Mindy's Instructional Design & Technology Blog

EDUC6115 Reflection

Throughout EDUC6115, we had the opportunity to analyze and evaluate a number of learning styles, strategies, and theories.  For me, the most striking and intriguing concept we discussed was Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.   While I have previously heard about Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and discussed them in Education courses, I’ve really never connected them to the various learning styles and theories prior to this course.  As Instructional Designers it is essential that we understand why a certain strategy is best suited for particular students, the theory of multiple intelligences tells us that we cannot just pigeon hole ourselves and others into one type of learning style or strategy.  While we may not be advanced in all nine intelligences, we do have varying levels of abilities within each and the instructional designer can use this to their advantage while designing a lesson/course.  I have always felt that as an instructor or instructional designer, it is nearly impossible to design a lesson that would be the best solution for each participant within the class, but it is our responsibility to ensure all learners have the opportunity to succeed.  This can be accomplished by ensuring lessons and courses offer a varied amount of stimulation, activities, and interaction to utilize as many of the intelligences as possible.

Prior to this experience I always believed that I was best suited to learning methods that utilize the logical, more mathematical, approach.  However, I have come to the realization that my learning is a much more complicated matter than that.  They way, in which, I learn is directly related to the content that is being presented.  For me, basic and concrete concepts are easily acquired through behavioral methods.  For material that requires higher order thinking, such as theories, applications, and problem solving, I benefit more from constructivist and social learning opportunities.  Unless we understand that we can learn material through different learning strategies and theories, we risk pigeon holing designs, students, and ourselves into the method we are most comfortable with.  There is no one correct way to teach and learn everything that is presented to us, by understanding that about myself I can ensure that my designs give every learner an equal opportunity to succeed in learning.

While recognizing that every learning theory, learning style, and motivational strategy has its’ own benefits, I have begun to recognize how they can all work together in order to develop courses that will have the most impact on a variety of learners.  Scaffolding lessons and offering diverse and stimulating activities can capture the attention of individual and unique learners.  Educational technologies will continue to expand and develop capabilities; instructors and instructional designers need to recognize that although education is not occurring in a face-to-face situation, the social aspects of the classroom do not need to be forfeited.  In fact, educational technologies have the ability to open new doors for individuals who otherwise would never have had the opportunity to meet.  People from different places, cultures, and experiences have the ability to interact and share their stories with others and discuss how concepts and techniques are valued and applied in their setting.

 One of the most important concepts discussed in EDUC61115 and the concept I know can influence my instructional designs is the motivational matrix ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction).  When developing a lesson/course, it can be challenging to ensure that motivational methods are effective for a diverse student population.  ARCS allows you to take design factors and analyze the effect on each of the ARCS categories  (Keller, 1999).  Thus, allowing the instructional designer to alter their design in a way to increase the motivation of students.  This change could be anything, it may involve extra scaffolding of concepts to provide confidence, creating stimulating activities that apply to a number of student interests to increase attention, demonstrating the relevance of the knowledge to the students life through a variety of examples, and offering group work or activities that allow the student to be satisfied with their work.

 

Reference:

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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The Value of Understanding How You Learn

Instructional Designers face the daunting task of developing courses that are both accessible and compatible for multiple styles of learning and intelligences.  Recognizing how you, as an instructional designer, learn can provide a great amount of insight into developing and analyzing course development.  Through out participation in Walden’s EDUC6115 course, I have greatly increased my understanding of learning theories, styles, ad how technology impacts learning.

Prior to participating in EDU6115 I had never really thought in depth about how I learn, I read, complete assignments, and study materials, but I had never really thought about the different types of learning that occur.  Learning, I have realized, is much more complicated than I have ever given it credit for.   How I learn is dependent upon what I am learning.  When it comes to learning basic, introductory information I work best through behavioral methods where I can recall facts and generalizations.  However when it comes to more advanced topics, I learn more efficiently through connectivist and constructivist techniques. The more I participate in actively discovering and comprehending a concept, the greater chance I have of understanding and recalling the knowledge for future use.  Social analysis allows me to discuss the aspects of the knowledge and make connections to prior experiences and how the culture and environment may impact possible solutions.

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences helps explain why my learning preferences are varied depending upon the content and context of the concepts.  Of Gardner’s eight intelligences I most easily relate to the logical–mathematical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences.  When my learning is directed towards these concepts, I can easily use behaviorist or cognitive strategies.  However, if the concept or application is outside of these intelligences, then I find added value in utilizing constructivist or connectivist techniques and strategies in which the relation and connection can be made to a concept that is more directly related to logical-mathematical, interpersonal, or intrapersonal intelligences.  I have found that in my learning the higher my intelligence level in a particular subject matter is, the less complicated the learning strategy I use needs to be.  In areas where I am not comfortable and not as high in intelligence, I always feel that social learning can be extremely powerful. The different views, opinions, and explanations all provide added support and guidance while analyzing and comprehending new concepts.

Technology is a main factor in my ability to be a life-long learner.  Most of my experience with life long learning has taken place on the Blackboard application and I appreciate the tools that Blackboard provides to students.  The social tools, Discussion Boards, Wikis, Blogs, and Journals, all allow for students and instructors to communicate and share ideas amongst each other.  The sharing of experiences and ideas can lead to valuable connections and learning taking place. I think that it is important to see how content and concepts are being applied in other situations with diverse cultures, atmospheres, and individuals.  Everyone participating in the on-line environment has the ability to share their experiences and expertise with others who they otherwise would not have met.  By studying in a diverse environment, I feel that the Instructional Designer has the ability to understand other environments and situations, thus the ability to analyze their designs and ensure compatibility across a number of learning environments, cultures, and intelligences.  Furthermore, technology puts information at our fingertips, within seconds we can find any number of articles, blogs, websites, etc. related to a particular concept which can support or challenge your opinions and beliefs.  The danger in using on-line media is recognizing when that media is authentic and is a reliable resource.  Blogs and social media sites allow us to openly communicate with others and share ideas and resources.

For me personally, the learning environment and the way in which I learn will always be a fluid state.  I cannot rely on the same strategies and techniques for every new concept that I study.  What I can rely is my understanding of behaviorism, cognitivism, connnectivism, and constructivism and how they influence my learning.  If I recognize what needs to be learned I can apply the techniques to my learning that will reward my learning in the most efficient and effective manner.

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Mindy’s Mind Map Reflection (Connectivism)

Stephen Downes wrote, “Learning is the creation and removal of connections between the entities, or the adjustment of the strengths of those connections” (Connectivism, 2012).  I would have to argue with Stephen Downes that a connection is never truly removed between two nodes of learning; instead, it is simply changed.  Whether that change occurs because the connection is ‘broken’ or strengthened between two different nodes, the original connection no matter how faint or irrelevant still plays a role in learning.

 

My learning network is constantly evolving and is dependent upon the current factors that are influencing my daily life.  For example, if the educational node on my expanded and analyzed at a deeper level, I would note the current Walden University course I am taking as a new link and connected to that course would be the resources we are currently utilizing, including the course text, blogs that I have identified as being useful, and the students who are also participating in the course.  However, three months ago that individual node would have looked quit different, as I was participating in a different course, reading a different course text, and participating in discussions with different students.  The fluidity of our lives allows us to constantly be learning and involving from a number of different nodes every day of our lives.  My learning network on a Saturday and Sunday is completely different than from Monday through Friday, and often involves completely different skills and interests.  The beauty of connecting these nodes is that we begin to evolve our own sets of knowledge and skills.  While many people try to separate work and their private life, I find it very hard to do those things.  The skills I learn in becoming a leader at work can often be translated into leadership and organizational abilities at home.   This can also work the other way, the techniques and skills I use at home are discussed with other parents at work who then take those same techniques home and can try them.  We have to remember that learning encompasses more than just job skills, we live our life based upon the life skills we’ve been learning and sharing since we were born.

 

In this digital age, it’s easy to spend hours surfing the Internet for any number of topics.  My personal weakness, when I’m trying to find information fast is Wikipedia.  While Wikipedia can contain any number of inaccuracies because there is not vetting or validation of the content, it is so easy to access a Wikipedia page and find information on any topic you desire.  I feel the same way about blogs, I love blogs for the fact that I feel you see a more personnel side of the other; however, again, blogs can be one-sided and skewed depending upon the topic and beliefs of the other.  When it comes to blogs, your own values and beliefs will make a connection with the author and skew your opinions and learning. 

 

When it comes to actually gaining knowledge, I learn it best when it comes to trial and error methods; I ultimately like the investigation and process of new things. Where I go to analyze possible solutions is dependent upon the topic at hand.  If it’s a professional matter I rely on colleagues, trainings, and journals to help evaluate solutions.  For personal matters I rely on my values and beliefs, as while as friends, family, and prior experiences to guide me.  For technical issues, which are usually tied to both professional and personal tasks, I rely on tasks, training, and tool resources (such as the Behind the Blackboard, or Shutterfly help) to assist in solving a problem.   However, once I’ve had the chance to use my resources and evaluate the information I have been given, I’ve always found that the best solutions are those that happen through the application of this knowledge through trial and error methods.  If something doesn’t work the first time, there is no harm in trying a new method!

 

Connectivism is about developing a learning network and connecting the nodes of that network through experiences.  My personal learning network enables me to take my skills and apply them to all aspects of my life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  As my learning network expands and shrinks on a daily basis, I have the chance to make connections between any two nodes and store those connections to use for the rest of my life.  My learning network and connectivism is not about keeping things separate, but instead linking them together and understanding how these connections make me the person I am.

 

Reference:

Connectivism. (2012, May 32).  Downes on connectivism and connective knowledge.  [Blog message].  Retrieved from http://www.connectivism.ca/

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Connectivism

Mindy’s Mind Map – Influences and How I Learn:

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How the Brain Learns and Instructional Technology

One of the most important tasks of the instructional designer is to take specific content and make it available to a student population in a meaningful way.  It can be a difficult task for the instructional designer to develop courses that present course content to each individual student in the most beneficial way.  Understanding how the brain works and the transition of information from working memory to long-term memory can assist the instructional designer in developing content and using strategies that will make learning meaningful to a variety of students.  The following two resources offer information relating instructional design and technology and cognitive processes.

  1. (Almost) Everything You Wanted to Know About Educational Technology (http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~smflanag/edtech/home.htm) – (Almost) Everything You Wanted to Know About Educational Technology is an excellent resource for Instructional Designers, especially those who are new to the field.  The website provides an extensive list of terminology ranging from basic terms to different learning and cognitive processing theories.  While the site offers basic information with regard to a number of topics including:  instructional design history, evaluation and assessment, behaviorism and constructivism, cognitive information processing, and design theories and models, each sub page offers additional resource links that are beneficial to the instructional designer.
  2. Brain Friendly Teaching:  From Sensory to Long-Term Memory (http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/profdev/profdev156b.shtml) – Authored by the ‘Brain Lady’ Marilee Sprenger, this online article presents steps that should be taken during the instructional process to ensure that information is encoded in the Long-Term Memory of the student.  These seven steps include:  reach, reflect, recode, reinforce, rehearse, review, and retrieve.   In addition to reflecting upon these seven strategies to encode information into the long-term memory, Sprenger also discusses the importance of the classroom environment in the educational process and presents several ideas, which can be used within the traditional and online classroom, to maintain effective learning environments
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Useful Resources for Instructional Design and Technology

Blackboard BlogsAs a learning technologist supporting the management of Blackboard technology, this blog has the ability to be a vital resource in ensuring that I am well aware of new developments and utilizations of the Blackboard technology.  This blog is broken down into 8 topics:  Featured, BbWorld, Developmental Education, Industry, Announcements, Client Stories, Global Views, and Research and Policy.  Currently the announcements section of this blog will be the most beneficial topic addressed as information regarding service pack updates and functionality concerns will be addressed here.  I am excited to begin delving into the blog topics of Client Stories and Development Education from an instructional design perspective, as I am very interested in reading how others are using Blackboard and how I might assist my current client in utilizing Blackboard in much more effective manner.

The Rapid eLearning BlogInstructional designers are frequently using Articulate to build courses that I support as a learning technologist.  The Rapid eLearning Blog is hosted by Articulate and offers a number of valuable resources for the instructional designer including information related to the designing and managing of eLearning Courses.  This site also offers templates that can be utilized to create Power Point based lessons within articulate. As new information is added to this site, I can assist the virtual learning development team and designers within my organization by supplying them with current information as it relates to Articulate and virtual learning development. 

online learning insights –  My favorite blog to date, this blog is about “open and online education.”  Recent posts have tackled the topics of motivation, responsibilities, difficulties, and learning theories associated with the online learner.  While the blog discusses the learner, it also addresses the characteristics of the instructor.  I have experienced instructional designers that focus too much on the visual presentation of the class, that it sometimes appears who they are truly creating the course for, this blog can assist the instructional designer with the ability to view course development from both the student and instructor perspectives.

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Welcome

Thank you for your interest in my blog!  This blog was developed with the intent to explore, discover, and share my beliefs as an instructional designer and technologist.  

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The Rapid eLearning Blog

Just another E-Learning Einfach Gemacht Sites site

Online Learning Insights

A place for learning about online education