Distance Learning

 

 

 

What is distance learning and how has it evolved?

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-10-47-08-amI think that the definition of distance learning is constantly changing for a three reasons. First, education psychology and sociology are still very new to studying the effects of technology on cognitive development in part because technology is developing faster than the effects can be measured. Secondly, there is an overlap of generational perspective as what technology is and how it is used to enhance or diminish learning. Finally, there are different phases of separation that exist between the learner and the instructor. Separation is not exclusive to “time and geography” as Dr. Simonson suggests. I think that there is much more that causes this gap, actually, in my opinion, it exists even without the use of technology. This gap widens as a result of  what Boling et. al. quoted as a “systematic lack of awareness” in appropriate uses of technology in the field of education. This lack of awareness could be from lack of exposure to technology. However, technology is simply defined by Merriam Webster defines as the application of knowledge.

Malcolm X once said that, ‘You can’t teach what you don’t know, and you can’t lead where you don’t go.” The way knowledge is applied by the instructor determines whether or not learning occurs and if, in fact, behavior changes for the learner. Technology is only as good as the designers ability to use it to ensure that enhanced learning is occurring. This systematic lack of awareness comes from the tools being available without training or practice. Thus, it is up to the individual practitioner to gain the relevant experience in using a tool effectively for their learning group and learners are responsible for learning how to use technology to enhance their workflow and it is the

I envision the space that exist between learner and instructor in a face to face setting having a certain distance that needs to be bridged so that efficient instruction and learning can take place. Distance exists culturally as language and communication have a high value during the educational process. Simonson et. al. (2015) posits, “…connections of learners, teachers, and instructional resources became less dependent on physical proximity as communications systems became more sophisticated and widely available…” (p.32). It may seem awkward for a teacher to use multiple tools to teach the same thing she has been teaching for twenty years. However, check her student’s performance data, if she is not consistently showing growth, learning how to implement different technology will certainly raise her potential to get her lessons across effectively and efficiently. Moreover, this is part of the evolution of instructional design that takes a certain je ne sais quoi moving into the future. The designer that can use the right tools for the right learning groups in the least amount of time is going to invite a lot of success his way. (Hint to self…)   

My vision of distance learning as it continues to evolve resonates with the points made by Huett et. al (2008) wherein it is implied that teacher turnover and lower population totals of students in traditional learning settings. Additionally, K-12 environments will remain cynical about the full value of instructional design skills for educators until they completely relinquish the ‘magic elixir’ approach to the learning environment.  Finally, there will remain a market for training professionals to find out how to select technology for their appropriate learning groups and how to masterfully utilize those tools because “…it will require a restructuring of (how they do) business, necessitating the hiring of distance education instructional designers to work with teachers and the local district (p.65-66).

References:

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.

ID Reflections

What did you find surprising or striking as you furthered your knowledge about how people learn?

Image result for instructional designAs I began to deepen my understanding, I was immediately intrigued by a two key concepts that reaffirmed key tenets to my fundamental understanding of learning.  First, learning is not just an academic experience. Also, learning includes implementing strategies and motivation.

Traditionally, I’ve equated learning with a formal type of experience. As I explored in this course, I realized that informal learning is rapidly taking the place of formal learning. This is because of technology and the use of the internet. Understanding how and why people acquire information requires social and technological consideration. The skills that I’ve gained as an instructional designer will allow me to find social and technological solutions to learning. Because learning does not only occur in academic settings does not make it any less valuable. Learning is as valuable as the learner makes it.

The strategies that are used are greatly influenced by the theories behind learning. Vygotsky stressed the social aspect of learning. Strategies that are used to learn today should include a very high social element. Technology and the internet allow for learning to occur using social and virtual tools. Strategies should include a basis for the use of language and the development of improved cultural values.

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Strategies for motivation should include the examples of productive dispositions that have been identified by theorists.  Demonstrating open-mindedness and spirit of transfer are two ways that strategic motivation impacts learning. As an instructional designer it will be important to be able to use these types of strategies to ensure that learning occurs.

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How has this course deepened your understanding of your personal learning process?

Learning is as simple as it is complex. Taking the time to make connections is what makes learning valuable. Learning is the key to growth. Learning can be acquired informally and formally, however, informal learning is faster. I think that learning will not be considered to be formal or informal in the future because there will only be information generation and information acquisition. Understanding the ways that information is acquired and the way information is used in conjunction with technology to resolve social and cultural dilemmas will be a major function of mine as an instructional designer. Most importantly, the learning process has various ways to determine how and why connections to information must be made. Each learner is unique in the ways information is used to meet desired outcomes. However, the processes of learning, while vastly different for every person, can be assessed and evaluated to determine efficiency. Applying learning theory to instructional design legitimates the intended function and development of learning instruments, systems, and networks.

 

What have you learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation?

The connection between learning theories, learning styles, technology, and motivation forms a network of information that literally spells out social and cultural values. It is important for there to be a discoverable trail of information, so that as common interests are shared, people can continually benefit from having access to the knowledge they need to “respond to circumstances beyond their control by identifying ways to take charge of aspects of their lives despite existing constraints on their freedom. Because they cannot change their environment, they instead change themselves to better adapt to it” (Ormsrod, p.239).

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How will your learning in this course help you as you further your career in the field of instructional design?

The things that I learned in this course will give me the confidence that I need as an instructional designer. I learned the historical significance of the different learning theories. Also, I learned how the brain functions during the learning process. Additionally, understanding theory and brain function is important when assessing the needs of learners. I understand that my involvement in professional learning communities is essential to continued growth and success in my field. Participating in discussions and reading about trends in learning will keep me on the cutting edge of research, so that I am innovative as an instructional designer. Being able to have researched based strategies to motivate people, facilitate learning acquisition, and develop information that will increase knowledge and ability are examples of what I will take away from this class into my career as an instructional designer.    

 

Reference:

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Learning Reflections

 

-Now that you have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories of learning styles, how has your view on how you learn changed?

The way I view my learning now is more technical in nature. I’ve always had a general understanding of the way that I learned. Now that I have explored and discovered the different learning theories in this course,  I have acquired the scientific foundation behind elements of learning by expert practitioners.

My week one discussion post I mentioned that my learning best aligns with Bandura’s social cognitive theory and Bruner’s constructivist theory.  Connectivism also explains one of the best ways that I learn. According to George Siemens, “learning and now is rest and diversity of opinions friend is a process of connecting specialize know Jennifer Mason and source. Learning how to increase the capacity to know more is critical, even more so than that which is currently known. Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning so that there is an increased ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts as a core skill.” (Siemens 2005)

In my first post I also mentioned that I learn best by setting attainable goal that lead to bigger and better goals.  I think this directly relates to the connector this theory in that my capacity to know more is greater than what I currently know. This desire underlies my self-regulation and effort to respond to socio-cultural influences in a way that will allow me to become empowered and motivated. It is empowering to know that there is no limit to the abundance of information that will benefit my personal growth and interests.

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Vygotsky believed that people came to control their own deliberate actions you learn to self regulate the primary mechanism is affecting self-regulation are language and the zone of proximal development (Ormrod 206,207,208). My views on how I learned have changed because now I see the way social cognitive theory and constructivism had been the way I’ve learned for most of my youth. As an adult learner my learning is best represented by Connectivism.

-What have you learned about the various learning theories and learning styles over the past weeks that can further explain your own personal learning preferences?

I  Learned that decision-making itself is a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of shift in reality while there’s a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision (Siemens, 2005). This means that it is important for me to continue to explore and discover new knowledge that extends my current strengths abilities and interests. I have always felt as an educator that the K-12 industry focuses too much on the teaching process from an instructor’s point of view without considering the complexities of learning and how it occurs.

Additionally, I have always felt that learning was the best way to educate and protect myself. I understand that learning is a continual process that last an entire lifetime,hence, finding function and purpose as a part of the process of my decision-making allows me to learn how to make connections that lead to greater understanding and capability. It is my hope that with increasing understanding and capabilities that I am able to maximize my potential as a professional and family person.

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-What role doesplay in your learning (i.e.  As a way to search for information, to record information, to create, etc.)?

Technology plays a huge part in the way that I learn. I rely more on technology each day. Technology frees up memory space in my brain so that I do not have to readily recall every nuance of knowledge that I acquire. Technology via the Internet also gives me an abundance of information at the click of a button. The devices that I use make it so that I am dependent on technology for simple things like my alarm clock, calender, weather and time to more complex information like world news, entertainment, education and travel.

Finally, technology allows me to stay connected with more individuals so that the information that is not able to be stored to technological devices can be stored with the people that I know. Technology allows me to keep in closer contact with the people that share information with me. Because of technology I have been able to teach myself new things. Through the use of instructional videos that are online, free online courses, webinars, vlogs, blogs, etc. The potential for my learning is limitless.

 

References:

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning Theories and Instruction. Pearson Custom Publishing.

Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism:A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm

 

Connectivism

Click Here: Birch Network For Learning, Creation, and Idea Generation

 

 

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How has your network changed the way you learn?

Mind mapping has organized my mind space by giving me a real time visual of my learning. I have more opportunities for deeper thought and broader exploration of ideas and concepts by being able to see my thoughts mapped out. Furthermore, by taking each of these components in my learning network and breaking them down into further detail I will be able to see which elements of those outlets will be most conducive for building a professional network. My network is broken down into traditional and digital learning acquisition styles. Traditionally, I have stayed up with current trends from magazines, newspapers, brochures, pamphlets and even the occasional mail out. Presently, digital acquisition dominates my informal and formal learning processes. Digital  acquisition allows me learn more information in shorter periods of time.

Digital learning acquisition also enhances the formal learning process by forming a daily discipline that is revolved around seeking new information, thus, making learning and applying new concepts in formal settings more manageable.

After realizing how my learning network is connected, I am inspired to design and deliver content in similar ways. Content cannot be one dimensional. Content must be able to reach across different platforms to reach people as they inter-connect digitally through shared culture and social interest.

What digital tools best facilitate learning for you?

Social media websites and professional networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn facilitate the best learning for me. My Facebook page allows me to read and share posts that interest me. I use my Facebook timeline to like, post and share links that raise awareness to issues that threaten knowledge and safety in public education and Black communities.  LinkedIn allows me to follow other professionals and the educational industry and instructional design industry. I read discussions and participate in network building and idea sharing

How do you gain new knowledge when you have questions?

I use search engines frequently to answer questions. I also will ask someone that I know has experience or knowledge of the issue in question. Recently, when doing research for a business start up, I interviewed several professionals that have either retired or were currently active in that particular industry. By combining research from resources online, information gathered from interviews and private conversations with professionals I am able to answer most questions that I have with new concepts.

In what ways does your personal learning network support or refute the central tenets of connectivism?

According to John Siemens,”connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly all trying to foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical.”

My learning network allows me to get daily updates of trending information that are centralized around my interest. I learn from other nonhuman appliances because I use devices such as my iPad, iPhone, and iMac to stay connected to the Internet at all times. My devices show information in real time and update me with alerts when information changes.

I rely on the diversity of opinions by referring to alternative new sources as well as popular news outlets to verify current events. This is important for me to analyze the truth about what’s really going on in the world. I connect to specialized nodes of information sources by syncing my devices to alert me instantly when information changes.

I have an increasing capacity to know more about what is currently unknown; staying motivated allows me to learn more about why things are the way they are so that I can readily identify needs and design strategies, courses, trainings, workshops, webinars, meet-ups and other similar outlets for the purposes of education and protection of liberty and equity.

References:

Ormrod, J. E., Schunk, D. H., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning Theories and Instruction. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Connectivism [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (n.d.). Adult Learning. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

 

The Business & Science of Problem Solving

I found the Business Insider to be a great resource! The Strategy section was of particular interest. One of the articles I found to be extremely insightful. The first, Nine Steps to Effective Business Problem Solving. I found the article helpful because the information connected closely to the concept of ‘schemata’ discussed in the textbook Learning Theories and Instruction. According to the text, ‘a schema is a structure that organizes large amounts of information into a meaningful system. Bartlett (1932) discovered that schemata aid in comprehending information and that schemata are important because they indicate what to expect in a situation.  The nine steps form a scaffolding for whereby problem solving can be constructed effectively.

Forbes.com is another fabulous resource with articles for understanding how problem solving in business is done. The article, The 4 Most Effective Ways Leaders Solve Problems, is motivating because it gives the characteristics of what an effective leader does to “have the patience to step back and see the problem at-hand through broadened observation; circular vision. They see around, beneath and beyond the problem itself, (seeing) well beyond the obvious, approach(ing) problems through a lens of opportunity”. According to our text transfer is a critical topic for learning and often involves complex cognitive processes. Transfer refers to knowledge being applied in new ways, in new situations, or in familiar situations with different content (Ormrod p.123). This article encourages somewhat traditional thinking and approaching problem solving in ways that on the surface may seem obvious but ultimately simplify complexities of learning the problem solving process.   

Problem Solving & Metacognition in Education and Life by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D is a tremendous resource to delve head first into the science behind problem solving. Dr. Rusbult discusses “building Transfer-Bridges to help a wider diversity of (learners) to improve their confidence and motivations and problem-solving skills…:” He also offers strategies for thinking and models of different design processes. The site illustrates a “design process to describe the flexibility improvised creative and critical productive design thinking we use for almost everything in life when we solve problems by designing better products, activities, strategies, and explanatory theories.” This is a resource that will certainly add breadth and depth to my overall understanding of the problem solving process. It will also make a massive amounts of connections in terms of how problem solving is a key component of the Instructional Designer’s role.

 

Happy E-Learning

Thanks to my colleague at WU,  Steve Dutcher, for the great ID blog site. I referred to the CommLab site that you posted. I found a couple of really interesting and helpful articles that provide insight and that are innovative and exciting. The first article I read was by Chinthakunta Krishna Delighting Your Online Learner – 5 Aspects to Consider.” The post was an infographic (which I am very excited about learning how to do) that illustrated five useful tips for delivering top-notch learning experiences for e-learners. 1.)Divide the content into micro-learning modules 2.) Make the course interactive 3.) Gamify the course to create a fun-filled learning environment. 4.) Publish the course to HTML5 (I’ll have to research and learn more about HTML5) 5.) Use videos and animation to make the course lively.

The tips that really got me excited were make it interactive,  gamifying the course, and using videos and animations. I recently had an idea to create an application for learners that needed to study and learn information for different certifications like HVAC or CDL. The app would be set up like a game and include tons of graphics, video and animation. The goal of this particular app would be to ensure that the user is prepared for certification testing by reiterating important information.

I think that it is really important to keep the learner engaged and to continue to visit the site/app. Using games to earn points and unlock new levels and creating attractive video will keep learners engaged and interacting. Learners that are having fun are happiest and can potentially better prepare and perform better as a result.

Do you know of a good place to begin creating something like this? Please share.

 

Engaging Instructional Design

I found several resources that have helped me understand more about ID. Click here, here and here to connect to the blogs that are helping me begin to break down the function and purpose of ID.

ID and Other Reflections‘ posts are about how to prepare for the challenges of the future. As technology and tools speed up the pace of learning, individuals, teams, and organizations that desire to thrive need to be able to find ways that provide useful information at the click of a button. The January 7, 2016 post uses the term “uberization” to draw a parallel in the direction that the ID industry needs to follow.

There are five things from this blog post that  helped me to understand the role of the ID professional. The first, take the mobile approach. People want to experience learning at there own pace. In the age of smart technology, people need to be able to access information on demand, literally, at the click of the mouse pad, or a tap of the screen. Information has to delivered in a way that is customized for the user. ID is not just about designing courses that customize information for learning. It is about being able to consult with groups and individuals within various industries to clear pathways and make connections to learning.

Secondly, build communities. Common interests is the force behind learning communities. ID pros must be facilitators and enablers in a sharing economy and provide the right technology, tools, and support necessary for users to co-create value. Next, ID pros will be 21st century curators able to seek, sense and share relevant content for a defined target audience. Additionally, building a culture of feedback as a way to make improvements. “A culture of feedback encourages transparency, highlights inefficiencies, and makes improvement an ongoing process.” Finally, ID pros will have a service mindset that makes a constant effort to “uberize”which requires “…a constant scanning of the ecosystem within as well as without and gauging how external changes can impact the organization ranging from the need to re-skill existing workforce to recruiting scarce talent.”

The Upside Learning Blog is a collection of blogs and posts that primarily focuses on e-learning, learning management, and mobile learning. This site will be very useful to me as an ID because it is replete with resources and covers a wide range of topics associated with learning systems. An interesting blog that I came across is entitled “Converting e-learning to m-learning.” The discussion here is about organizations making the conversion in four simple steps. 1.) Understand the content and context needs to be able to fit the size and functions of smartphones and not just a smaller version of e-learning content. 2.) Target devices carefully. Weather tablet only or tablet and smartphone each function needs to be considered individually. 3.) Offline availability is an interesting feature. I learned that access to content can be made by using a LMS with its own player or by using an app that sends data to the LMS. 4.) Choosing the right conversion tools and authoring tools can determine weather content needs to be changed over or if new content needs to be created.

These blogs are an excellent place to begin exploring the world of ID. The ideas are fresh and innovative. The content is informative and motivating. Sometimes I feel like I am floating in a sea of information that can be safely navigated using the direction from the resources and ideas embedded in the  articles and posts on these blog sites. As an ID I will continue to participate in learning communities such as these to stay abreast of new perspectives and innovative ideas in the industry.