Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week 8 - Course Reflection

Going into this course, I had not previously spent much time thinking about learning theories, or, more specifically, how I learn. After reading Ertmer and Newby’s (1993) chapter on Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism I had a much better idea of what exactly a learning theory is, what each entails, and how a person could get grouped into one or more of the theories. In addition to gaining an understanding, this article also raised questions for me; there were a few things that were very surprising to learn.

Once we began touching upon the many theories, I was surprised to find out how similar they are in some aspects. I suppose I expected them to all be so different from one another. However, the newer theories are built off of the older theories, so it makes sense that they would have similar characteristics. I don’t think we can categorize every person into one learning theory. Kumar and Rattan (2012) touch on this topic by saying, “None of the learning theories can completely define the learning process in its entirety. Rather depending on the context in which learning is occurring and the goal of learning, a theory takes predominance.” I was also surprised that there is a relatively new learning theory that so perfectly matches the way many people learn today. I can’t speak for everyone, but I like to conduct my own research on the Internet as well as talk to people and hear what they have to say. I love that everything we rely on, such as “prior knowledge, experience, perception, reality, comprehension, and flexibility” came together to create the Connectivism theory (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).

I know I’ve mentioned it many times throughout the course, but I studied secondary education in undergrad. Of course, when planning on getting a teaching degree, generally the focus is on adolescents. We didn’t focus much on adult learning theories, so I found that section of this course to be informative. I’ve already been able to put that knowledge to use in my job, and I know that my work has been more effective since beginning this program. After learning that adult learners are usually self-motivated and interested in the topic, I realized that this makes a huge difference in absorbing the information. I reflected upon how as a younger student I was less interested, had less life experience to relate my learning to, and couldn’t remember as much of what I’d learned. I chose to begin this master’s program, and now at the close of my second course I have yet to forget the information I’ve learned. I’ve connected the readings and topics brought up in discussions to my own life, I’ve found the readings interesting, and I stuck to the schedule I set for myself (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003). It’s safe to say I fall into the category of being an adult learner. In addition to this, as I mentioned before, I realized that I also fit the description of a connectivist learner perfectly. Much self-reflection has taken place for me during this course, and I have a better understanding of how I learn.

With each type of learning theory, learning style, and student, it can be difficult to cater to each type of learner. All of these categories can span across one another. Auditory learners can fall into any learning theory, and behaviorists and connectivists could both be kinesthetic learners. Instructors and designers do have tools available to them to create instruction that will appeal to every type of learner. Also, using Keller’s (1999) ARCS model, designers can keep every type of learner interested and provide motivation for them to be successful. I’ve found the ARCS model to be invaluable as a resource.

I will be able to use everything I’ve learned in this course in my career as an instructional designer. Currently in my job, I only work with the design team to edit their training. My ultimate goal is to become a designer, but even still, I have been able to propose ideas based on what I’ve learned in this course that they had not thought of. I’ve been able to already put this knowledge into practice and I am not yet a designer. I already have the necessary tools to put together effective training, and I cannot wait until the day I get to use them.


Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 5072.
Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).
Kumar, L., & Rattan, A. (2012). Compare and contrast various learning theories. Larks Learning Blog. Retrieved from

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 7 - Reflection and Changes

Back in week one when I was asked to think about how I learn and what learning theory I might fall into, I had only limited knowledge of all the different types of learning theories. I still agree with my original assessment that I fit into Cognitivism and Constructivism, but I think my top two after taking this course are Constructivism and Connectivism. I rely so heavily on technology to look up all kinds of different information. 

I have always liked to hear what other people have to say, and then depending on whether I agree or disagree, I will form my own ideas about a topic. This trait definitely lends me to the Constructivist theory. I can be incredibly social, and I do learn a lot from discussions, but other times I prefer to look up information myself, which is why I believe I fit perfectly into the Connectivist learning theory. I'm quick to pull up Google on my phone when I need the answer to something and I don't always like asking for opinions or answers. Davis, Edmunds, and Kelly-Bateman (2008) mention the principles of Connectivism in their article, and a few of them really stand out to me. I am always in search of the most up-to-date information, and my learning does often reside in "non-human appliances." 

Based on what I've learned about Behaviorism, I don't think that's a prominent theory for me. When I was a child I'm sure that's how I learned almost everything, but as an adult I like to "march to the beat of my own drum." The idea of behavior modification doesn't work for me; I'm old enough to make my own decisions, even if that means going against the recommended behavior (Standridge, 2002). I'm too stubborn to abide by the reward and punishment system. I think Behaviorism is important in the formative years, but at this stage of my life it has less relevance. 

Aside from using technology (the Internet) to get almost all of my information, I'm a big fan of using it to keep myself organized. I have a paper-and-pencil planner in which I write everything down, but I also use my phone calendar as well as my computer calendar. I'm also a huge advocate for the Google system -- docs, calendar, hangouts, etc. I love that the documents can be shared and they even have a Skype-like chat system. I know I've said this throughout the course, but I do have Type A tendencies, so I'm organized in so many different ways. Also, my job requires me to use technology on a daily basis to create templates, or format documents, and to build projects. I couldn't escape it if I wanted to. 

Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Standridge, M. (2002). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Connectivism - Reflection (Week 5)

My network has changed the way I learn because I find myself relying more heavily on technology to find the answers I need. It's a rare day that I turn to a book to give me information that I could easily find on Google. When a question pops into my head, it's so easy to just pull out my phone and look up the answer right then and there. If it's work-related I'll usually as a colleague. On top of that, when I turn to other people for information, if they have a resource that I had not previously been aware of, I will go back to it if it was helpful. My network has grown so much just from talking to others and being pointed in the direction of great resources. 

The digital tools that facilitate learning best for me depend on what kind of information I'm in need of. Of course, as I already mentioned, I generally turn to Google for everything. If I'm perusing for information, I'll search blogs and read up on whatever's new. If I have a specific question, I'll use tools that I know can get me the answer (a search engine, or a training blog or website if it's design-related). I really enjoy reading blogs, and I feel as though I take away the most information from them because they are usually written in a conversational tone. When I have to decipher what an author means, I have a more difficult time retaining the information. Blogs also spark new thoughts for me, so I'll sometimes branch off and begin more research based on a topic that I discovered. 

My personal learning network both supports and refutes connectivism in different ways. It supports the theory because much of my learning is based on "non-human appliances" and I get my information from many different sources (Siemens, 2011). My learning network refutes connectivism because what I'm learning does not always have an end-goal for me. Sometimes I like to learn about the newest or most effective LMSs, or get up-to-date information about the e-Learning world without having a project in mind. For the most part, I think I fall into the connectivism category of learning -- especially in today's world. So much of our knowledge comes from technology and networking with others. 

Siemens, G. (2011.). Retrieved from


Sunday, March 16, 2014

EDUC 6115 - Week Two - Article Analysis

For this week's assignment, I chose to find a website and a scholarly article. I also wanted to focus on two different topics.

The first analysis is of a website:  Teacher Tap - Brain-Based (Compatible) Learning. This website is focused on K-12 learners, and seemed maybe too simple at first glance, but once I explored a little bit more I realized this has plenty of links to outside resources. Though it is geared toward educators of adolescents, I think having a foundation of knowledge about how the brain works and aids in learning in younger students can provide us with more knowledge about how the brain aids in adult learning. This website actually sites studies and expands on things that are in our textbook, as well as mentions ideas that we have not read about yet. For example, the authors talk about Caine and Caine's three conditions:
  1. Relaxed alertness 
  2. Orchestrated immersion
  3. Active processing
My favorite part of this site is the list of brain-based learning resources. Even though I am not creating e-Learning for children, I find this website to be useful and will likely come back to it. The authors actually taught at the K-12 level, but now both teach online courses at Indiana University. This reinforces how useful these tools could be at the adult level. 

Johnson, L., & Lamb, A. (2007). Brain-based (compatible) learning. Retrieved from

My second analysis is of a journal article. This article theorizes about an educational model for problem-solving-centered learning. I found it to be useful because it goes over the topic of constructivism more in-depth than what we learned before. Under this category, the author offers the teacher's role and the students' roles, which provides an interesting perspective. 

Under the category of Problem Solving-Based Learning (PBL), the authors offers the proper steps to take in order to "bridge the gap" between the real world and academia, and what is expected in each. On page 194, an actual model is displayed, which gives an idea of how educators should incorporate this type of learning. These were the most relevant categories of the article. 

The next few pages give more steps to take and back them up with statistics. I think this article is useful because it was well-researched, and it provides suggestions for how to put these theories into practice in the classroom, or -- in our case -- an e-Learning setting. 

Trif Muntean, L. (2013). Problem solving centered learning, a possible model for educational practice. Journal Plus Education/Educatia Plus, 11(2), 192-196. Retrieved from

Sunday, March 9, 2014

EDUC 6115 - Week One - Useful Blogs

I work in a bureau that is part of the Department of State, and I work closely with the Distributed Learning Designers. Upon finishing this degree, I hope to gain a position on their team. Knowing exactly what they do, and having helped with creating lessons a few times, I kept this in mind while looking for blogs to use as tools.

This blog is written and controlled by Cathy Moore. She provides tools and ideas for how to incorporate scenarios, tips for webinars, as well as posts where she asks questions and includes outside links. She often asks for her readers' opinions, and asks that they leave comments with their own thoughts and ideas. This blog feels more like a community and a conversation than an informative article. One of my favorite facets of Cathy's blog is that she provides a link to register for workshops that she provides.

The IDD Blog is another blog I find to be incredibly useful. It is run by a team of faculty from DePaul University. I like that it has more than one contributor, so you often get different views on the same subject, and each faculty member has a different story to tell. The blog is less biased than others that are run by only one person. The IDD Blog also has a section on its sidebar for all the different categories of posts you could find on the blog. I found the Mobile Learning section useful because the team I worked with just deployed tablets to students we are currently training. It's nice to be able to read other people's opinions about similar situations.

The third blog I'm bookmarking here is actually through the Lectora website. I'm familiar with Lectora from creating some small-scale lessons using the software, and finding this blog at this point in my career was so lucky! For someone like me, who uses this software as an Instructional Designer, this blog is invaluable. They provide information about the annual Lectora conference, they have answers to any questions you may come up with about the software, and they provide links to outside sources. Of the three here, this blog is likely the one I will come back to most often.