Sunday, June 26, 2011

wrapping up ...

As I reflect on the learning theories, learning styles, motivation techniques, and educational technology we reviewed of the last eight weeks, I am struck by a few things. First, how much I remember from my undergraduate studies in this same vein, the ways I am still the same as a 30 year old learner as I was as a 17  year old learner, and the ways I learn and motivate differently as a 30 year old. However, what has been most surprising is the over all feeling that there is no definitive or right way. I think a comment from the Week 8 discussion sums the experience up nicely:
... as Edward Tufte likes to say... Every social science experiment comes to the same three conclusions:
    1. some do, some don’t,
    2. the differences are small, and
    3. it’s more complicated than that (Artino, 2011).
While I did not leave my undergraduate studies with a sense that there was one way to teach and motivate, the understanding and breadth of this issue is stronger now than it was 10 years ago.

At first blush this might make the situation seem hopeless; however, the effect is quite to the contrary. A deep understanding of the theories, approaches, and techniques serve to arm us with a tool kit. From this tool kit, we can select the best tool or tools for each job. Each unique subject, delivery method, and student type will require a unique combination of these tools.

While these tools at our disposal, this course also served to demonstrate the importance of knowing myself as a learner. My natural tendency will be to design the way I would like to learn. While there are learners who share my preferences, there are many who do not. By being aware of my preferences, I can be cognizant of the design choices I am making and critically evaluate if I am making them from my personal bias or if I am truly choosing the best tool(s) for the job.

As I progress through the remaining courses, I look forward to learning more about current educational technologies as well as emerging ones and how best to stay engaged in the ongoing dialogue; not only technology but learning theory, styles and motivation. This course introduced me to a variety of blogs and to google reader which now has become part of my daily routine. As I begin work tomorrow with the ADDIE design method, I plan to keep handy my notes from this course and ensure I am exploring how each theory, learning style, motivation, and technology can apply to each of these steps.
Artino, A. (2011). In that case... . [Discussion group comment]. Retrieved from the Walden University EDUC-6115-5 Learning Theories and Instruction Week 8 discussion group:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

reflection ...

As an English Education undergraduate student, I did much reflection on how I learned as a child and what type of teacher I wanted to be for school aged children. Returning to graduate school as an adult learning to design instruction for adults has provided the opportunity to reflect on how I have changed as an adult learner, the ways I am the same as an adult learner as I was as a child learner, and better understand the ways adults learn best.

I have always been a social learner. Looking back at my primary and secondary schooling, the knowledge that has stayed with me the longest and deepest is that which I did in a social setting. In undergraduate school, I worked closely with one of the pioneers of co-authoring, Helen Dale. With her, I learned more about constructivism, constructionism, and social learning theory in practice in the classroom. I was excited to learn why the experiences that resonated with me from my childhood did so. And eager to replicate these experiences in my classroom. This course reaffirmed my draw to these theories in my own learning and my own instructional design. First when working with middle schoolers and then working with adults the last six years.

I have always been opinionated and a bit stubborn, so choice was something that I always appreciated in my learning. Often in middle and high school, teachers would give the option for a final project or paper. Even with just two options, I was grateful for the choice to decide which method would showcase my learning and knowledge most effectively. As an adult, this desire and appreciation has grown exponentially. Rather than selecting methods to showcase my learning or knowledge, I now select the method that appears to have the most relevance to my job, interests, or future goals. The ability to immediately and directly relate my learning to something personal is highly motivational for me.

As an instructional designer, I think it is important to know my own preferences and tendencies in learning. As an education student, I learned that we tend to teach the way we were taught. So, depending on the quality of teachers you had and their teaching style, you many need to be very cognizant of your natural tendencies and proactively make different choices. I think the same is true in instructional design. While my style of learning will be the best approach for some projects, there will be many more when a different approach will be the most appropriate and have the widest appeal and success. Being acutely aware of my preference will help me evaluate if I am making choices based on the best approach to learning for the project or if I am just relying on what I would want.

I have found the last seven weeks a great refresher on the theories I studied in my undergraduate program. I look forward to the upcoming classes and drawing back on this knowledge as we learn more about the design process.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

map 'o me mind ...

As we explore Connectivism, it is important to evaluate the connections that shape and inform my world ...

As I have gotten older, the ways that I learn have changed as much as the technology with which I use to learn. I remember my first encounter with "the internet." My neighbor came over very excited because her father had gotten access to the Beloit Public Library on their computer. Understandably, I was confused. In trying to explain things, it was clear I wasn't going to "get it" until I experienced it for myself, so we trekked over, snuck into her parents room, and "accessed the library" - on the computer. I remember not getting it. Yes, I thought it was bizarre that we could do it, but for the life of me, I couldn't think of anything to "look up." Regardless, with my neighbor, her brother, and all the other kids in our neighborhood, we spent much of the summer "looking things up."

Throughout the summer, I remained a bit clueless as to what to search. I would happily go along with and experience the searches others came up with, but I do not think I put forward a single topic. I still have this difficulty as a user of the world wide web. I know many can surf the web for hours on end. This has never been a strong suit of mine; however, grow in technology has fostered a great increase in my internet usage both personally and professionally.

As you can see in the map above, many of my resources cross paths; however, I keep them very separate. For instance, I have two Facebook accounts. One linked to my personal email address that I use to keep in touch with friends and family. A second is linked to my work email address with which I connect with co-workers and accounts. In conjunction with my work Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, I post professional articles and tips daily.

As I take time to process new concepts and feel confident in my understanding, grasp, and opinion, I gravitate toward resources that foster discussion. I find Facebook a great tool for this. Those who are interested in the topic can weigh in - those who are not can continue through their feed. Facebook's notification system makes it easy to stay in touch with a conversation long after it has left your immediate feed. While many sites offer similar capability, I find the popularity of Facebook allows for an even bigger discussion with a wider array of opinions - something that is very important to me when exploring new concepts (or challenging my current beliefs).

I still find in person discussion to be the most interesting and insightful method to communicate and learn; however, I find that much of the content of those in person interactions originates with the web and/or technological connections. It is hard to imagine a conversation without the knowledge gained from these sources. It really goes back to the library, I suppose. Just that more people "go to" the web than ever went to "the library," so the breadth and depth of knowledge and the methods to connect with that knowledge is much greater.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

memory as white board ...

I do like a good analogy to help illustrate a point, and the Rapid eLearning Blog provides a great analogy for working memory: a white board! The white board (representing working memory) provides ample space to work with new information engaging both your temporary storage and problem solving skills. The white board has limited space though, so eventually the important information must get transferred off the white board to allow new room to work. In this example analogy, the information gets transferred to post-it notes (representing long term memory).

Unfortunately, transferring information to long term memory isn't as easy as writing notes onto a post-it note. As instructional designers, it is our job to help the most important information make it from the "white board" of working memory on to the "post-it" of long term memory. Here, Tom recommends keeping three simple steps in mind:

1. Organizing information into small chunks,
2. Building upon the students' prior knowledge, and
3. Providing real-world scenarios.

These three steps are a great starting point! To delve a little deeper, check out this blog.

going a little deeper ... connectivism, collaborative, situated, and informal learning

With a title like "4 Big Ideas That Will Change The World Of Training," the eLearning Coach has a big promise to deliver on - and it does. Walking the reader through the ideas of Connectivism, Collaborative Learning, Situated Learning, and Informal Learning, this blog post provides a very good overview of these four theories/approaches and provides links to more resources on each.

Starting with the Connectivist idea that learning is distributed across networks and occurs when people engage in communities, the blog moves onto the structured and unstructured Collaborative approach to community learning, then shows the role of Situated Learning belief that learners must be engaged in the community in which the skills they are learning will need to be applied, and wraps up with idea that informal learning occurs best in a community that encourages sharing. 

As a designer, I see these four ideas working in collaboration – almost as a continuum. That the most successful learning environment takes this approach from a collaborative training experience, balanced with situational opportunities to refine knowledge and practice skills in the real community they will be used in, and then exiting that training path into a community that continues to support informal learning.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

getting started ...

Henry Ford was a smart man. He revolutionized transportation and American industry. And he provided one of my favorite quotes, "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." This quote is instrumental in my life and is the basis for this blog. As I delve into the world of Instructional Design and eLearning, I engage myself as a learner. As a learner, I find great value in learning from others: their perspective, their phrasing, their positioning. Blogs are a unique tool to engage with others in this field. In my initial research, I have found a wide variety of resources. Here are some of my favorites:

The Rapid eLearning Blog -

Tom welcomes you to his site with the tag "practical, real-world tips for e-learning success!" and he delivers. With a laid-back voice, Tom delivers quick tips and links to resources. Recent posts include tips on how to find images that reflect what you are saying, links to free PowerPoint templates, managing all those free fonts you have accumulated, and time-saving tips. Posting about once a week, Tom provides tips and links you can (and will) use instantly.

Big Dog, Little Dog -

This blog provides thoughts on instructional design and performance. Covering topics like informal and social learning and specific topics like Donald Kirkpatrick's Four Level Evaluation Model, this blog is much more detailed and extensive than the Rapid eLearning Blog. Big Dog, Little Dog is more intellectual while remaining easily applicable thanks to many graphs, charts, and illustrations.

Posting at least once a month (more frequently some months), I found this blog a great introduction to the world of instructional design blogs. Well designed and written, posts like "Instructional Design for Beginners - What Motivates People to Learn?" "Microlearning - A Paradigm Shift In The Way We Learn" and "The Ten Commandments of eLearning" were easy to navigate as well as informational.