Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Brain and Learning





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, 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.



Illustrations by GGS Information Services. Cengage Learning, Gale.

The article, How the Brain Works – And How Students Can Respond, at 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



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.”


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

The Future of Learning, Networked Society – Ericsson – YouTube