Embarking on this course, I initially thought about it as presenting learning theories from an academic standpoint I’d seen before, such as Behaviorism versus Humanism. In an Adult Education class I took a few years ago, I became somewhat familiar with those. As someone starting projects of an instructional design nature in the last year (and with aspirations for doing so in future), I found myself intrigued with marrying that ideology with options available in technology. Maximizing tools as resources has always been important to me, as has maximizing the mental tools we use through understanding learning processes. I knew early on that this area would be a great place to build!
“What Was Striking?”
One matter worthy of discussion is what was most striking to me in this course of study: successful approaches to learning take advantage of our multiple intelligences and evolving technologies. While in the past focus was on identifying a dominant theory of learning or a particular tool to reinforce it, the reality is we thrive better when we mix things up by appealing to our brain with multiple methods.
“What Helped Me to Understand MY Learning?”
A second topic worth review is how this course has deeply enhanced my understanding of my personal learning process. Two things helped me with this: (1) doing analytical reviews of my learning process – starting with an early description and following up later with insights learned in class; and, (2) putting together a graphic of my personal learning network.
My initial piece concerning my learning process helped me understand the foundations for learning – and how interference from having positive foundations set a negative stage for me in some longer-term aspects of learning (Boss). It also gave me an amusing reminder that we are rightfully unique in our learning (Medina, 2012).
The follow-up piece concerning my learning process was a great way to put it in perspective after I’d learned more about theory and styles, as it allowed me to fill in an incomplete understanding from earlier. For example, I learned to recognize the value of both stimulating multiple areas of intelligence and collaboration.
The personal learning network graphic was a great way to become aware of HOW I am gathering information and WHAT I prioritize. For example, I learned to think in terms of areas in which I learn and to see unique and crossover tools I use in the process of information gathering.
An integral part of understanding my learning process was in seeing those things in perspective and recognizing that I identify with connectivism (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). In retrospect, I think this was clearer to me because of the aforementioned activities.
“What Are the Keys to Understanding This Area?”
A third topic worth review is that tremendous connections exist between learning theories, learning styles, educational technologies, and motivation. The connections themselves serve as a key to understanding this aspect of instructional design. Whereas initially I’ve seen study of and insight into theories and styles as separate, for example, I have found that bringing these simultaneously under consideration allows a greater opportunity for stimulating multiple intelligences and problem solving for students’ needs. Likewise, it is crucial to realize that educational technologies aren’t meant to be trendy and dazzling; instead, they can complement planning to stimulate multiple intelligences. And as we rounded out the last few weeks, we discussed motivation, and I’ve been enthusiastic about integrating motivational technique into activities capable of stimulating multiple intelligences and deterring attrition. What’s likely most important about all this, though, is that this course flows in a manner that links these elements, and that helps subtly but meaningfully underscore how they connect!
“How Will This Course Influence Me?”
A final topic worth review is how this course will help me to further my work in instructional design. As the course progressed, we built understanding of elements that are fundamentally imperative to building effective courses. An argument could be made that these elements are all just as crucial in a face-to-face environment, but for someone quite aware of a need to ensure an online course maximizes its potential it becomes obvious that these elements are pivotal to an online course’s success. That in no way diminishes their influence in face-to-face courses; instead, it simply calls upon academia to strategize appropriately in enhancing tools for each type of learning.
Keeping that in mind, I envision future work to contemplate all of the aforementioned elements, time and again: learning theories; learning styles; educational technologies; and, motivation. I take to heart my clearer understanding of my personal learning process, and I intend to keep learner and technology uppermost in mind in the construction of courses. This will mean, for example, that I plan to keep abreast of technologies and trends capable of offering stimuli to multiple intelligences. Similarly, I will call on simple techniques like collaborative projects to offer stimuli that support students’ multiple intelligences from a socialization perspective. In the process, I will keep in mind that adult learners are often motivated but distracted and may be in areas that don’t lend themselves to self-directed learning (something I would otherwise be inclined to push) - and that I will need to enhance their learning opportunities in other ways, as a result (Beitler, 2005; Cercone, 2008).
“Why Am I Grateful I Took This Course?”
Overall, as this course draws to a close, I am resoundingly grateful for idea exchanges and a sense of shared learning. The environment has been a stimulating means of better preparing to create material for adults learning online. Each of these items beautifully underscores specific aspects of learning!
Beitler, M. (2005). Chapter 4: Self-directed learning & learning agreements. In Strategic organizational learning: A practitioner’s guide for managers and consultants. Greensboro, NC: Practitioner Press International.
Boss, Suzie. (n.d). Edutopia presents 6 tips for brain-based learning. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org
Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design, AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159.
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved February 17, 2014 at http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Connectivism
Medina, J. (2012). Exercise #3 Wiring from Brain Rules. Excerpt retrieved from http://brainrules.net/wiring?scene