FITTING THE PIECES TOGETHER
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).
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.
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.
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.