Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fitting the Pieces Together


The first week of this course we were asked to reflect on how we best learned.  I chose constructivism and cognitivism as the theories that best suit my style.  Though we have learned so much, I still feel that these two learning theories best describe my learning preferences.
A few years ago I may not have even listed the constructivism learning theory, but after being trained in an International Baccalaureate school, which is tightly aligned to the constructivism theory, I have to admit that I really like it.  I have gone to a number of I.B. trainings and they are all conducted in this format.  How many trainings have we all been to that were straight direct instruction, even when they were teaching other strategies?  I love the collaboration with other learners, relevant problems to be solved, and the digging for answers instead of just being spoon fed the information!  I get so much out of my trainings and I actually retain so much more.  Sure, the activities do take a little longer to accomplish and maybe a trainer/teacher could cover more material, but at what cost?  Doesn’t it make more sense to take a little more time and have the students complete an activity that will really drive home the current educational concept they’re learning rather than “cover” the topic and then reteach it three more times until they finally get it?  Okay, sorry about the rant.  I’ll step down now.

Though most think of collaboration as a face-to-face activity, anyone reading this blog would probably disagree.  We know that wikis, blogs, discussion forums, and Google docs are ways to collaborate online.  Collaboration can be done and I would go so far as to say that, at times, the discussion is more meaningful than one being conducted face to face.
In addition to constructivism, I still feel strongly about cognitivism also.  As a teacher, I teach the kids to think about how they think.  I have them create mnemonic devices and use imagery to remember different information.  In week 2 of this course, Dr. Jeanne Ormrod stated that information that is encoded in at least two different ways is more likely to stick.  When designing courses, we would do well to remember this.  For example, presentations could include diagrams, images, and verbal explanations .  

These are important tips for the instructional design field because many of our learners are adults.  According to Kathleen Cercone (2008), memory decreases with age so it is important for instructors to chunk important concepts together.  This will help ensure that the information is properly retained.
We have learned much about learning theories in this course.  Truly, I will be referencing my learning theory matrix often when it is time for me to start designing courses!

References
Dr. Jeanne Ormrod. Laureate Education. Information processing and the brain [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu.
Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137–159. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Reader.ViewAbstract&paper_id=24286

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Networks & Connectivism

This past week we have been discussing networks and connectivism in class.  Above you will find the mind map that represents my personal and professional networks.  I found it interesting to sit down and create a map of my networks.  I guess it really helped me see how much I depend on many others in order to obtain knowledge. 

Years ago, if I wanted to understand something better, I had few choices.  I could wait until I got to class to ask the instructor, phone a classmate, or rarely make the trip to the local library and use the antiquated card catalog system to find a dusty book that was probably outdated. 

Chances are if that happened today, my instructor would ask me a series of questions to see how much digging I did on my own and would then ask a few guiding questions to point me in the right direction.  Instead of phoning a friend, I would email or text him or her and driving to the library would not enter my mind.  I can login to my university library, read a variety of articles, and even possibly complete the assignment in the time it would take me to drive to the local library, park, and find the information needed! Today, we pick up our tablet or our phone and Google the topic or if you are like me, we ask Siri.  (I love her by the way and am not ashamed to admit it!).

Of course, back in the day you could probably trust the sources that you used for research.  Today we are living in a time of information overload.  Not only do we have to search for the information but we also have to be discerning as to the authenticity of the source (Drexler, 2010). Is it an opinion found in a blog or is it a peer-reviewed study?

A professor once told me that information is a commodity.  Everyone has access to it.  The trick is knowing what to do with it.  In fact, a core skill of connectivism is the "ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts" (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman 2008). Where we had few choices for information in the past, we now have an overload.  However, we can manage our information sources in an organized fashion.  Simply create an account with a reader and add the URLs that interest you the most.  You can receive updates often and you don't spend a lot of time searching for reliable sources. 

The way we obtain information has changed without a doubt.  It can be overwhelming at times if you do not know how to use the networks you have created. 

References

Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved Aug. 3, 2014 from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Main_Page

Drexler, Wendy 2010. The Networked student... in plain English.  Retrieved Aug. 3, 2014 from http://www.teach42.com/2008/12/06/the-networked-student-in-plain-english/

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week 2: Brain Research

This week I looked at articles that both relate to brain research and online learning. 

1.  http://www.editlib.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/p/54188/
The first article is entitled "The Brains Behind Brain-Based Research:  The Tale of Two Postsecondary Online Learners" by Dawn McGuckin and Mubeen Ladhani.  I feel like these authors have a unique perspective because they approach the topic as former students who had taken online classes.  Specifically the article explains the relationship between "online learning in regards to how the brain generates meaning and understanding, the role of emotions, the collaborative construction of knowledge, and aspects of neuroplasticity.”

The authors explain the benefit of making meaning in a learning environment.  When a learning environment is meaningful, it allows the learning to become personalized, furthering comprehension and understanding.  The authors also bring out that “when postsecondary students are engaged in making meaning, they are intrinsically motivated to learn”.  I believe that anyone who has ever taught will tell you that getting a student motivated is key. 
 
Emotions are tied with our cognition.  Emotional chemicals can create neuronal change thus showing the importance of emotions and learning (McGuckin & Ladhani).  Robert Sylwester brings out that “our emotional system drives our attentional system, which drives learning and memory and everything else that we do.  It is biologically impossible to learn and remember anything that we don’t pay attention to”(as reported in D’Arcangelo, 1998, p. 25).  However, emotions can be a two-edged sword because they can also inhibit our attention and thus our learning (Shuck et al., n.d.).  The authors of the article brought out that online learners tend to feel less anxious and more comfortable and confident in smaller classes that have incorporated chat forums and feedback from fellow students, not only professors.  Working in collaborative groups also enables students to be more engaged with their learning and tend to create a better work product as a result of the collaboration (McGuckin & Ladhani). 
 
References
D’Arcangelo, M. (1998). The Brains Behind the Brain. Educational Leadership, 56(3), p. 20-25.
McGuckin, D. & Ladhani, M. (2010).  The Brains Behind Brain-Based Research:  The Tale of Two Postsecondary Online Learners.  College Quarterly; 13(3).
 
Shuck, B., Albornoz, C., &Winberg, M. (2007). Emotions and their effect on adult learning: A
constructivist perspective. In S. M. Nielsen & M. S. Plakhotnik (Eds.), Proceedings ofthe Sixth Annual College of Education Research Conference: Urban and International Education Section
(pp. 108-113). Miami: Florida International University. Retrieved from
 
The second article I considered is called "Implications of Brain Research for e-Learning for Adult Learners" by Insung Jung.  The author lives in Japan so this article details how e-learning is taking place in Asian countries and the changes that are happening in the field.  The author brings out that "e-learning will become pedagogically successful only when teachers change how they teach based on a better understanding of how learners learn" (Jung 2009).  As stated in the article, professors in Asian schools typically teach in the same manner that they were taught, which for the most part was through direct instruction.  However, there are changes on the horizon.  Whereas most university online courses were simply videorecorded lectures with no opportunities for the students to interact with each other, recently online courses are beginning to "integrate more imaginative and educationally sound strategies" (Jung 2009).  Beijing Normal University in China now provides a variety of learning activities that include: video clips from experts in the field, question and answer sessions with instructors, and video conferencing. 
 
This article also uses research to show the importance of these different types of learning activities in online courses.  It has been shown that adult brains benefit moreso than younger brains from social networking and are "one of the most important factors affecting learning success" (Jung 2009).  Unfortunately, Asian universities have yet to embrace the idea of having students solve problems from real-world scenarios.  We know how important this is because it creates meaning for the learner (McGuckin & Ladhani). 
 
Though Asian universities have not fully embraced the constructivist theories of teaching and learning, it seems as though many are moving in the right direction.  With more brain research being conducted, the shift will no doubt happen.
 
References
 
Jung, I. (2009). Implications of Brain Research for e-Learning for Adult Learners. In T. Bastiaens et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2009 (pp. 1697-1702). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
 
McGuckin, D. & Ladhani, M. (2010). The Brains Behind Brain-Based Research: The Tale of Two Postsecondary Online Learners. College Quarterly; 13(3).
 

 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Week 1: Instructional Design Blogs

1. ID and Other Reflections


http://idreflections.blogspot.com/

This blog follows the everchanging ID field.  I like the straightforward way she presents her articles.  The article I read was about the role of Id in the 21st century.  Interestingly, she listed a number of skills that workers will need to possess. I have listed them below.  They tie in nicely with the constructivist theory we learned about this week!
  1. Problem solving
  2. Critical and analytical thinking
  3. Pattern sensing and meaning making (connecting the dots)
  4. Networking and collaborating
  5. Exception handling

2. International Baccalaureate Organization

http://blogs.ibo.org/feed/

This is a blog that posts articles of what is currently happening throughout the world of the IB Primary Years Program. When you walk into an IB classroom, you should see the constructivist theory in action. Students are inquiring, collaborating, and becoming globally-minded citizens.
 

3.  TechTipsNTeach

http://techtipsnteach.wordpress.com/

On this post, the blogger suggests a type of free interactive presentation tool called NearPod.  The neat thing is that it is platform independent so students can use it no matter what device they own.  It also allows the content to be shared in real time and the instructor to control when the students forward through the lesson.