As I stated in week one, I had no idea when started this course of study, that I would be learning about learning strategies and theories and methodologies. (Gay, 2013) Who knew that in week eight I would be discussing the rankings of my multiple intelligences with my teenage son? It still amazes me that my 16-year-old is learning some of the same concepts as I am. One bonus point is I may be able to guide him through one of his most critical learning periods as a result of information I have garnered this semester. My initial reaction to the antiquity of learning theories has made way to the discovery of several new methods in instruction and how they might be adapted to online or distance learning.
As a non-educator, I never had the need to learn about learning theories or models. I was surprised to learn there is an entire course of study focused on how people learn. In week one I expressed how shocked I was that a great amount of learning theories were modeled on those created by the ancient Greeks. (Gay, 2013) With all of great stores of research, can we not create something that would address the needs of current learners? I believe a lot of use could be made from incorporating learning theories into all disciplines of higher education. I think of how much higher my GPA might have been during my collegiate years if I had had a better understanding of how I learned and how to employ methods to achieve the highest level of learning I could possibly achieve. I was so fascinated with the concept of multiple intelligences, I even found myself comparing scores with my teenage son. I like the theory that there are different segments to a person’s intelligence and that we potentially use one or more of them to achieve new knowledge. The eight intelligences, linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist are inherent in all learners and can be honed to various levels of competency. Like all cognitive learning models, the basis for knowledge relies on critical thinking and problem-solving. (Armstrong, 2009)
My personal learning process appears to be adaptive to the situations in which I am expected to learn. I can see the use of some behavioral methods where I have learned by rote, but I can see how this may not be the most effect method for retention. I can also see the merging of connectivism and cognitive theory. Understanding the use of memory in both theories helps me to understand how I can access my knowledge. In cognitive theory, the memory is subdivided into: encoding, storage and retrieval processes. (Unknown, THE COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE OF MEMORY,(Unknown) In connectivisim, adaptive patterns are created to support knowledge networks. (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008) The creation of the mind map also went a long ways towards helping me to understand the many parts of my learning networks. As another component of connectivisim is mind mapping. Davis (2008) stated ‘by using these networks – of people, of technology, of social structures, of systems, of power grids, etc. – learning communities can share their ideas with others, thereby “cross-pollinating” the learning environment.’
Understanding the connection between learning theories, styles, educational technology and motivation is critical to determining the best method to impart knowledge to a group of learners. ‘A functioning understanding of theories allows an instructor to experiment and apply various teaching/learning concepts…and, through this process, to create a personal philosophy of learning and “best practices.’ There is a definite linking that can be made between instructional design and constructivism to create an effective learning tool. (Methodologies & Theories, 2005) Motivation plays a large role in evaluating a learning tool in that defining what motivates the learner should be paramount to creating an effective design. I learned that adult learners have varying motivations than that of learners under the age of 25. Because their motivations are more than likely center around self-improvement; there would be different methods and incentives to keep the learner engaged. There is another set of theories that are focused on Adult learning which encompass: action, experiential, project-based and self-directed. (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003)
As online education expands so will the need for creative and engaging curriculum. This course forces the designer to address the differing needs of the users/learners and discover how best to create content that will not only teach but stimulate and engage students. This course opened my eyes to the thought that goes into understanding how learning occurs so that the instruction can facilitate it. I can better address the needs of the learner now that I know how they learn.
Methodologies & Theories. (2005, June). Retrieved October 25, 2013, from elearnspace: http://www.elearnspace.org/doing/methodologiestheories.htm
Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple Intelligencies in the Classroom (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA, USA : Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD) .
Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult Learning. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epitt
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epitt
Gay, D. L. (2013). The Doorway to Professional Learning Communities. Unpublished Manuscript. Walden.