The introduction to this course indicated that it was important for us students, as instructional designers to be familiar with the history, theories of and approaches to the “inherently complex process of learning” (Wikipedia, 2011). Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler (2009) posit that this “multifaceted process” is often “taken for granted” until difficulty is experienced “with a complex task” (p.1). It therefore begs that any individual, who is charged with the responsibility of helping others learn, must have at least an awareness of this complex process. Learning theories provide that platform for analysis of learning and everything that comes along with it; role, application, purpose, status, progress, influences, environments, styles, information storage, systems, and so on. Though humankind’s views on learning are as fluid as the process is, it is critical that educators and/or instructional designers, know how to utilise traditional theories, along with current understandings and trends of learning as lenses or as Bill Kerr (2007) puts it as “filters, not blinkers” for understanding the process.
In one of my class assignments, I indicated that though I had studied learning theories on previous occasions, I found this course’s approach to be different from my previous experiences, in that assignments allowed for immediate real-life application or simulation. Another refreshing point for me as I again studied learning theories, was the study of Connectivism. This theory really caught my attention as it tapped into my interests in modern approaches to learning, influences of technology and avenues/networks of learning and learning influences/sources. Another point that again stood out for me was learning how with “the advent of technology...the half-life of knowledge has decreased significantly” (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).
My understanding of my personal learning process has been deepened on many fronts. One example of this derives from the discussion on learning styles. Prior to this course, I had sought to find my learning style I tried to link my learning experiences – challenges and successes – with what I thought my dominant or preferred learning style was. In this course, I was introduced to the concept of employing learning styles based on the requirement(s) of the learning task (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008). This concept, being totally new to me, warranted investigation and personal reflection and having done so, I have concluded in agreement with the notions that “one person can have several learning styles relative to a specific course or subject” and that “when the objectives change, the learning style may also change” (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008). This revelation has also led me to look differently on the traditional emphasis on catering for, identifying and teaching to learning styles and rather consider, as suggested by Dr. Ormrod teaching students to utilise learning strategies. I have therefore begun to pay closer attention to my personal learning strategies, a practice that should improve my metacognition.
As I leave this course, I will be taking many things with me. The foundation offered by the theories studied, provide insight into various “features of learning” and help to identify factors that influence the learning process (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009). From the platform they offer, we can better understand how various factors, both external and internal to the learner, can influence the learning experience. Learning styles (and strategies), technology and motivation, are three factors that wave significant influence over the learning experience. Learning theories help us understand their influence and offer suggestions as to how we can exploit their benefits and minimise their potentially negative effects.
All in all, the knowledge I have gained from this course will definitely assist in broadening my view of and approach to learning. After all, a multifaceted process requires a similarly multifaceted approach. I feel equipped, armed with my “filters” (theories, facts, views, history, etc.), to better conduct an assessment of a learning experience or potential experience in order to devise or improve a learning experience. I also feel that I am significantly more prepared to learn about (and eventually effectively devise) instructional designs that are relevant to learners’ needs.
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism
Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~witteje/ilsrj/Journal%20Volumes/Fall%202008%20Volume%201%20PDFs/Learning%20Styles%20How%20do%20They%20Fluctuate.pdf
Kerr, B. (2007). _Isms as filter not blinker [Blog post]. Retrived fromhttp://billkerr2.blogspot.com/2007/01/isms-as-filter-not-blinker.html
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.
Wikipedia (2011). Learning Theory (Education). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_theory_%28education%29