Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reflections on Design

Teachers have been oriented to believing that every student has a specific learning style and once we are able to identify and categorize our students into their specific styles, then we will know how they learn best and what strategies will work well for them throughout their educational career. It’s no wonder why we have an abundance of unnecessary labels on our students. I have now come to think of learning style as a set of preferred learning strategies that the student uses to help facilitate their learning. 
I am amazed at how technology has impacted education and the way we learn. Technology has had and will continue to have such an impact on learning that George Siemens is trying to propose a new learning theory called connectivism.  Connectivism takes a look at how the learner utilizes and applies information that is gathered from a variety of technological resources (i.e. internet search, blogs, websites, chat rooms, ect) that aid in their decision making process. Connectivists believe that one’s ability to make decisions based on these connections is part of the learning process. I never would have imagined that learning resides in non-human appliances; then again what might be right today may be wrong tomorrow.
Understanding my own learning style has allowed me to analyze the reasons why I like to use certain strategies more than others. I also recognize that there are learning situations when my strategies vary and fluctuate depending upon the subject or task. Being able to analyze my own learning style gives me an idea about how I process information and what strategies I need to employ to enhance both my working memory and long term memory objectives.  I used to think of myself as being forgetful until I learned that other information is simply competing during recall. Based on my learning preference, the best way for me to retain information is through sensory registers that utilize both visual and auditory stimuli. Once the information is registered in my working memory, I require frequent rehearsals and organizational imaging that is paired with specific codes of meaningfulness that is stored in my long term memory. My ability to retrieve the needed information from my long term memory depends on the strength of the cues that were present during the encoding process.
   The various learning theories are explanations of how learners process information. Knowing how learners process information is vital for instructional designers. The Behaviorist model proposes that learning occurs when there has been an observable change in behavior, while Cognitivists look for elements in learning through the changes in the states of knowledge. Both are influenced by the environment, with emphasis on reinforcement and feedback. The Social Learning and Cognitive theorists propose that learning takes place through the observation and interaction of others. Cognitivists believe that learners create meaning from experiences that occur within the environment, while Social Constructivists rely on social participation and community practice. Connectivists believe that learning occurs through the use of networks, specifically non-human or technological networks. Learning is then influenced by the diversity of ideas and information that can be gathered through the network systems.
   Over time learners develop into self-regulators who use metacognitive strategies that keep them focused and motivated. Motivation allows learners to attend to tasks and add meaning to information for processing. There are environmental influences that promote extrinsic motivation, but factors that influence intrinsic motivation have a greater impact on learning. Effective instruction will require tasks that are cognitively stimulating and relevant for the learner.  Advances in technology has enhanced student engagement and provided a sense of relevance for the 21st century learner. Technology has opened up a world of informational resources that include; search engines, websites, blogs, wikis, and smart devices, all of which provide immediate access to information.  Technology has also paved the way for online learning which has made it convenient for adult learners to continue to develop within their fields.  Online learning requires learners to be highly motivated and self-directed. The best way to keep online students engaged during online learning activities is to create simulations based on real world situations.
In this course I have learned that students are learners who possess multiple intelligences. My knowledge of the various learning theories will allow me to design learning activities that are well balanced for all learners. In order to design effective instructional tools, instructional designers need to understand how learners process information.  Knowing what stimulus will catch the learner’s attention, will assist in the production creative learning tools. Learners who attend to information have a greater chance of organizing and storing information for later retrieval. Instructional designers also need to become familiar with learner concepts and values that will generate a sense of meaningfulness for the learner. When a learner is able to relate and pair new information with previous information, the learner will have a greater chance of retrieving that information from their long term memory. As an instructional designer I will strive to implement learning strategies that will aid the learner in making meaningful connections while processing information. Our minds are continually evolving and so should the design in instruction.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fitting the Pieces Together

Fitting the Pieces Together

My personal view on learning
I continue to believe that learning is both and internal and external process that develops throughout our lifespan. As we progress through the stages of developmental learning, we adjust our strategies for learning to accommodate our needs at the time.  Our internal drive for learning is shaped by our own motivation and purpose for processing information.  The way we perceive and process information is influenced by external factors; such as family, culture, and social expectations.  When I was a younger student my approach to learning relied on structured learning activities, modeling techniques and social interactions with my peers. My motivation to learn was shaped by family and cultural norms. Now that I am an adult learner, my motivation to learn is more intrinsic and learning activities are self-directed. Throughout my educational career I have been exposed to the various learning strategies proposed by the various learning theories.

Learning theories /styles that influence my learning preferences
I’ve learned that learning theories are explanations of different styles or strategies that learners use when processing information. As the theories seek to explain the way learners process information, the theory itself then attempts to place the learner into a category, but placing the learner into a single category can be detrimental. Learners use multiple intelligences to process information so learning styles often fluctuate between subjects and situations.  I have often described myself as a visual-auditory learner, which simply means that I prefer to use visual and auditory strategies to aid in the processing of information. When it comes to performing mathematical or technical tasks, my approach to learning requires hands-on or kinesthetic activities, along with explanations, modeling and mnemonic techniques. For more creative tasks, I require time to reflect and synthesize information.  So depending upon the subject or learning situation, my style will vary to accommodate my need at that time.

The role of technology in my daily learning
The advances in technology have opened up a world of abundant resources of information.  Thanks to the internet I can use search tools in Google to explore topics or wikis to gather information.  Personal websites along with blogs allow me to analyze information from a different perspective as well as share my own point of view. Social networks such a Face book allow me to keep in touch with distant friends or build a network with those who have similar interests. Online courses give me the flexibility to learn and work at my own pace, while collaborating with peers through online discussions, chat rooms and other network sites.  Technology based formats will once again change my approach to learning and the processing of information. Learning now will undoubtedly take place through a network of systems and rely on the diverse opinions and research of others.  


Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

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.
Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thoughts on Cognitivism

Cognitivist propose that learning is based on a network of systems and these systems are rapidly changing.  Therefore the knowledge you acquire today might not be relevant tomorrow. These learning networks include people, social structures, systems and technology.  The diagram below depicts a Mind Map which highlights my personal networks. 

My first learning experiences where shaped by my family network and cultural institutions. As I interact and participate within these networks I am able to acquire knowledge through my personal experiences. As I continue to share and establish relationships with others, I am able to identify members with known expertise in their fields. These experts are then categorized into my primary contacts or resources when seeking information that will aid in my decision making process. The cognitivist view networks as  systems of information that will allow us to make necessary decisions.

The advancements in technology has broaden my network of informational resources.  These advancements have put informational tools right at my fingertips.  Thanks to Google Search and Wikipedia, the knowledge or information I seek can be instantaneous. Because information gathered from such sources as blogs, wikis, websites, and social networks, can be highly subjective or opinionated, I still continue to utilize my primary network of family, friends and co-workers, to verify or validate the information gathered from these informational tools.

According to Seimens, learning and knowledge rest in the diversity of opinions which aid in our decision making process. Accuracy and up-to-date knowledge is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.  The learner must have the ability to see the connections between fields, ideas and concepts.  Is connectivism the new learning theory of the 21st century or does it simply explain the abundance of resources we have access to in order to obtain information?  I like to think that connectivism is the way we collect, gather, and share information for the benefit of others. It’s the application of the information that facilitates learning.

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from