Reflection

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MC900439254WHAT I LEARNED…

As an adult learner who decided to pursue a degree in a self-directed online environment still can expect support from her family, friends, and the university itself.  To gain knowledge for self-learning as well as being guided to finding information has been the experience that I have received at Walden University. In not giving up on me, I am learning to continue to strive for success and ultimately reaching my goal of graduating and providing to a global community.  I initially thought that a curriculum had to accommodate to student’s learning styles but the idea is to take the content and consider how the content will be meaningful to the student based on the technology you have access to and having an open mind to learning theories and styles in order to reach a particular outcome.

I realized that my personal learning process has been consistent but as I went from being an elementary school learner to a graduate adult learner that my learning has been flexible itself in order to accommodate the external and internal changes going on around me. Your perspective can change and in doing so, you may have to adjust the way you learn to grow in knowledge or learn how to incorporate learning through other means such as technology.  Personal experiences (anxiety, motivation, culture) can also help keep an open mind to struggles that learners may have in their learning environment. Being a part of my children’s education as virtual learners, I can take what I have learned to understand what works and does not work for them in an online environment. I can understand what their virtual school is doing to connect to my children’s learning and in keeping their attention as well as meeting their academic needs as advanced learners. 

Learning about the different learning theories in an organized way helped to identify the different and, yet, similar characteristics of each of them.  It is important to understand that sometimes instruction requires the application of instructional design based on more than one theory thus keeping in mind that learners process information differently, have their own ways of connecting to content, and should have opportunities to utilize their skills to find solutions. Technology has definitely made its mark in education and it will only continue to evolve and require designers to keep up-to-date with trends and developments in the way learning occurs.  Motivation is key especially in an online class setting. What makes someone want to keep going to their computer to complete their assignments and feel that by doing so, they are relating to the content and how they apply the content while still being encouraged and being a part of a social community?

This course, Learning Theories Instruction, has opened my eyes to the different connections of learning theories both old and new.  It has been interesting to see how they have developed especially in regards to the development of technology throughout time.  It is constantly in change and thus the way people learn are also changing. I had not considered myself a big fan of social networking. My sister had to pull my arm to become a part of MySpace and Facebook when they were being introduced.  At first, it was entertaining but cumbersome, but it has now become a part of daily life.  What I found out is how you utilize such tools to your advantage and that is what this course has introduced me to. I had not been involved with creating a blog, but had the opportunity to experience that and am enjoying it and how I can utilize it as a resource and to connect with others in the fields of instructional technology and education. I realized that being an instructional designer encompasses having certain traits as well such as knowing that if you work behind the scenes (which suits me) you still need to have the skill set in being able to communicate and work well with others. I enjoying learning new ideas and concepts and that plays a major role as an ID especially in a field where you have to be informed of new technologies and strategies. Additionally, as an ID, you naturally want to help people learn, which I find extremely important. I find any form of educating oneself whether to earn a degree, learn a skill, improve a department, or just to learn a new hobby truly essential (Tucker, 2007). 

I realized at an early age that education was important not only to get a “good” job but to combat ignorance.  In experiencing prejudices by others, I wanted to prove to myself that as a Hispanic female, I could succeed in anything I wanted.  Having children just reinforces that for me because they are Hispanic as well. My husband and I feel that every child has the opportunity to succeed and we cannot let external factors hinder them from reaching their goals.  We want to expose them to resources through education and technology to gain knowledge but in teaching them the significance in learning and to enjoy it through motivation. Keeping that mindset as an ID, I would want learners to be successful and I want to be encouraging through what I design as part of their learning. Lastly, there is plethora of resources to choose from but as an ID we have to be able to use our skill sets to be able to apply what we learn to help others.  As a humanities major, I was amazed at all the developments, creativity, and social changes in different cultures throughout history.  I find it fascinating that it has always been about learning. 

Tucker, Christy (2007, June 20). Is instructional design the right career? [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://christytucker.wordpress.com/2007/06/20/is-instructional-design-the-right-career/.

Learning Theories and Technology

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FITTING THE PIECES TOGETHER

MC900439587

Image courtesy of Presentation Pro, Microsoft Partner

Now that I have come to the end of my course regarding learning theories and technology, I have found that there is a slight change in my view as to how I learn. I still feel that I learn by having something explained or demonstrated to me and find it necessary to know how something affects me and the purpose or function of what I am learning.  I posted the following in an online discussion with my class regarding how we learn:

Demonstrative learning has helped me in my formal and daily life education from solving a math problem to changing a tire. I was always an independent learner. Although, I did not do well with group work as it would cause a bit of anxiety for me, I still welcomed the ideas and collaboration from brainstorming and the different perspectives that were presented.

I remember when I was in high school and we were asked to write what we wanted to do after we graduated high school.  I was pretty confident that I would be an architect or graphic designer.  I enjoyed mathematics and art and felt those careers encompassed both subject areas for me.  What I discovered was that I was no longer a motivated learner.  I did not find the connections of what I was learning during my years in my secondary and later in postsecondary education and personal issues distracted me from my ultimate goal.  Eventually, I did complete my AA degree, but felt at a loss when I was not able to enter the architecture program at my local university due to GPA and missing prerequisites. Needless to say I gave up.  Graphic design was not an option at my local university at that time and I would have to go to a more expensive private art and design school which I felt at the time was not feasible for me.  As I look back at my decision-making, I realize that I did have options, but was not motivated enough to do more research and take advantage of the resources available to me. 

For my Bachelor’s degree, I was in out of programs until I was introduced to Humanities.  By this time I was married and had my two sons. I was beginning to understand the idea of networking and what methods I needed to use in order to acquire knowledge that pertained to my degree and future goals.  I connected to the Humanities program because of my interests in the history of art, dance, music, religion, and Latin American culture.  Did I continue to struggle with my personal issues? Yes. Only now as an adult learner there were other factors to push me to succeed.  My parents did not have college degrees, so I was eager to make them proud. My sister had completed her Bachelor’s degree from the same school I was attending, so I wanted to be a proud alumnus as her. My husband supported my educational goal and I was now a mentor for my two sons.

Now during my graduate course we did not have the opportunity to focus on humanistic learning theory (as I initially felt that the theory described a part of how I learn) and so will not address this theory at this time, but I still continue to think I learn under the constructivist theory and feel I can relate to connectivism. I am zoned into what goes on around me and am practical in how I learn. I learn by experience and enjoy analyzing what I learn and how I can build upon that as I interpret and create my own meaning (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  I still like to collaborate with peers and in keeping current with ideas and knowledge of what goes on in our lives, careers, families, health, etc. I still embrace the aspect of relevance from what I can learn from others, technology, and certain social structures (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).

Image courtesy of Connections Academy

Image courtesy of Connections Academy

Interestingly enough, I had tried three Multiple Intelligence assessments and though not overwhelmingly strong in one particular area it did show that my strongest learning styles consisted of being a visual/spatial and kinesthetic learner. In addition to learning theories such as adult learning and constructivism, learning styles represent more of what I believe encompass my interests, personality, and attitude taking into consideration the senses. I can definitely relate to the concept of learning styles as “skills that enable anyone to gain new knowledge and solve problems” (Ostwald-Kowald, 2013). By understanding where my strengths lay considering multiple intelligences, I know how I can approach learning to get to the same outcome as another learner whose strengths may be different than mine.

Computer and Coffee

Technology has become undeniably a fixture in my life.  Whether through networking for social purposes, researching information, designing, taking a course, sharing pictures, event planning, travel planning, finding recipes, viewing my sons’ academic progress, etc., I cannot get away from it.  The ability to have information right on the spot and the accessibility to it is quite addictive. I look at my kids listening to their mp3 players and I remember when my dad bought me my first Sony Walkman portable cassette player.  I see people using tablets and laptops and I remember when I had my first portable typewriter.  It is fascinating how technology continues to connect us at a global level.  When I was in New York for my sister’s wedding and my husband had not arrived yet due to his work schedule, my children and I were so excited to be able to Skype with him. Not only was he able hear them laugh but see them laugh.  I can only say that we go through life constantly learning. Though there are factors that may hinder my motivation at times, I am glad that I still strive to learn and engage in my learning to then share with others such as my family the knowledge to keep building upon their own knowledge and opening their minds to what is out there in the world to explore and understand and find ways to solve problems that they may come across in any aspect of their lives.

Resources:

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.

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.

Ostwald-Kowald, (2013, January 18). Understanding your student’s learning style: The theory of multiple intelligences. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://www.connectionsacademy.com/blog/posts/2013-01-18/Understanding-Your-Student-s-Learning-Style-The-Theory-of-Multiple-Intelligences.aspx.

Learning Connections

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Learning Connections Mind Map

Please click on image to enlarge

CONNECTIONS THAT FACILITATE LEARNING

Social Networking, Instructional Technology Networking, K-12 Online Learning, Blogging, and Personal Learning

I never could have imagined the first time I turned on a computer in elementary school while living in the Bronx (the Apple IIe from the 1980s) as to how much technology would become so integrated into our daily lives.  We are now a part of a network that incorporates technology for communicating, networking, and learning. I welcome the evolution of technology and although not every need can be met through technology, it definitely opens up avenues for a plethora of information that goes beyond the dimensions of four walls.

In learning, I find that videos (webcast, podcast, and webinar), discussion boards, and interactive online activities have enhanced my understanding of topics. In addition, most of what I learn in class (virtual or face-to-face) can be reinforced through online resources and online networking. Through researching and communicating with others, you can be aware of the different sources available in facilitating your learning and keeping you exposed to different perspectives, ideas, and sights that you may not have the opportunity to experience otherwise.  Some may argue that technology can make life more convenient but it can also cause us to be “dumb-downed.” I think that given the right platform, technology used appropriately can give us access to a variety of information and serves as a supplement to life-learning, social-learning, and educational-learning skills.

I believe my learning networks support connectivism because I consider us constantly learning with an integration of technology whether it is writing an essay or solving a math problem to designing an invitation or creating a meal.  Technology and networking can be implemented in all those scenarios.  You have access to those resources whether from accessing an online writing lab through the college you attend, viewing a YouTube video, or reviewing online recipes. In the 21st century, information is continually changing reaching more people and at a much more rapid pace – what we can deem as the “half-life of knowledge” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). Connectivism demonstrates how the learning process can be enhanced especially for our modern society. It is inevitable that our personal and educational learning is affected by technology, social networks, and digital resources.  George Siemens addresses connectivism in which the distribution of knowledge is by no means simple or even complicated, it is now complex.  It is consisting of an abundance of information and technology that connects us in various ways to people and sources (Connectivism, 2009).

Resources:

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

Connectivism. [Video podcast]. (2009). [With George Siemens]. Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from Walden University Blackboard Learn online course EDUC 6115-5 Learning Theories Instruction.

 

 

 

The Brain and Learning

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brain

LEARNING

THE BRAIN, INFORMATION PROCESS THEORY, AND PROBLEM SOLVING

There are many resources discussing the matter of the brain, information process theory, and problem solving in relation to learning. The two articles below provide information in regards to the model of the information process theory and what can affect information processing within the brain.

The article, Information Processing Theory, through education.com, is written by Gregory Schraw and Matthew McCrudden who provide an insight to the three memory components (sensory, working, and long-term) of the information processing model (IPM) and its implications.  They cover key terms, components, and the relationships between the three-part IPM to explain how the model works and its connection to cognitive learning.

IPM 

IPM2

Illustrations by GGS Information Services. Cengage Learning, Gale.

The article, How the Brain Works – And How Students Can Respond, at teachthought.com by Dr. Judy Willis describes the process of information once it enters the brain and how emotions and interest affect how the information will be stored (thinking brain or reactive brain). She also discusses the three elements of the brain and how to cope with emotion in order to make the best use of your brain in processing information:

  • ·         Reticular Activating System (RAS) – controlled by the brain stem and serves as gatekeeper
  • ·         Limbic System – located in the brain lobes connected to emotions and memories
  • ·         Dopamine – neurotransmitter

Instructional Design

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EDUCATION AND TECHNOLOGY

I have become even more intrigued with Instructional Design and Technology as I read more about the increased demand for online learning. The convenience of getting a quality education while at home has been a great benefit for our family and, as of recently, my husband and I have decided to enroll our children in Florida Virtual School.  It incorporates traditional learning (utilizing textbooks) with the use of technology (online lectures, online class meetings, as well as assignment and test submissions). The online provider that has partnered with FLVS is Connections Academy and one of its attributes is its well-structured online curriculum for advanced learners.

In the blog, Taking Risks, Reaping Rewards, a school district takes a chance in revamping its educational system to transition into the 21st century in which it invests and provides technical resources to improve learning as well as teaching. It makes an impact in their graduation and standardized test scores.  It serves as a model to other districts that are hesitant or are not sure how to make this type of transition.  How Course Design Puts the Focus on Learning Not Teaching is a call for more student focused learning methods in online courses and MOOCs.  There is a need to design online courses utilizing a framework and provide tools and skills that educators need in order to adapt their courses to online or blended learning but to meet the need of the student.  The blog makes a clear argument that in looking at the resources such as the diagram that is provided of the four theories of learning (behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism) a designer can see which approach is better suited to active learning rather than passive learning for the student. Reflecting on Florida’s education system, in Florida Poised to Expand Online Providers, the doors are finally starting to open for more online providers and availability to MOOCs in K-12 education. Legislation is being looked at and changed to make the necessary accommodations for the expansion of online learning.

The synopses of the three blogs below provide an insight on the growth of online learning and the implementation of more student focused learning.

Taking Risks, Reaping Rewards

Ellen Ullman takes a look at the reinvention of a school district, specifically Quakertown Community School District in Pennsylvania, into a cyberschool consisting of two initiatives: a cyber program and 1:1/blended learning. The superintendent with a committee consisting of board member, teachers, parents, and community representatives set out to find what would be needed to meet students’ needs for their futures. It took a change in attitude, change in technology staff, and finding the right resources for teachers and students such as laptop carts, netbooks, Blackboard, Google Apps, iPads, LifeSize videoconferencing tools, SMARTBoards, Mimios, document cameras, Scholastic Read 180, Odysseyware and the district also partnered with MyLanguage 360 to offer Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. One goal is to provide all 9th-12th graders with laptops. Ullman explains how the fear of job loss was a concern but it was about teaching teachers to be part of the change with involvement of the teacher’s union as well as a more flexible approach to professional development. In addition, bringing in new technology into the classroom involves moving away from the traditional static learning model.  Teachers and students will now be highly engaged in their learning with access to different learning tools. As a result from 2011 to 2012 the district saw a 7% increase in the graduation rate, had its highest SAT and ACT scores, and had the most students in its history score proficient on state tests.

How Course Design Puts the Focus on Learning Not Teaching

Debbie Morrison discusses instructional design’s comeback and how massive open online courses (MOOCs) and online courses in general are in need of a “fresh, new approach to course design” which provides a focus on learning rather than instruction. She feels that there is still an instructor based look at education especially in higher education which prefers the use of cognitive theory methods even though research clearly shows that student learning is more aligned with the constructivist theory. She provides a diagram (see below) of four learning theories (blue: instructor focused learning and orange: student focused learning) to be used as a resource. Educators find that they are in need of tools and skills for online and blended learning which are different from face-to-face education. Morrison persuades the reader to understand the necessity of instructional design to guide learning and teaching.  An instructional designer implements the course structure and demonstrates that they understand how people learn by use of instructional tools, delivery methods, application activities, and assessment methods. 

Learning Theories

Florida Poised to Expand Online Providers

Sean Cavanagh takes a look at how Florida lawmakers are now getting the opportunity to invite more online providers and MOOCs for grades K-12.  State Representative Manny Diaz (R) sponsored a measure to “loosen requirements for the experience required for virtual providers.”  Previously, online providers had to have “prior, successful experience offering online courses” but now they can be approved by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) on a conditional basis and then after a year those online providers would be reviewed by the FDOE.  The change is also in response to the change in education where there seems to be move in having MOOCs for K-12 and educator professional development.  Florida’s largest online provider is Florida Virtual School (FLVS)who has had a large number of student course completions reaching over 300,000 to date. Although, it may look bright for Florida’s future there are still arguments with the legislatures.  Some see it as a way to bring competitors to FLVS, yet others see it as privatizing public schools.  Diaz stands that the new legislation is to try “to provide more access to our students, especially those students who advanced and learn better by this modality.”

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The following video gives interesting perspectives in the future of learning:

The Future of Learning, Networked Society – Ericsson – YouTube