Planting Ideas…

growing technology skills for education


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Reflections…..

reflection

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.

Resources

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


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Putting it All Together

How my view on how I learn has changedtechnology

I have found that I am a much more versatile learner than I thought I was but I can get caught up in biases that could get in the way of learning if I do not stay present of my mindset. Much as I hate to admit it, one of my greatest obstacles with starting an online degree program was my resistance to try something quite foreign to me.

My frame of reference regarding social media was that it was just an expensive milieu used for banal chatter and sharing pictures of one’s dinner. I did not see the value of it as a powerful tool for learning. I also could not visualize how people in so many geographical places could come together effectively to have critical and meaningful discussions. However, I have come to know that not only is technology very useful but it can be adapted for learners of any learning style.

What I have learned about the various learning theories and learning styles that further explain my personal learning preferences

I discovered that learning styles overlap. They are not points on a continuum but dynamic, interactive and cohesive tools in helping a single learner acquire new skills or multiple learners acquire a single new skill. Furthermore, while some of the experts disagree about the validity of some of the learning styles, they actually complement one another. As an instructor with a preferred learning style, I can still be effective in other areas. And, as a learner I can be successful by accessing additional resources to help me acquire new knowledge in ways that better fit my style.

One thing I learned during this experience is that I am a different learner than I was when I was working on my undergraduate degree 15 years ago. Because I am now a working professional, I enjoy a greater level of solitude in the learning process than I did when I was younger. I carry a very busy caseload of clients and I enjoy the time to sit, read and focus on my classes.

The role technology plays in my learning

At the beginning of this class I wondered how effective online learning could really be. I knew it required a great deal of motivation and self-discipline but I had no concerns about myself on that front. I was not convinced of the quality of education without class time with other students and face-to-face interactions with instructors. However, I have learned so much from this experience and through my other online course. I have become a believer…and even a fan. I have developed an appreciation for being able to work on accessing research and presenting my thoughts in a more concise and meaningful manner.

I am much more comfortable with public forums and, while do not expect I will ever be an avid blogger, I am grateful that I gave it a try. I am also attracted to the infinite creative possibilities of technology as an instructor as well as a learner. I use creativity as my primary outlet andnow a whole new world has been opened up to me.


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My Mind Map

My-Mind-Map Final

 

How has your network changed the way you learn?

Looking at my mind map I realize how imbalanced my life is between work and all my other connections. This make me pause to re-evaluate how I am using my personal energy and resources. I really enjoy face-to-face contact with others but I am discovering new value in using digital tools to acquire new knowledge.

I have observed that my stress baseline has been elevated since we entered into a recession. I was fortunate not to be directly affected by losing a house or job, etc. but I began to experience low grade depression for the first time in my life. In the past few years, it has been more difficult to turn on the radio or television, or enter into a discussion with others where there are no “firewalls” available to filter the information I receive. Casual dinner parties or lunch dates easily become discussions about current events that leave me feeling blue. By increasing my personal use of technology, I can decide when I want to access information; and I am able to filter it. I still prefer the company of others but I focus on setting a tone that keeps things stay light and casual.

Which digital tools best facilitate learning for you?

Until recently, I have only had internet access at work. My most used digital tool is to follow the resources recommended in my classes and by my classmates; and then conduct searches for additional information on my own. I appreciate the effective use of technology in formal learning environments when they are combined with face-to-face contact.

How do you gain new knowledge when you have questions?

I typically Google for information I am looking for and I access a variety of sites to get more multiple perspectives. Email has become an integral part of my work to get and share information quickly, conveniently and consistently with multiple parties at the same time.

In what ways does your personal learning network support or refute the central tenets of connectivism?

Davis (2008) tells us connectivism is comprised of chaos theory, networking and the ability of the individual to process complex information. I enjoy the challenges and rewards of exploring abstract concepts. Understanding subtleties or assigning alternative meanings to information is exciting. Exposing myself to various points of view and having my perspectives challenges keeps learning fresh and creative. My personal learning style is to interact! I have not developed a relationship with, or interest in, social media milieus such as Facebook or Twitter because I do not see the value. I would rather share a meal with friends and see the light in their eyes as they describe their most recent vacation or talk about their children than to read about it on their wall. I like having the world at my fingertips through the use of technology to get information and research my interests but my best time is playing cards with friends or weeding my flowerbeds.

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


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Are More Lives Too Many At My Age?

I became and empty-nester and decided to follow my bliss into my third…and fourth lives. I recently returned to school start my Master’s degree with hopes of teaching at my local community college. Additionally, my retirement plan is to turn my career as a social worker into Life Coaching. So, I need to learn to teach, mentor and coach in a whole new way. And thus begins my journey down the information highway…..

My first stop is to obtain free access to expertise from professional mentors and bloggers.

Faculty Focus

Girl

Structure and Expectations Can Improve Student Participation in Online Discussions

By: Rob Kelly in Online Education

Clear expectations, structure, and instructor intervention can go a long way toward getting students highly engaged and highly interactive in online discussions.

Faculty Focus is a blog offering articles on a number of topics written by a variety of professionals. The information is brief, yet informative. The website also includes links to full articles, books, publications, training opportunities and newsletters. The archives are helpful for the learner whose needs differ from the current musings of the blog authors.  The hyperlinks create easy access to additional resources and tools that a reader may not be aware of on their own.

Cathy Moore

Clouds

Tips for webinars or virtual training

“What tips do you have for giving webinars?” People have asked this a lot lately, so here’s my opinionated answer.”

Cathy Moore’s blog is solely authored by her but the information is more extensive and includes specific instructions on how to use the tools she offers. Her articles are clear and concise for easy use and understanding. Many useful tools are available on these blogs for the experienced as well as the beginner to utilize in their professional development as trainers and teachers.

Coaching Blog

Will Craig

What’s Your Game Plan?

by Will Craig

As coaches, we spend the majority of our time helping others achieve their goals and dreams. We help clients come up with a game plan that is realistic, challenging, and workable. What about your game plan?

What is your vision for 2014? What resources are available to you to meet those goals? What steps will you take to be certain you are in the position to help others? It’s Your Turn

Coaching Blog provides blogs that are short, motivating and thought-provoking. This blog contains thoughts and inspirations for life coaches and their clients.

As a teen and new driver, my father taught me the safest way to navigate inclement weather on the road was to follow a professional driver whenever possible. He taught me that they had the experience to read the road, anticipate the hazards along the way and protect the driver behind them. He also taught me that they were always willing to help fellow travelers in need. Dad’s advice has served me well in many aspects of life so I am confident in following it again.