The end of a course ~ but the beginning of a new adventure still

As an adult learner that many consider to be a professional student, overeducated and underpaid crazy woman, I would venture to think that I would know my personal learning style and know what makes me want to add to my personal educational base of knowledge.  Interestingly enough, though, having to take yet another educational course which elaborates upon someone’s idea of learning theories and their importance, proved to actually be informative.  Not only to me as an individual, but to be applied in my endeavor to learn and implement instructional design.

Whether or not it is recognized, you learn something new every day.  This is a broad statement indeed, yet as an adult learner we fluidly move through the motions of learning and problem solving as we encounter these snippets of knowledge and assimilate them into our daily lives.  Whether the scenario presents extrinsically or intrinsically, some type of outcome is inevitable and some type of learning has occurred.

Personally, I know that I am a hands on learner. Please don’t give me a manual to read and figure out how to put together that IKEA piece of furniture. I will sit there and blankly look at the pretty pictures.  Instead, put the tools in my hands and show me how to do it.  I never fully embraced this type of learning style as a young learner; instead I tried to fit into the nice neat box of learning that was expected in the school during my formative years.  Instead, I stumbled upon my learning style as an adult, when I was forced to learn about different styles and techniques as part of my post-secondary learning process.  Once known, I embraced it and made it my mantra – show me, see me, let’s do it.  “Given a specific instruction method or environment, some people will learn more effectively than others due to their individual learning style. However, this may not be the case throughout a course or a specific lesson; learning styles can actually fluctuate within subject or lesson” (Gilbert, & Swanier, 2008).

Now add to this mix the challenge of intrinsic motivation so that I can enhance my resume the skill set to include elements of instructional designer.  And, as an actual brick and mortar structure educator, how can I transfer this knowledge into my classroom setting?  “Students often become uninterested and restless during class when there is no correlation between the way students learn and the way instructors teach” (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008).

Motivation is one the basic tenants of education; the urge to learn is with us when we are born.  Taking that urge and applying it to the learning environment and abundant learning styles, however, is much trickier.   “[D]irection for either how to teach individuals through their styles, patterns or how to teach them by capitalizing on their personal strengths. Learning style can also be defined as the way in which each learner begins to concentrate on, process, and retain new and difficult information. Identifying learning styles and adapting lessons can motivate, encourage students to succeed, and eliminate unfair labeling. Different individuals perceive and process experiences in different preferred ways” (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008).

Motivated teacher generally equals motivated students.   “A student may arrive in class with a certain degree of motivation. But the teacher’s behavior and teaching style, the structure of the course, the nature of the assignments and informal interactions with students all have a large effect on student motivation” (Kirk, 2011).  If anything, this course showed me yet again that people learn in different ways, and the motivation for the adult learner is different from the formative learner.  Simply put, adult thinking leads to a wider definition of learning, because adult application and critical thinking involves a broader field of experience to draw from than the younger learner.

Through my exploration of coursework related to Learning Theories and Instruction, the idea that everyone learns differently and that the difference does not weaken the impact has been repeated through and through.  In essence, I have confirmed to myself that there is not one particular learning theory that is better than any other.  Learning occurs whether or not we seek it. My personal learning processes allow for me to watch, absorb meaning, and define structures to work within, experience, apply, and redefine as needed.  I am always tweaking things, making changes.  It is part of who I am.   Just like anything else that involves human experience or interaction, the act of learning does not happen in a vacuum (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman 2008).

This course has laid another brick in my foundational knowledge of learning and instructional design.  Through a clearer understanding of Keller’s ARCS motivational process, I am able to better incorporate the building blocks of the educational pathway towards learning: creativity, flexibility, motivation, technology, learning theories and styles, all of these molds the individual learner (Keller, 1999).   Therefore the instructional designer needs to allow for all of this when designing and delivering curriculum.

The past eight weeks has not been without mistakes.  Learning the online platform for a new school is always a challenge.  However, the little tidbits of information that I have gleaned from various aspects of this course have already started to make their way into my daily career as a high school educator.  Although I am only working towards a post-baccalaureate certification in instructional design, I am doing so with enthusiasm and knowledge that I otherwise lacked.  I have my motivation back and in check, now I can get my mojo on!

Resources

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

Fenwick, T., & Tennant, M. (2004). Understanding Adult Learners. In G. Foley, Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. (p. 55). McGraw-Hill Education.

Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~witteje/ilsrj/Journal%20Volumes/Fall%202008%20Volume%201%20PDFs/Learning%20Styles%20How%20do%20They%20Fluctuate.pdf

Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).

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Fitting the Pieces of Learning Together – making sense for me

Learning, the power to learn, and the desire to learn, is something that seems basic to the development of a human being.  From the day of our birth, we are learning things whether or not we want to.  We learn where our food source is, how to seek comfort in the arms of our parent, how to seek happiness from those around us.  It seems that learning is innate within our daily life.

As we progress and become school age, we are schooled in the things that society deems important, reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, the list goes on and on.  We are told by our school leaders what to learn, and how to show mastery through the endless rounds of testing that we must endure during our K-12 years in mandatory education.  Again, learning is innate within our life, whether or not we like, want, nor need the knowledge we are being schooled on, learning is a living being and we are its host.

Adult learners, however, seek knowledge on topics that interest them specifically, whether it be for a specific degree in a post-secondary institute, or for personal enrichment.  Learning is still the act of obtaining knowledge, but the methodology that we use to obtain this knowledge has become one of importance to the individual, because now the learning has become personal, more meaningful, and more specific to the learner.

Throughout my years of learning (and there have been many) I have gone from rote memorization, to concrete understanding, to application of knowledge in the abstract sense in an effort to problem solve.  I have utilized tried and true methods of learning such as write it down 3 times to create a memory pocket, walking while I read and read and read some more, and acronyms to remember key points. Add to all of this are the various learning styles that I have attempted to use such as behaviorist, cognitive, constructivist; but for me, personally, the idea of motivation and affect, seems to drive me towards learning the most.  A hands on approach, kinesthetic is how I best learn. Through trial and error, the development and use of Maslow’s levels of needs seems to play an important part of my learning.  How I learn it, through which learning style, is then determined from what is needed as a result.  In education the begin with an end in mind seems to ring true for me.  What am I to gain from the knowledge? from the experience?  How can I apply it to my life? my personal education? my career?  These are all thoughts the flow through my mind.

As I shared in my initial posting of how to learn, as an adult learner, I experience my learning through additional modalities of sight, sound, touch and use of organizational strategies to heighten my awareness of the material. The experiential element is still present, but I have a heightened desire for organizational procedure and presentation.   All of these elements blend together to aide in my personal learning style.  And, as an educator, I share that development of learning style with my students on a daily basis.   Knowing how a student learns allows the instructor to see how they think, formulate answers, and synthesize information (Omrod, 2009).

Technology is not going away, rather it is coming down the tracks at a very fast speed, changing every minute, adding more and more to our lives every day.  We rely upon technology to talk on the phone, Skype with our loved ones, research our college topics, research our favorite recipes, find blue prints to fix the engine in our old model car, the list goes on and on.

As an instructional designer, the understanding of the various learning theories aides in our development of curriculum which is aimed at engaging the learner, at their unique learning level and learning style, and raising that learning higher in order to elevate their understanding of theoretical, abstract understanding, and actual application.  Through the understanding and application of the various learning theories, the instructional designer provides multiple pathways of understanding for the learner which will allow for transference into methodology and practical application, because the learner will truly appreciate the concept and application.

References:

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson .

eLearning and Tools of the Trade – where oh where have my university library days gone?

Technology and all its glamour is at times, tedious. Seems to me that all of this elearning and eliving can be problematic for the “older” learner. We grew up in the day of the card catalogue as our search engine; wrote down the location of the book or periodical, and then, armed with at least $30 in dimes and our personal stapler, stood in line at the university library copy machine, ready to make our copies that we could then mark up and highlight to our heart’s content. Now, I am forced to utilize technology to learn, and I am even more disgusted with myself that I want to be one of the people who actually help others learn this way! How do I do that if I can’t conquer my own fears? Every week I am forced to face those fears and try to maneuver through the web in search of an answer to my professor’s weekly punishment – or is that assignment? At this point, it is one in the same.

As I sat at my laptop, and typed the key words into the search engine and began trolling through the pages, it occurred to me, that I only wanted to rely upon things that were relevant in terms of research chronology. Things over 10 years would be, I imagine, considered archaic in the land of technology. So my scope became limited not due to the assignment parameters, but due to my personal ones. I only wanted up-to-date information, because that would yield me the most relevant information, right?  Hopefully!

In her online blog site, theelearningcoach.com, Connie Malamed talks about what it is to be in instructional designer. By joining her website I was “gifted” with a free download of her book “No More Spilled Ink Writing for Instructional Design.” Topics of podcasts, edesigns, digital badges, all of the latest “catch” phrases are discussed. One article highlighted discussed the emerging roles of the learning designer.  Within this article, the idea of “constant innovation and disruption” are dealt with as the “new normal” of our world (Malamed, 2014). The perfect storm is built around the ever-changing world of work and the use of learning new concepts related to the work place, though the elearning environment. Interestingly, it is purported that by the time you finish your four year degree in college, the information you learned is already outdated. Not something that the repayment of a student loan makes you feel warm and fuzzy about! We want to think that our money is well spent on our education, not already outdated.

The role of the learner is grouped into three categories: learning support role, empowerment role, and the change agent role. And by working through these roles, powerful, yet meaningful contributions can be made to the learner through thoughtful and meaningful instruction.

Articles are great, but I found the iPhone application that she developed was even more beneficial to me. I live with my iPhone attached to me at all times.  My husband had threatened to steal it from me in order to gain my attention, but I have threatened him with death should he even attempt it. Nonetheless, I down loaded the app “Instructional Design Guru” which highlights terminology, cognitive psychology, instructional design, legal aspects, multimedia, social media, online learning, and technical applications. I found this little gem to be a beneficial purchase and plan on exploring it even more during my insomnia laden nights.

In an article found in the Walden University library search engine ProQuest, the use of social networking through learning is briefly discussed.  ” In social learning, more brains are better than one” discussed the use of collaboration in online documents with students in the classroom.  Students are charged with an assignent where they are to engage one another through the use of Google Apps as they work collaboratively and create learning scenarios that provide more relevance to real-world skills. The authors shared that the students found this to be a more engaging learning method, building upon one another’s ideas.  Although it is assumed that the students have specific technical skills already in place in order to properly research and develop presentation documents through the Google Apps, the engaged learning and development heightened the presentation and made it more approachable and interesting to both the presenter and the audience.

Summary of the two resources found:

While the article provided a brief yet interesting read for a correlation of learning and use of technology, I believe the website mentioned above provided more relevant learning information.  The iPhone app is a wonderful jumping platform for engaging the learner in a mobile environment and will definitely lead me to more topics related to the learning aspects of the brain and learning, problem solving methods during the learning process, and informational processing as whole in the world of informational technology process and design.

References:

McCoid, J., and Gardner, H. (2011). In Social Learning, More Brains Are Better Than One.  The Courtenay Comox Valley Record First,  ProQuest document ID: 868791598 Document URL: http://search.proquest.com/docview/868791598?accountid=14872

Malamed, Connie. (2012). No More Spilled In Writing for Instructional Design. Simply Useful Tools, LLC Version: 1.2

Malamed, Connie. (2014).  Emerging Roles Of The Learning Designer, Are your skills relevant for the future? http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/emerging-roles/

Another day in techno paradise

You know – there are times that there is just too much going on. Between work, going back to school, and trying to manage life, life just gets in the way! Trying to make sense of things and learn in the land of information processing is difficult for this old dog. I still have many years left in me (I am only 51) but dang it, I feel like a dinosaur when it comes to this! Why can’t I just win the lottery.

Is a blog meant as a diary or an informational tool? Am I suppose to divulge my inner secrets and dreams, or report on my findings as I troll the net? Why can’t life just be like Face Book postings?

Instructional design and learning the ropes

Trying to get this blog up and running while not really knowing what I am doing – argh! don’t like the feeling of not knowing how to do something!

You would think that as a life long learner (or as it use to be called “professional student”) I would love doing assignments and homework. Truth is, I hate it. I hate it because it means that I have to explore outside of my comfort zone – and I don’t like being out of control. I want to control my world and know that I am helping others through my control. But obviously I am not there yet. Lordy, I hope I am doing the right thing in taking on this certificate course to learn about instructional design and technology.

Charged with finding blogs that are relevant to the area of instructional technology – sounds easy enough, but truly it is not. Means now I have to research and read. Ugh.  Somehow I happened on a blog site entitled Flirting with eLearning https://flirtingwelearning.wordpress.com/category/instructional-design/. It seems to have lots of information for the newer blogger and elearner. I even attempted to post a response. Hopefully I hit all the right hyperlinks for it to go through! Elements of storyboard templates, social media management, and the use of branches to help the elearner follow different paths based upon answers to questions. All sounds interesting and intimidating.

Another site visited titled Experiencing E-Learning, https://flirtingwelearning.wordpress.com/category/instructional-design/, deals with books in print and how to understand the field of elearning.  Elements of skill set, expected salary, organizations for instructional designers, it seems to have all sorts of options to explore. Definitely something more that I will look into as my insomnia kicks in (which I know it will due to my anxiety!).

Lastly, in my over fill of brain intake I found Your E Learning World http://www.yourelearningworld.com/blog.  This blog speaks to many topics:  the heart of instructional design, posts about crafting learning objectives, utilizing a variety of teaching methodologies, addressing multiple learning styles, and how to motivate learners.  The need for a solid foundation from which to draw the elements of effective instruction makes this sound scary yet doable.  Again, insomnia will kick in and I will spend many a night exploring these blog sites.