Reflection

This course has encouraged me to think on a broader scope when it comes to the scientific perspective of learning, the role of long term and short term memory and the wide range of learning styles and approaches that must be considered when designing a learning experience for others. I have always been aware that people learn in different types of ways: something I noticed from the time I was young and watched my brother read a book and promptly recite what he just read when I had to approach my studies in a more active way. In this course, I’ve found it surprising the multitude of learning theories, approaches, systems and combinations of all of them that exist and must be carefully considered when designing a course or learning activity.

I have made revelations about my personal learning process as I’ve progressed through this course. In studying the formal theories and approaches, I would consider my ideal learning styles to be founded in through practices based in adult learning theories, social learning theory and cognitive learning practices. I find that I learn best in social or interactive situations of which the information is immediately relevant or applicable to me. I can also relate to connectivism in a close way, as my use of technology and social networking.

Learning theories, styles, technology and motivation are inter-related concepts when it comes to effective instructional design. As a successful instructional designer, you need to understand how people learn, how they process information, what recall and connection strategies are being used and how it’s working for your specific learner demographic. Once you have that understanding, you can then more successfully choose how to present that information, i.e. what technologies should be incorporated or utilized to best present the information or create an environment for learning which will inspire the highest level of comprehension by the learner. Technology itself can be a motivator for the learner, as it might be a “fun” technology to work with. Technology can also provide a platform for interaction which lends to learner motivation, especially in the online learning world.

This course has definitely inspired me to change my approach to my entire design process for eLearnings and other learning experiences in my day to day job. I notice that I am spend more time considering the learner demographic(s), determine various methods in which to present the information and am able to create more useful and meaningful experience for the learners by incorporating technology and approaches that I may not have otherwise thought about implementing. My personal use of technology allows me to continue my evolving knowledge of instructional design my by visiting blogs, online communities and electronic newsletters. I am able to keep up on current trends and industry information, and since these news sources are online, they are also rich in multimedia, i.e. photographs, drawings, videos, and links to other related sources, which allow me to further expand my research or knowledge seeking activities. All of these things combined has allowed an overall result of the production of more mature work in my job and noticeable advancements in my career.

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Fitting the Pieces Together

Through my years of education, I’ve known that I learn best in social or interactive situations of which the information is immediately relevant or applicable to me. My view of how I learn hasn’t necessarily changed through this course, but I have become more aware that I am definitely a person who learns most effectively through practices based in adult learning theories, social learning theory and cognitive learning practices.

In cognitive learning, you must be able to commit information to memory, process it and recall it as necessary. Although I am challenged with short term memory when it comes to things I read or information that requires philosophical processing, I am a very strong cognitive learner in relation to technical or number-based information (i.e. inventory of shipment, calculating financial information). At the same time, I’ve been able to understand the relativity of social learning to my daily life, ideas, career and social relationships. I am an observer of people. I watch and learn from others and then am more able to take my observations, draw conclusions and implement those conclusions into my work or life.

I use technology every day by visiting blogs, online communities and electronic newsletters. I am able to keep up on current trends, industry information, and significant news and events by visiting these online media outlets or subscribing to various electronically delivered news sources. Since these news sources are online, they are also rich in multimedia, i.e. photographs, drawings, videos, and links to other related sources, which allow me to further expand my research or knowledge seeking activities.  Often, I find additional information or resources through these sources which enhance my learning of the topic and become new regular sources of information for me.  The ability to link and be connected allows for a wider information stream for me to explore.

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Connectivism

It’s only been in the past three years or so that I have been dedicated to an attitude of and proactivity to constantly learning and being aware of the world around me. In high school, college and a few years following college, I consumed information that was fed to me by teachers, professors or my direct supervisors at work. After I underwent a career change, I found myself to be transforming and maturing in various ways- including in the way I looked at learning. I realized a newfound interest in professional development, new software, current events and how they affect my daily life, etc. As I learn more, I understand more about my life, my community, my job and my society. This encourages me to think, consider new ideas, reach out for new experiences and continuously develop who I am as a person: socially, culturally and professionally.

This week, as we’ve been learning about connectivism, I’ve been thinking about how this learning style relates to my personal learning needs and methods. The main principles of connectivism include:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known.
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivism learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of  incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision (Siemans, 2004).

With these principles in mind, I’ve concluded that my personal learning activities and style supports connectivism. This theory describes in many ways in which I am inspired to learn, retrieve and process information and draw conclusions to internalize into my own knowledgebase.

Resources

Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Siemans, George. 2004. http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

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Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources

This week’s topics focused on the scientific side of learning: how the brain works, transfer of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and approaches to learning that enable the transfer of information to occur. The neuroscientific view of learning can get a bit overwhelming with all of the biological jargon and technical information, but the value of understanding how the brain functions is clear. So, with that in mind, I went on a journey through cyberspace to find a couple of resources that provided this type of information in an easy, interesting and applicable way. I also searched for resources dedicated to teaching techniques and learning approaches to enhance my understanding of how to most effectively design learning experiences based on specific types of information. Here are two of the results:

The BrainConnection.com provides interesting, easy to read information about how the brain works and how people learn. This website combines the science of learning with fun-facts, resources and articles that can help teachers and parents understand how to relate to their students or children, the science behind behaviors and methods to best address specific situations. As an educator, or someone that is encouraging learning, it’s critical that you know what stimulus you should be providing to gain desired outcomes.


The e-Journal for Business Education & Scholarship of Teaching, or e-JBEST, is an online scholarly journal which provides access to articles focusing on the development of teaching and research in business education. You will find research, theory development, teaching methods, text book reviews and other information that could be transferred into any teaching situation. The articles focus on a myriad of topics, ranging from the importance of understanding learning progression to the importance of motivating the creativity in students which are typically “non-creative” thinkers. I find this online journal to be a valuable place to look for articles that will help me as an instructional designer develop new perspectives on learning strategies, become inspired by current research on learning science and become aware of new ways to administer learning experiences in an environment outside the traditional classroom.

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The Doorway to Professional Learning Communities

Today’s technology provides immeasurable opportunity for sharing knowledge and information through blogs, websites and wikis. In an effort to continue my professional development, I subscribe to and read a number of blogs to keep up with current trends, resources, support and ideas in the world of eLearning and design. I find the viewpoints, topics and connections with the following blogs to be beneficial and inspiring- I hope you will, too.


Articulate’s The Rapid E-Learning Blog
Host: Tom Kuhlmann, a 15-year veteran of hands-on experience in the training industry.
Frequency: Weekly


Check it out for:

  • Current trends in eLearning technology
  • Designer tips and tutorials
  • Best practices on how to create interactive and engaging elearning courses
  • How to use existing programs like PPT in conjunction with elearning programs

Why this will continue to be an ongoing resource: Tom uses easily accessible software, such as MS Powerpoint, in conjunction with eLearning design programs to quickly produce innovative eLearning courses. This will allow me to keep up on current technology and quickly, yet effectively produce dynamic modules in a short amount of time. This blog also frequently offers tips on free software, fonts and other web tools, which are useful in online instructional design.


The Captivate Blog
Host: Community of experts of the Adobe® Systems Inc.
Frequency: Daily


Check it out for:

  • Program tutorials
  • Product Updates & Technical Support
  • Best Practices
  • Links to additional resources

Why this will continue to be an ongoing resource: The Adobe Captivate Blog is an essential resource. I use Captivate on a weekly basis to develop interactive learning modules. It will allow me to remain current on the program features, gain technical support when needed and utilize the program to its fullest in my efforts to provide multidimensional eLearning experiences to my learners.


ELEARNSPACE
Host: George Siemens, expert at Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University
Frequency: Daily

Check it out for:

  • Social Networking Site Reviews
  • Learning Management Technology
  • Content Management
  • ELearning & Instructional Design Trends & Innovations
  • Web-related articles, perspectives and topics

Why this will continue to be an ongoing resource: As an eLearning designer, I need to stay up-to-date about current technology, perspectives and trends in which impact my creative and instructional processes. This blog provides insight, reviews and information on a wide range of topics in which directly relate to my work as an eLearning designer.

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