Instructional Design and Technology

This blog was created as a class project for my Instructional Design and Technology degree from Walden University. Blogging is an educational tool that can be used to share information with my fellow classmates and vice versa. I hope you find this site both informative and useful.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fitting It All Together

I don’t think that my view on how I learn has really changed since the first discussion assignment. I am still a strong visual learner. I need to be able to see how something works or how something is done rather than someone just telling me. Lectures lose my interest and my mind wanders, so a demonstration or instructional video method of teaching works better for me. I am very good at following directions, but I need to be able to understand what and why I am doing it. I need a good mental picture to fully understand. However, several other styles seem to be integrated into my learning process such as sequential learning as well as sensing. I tend to learn material easier if it follows a logical or linear order instead of jumping around from topic to topic. As a sensing learner, I am good with details and memorizing facts. I like hands-on type applications. I can also remember things better if they relate to something real and familiar. I am also better at solitary learning than group learning as I am distracted easily.

However, since we had only studied about behaviorism, cognitivist, and constructivist learning theories at the time, I can say that I now have a much better understanding of the overall picture. Many of the ways I learn make more sense after studying the characteristics of the adult learner and the principles behind the other learning theories.

Reading about the adult learning theory has explained where my motivation to learn comes from and how my life experiences, beliefs, values, and opinions influence my learning. As an adult learner, I am self-directed and assume responsibility for my education. I am goal and relevancy oriented. According to the Social Learning Theory, learning takes place through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. According to Connectivism, our ability to understand is related to how well and consistently we’re connected to ideas and concepts. Each individual is capable of demonstrating different learning styles at different times depending on circumstances at the time learning is taking place. In order for maximum learning to occur, we need to be open to all the various learning styles and theories, not just the one we prefer. We need to use as many of the multiple intelligences as possible.

If it weren’t for online technology, I wouldn’t be enrolled in this graduate program. I use my computer for so many different purposes I would be totally lost without it. It is totally amazing how this keyboard and screen has become so integrated into my life. I use it for communicating with friends and family, paying bills, work, shopping, downloading games and other programs, filing important documents and papers, saving photos and music, keeping up with the news and on and on and on. I learn something new almost every time I logon, however, being a digital immigrant I am very limited in the applications I can use. I use it to research information that helps me better understand and enables me to complete the weekly course assignments. Having unlimited access to articles, blogs, videos, wikipedia, etc. 24 hours a day gives me the freedom to study when it is convenient to me. I can decide when my mind is most open to receiving new knowledge and take advantage of those “peak” learning times. If I have questions, I can post them in the student lounge, on the Q and A site, or contact tech support and receive an answer pronto. I have also found that my writing is more creative and flows better when typing on a word document rather than using pen and paper. All the tools I need to compose are just a click away rather than having to break concentration and search through different books to find what I need.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mind Map and Connectivism

I created this mind map to try and organize some of the learning resources I have discovered that help me learn. My PLN has given me the ability to individualize my learning by allowing me to filter the things that fit and don’t fit my learning style.  If one resource doesn’t provide the information I need in a way I can understand, then I have the freedom to search elsewhere until I find something that answers my questions.  The PLN levels the playing field so to speak.  It’s not just an expert delivering information to a student, but a collaboration of many people of all walks and levels of expertise contributing information to whomever chooses to receive it.  I use it to generate new ideas as well as restructuring old knowledge into new.

Since I am a very visual learning, podcasts work well for me.  I see the information as well as hear it.  Also, any tool that helps me organize material and information is invaluable.  This might include google reader where the latest information from a blog or article is at my fingertips or one of the social bookmarking sites where I can organize the myriad of online articles I encounter in my search for information.

If I need to find information about a certain subject, I will usually explore the search engines for anything even remotely related to what I am looking for.  I read until I feel I have satisfied my quest for new knowledge.  If I can find pictures or diagrams or podcasts, all the better.  If I need to retrieve a particular article, then I proceed to the library.  Occasionally, I will purchase a book if I can’t find the information for free online.

 Dr. Mohamed Ally at Athabasca University views connectivism as a model that integrates the different theories to guide the design of online learning materials. I think my PLN supports connectivism in that it provides unlimited resources with instant feedback in most cases.  It is social because it involves many other people, both professionals and students.  It gives me the freedom to customize my learning to my own unique style and allows me to learn in the manner that’s easiest for me.