Filling in the Gaps

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As weeks of the Learning Theories and Instruction class have progressed, my view on how I learn has taken shape, and after reading my first week’s description, I find I still agree with what I wrote; however, I see I learn more broadly than my first week’s post indicated and I am filling in some of the gaps as to what happens ro me during the learning process.

During this term we covered many learning theories that, after analysis, I can see how they work when I learn. Behaviorist theory is apparent because there are times when I just have to learn through positive reinforcement and shaping or “the hard way”. According to behaviorists, the goal is for the learner to respond to the learning prompt with a targeted response (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  Sometimes when I take on a knitting project, the learning prompt is to knit a gauge a certain size, I’ll think my gauge was “close enough”, but when I continued to knit the project, I found the garment was becoming too large. I had to take those gauge directions seriously! By becoming more precise, I l have learned that I can better predict the outcome.

As I work through problems on computers or as I organize what I learn, I find I learn as a Cognitivist would. As I read through different articles, blogs and texts, I need to organize what I learn so it makes sense; I need to make sense of the information so I can access it again as I write or work. Ertmer & Newby, (1993) make the point that learning “stems from our own interpretations of our experiences. Humans create meaning as opposed to acquiring it”. As I described in my first post, I like to learn by relating what I know to new information; finding patterns and making meaning. However, as an expansion of that concept, I also like to learn or problem solve with others, be they more experienced than me, or with peers. In my learning circles, I am the “yeah, but” person. I look to resolve stumbling blocks that I might see in a problem, and I like working with others to help me think the issue through. So in this regard, I am more of a Social Constructivist. Kim (2001) defines it as, “People create meaning through their interactions with each other and the objects in the environment”. I depend on that interaction to help me sharpen my understanding many times because others often see details I miss. However, I don’t fit completely in that box either. I am dependent upon the internet and its access to blogs, news and educational material. As an adult learner, I take pride in my years of experience, and the ability to connect with other professionals digitally enables me to develop information more completely than I have ever been able to before. Finally, I am learner who depends on technology to connect me to the multiple resources available now. Working with others no longer requires we be in the same room or interact over a phone. I can use Skype, email, my smartphone, and any number of apps or features evolving even as I write this. My blog has put me in touch with more people than I would have thought. So, as Siemens (Laureate Education, Inc.) notes, “we’re dealing with complex environments that are systems-based. And that means that it’s not just the individual learner that’s the key consideration, which it often is with traditional learning theories, but it’s actually the broader environment in which we are situated, and the complex nature of that environment needs to be considered as well”.

I am certainly a learner in this evolving environment, and I can see through my courses that I, too, have evolved in a Connectivist environment. So ultimately, after reconsidering how I learn, I find that I am not limited to one style of learning; I use whatever approach is most useful in the moment. I think the lines that separate each style of learning is blurred anyway and it can be hard to distinguish where one ends and the other begins.

In last week’s blog, I mapped out how my world was digitally connected. I commented on how, without even realizing it, I have been more connected than I knew. I DEPEND on technology perhaps in the same way my parents depended on their cars. I can’t not have a computing device. We are accustomed to having information at our fingertips. I was at lunch with friends the other day and someone wanted to know who the president of Uzbekistan was. Before she could even finish her question, another friend had her phone out and looked it up. Our world has so many ways to access information; news is immediate, (which can be a good or bad thing as we are more responsible now to vet its accuracy). I am still in awe at how I can access an academic library and find articles and ebooks so easily. Even 10 years ago that was a problem for me; I had to physically travel for that. As I also mentioned in my earlier blog, keeping track of my research is far easier digitally, but because of how the tool functions, I can more easily see connections and am able to learn from a tool I thought was primarily for sorting and organizing. I talked about word processing last week, but I didn’t have time to describe how working with media has helped me learn. I use many of the Adobe programs to help me visualize what I want to communicate. So last term, I created a video to show how a change process transpired at my school. I needed to find public domain music, to create vector graphics, and integrate photos I had taken on my cell. So I am very aware that the role of technology in my life is front and center! I love what is now possible and after reading Horizon 2013 and getting a glimpse of what is coming in the near future, it is exciting to think about what we will all be able to do. It does take work learn the new tools as they come, but they are a wonder!

References

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50–71.

Johnson, L., Cummins, M., Freeman, A., Ludgate, H., & Adams Becker, S. (2013). 2013-horizon-report. NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2013-horizon-report-HE.pdf

Kim, B. (2001). Social Constructivism. Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology. Retrieved July 21, 2013, from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Social_Constructivism#Citation

Siemens, G. (n.d.). Connectivism. Laureate Education, Inc. Video Webcast. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3398766_1%26url%3D

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