Sunday, March 9, 2014

Reflection on Learning Theories and Instructional Technologies

“How Did I View This Course?”

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

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

Medina, J. (2012). Exercise #3 Wiring from Brain Rules. Excerpt retrieved from

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fitting the Pieces Together: A Changed Perspective on My Learning

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, how has your view on how you learn changed?

Undertaking the study of learning theories and learning styles has grown my appreciation for the complex factors that go into understanding learning. Personally, it means I have gone from thinking of some basic concepts of learning styles (like visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) and learning theories (remnants from an adult education class some time ago) to better appreciating not just “maximizing” my options but more holistically stimulating multiple areas of intelligence.

In an early discussion, I pointed to my personal experiences as related to a Montessori “learn at your own pace” approach; my liking for a humanist approach, overall, of facilitating education; and, I find meaning in a constructivist manner. I also mentioned my appreciation of collaborative learning.

As I think through items from this course, I think I have not so much changed any of those views but have instead learned that I need to avoid living in a vacuum: I will benefit from more and broader stimuli to aid the multiple types of intelligence I have. My view has deepened in regard for appreciating the brain’s need for more than a couple of means of learning! In other words, I know now it’s not a luxury to need to collaborate or have multiple stimuli … but is instead a reasonable need to enhance/deepen learning.

What have you learned about the various learning theories and learning styles over the past weeks that can further explain your own personal learning preferences?

Early in the course, I mentioned preferences in learning style that involved constructing meaning, processing information through a combination of visual and oral stimuli, and collaboration. To me, these didn’t seem to ‘fit’ a basic style of learning as I’d previously learned of them. While I had been aware of learning theories, I have recently deepened my perception of how their application reflects my learning needs. That is, while I was thinking previously in terms of whether I fit needed ‘visual’ or ‘auditory’ stimuli, for example, and realizing the different things that worked seemed ‘incompatible,’ I have since learned that collaboration and stimuli of different types is more natural and effective because it stimulates more of the brain/multiple intelligences!

What role does technology play in your learning (i.e., as a way to search for information, to record information, to create, etc.)?

When I think about the role of technology in my current learning, I immediately think of Internet access and search options. But in reality, that ‘wide web’ represents only part of how technology influences my learning. Thinking of my personal learning network (PLN) mind map from just a couple of weeks ago, I can point to a plethora of more specific technological tools for learning: bogs, virtual libraries, learning management systems … and even Facebook and other social media. By offering different stimuli and information, different media stimulate different types of learning.

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.

Ferriter, B. (2009). Learning with blogs and wikis  Educational Leadership, 66(5), 34–38.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Learnings from My Network

Q:  How has your network changed the way you learn?

My initial learning (in my youth) might have reflected a natural learning style combining visual and kinesthetic learning, but my (current/modern) learning network stimulates other types of learning and – most importantly! – it fills in gaps in my learning by expanding resources.

For example, while I grew up with my nose in a book and have always made page after page of notes, these days I find I touch base with people and an array of tools as means to gather information and determine either a strategy (for how to do something) or an opinion (of my assessment of something). Having more accessibility to both people and online resources allows me to deepen my understanding of material in a meaningful way – and MUCH more quickly. A quick illustration of that may be in car searches; a few years ago, my significant other and I were almost killed in a car accident; we used people and online resources to find an attorney, to get a rental car, and to find a replacement vehicle to purchase.  

Q:  Which digital tools best facilitate learning for you?

Two items jump out at me when I think in terms of digital tools for learning: (1) virtual libraries and (2) Internet searches.

Q:  How do you gain new knowledge when you have questions?

I turn to my ‘go to’ resources for a given type of learning. Some may have a singular primary/initial source for learning, but I have found that this varies considerably for me. This initially breaks down to whether I find the knowledge relates to a person I know or does not. If it seems related to a person I know in any way, I am likely to talk with someone and stimulate my thinking further with answers or comments that person provides. If it does not, I am inclined to turn to Internet searches or to virtual libraries for further resources. To backtrack a bit, my ‘go to’ for a specific class is class-related material, whether files provided in the learning management system or chapters in a purchased textbook.

What this process affirmed for me was the significance of my interest in getting people I know to “weigh in on” certain topics. While this doesn’t often tie in to work in academia, it ties in to consulting work I do as well as personal learning. I find it instrumental to get peoples’ views on social approaches, household decision-making, and more. In some ways, this may be a way I “work in” social connections, but it does play a part in my learning!

For work or academic purposes, I have become an avid online researcher. Whether I use Google Scholar or a virtual library on campus, I find it invaluable to explore “deeply” in research returns. Likewise, I tend to use the Purdue OWL site for help creating citations.  

Q.  In what ways does your personal learning network support or refute the central tenets of connectivism?

My personal network definitively supports connectivism. As Davis, Edmunds and Kelly-Bateman expressed (2008) in their summary of Siemens’defining tenets of connectivism, connectivism is rooted in using/having multiple resources for learning (as nodes and for diversity), non-human appliances can be instrumental in the learning process, and maintenance of connections is important for continued learning. These things are well illustrated in my learning experiences!


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

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

3 Blogs: A Showcase of Resources to Monitor / 011914 Module 1

To kick off a celebration of learning related to instructional design, below I showcase profiles of and learning observations about three blogs that touch on the topic. Note that I wanted to choose and follow an eclectic mix of resources and will likely grow this list – along with the links attached to it.

CECS 5210 – Personal Theory of Learning

This blog provides foundational ideas related to both instructional design and learning theory. While the writer demonstrates a thoughtful abstract appreciation for these concepts, the real win is in seeing development of some examples. Though it appears the site only has a couple of entries, it’s inspirational in its purity and focus.

I anticipate the benefit of following this blog will come from re-evaluating and contrasting her ideas and experiences with those I have and those of others. The writer’s directness is refreshing and relatable.

Red Pen Confessions

Written by a vibrant, passionate educator, this blog elaborates on topics that keep the educator’s perspective and skills fresh. Her entries demonstrate continued enthusiasm for her field and her students. The site exudes thought, humor and openness. In the grand scheme of things, her entries address education issues broadly. However, a key component of her interests relates to taking advantage of cyber-communication, and she touches on items from  instructional design-focused bloggers like Bill Ferriter (one of her favorites).

I anticipate the benefit of following this blog will come from relating to her combination of pragmatism and ethically motivated quest to provide good ideas and tools for students.

Fannetaylor provides the perspective of a physician and medical educator. In a thoughtful analysis of factors crucial to good teaching, she expands on comparisons of learning models and an understanding of factors related to learning (including learning styles). One modern benefit of her analysis is that she compares models for experiential learning theory (ELT) and guided experiential learning (GEL).

I anticipate the benefit of following this blog to come from the author’s persistent analytics. Her style and focus involves understanding concepts and practical comparisons. Keeping abreast of relevant topics in this arena will frame a myriad of means for improving instructional design.