children. It is important to have an understanding of information processing theory and brain development and learning for all ages of students. An educator/instructor will be better prepared to create lesson plans to specifically meet the needs of their students as well as be able to recognize if a student is not developing at the rate in which they should.

Both of these articles are a great resource for educators, instructors, teachers, in assisting them meet the educational needs of their students.

Hinton, C., Miyamoto, K., & Della-Chiesa, B. (2008). Brain Research, Learning and Emotions: Implications for Education Research, Policy and Practice. European Journal of Education, 43(1), 87-103. doi:10.1111/j.1465-3435.2007.00336.x.

Ganley, Sarah. (2002-2010). Information Processing Theory and its Effect on Children and Learning. Helium. Retrieved September 18, 2010, from

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Post #1: The Doorway to Professional Learning Communities

Today is assignment #1 in my Learning Theories and Instruction class for my M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology Program.

Part 1 of the assignment is to create a blog-easy enough to create, much more of a challenge to remember to actually update it on a regular basis.
Part 2 is to search and explore various blogs and sites relevant to the field of instructional design and/or training.  This is where things have become quite interesting!  There is and endless amount of information available on the world wide web relating to instructional design, eLearning, and training.  I have found countless blogs and sites that provide information for those that are beginning in the field-to those that are experienced and looking to further their knowledge-base.
Part 3 is to write about what you here goes

The first site that I began with was Blogs about: Instructional Design, which was provided by my professor.  This site is a compilation of Wordpress blogs that are about Instructional Design. The site comprises several blogs from various people, on subjects such as instructional design, eLearning, training, and self directed learning.  A blog I enjoyed, bookmarked, and added to my RSS Feeder was Good To Great In pursuit of excellence: my view on the world of learning and training. This blog is fairly new and only has a few entries so far; but the entries that are there involve a discussion on "what is good eLearning".  The author of the blog has a great voice and has a passion for the subject matter.  
Since this blog didn't have many postings I decided to look at the blogs that the author followed and found more blogs and sites to read about.

The second site that I bookmarked and added to my RSS Feeder is The Rapid eLearning Blog. What first caught my attention with this blog was the look of the site as well as the layout of the information.  Once I began to actually read the content, I realized this was a great resource as I advance in my Instructional Design program.  This particular blog contains a lot of information on creating, designing, and building, eLearning courses.  The site contains several discussions and tips on creating eLearning courses, as well as tips to become a better designer.  Finally the blog also has a few FREEBIES including a free PowerPoint eLearning template.  The host of the site, Tom Kuhlmann has over 15 years of experience in the training industry.  This is a great resource not only for a professional student; but also for anyone that wants to become an "eLearning Pro".

The next site that I bookmarked and added to my RSS Feeder is Designed for Learning! This site is authored/hosted by an Independent Learning and Development Specialist named Taruna Goel. The article that caught my attention initially on this blog was the article "Top 10 Resources on Instructional Design: Basics and More".  The author then provides a list of 10 resources, including hyperlinks to access each one.  The list comprises of top 10 books for instructional design, essential reading lists, instructional design knowledge base, instructional design models, the top eLearning blogs of 2009, and that's only half of the information!  As you click on each hyperlink it opens to the document/article which includes links to even more sources

These three sites/blogs were only the beginning for me.  I have found quite a few sites that I have already added to My Blog list as well as my RSS Feeder.  My hopes is that as I advance in my degree program I will be able to utilize these links even further in my professional development.