Sunday, October 27, 2013

Final Reflection: EDUC 6115-5

The assignment this week was to reflect upon what I have studied these past eight weeks and how it has changed my approach to instructional design. Below are the instructor’s questions and my answers.

As this course draws to a close, reflect upon what you have learned and how you will apply your learning in future courses and in your career in the field of instructional design. Consider the following:
  • What did you find surprising or striking as you furthered your knowledge about how people learn?
Moving external information to internal memory never seemed too complicated because I never gave it enough consideration. Now that I have given a lot of thought to learning, I regret not paying more attention to the entire learning process earlier. One of the most striking aspects to how people learn is that there really is no one particular way that people learn. “Each individual may possess a single style or could possess a combination of different learning styles” (Mattingly & Thompson, 2008). While the idea that learners have specific learning styles is not supported by scientific research, allowing multiple avenues to process the information has shown to improve learning. It seems obvious that everyone learns through different means but learning in general is a very complicated event. Most everyone uses a combination approach, however mild or strong, of multiple methods.

Additionally, Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences concept used as a tool to aid in understanding the overall personality, preference, and strength of a learner was fascinating to discover. While this concept is somewhat lacking in supporting empirical research, the concept of suggesting that there are many types of intelligences is something I will utilize in my teaching philosophy and work to integrate, when applicable into my design.
  • How has this course deepened your understanding of your personal learning process?
I believe I have sharpened my own personal learning process. To accumulate and absorb information without any thought isn’t possible anymore. I find myself asking questions such as how much did I just understand and how could I learn this more efficiently. Just the act of thinking about how I am learning has given way to more opportunities to reflect. That simple act of reflection has increased my understanding exponentially and enabled me to adapt the learning process to maximize my education.

Honestly, I had a hard time with some of the course content. I do not have an education background and therefore do not possess the pre-existing knowledge that would have helped me remember and apply the information (Ormrod, 2009). Knowing this fact has reduced my stress and afforded me the opportunity to learn the material at my own pace and with less pressure.
  • What have you learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation?
First, learning theories, styles, educational technology, and motivation are all connected. It is impossible to create a program that meets each learners needs exactly. However, knowing for whom you are designing for will allow for a better final product.

Second, if you don’t motivate the learners then everything else really doesn’t matter. “You can present a lot of good information in your elearning courses, but you can’t really control whether or not a person learns from them” (Kuhlmann, 2008). Understandably, motivation is a significant factor in the learners’ success. John Keller’s ARCS model of motivational design is a good summary of the issues that need to be considered when designing a course. 
  • How will your learning in this course help you as you further your career in the field of instructional design?
This course has begun to fill the gap left by changing careers. Clearly, I still have much to learn but I now possess the confidence that a basic understanding of the underlying premises of instructional design bring about. I believe I will be easily able to use everything in this course from ARCS to Ormrod’s webcasts.

Works Cited
Kuhlmann, T. (2008, March 25). Motivate Your Learners with These 5 Simple Tips. Retrieved from
Mattingly, B., & Thompson, K. (2008). Understanding your Learning Styles. Retrieved from Regional Office of Education #11.
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition ed.). New York: Pearson.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

If I only knew then what I know now…

This week’s EDUC 6115-5 assignment is to reflect upon my first discussion post and explore changes in my perception due to my rumored increased knowledge. This post is going to be one those personal reflection moments.  

Question #1:Now that you have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, how has your view on how you learn changed?
Answer #1:My view of how I learn has not changed very much. However, I do understand more of why certain methods work for me. I originally stated that I learn best by using visual resources. Well that is true but only part of the story. I realize now that if what I am seeing visually is tied to something I already know, the chances of retaining that knowledge increase exponentially. I also need time to understand what I have seen. The need for quiet study time to reflect is also a trait I now see in myself. But most importantly, I have learned in order to help myself become a more effective learner I need to read and “hear” my classmate’s explanations in their discussion posts and take the time to reflect upon their perceptions. In doing that, I gain a much deeper understanding.

Question #2: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?
Answer #2:In the past few weeks, I learned about Social Constructivism. This theory is basically that groups construct knowledge for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings. Combine that with Connectivism, knowledge that is distributed across a network of connections to people and information and you have many of the components I described above what I always called old fashioned team-work. Of course, there are many aspects to team-work but that is a post for another day.

Question #3:What role does technology play in your learning (i.e., as a way to search for information, to record information, to create, etc.)?
Answer #3:The very fact that I am in pursuit of an online Masters speaks volumes about how important technology is interconnected into my learning. In our ever changing and globalizing society, the access to computer and internet has opened up an entire world of "on demand" research and somewhat instantaneous answers. Of course, I have to be careful to scrutinize my information according to relevance, context, authorship, time stamp, and a few other topic dependent criteria. It is still amazing to me that I have everything from opinion pieces to fully refereed papers available to me. One of the most important features is the ability to collaborate and create in a space accessible to the world. For instance, this blog is available to all who wish to read it. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My Mind Map Explanation

While it is true that my network has changed the way I learn, I feel the real focus is how my network has expanded into multiple connections that in turn extend to yield multiple shared resource points. 

There is no underestimating the power of an immediate answer. Just a few years ago, the search for answers and information was a much tougher road. A typical study session included hours in libraries searching for bits and pieces of precious information. Back then, much time was spent seeking out professors and requesting a few precious minutes of their office hours to ask only the toughest questions for fear of being denied future access. No longer does one have to beg and dig for information, now it is ours for the taking. However, easy pickings utilizing digital tools are not without obstacles. Almost anyone can publish and people do publish regardless of competency. One must learn to evaluate the information. When I have academic related questions I make good use of Google Scholar and among other things try to pay close attention to where the information is coming from. I have found that even refereed papers can be biased depending upon the source. So just like in Face to Face relationships one has to give thought to who is speaking and whom their true audience may be.

My personal learning network supports the connectivism model. Consider the following description.

In the connectivist model, a learning community is described as a node, which is always part of a larger network. Nodes arise out of the connection points that are found on a network. A network is comprised of two or more nodes linked in order to share resources. Nodes may be of varying size and strength, depending on the concentration of information and the number of individuals who are navigating through a particular node (Downes, 2008).

My learning community has expanded with the increased access to technology. I reach and share more resources on a grander scale than I ever thought possible. Information is continuously transforming and so is my understanding and beliefs.

Downes, S (2007a, February 6). Msg. 30, Re: What Connectivism Is. Connectivism Conference: University of Manitoba.