Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Learning Theory & Educational Technology


After reading the first two chapters of Psychology of Learning for Instruction by Marcy P. Driscoll (2005), I began wondering about my students' abilities to learn a concept and are the assignments demonstrating their knowledge.  Yes, there are certain factors that should be present when a person is learning. One of the factors for students’ learning environment is his or her environment conducive and stimulating.  And, will this factor or other factors cause students to “think outside of the box” or exercise their critical thinking skills? From my teaching experience, there are people who believe that special needs students cannot demonstrate critical thinking.  As a special education teacher, I disagree with that notion. Driscoll (2005) explained and defined the major learning theories and their essential components (results, means, and inputs). She continued her explanation by explaining the history of the major learning theories. This led me to become curious about the implementations modern learning theories and how educators should educate students in today’s learning environments.  Are there any compatibility between educational technology and learning theories?

From my curious about learning theories and educational technology, I believe my educational philosophy has changed. My beliefs about how students learn best may vary from my colleagues. I believe that students learn concepts and gain knowledge from a combination of learning styles (spatial/visual, tactile/kinetic, auditory and logical). Therefore, I do not believe students obtain knowledge through one type of learning style. I do, however, believe that students do have a dominant learning style. And, the purpose of learning theories and educational technology is to provide a platform for students to learn, demonstrate his or her knowledge, and gain real-world experiences through given activities.

Driscoll (2005) and Siemens (2008) consecutively provided a clear picture about the critical elements for a learning theory. Driscoll (2005) offered the psychology methodologies of learning. Siemens (2008) expanded upon those methodologies by making the connection between the major learning theories and educational technology.  In the article Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing roles for Educators and Designers, Siemens (2008) described and gave examples of how Web 2.0 tools can assist with students’ learning. From his descriptions, do the roles of educators and designers change?

Siemens’s “metaphors of educators” characterized the roles of an instructor in a digital classroom or workplace. The roles are master artist, network administrator, concierge, and curator. From his explanation of these roles, Siemens (2008) analyzed the principles of instructivism versus constructivism and how each approach holds a varied level of values that depends on its context or complexity of the learning.

After ponding over the roles stated in Siemens’s article, how do I classify myself as an educator? Is it possible for me to hold more than one role depending on the learning situation?  While, there may be no straightforward answer to that question.  For me, it is a balancing act.  As a curator, I provide my expertise in a specific academic subject area and encourage my students to explore concepts and gain their own knowledge.  As a concierge, I direct my students’ learning opportunities.  Does the balancing act allow me to be a master artist? Or, does the balancing act support me in observing my students’ activities and/or draw attention to their innovative ideas or approaches to learning? On numerous multifold levels, I guide, direct, and influence my students’ learning. Therefore, I am more than willing to step in and out of roles in order to provide my students with a quality level of learning.

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References:
Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Siemens, G. (2008, January 27). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. Paper presented to ITFORUM. Retrieved December 08, 2009 from http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper105/Siemens.pdf

2 comments:

  1. I completely agree with Simonson's (2008) assertion that distance education is at a place on the S-shaped curve that will see exponential growth in the area. I can see this in my organization. Today we offer 12 blended e-learning courses. Three years ago my organization offered zero e-learning courses.
    Distance Education

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  2. In my school district, we do not have one true blended e-learning course. I wonder when will the S-curve for e-learning reach the Mid-South.

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