Archive | October 2010

My Final Reflection On My E-Learning Experience

What I enjoyed most about the concepts covered in this course was that many were covered from multiple perspectives. While I did not learn anything that could be considered new, I can say that I learned to view information from several lenses. With each unit, information was presented in a very structured and concise manner which provided an opportunity to explore some of these theories and concepts in a critical manner. One of the topics that interested me most was the information discussed in Learning Theories and Instruction (2008, p. 213) regarding APA Learner-Centered Principles. According to this theory, factors that impact student learning are grouped into four categories: (a) cognitive and metacognitive; (b) motivational and affective; development and social; and individual differences. These categories essentially provide a framework for learning that should be consulted as educators go about the process of instructional design.  As an educational leader, I know that I will be able to use these principles as an additional resource to support the need for differentiated learning.

I have given a great deal of thought regarding how I learn. Specifically, I have always been concerned about how I process and apply information. I am very intrigued with the research that centers on multiple intelligences and learning styles. According to Howard Gardner (2003), your learning style dictates how you process information while your intelligence determines what product, strategy, and/or activity best fit your particular intelligence. With this belief in mind, I would contend that the cognitive and constructivist theories are most aligned with my personal approach to learning. With the cognitive approach, I am ‘thinking about my own thinking’. I am actively exploring the manner(s) in which I process information. On the constructivist level, I am looking for opportunities to apply information and use in a real-world situation.

My challenge in terms of learning has always been to retain information for a time period that extends beyond ‘the test’. Whether I cram or study and practice information over a period of time, I always tend to forget the information when it is no longer immediately needed. One concept I was able to learn more about is elaboration. Elaboration is defined as the process of adding to information being learned in the form of examples, details, inferences, or anything that serves to link new and old information. (Laureate Education, Inc. 2008). In my experiences, I have found that when I take the time to link content and create my own examples and/or draw from previous experiences, I retain information for a longer period than I would otherwise.

What I have learned regarding learning theories, learning styles, technology, and motivation is that all four concepts are deeply connected. As stated by Ormond, Schunk, and Gredler (2008), learning theory allows for the development of instructional guidelines that are reflective of a coherent set of assumptions about aspects of the learning process. With that in mind, the learning style provides a guide for the way one processes information based on skills and interests. Technology becomes a tool in which these instructional strategies can be funneled. Motivation comes into play in that we are using the theory to develop lessons and link content that will appeal to the experience and circumstance of the learner. By understanding how students learn, we are motivating them simply because we are ensuring that their psychological needs are being met through our instructional delivery.

As stated initially, the content in this course has allowed me to explore several concepts on a deeper level. Thus, the experience will help me be more reflective about how I design and deliver instruction. One practice I am committed to doing is using the learning theory matrix to evaluate instructional strategies. This matrix along with one that I am using to ensure rigorous instruction and higher order thinking will help me design lessons that are appropriate to my learners. I also enjoyed the introduction and experience with utilizing blogs to support instruction. I was not familiar blogs and have already set up a blog that is aimed at supporting my first term college students. I have gotten a great deal of positive feedback about our blog and how they appreciate an additional forum that supports their academic growth and development.

Overall, I enjoyed this course and how the content flowed through each unit. I believe that using some of the tools presented, I will provide my future students with a rich and significant learning experience.

Gardner, H. (2003). Multiple intelligences after 20 years. Retrieved on October 6, 2010 from http://www.pz.harvard.edu/PIs/HG_MI_after_20_years.pdf

Ormrod, J.E.; Schunk, D. H., & Gredler, M. (2008). Learning theories and instruction. New York: Laureate Education, Inc.

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Fitting the Pieces Together

 

My view regarding the way I learn has not changed at all as a result of this course or what has been covered. I can say that it has strengthened my belief that I have accurately identified my dominant intelligence(s), learning style(s), and the learning theories in which I tend to operate within. I begin this course with the belief that my views toward how I learn and therefore how I teach align closely with the cognitive and contructivist learning theories. I still maintain this assertion. However, I also think that some of the strategies I use and the ways in which I am motivated can be related to the behaviorist theory. I do believe that people tend to respond to positive stimuli versus negative stimuli. I think that as an instructor, it is important to assess each learner in order to identify possible stimuli that would be effective in producing desired responses. Thus, I still maintain that as an instructional designer, I must create a platform as well as learning activities that appeal to every learning style and intelligence.

The one theory that resonates most with me is the conversation on Adult Learning. The fundamental principles make perfect sense. In order for adults to learn, the environment must be one that creates opportunities for active involvement in planning and evaluation; personal and professional experiences provides the basis for learning activities; content is relevant to social and professional roles; and learning activities are problem-centered and can be applied to real-world situations. This discussion has helped me put my own learning into perspective and examine factors that influence how receptive I am to learning new information. More importantly, it caused me to think about why I use different techniques to process information.

As a person that takes a cognitive approach to learning, I really appreciate cloud-based applications. I think that providing a network that facilitates an environment for learners to share with one another, provide information, obtain information, and dialogue about like interest is a very positive practice. Additionally, when I think of these applications, I immediately think of course pages for online classes. The structure of the courses is very concrete and fluid. As you navigate various course/class sites, one will most likely find that purpose(s), tasks, assessments, and applications are all clearly defined. This assists me tremendously as I immediately lose motivation when I have to ‘look’ for information or track down a resource.

Overall, I feel like I have learned a few new techniques and identified resources that will assist me in designing lessons that will not only interest and stimulate my learners but will also provide multiple opportunities for learners to demonstrate content mastery.

Iona’s Network

I have created a mind map that demonstrates my network of technological learning tools that I use to support and enhance my educational experience. The network I am using has changed the way I have learned by allowing me to think ‘outside the box’ and provide me with additional resources, graphics, and information to support content. For example, my blog subscriptions have allowed me to access reliable information without being restricted to an academic or professional database. They also allow me to connect with other professionals in my field that may share my personal and/or professional experiences.

The tools that work best for me are the blogs and the technical and learning resources available to me through my class portal. I have found that information is presented in an organized fashion, it is relevant, and site navigation is relatively simple. Knowing that I am able to find information quickly reduces my anxiety level and prepares my mind for active learning.

When I have questions about one of the E-tools or any of the content, I have several resources available. In addition to asking my instructor or accessing the many tutorials and guides on my class portal, I am able to pose questions or elicit information from others via the blogs. I have had several positive interactions with people (worldwide) who are willing to share and assist when asked.

One of the primary tenants of connectivism is the idea that in order for significant learning to occur, a significant relationship must exist. Because my network consists of resources that will support my professional growth and development, I am more willing to utilize these tools. Additionally, as I complete assignments and research various theories and practices, I am able to apply to my own instructional delivery and/or share with colleagues. Thus, the processes of synthesis and application create a realistic and significant learning experience.