How my view on learning has changed

Originally, I believed that I learned best by interacting with others and making meaning of those interactions in relation to the content I was studying. This process aligns most closely with the social learning theory. However, after learning about connectivism, I realized that this theory is what currently has the largest impact on my learning as an adult.  Adult learning is a combination of “prior knowledge, experience, perception, reality, comprehension, and flexibility” (Conlan, J. 2003).  Connectivism allows me to immediately look up an answer to any question, therefore furthering my inquiry process. I firmly believe that because information is readily accessible, the most important skill for any learner to have is learning how to research and make meaning of the new information we are gaining. As an adult learner I believe that we are “active constructors of knowledge, creating new meanings and realities rather than ingesting pre-existing knowledge” (Foley, G. 2004).

 

I believe the reason I have always preferred to work in small collaborative groups is because while I was in elementary school it seemed that many of my teachers used this method of instruction. Typically we prefer what we are used to, and this is something I have had a lot of exposure to. What was challenging for me, was getting us to collaborating as an adult learner via the internet (in an online course). When I began my graduate program, I made the choice to attend and online university because of the flexibility it allowed me. I did not anticipate that I would be collaborating with my peers on a weekly basis. However, I will say that my view on the significance of collaboration for online learners has changed.  I now understand how critical the dialogue component is in a virtual classroom. Especially in the Instructional Design and Technology program “learning must go beyond gaining isolated technology skills toward generating a deep understanding of digital environments, enabling intuitive adaptation to new contexts and co-creation of content with others” (Adams Becker, S. 2017).

 

Resources:

Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., and Ananthanarayanan, V. (2017). NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://textbookequity.org/Textbooks/Orey_Emergin_Perspectives_Learning.pdf

Foley, G. (Ed.). (2004). Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. McGraw-Hill Education.

 

 

 

 

 

Connectivism reflection

 

I am about to go in to my fourth year of teaching. I have been in two different schools, but I have been in the same school for the last 2 (going on 3) years. I believe that my “network”, which is made up of my colleagues, administrators, parents and students has greatly shaped who I am as an educator today.  Though I am a teacher, I have learned a lot from my students throughout the past couple of years.  The major takeaway that I have gained is to be flexible. This has drastically altered how I prepare for my lessons, as well as how I am as a learner. I can only improve my instruction by learning from my students (and their outcomes) and by reflecting upon my mistakes (and successes). In addition I have learned from both my colleagues and my administration that collaboration can make my experiences in the school community more positive and enriching. As stated, “by using these networks- of people, of technology, of social structures, of systems, of power grids, etc. -learning communities can share their ideas with others. Thereby “cross-pollinating” the learning environment” (Conlan, J. 2003).

I find that I most commonly use internet search engines and social media to facilitate learning for myself. Search engines, such as Google, have made it incredibly easy for us to look up anything at any time. This allows me to constantly extend my knowledge and it encourages me to be more inquisitive.  Though my only method of social media is Pinterest, I find it to be an extremely useful tool. It allows me to brainstorm ideas, while looking at hundreds of examples/suggestions that others have tried. This is particularly helpful when I am lesson planning and trying to come up with the most effective and engaging tools and activities to use.

I find that most people are naturally inquisitive and prior to search engines, gaining new knowledge was confined to either taking a course f2f or by reading books. However, with the introduction of search engines, almost anything people want to learn about is readily accessible 24/7. This allows for all learners to research their questions at any given time. Search engines allow for students to become “active constructors of knowledge, creating new meanings and realities rather than ingesting pre-existing knowledge” (Foley, G. 2004).

Connectivism allows us as students to “stay current and work well with others” (Laureate Education n.d.).  My current work environment both encourages and provides multiple avenues for teachers to use network to expand their knowledge. Most notably, we are provided ongoing professional development that allows us to gain knowledge from other colleagues and other professionals in our field. In addition we are encouraged to use technology in the classroom, and we are given access to technological devices that we can use whenever needed. This allows for us to plan lessons that are relevant, and to teach the skills that are necessary in order for our students to continue accessing knowledge throughout their lives.

 

Resources:

Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2019, from https://www.textbookequity.org/Textbooks/Orey_Emergin_Perspectives_Learning.pdf

Foley, G. (Ed.). (2004). Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. McGraw-Hill Education.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Connectivism [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

 

The brain and how we learn

I can honestly say that as an educator I have not spent much time thinking about the brain other than in the required psychology classes I took while attaining my undergraduate degree. However, “the science of learning ought to be at the very heart of what we do as educators. We cannot afford to disregard it as theoretical or impractical” (Goodwin, B. 2018).  After studying more about the impact that the brain has on learning, it’s mind boggling to me that there was not a stronger emphasis placed on learning how to plan instruction so that students can easily retain information and store in their long-term memory.  It’s clear however that “Something as critical to learning as how it actually works is seldom articulated or acted upon by education professionals” (Goodwin, B. 2018).  Moving forward I would like to take a deeper look at how I can intentionally plan and implement instruction that will be effective for every learner in my classroom.

 

After reading, Student Learning That Works I realized that there’s a reason why storing information can be so challenging. It seems that “recent studies in neuroscience are, in fact, finding that our brains appear to actively and purposefully forget most of what we learn—continually pruning and clearing out old and unneeded memories to allow us to focus on more important information” (Goodwin, B. 2018).  Though, we need to make room in our brains to focus the majority of our energy on important and relevant information, it’s somewhat disheartening to know that our brains waste so much of knowledge we come across.  However, there are several strategies that can be used in order to increase our brains retention of information.  As stated in Student Learning That Works, there’s a three step process all educators should follow when teaching new content to their students.

 

The student learning model (Goodwin, B. 2018)):

 

Step one- “Capture student interest. The external stimuli that make it past our brain’s mental filters tend to be of two varieties: those that stir our emotions and those that arouse our curiosity (typically in that order, by the way). Our brains default to ignoring almost everything else.”

 

Step two- “In short, when it comes to learning, we need to help students answer the question, What’s in it for me?”

 

Step three- “Help students focus on new knowledge. Once students are “thirsty” for new knowledge, they must acquire it by actively thinking about what they’re learning.”

 

In addition there are other proven methods to help students acquire and retain new information.  It turns out that “that humor is an important part of the learning process, backed by studies in neuroscience, which stated that laughter reduced stress levels and blood pressure, increases immunity, and caused endorphins to surge” (Calhoun, C. F. n.d.). I can clearly remember being engaged in learning the most when I found my teachers interesting, humorous and relatable. Clearly, these traits are necessary in order to create a conducive learning environment.  Also, as stated in the article, Brain-Based Teaching: Does It Really Work? it’s crucial that “specific activities are used to activate the whole brain, both left and right hemispheres” (Calhoun, C. F. n.d.) because this will increase learning. Previous research suggested that individuals typically prefer learning with one side over the other. However, we now know that using both hemispheres promotes the most ideal learning conditions.

 

Both of the articles that I discussed above helped me to understand why is critical for educators to understand how the brain works, and how to plan instruction to best meet the needs of my students. I would strongly recommend reading both of the following articles in their entirety!

Resources:

Calhoun, C. F. (n.d.). Brain-Based Teaching: Does It Really Work? Retrieved May 19, 2019, from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535937.pdf.

Goodwin, B. (2018). Student Learning That Works. Retrieved May 19, 2019, from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED587406.pdf

 

 

Review of Instructional Design Blogs

DESIGN 4 PERFORMANCE is a blog created by a man who is an instructional designer. This blog includes links to helpful resources about instructional design, and how to engage all learners in their learning process. In particular he both blogs about and identifies resources to help people implement learning strategies in all fields (not just education settings such as schools). In addition, he created an app LEARN2LEARN that is aimed to help individuals, businesses and entrepreneurs learn different strategies to plan and implement on their own.  I believe this site provides informative and thought provoking resources that will encourage educators (and other individuals) to think outside of the box when planning their instructional methods.

http://design4performance.com/about/

Cathy Moore’s blog clearly states her mission, “Let’s save the world from boring training”.   Cathy is a world renowned instructional designer whose ideas and designs have been used by several well-known companies such as Microsoft and Pfizer.  Cathy travels and presents all over the world as well as through webinars and other online training platforms. Her philosophy is that training should be purposeful, relevant and engaging. Her blog is full of useful resources and blog posts that are meant to encourage others to revitalize the training that they are planning or taking part in.  I believe her blog is motivating and encourages everyone to stop taking a back-seat role in their learning experiences. Cathy’s blog helps people understand that learning should be engaging and meaningful!

https://blog.cathy-moore.com/

Connie Malamed’s blog, the eLearning Coach, is specifically designed to help instructional designers of all experience levels plan and implement elearning experiences and how to use elearning tools.  Not only does Connie provide helpful resources and strategies to use, but she review products. This is particular helpful because it allows others to find resources that they can use immediately. It’s always nice to read a review (especially be an experienced educator) prior to purchasing something.  Connie also has a background in education, which I find particularly refreshing. Her experiences have helped shape her philosophy for education and guide her towards creating materials that are bot useful and practical

http://theelearningcoach.com/

 

 

 

About me:

I am an elementary educator who resides in Connecticut. I am a new mom, and I am lucky to have a loving and supporting husband who understands and encourages my passion for education. I am currently working as a first grade teacher in Hartford CT, and completing my masters degree in Instructional Design and Technology.  My goal is to become involved in the implementation of a national social sciences curriculum that is implemented throughout the k-12 educational system. It is my hope that my degree in instructional design will help me achieve this goal. This blog will chronicle my experiences as a working mom, educator and instructional designer!

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