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