Regarding my knowledge about how people learn
Wilson & Peterson (2006), tell us to embrace and utilize learners’ differences as resources rather than viewing them as obstacles to be overcome. During this course, we looked at different learning styles. We were able to compare and contrast them to see that learning styles can be independent as well as intertwined. I gave an example of learning how to roll a kayak using several different learning styles. However, the learner could have successfully developed the same skills through accessing only one training method.
I have gained increased insight into the fluidity of learning styles. Because they are not static, instructors can effectively design educational programs for learners from all the learning styles. Adult learners have well developed preferences but instructors do not need to know each individual learner’s preferred learning style in order to design effective curriculum. The keys are flexibility and variety.
Regarding my own personal learning process
This course has helped me become a better learner. Over the past few weeks, I realized that I am out of practice engaging in critical thinking. I have always enjoyed learning and going back to school has given me the opportunity to be challenged. The article, Six Tips for Brain-based Learning was very helpful in understanding how I learn and how I teach (Edutopia, 2011). The suggestions to build my own understanding, create questions and engage in learning were useful tips for me. The principles of learning processes apply to me as a learner and as an instructor, especially when I am exploring new horizons.
I have discovered that, while I have preferred learning styles, I utilize all of them. In Week 5 we had the opportunity to take a simple Learning Styles Quiz (Edutopia, 2014). While I understand my mood and many other factors could affect the outcome, I wanted to see if my scores increased after the studying I have done in this course. My rating in the “Musical” learning category dropped by just over 50% and my ratings in “Linguistics” and “Kinesthetic” learning remained the same. However, the other categories increased by an average of 14.8%. That is significant and exciting because I feel that I have broadened my horizons and re-engaged my brain in critical thinking.
I appreciate fresh approaches to learning and this online course has been a new experience for me. Some of my paradigms have been challenged through hearty discussion and interactive exercises that make differing views safe, possible and viable. I have been able to solidify new understanding by sharing it with others and engaging with learners who hail from learning styles that differ from my own.
Regarding the connections between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation
Online courses should deliver a variety of content and instructional materials as well as diverse delivery media which can vary from one subject matter to another. A great instructional designer is one who remains flexible but reliable and has a strong understanding of role of motivation in adult learners.
Access to learning in a meaningful and understandable way is crucial to success for any learner. However, motivation is the engine that drives the train. Information that is presented in my preferred learning style may attract my attention but, without intrinsic motivations I will neither engage in it nor retain or use it. Knowledge or skills that are difficult for me or presented in manner that is difficult for me will also remain largely useless unless I have both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to apply my attention and resources to it.
Experts and educators agree that technology is fundamental to successful learning (Johnson, 2014). The ability to access necessary information is almost more important than the information itself; and because technology stores that information for us, learners are more available for creativity. Additionally, adult learners are gaining an appreciation of listening to other important conversations and opinions. They are uncovering ways they can participate in the world through collective thinking. Through networking, resources are easily organized and shared.
Regarding my career in the field of instructional design
I began this course with curiosity and trepidation because I had never taken any online classes before and I was venturing into a great unknown. The first week went well with introductions, some brief discussion and some reading, However, I was at full “TILT” in Week 2 when we were expected to create our own blog. I survived it and learned a lot, but it was an anxious time for me. The combination of good resources, online help and positive feedback helped my confidence grow to try the mind mapping and other assignments to follow. One of my colleagues recommended helping learners “relax” with the material. This is good advice but I would add that instructional designers also need to develop their presentations to help learners (especially adult learners) ease into the technology.
This brings to mind Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and how it relates to presenting educational materials. Once the learner identifies that the material has relevance, he will pursue additional information and seek out additional resources or individuals who can aid in his learning. The interactions that follow through discussions, blogs and interactive assignments can be referred to as “communities of practice (Wenger-Traynor). Instructors should be agents of change to introduce new concepts, promote the increase of critical thinking, challenge skill sets, connect learners and facilitate the development of transferable skills.
Edutopia. 2014. What is your learning style? Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-learning-styles-quiz
Edutopia Presents: Six tips for brain based LearningMedina, J. (2012). Exercise #3 Wiring From Brain RulesOrey, M. (2001). Information Processing. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved 1/20/2014 from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/
Johnson, L., Levine, A., & Smith, R. (2009). The 2009 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://wp.nmc.org/horizon2009/
Website: Wenger-Trayner, Etienne. Communities of practice, a brief introduction. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/theory/
Wilson, M. S., & Peterson, L., P. (2006). Theories of learning and teaching what do they mean for educators? National Education Association. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/mf_ltreport.pdf