Learning; my reflection on the last eight weeks

     Learning is such a fascinating word. It can mean something totally different depending on who you ask. Wikipedia (2010) defines learning as, “acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information”. How people learn depends on many variables. Styles, strategies, technology and motivators are all interconnected within the learner’s brain. Keeping them separate would be parallel to losing an appendage. You can function without one, but would require significant adaptations to support the loss.

How I learned was vital in recognizing differences between myself and those who choose to partake in my programs. I believed I was a Kinesthetic learner (Tannahill, 2009) by heart who followed Skinners theory of Behaviourism (1950). Fortunately, I was wrong in that I now believe Connectivism (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008) is my true path to learning. I have embraced the ‘digital’ age and feel it will become my forte moving forward.

 ‘Theories of learning’ are concepts that I really did not comprehend two months ago. Smith (1999) feels learners need rewards to achieve success, while Vygotsky (Learning Theories, 2008)) rationalized his theory of learning by stating that the social surroundings of an individual influenced their learning.

Researching these theories took me down a new road of discovery. I was naïve to the world of theories but more surprisingly was my shift into a new path of learning.

 Learning theories, styles, and strategies have a purpose when designing programs. My current professor named Dr. Shirley Weaver noted that the ‘theory’ of learning styles does not contribute much to the instructional designer, but rather we need to focus on the correct mode of delivery for the learner (Weaver, 2010, November 22).

 Understanding how and also what motivates someone to learn is only the starting point. As an educator for adult learners, I recognize the many challenges they face (i.e. work, family, and financial). It is important to understand the strengths and limitations in the online environment in which I design, and balance it with my adult learner styles (Cercone, 2008).

 Assuming my paramedic students will naturally be interested in new programs and utilize past experience to enhance their learning (Cercone, 2008), are unrealistic issues that need to be addressed when designing future programs. Motivation will carry someone so far unless intrinsically determined.

As a designer I need to, “consider the context of learning and understand that culture and society shape the adult learner and add to his or her individuality” (Cercone, 2008, p.151). The past eight weeks have propelled me farther than I could have imagined into instructional design (i.e. posting my own blog). Who would have thought awakening my learning styles would have resulted in a renewed passion for development. Like a child the night before Christmas; I can hardly wait to see what the next day will bring.


 Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Reader.ViewAbstract&paper_id=24286

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

Learning Theories (2008). Social Development theory (Vygotsky). Retrieved from:http://www.learning-theories.com/vygotskys-social-learning-theory.html 

 Skinner, B.F. (1950). Are theories of learning necessary. In classics in the history of psychology online. Retrieved from: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Skinner/Theories/

 Smith, M. K. (1999) ‘The behaviourist orientation to learning’, the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/biblio/learning-behavourist.htm

Tannahill, K. (2009). Kinesthetic Learning Style. Retrieved from:http://www.suite101.com/content/kinesthetic-learning-style-a162063

Wikipedia (2010).Learning. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning     December 25, 2010.

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Fitting the Pieces together

I can not imagine how I functioned without the internet and its vast array of resources. I was a frequent visitor at the local library where I would spend countless hours pouring over reference material. It is hard to imagine that it was less than ten few years ago that the library was my main resource for information.

I thought I was ‘techy’ when I did my undergraduate studies as I was able to resource the university library via the internet and participated in ‘basic’ online courses. Was I wrong! My knowledge was limited compared to what I have learned in the past seven weeks.

 I always thought I learned best as a Kinesthetic learner (Wikipedia, 2010), but realize that learning involves more than one style or strategy.

Behavioristic theory (Wikipedia, 2010) is what I truly believed described my learning process, but now I realize that I learn better via Connectivism theory (Wikipedia, 2010). I am still a social learner and now find I am more capable of learning via self-direction.

Siemens (2004) stated, “Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today”. As instructional designers, we almost need to be one step ahead of what we are designing so we never fall behind.

 Atherton (2010) defines Knowles’s assumptions which seem to mirror my learning process. They are:

The need to know — adult learners need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it.

Learner self-concept —adults need to be responsible for their own decisions and to be treated as capable of self-direction

Role of learners’ experience —adult learners have a variety of experiences of life which represent the richest resource for learning. These experiences are however imbued with bias and presupposition.

Readiness to learn —adults are ready to learn those things they need to know in order to cope effectively with life situations.

Orientation to learning —adults are motivated to learn to the extent that they perceive that it will help them perform tasks they confront in their life situations.

The last few weeks have seen me design my own blog https://tracyg4walden.wordpress.com/  which is something I never imagined was possible assuming it was too ‘innovative’ for me. I now utilize technology on a daily basis which has not only enhanced my learning process, but significantly reduced the amount of wasted energy searching through the cavern known as the World Wide Web. Google reader allows me to compile and tag relevant websites and resources that aid my learning and thus saves time daily.

Brown (2002) summarized innovative technology well (even back in 2002) by stating, “The typewriter prized one particular kind of intelligence, but with the Web, we suddenly have a medium that honors multiple forms of intelligence-abstract, textual, visual, musical, social, and kinesthetic. As educators, we now have a chance to construct a medium that enables all young people to become engaged in their ideal way of learning. The Web affords the match we need between a medium and how a particular person learns”.

With innovative technology developing by leaps and bounds, technology is no longer just used to support an individual but rather support relationships between individuals (Brown, 2002). I know technology and I will be life long partners.  

 Atherton, J. S. (2010). Learning and teaching; Knowles’ andragogy; an angle on adult learning. Retrieved from:http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/knowlesa.htm

 Brown, J. S., (2002). Growing Up Digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn. United States Distance Learning Association. Retrieved from http://www.usdla.org/html/journal/FEB02_Issue/article01.html  December 19, 2010.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

 Wikipedia (2010). Behaviorism. Retrieved from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behaviorism  December 19, 2010.

 Wikipedia (2010). Connectivism (learning theory). Retrieved from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectivism_(learning_theory)  December 19, 2010.

 Wikipedia (2010). Kinesthetic Learning. Retrieved from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinesthetic_learning   December 19, 2010.

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Reflecting how I learn in 2010

Connectivism is how adult learning can be defined for 2010. Interestingly enough I was not even aware of this concept a few months ago. Some of the Principles of Connectivism noted by Siemans (2004) are:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known

 The reasons I chose to pursue graduate studies are many, but most importantly it was my lack of knowledge in today’s technological world. Designing programs is something that has come naturally to me for years, but implementing innovative technology was a foreign concept within my programs. Since starting graduate studies, I have felt like a newborn learning things for the first time. I did not realize blogging was for everyone and best of all was free. Initially, I was concerned that I would not be able to master the resources available, but now I wonder how I ever designed anything ‘good’ without referencing the vast array of available resources (i.e. Elearning sites, youtube, instructional design blogs).

My greatest resources to date have been through discussion postings within my graduate program. My co-learners have provided me with sites (i.e. Webspiration, Shambles) that I utilize almost daily and now incorporate into program development. I enjoy the discussion threads as they provide varying opinions and invoke hearty responses, which provides me with alternative ideas for managing and developing programs.

I used to get so frustrated when I could not find an answer to a question. Growing up the choices were limited to finding answers. I became good friends with ‘Encyclopedia Brittanica‘ along with a few teachers who I knew would provide direction if the answers were not forthcoming. Today, the encyclopedia books have been replaced by the internet and the teachers by work colleagues. The internet is such a ‘cavern’ of information that it took forever to weed through and locate correct information. The public library was sometimes faster, but was certainly not convenient. My saving grace has been Google reader along with sites referred by co-learners and professors. Google reader allows me to add favorites (and receive current info from each site) so I do not waste time lost in the ‘cavern’.

My personal learning networks definitely support the tenets of connectivism, as they have increased my learning capacity. I am fortunate to work with colleagues who have extensive experience in paramedicine and also in training development. The combination of work and school colleagues provides a solid foundation for my learning path.

I recently had a WOW moment when a colleague asked for my opinion on a teaching tool as they thought I was the expert. Amazing how my learning in 2010 has propelled me into a world I never imagined I could exist. That world is Instructional Design and Innovative Technology.

My mindmap of Learning  Connections

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm .

 Shambles (2010). Retrieved from:http://www.shambles.net/pages/school/mindmaps/

 Webspiration (2010). Retrieved from: http://www.mywebspiration.com/

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Wikipedia (2010) defines connectivism as “a learning theory for the digital age“. Technology has drastically changed how we learn and provides us with unlimited resources to enhance our learning powers. I have added a link to my mindmap on what I consider my Learning Connections.


Stayed tuned for more reflections on Connectivism within my world of Instructional Design.


Wikipedia (2010). Connectivism(Learning theory). Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectivism_(learning_theory) December 1, 2010.

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Week Two: My Search for References

Reference One: The Brain and Adult Learning

Over the past week, I have been reviewing articles and journals regarding how the brain affects the way we learn as adults. I would like to design new training programs that will capture my adult learners and need to understand how to best achieve this.

After reading thorugh dozens of articles, I came across one by Hill (2001) that captures the essence of my focus. Hill’s discussion regarding the ‘neurology of the brain’ (p.73) provides a good base of knowledge on the brain, as aging occurs. The description is clearly stated, allowing non-medical people a look into the brain.

I found the information regarding ‘content vs. context information’ (Hill, 2001, p.75) particularly insightful, as I had not related content or context as a learning process.

Rote Learning (Wikipedia, 2010) was a new concept to me, and is defined as a technique that utilizes memorization along with repetition. I recognized that learner’s typically learn by intrinsic or extrinsic motivators, but was surprised to discover that emotions played a role in motivation (Hill, 2001, p. 76).

Hill (2001) noted there are several factors that contribute to adult learning. They include: people’s experience, adults typically learn better when attributing to real life situations, positive emotions allow for better recall of information, sensory experiences help activate learning, and connecting learning with existing aids (p.79).

Overall, this article provided me with insights into how adults learn.

Reference Two: Problem Solving Methods

I contstantly look for ways to improve training and reviewing class evaluations, is a way for me to understand the struggles students face. Learning how to problem solve, when it pertains to learning, is something I strive to achieve.

The website: Problem solving (2010) has resources available to guide me through methods, that I can utilize to problem solve. The links found within this website are user friendly, and I pariticularly liked the, “Your Guide & Worksheet for Applying the Complete Method of Creative Problem Solving & Decision Making” (Edmund, 2009).

If you are looking for methods to improve or guide you through problems, I recommend you visit: http://www.problemsolving.net/  

I know that I will use this website as a resource when I need to trouble shoot a problem or need guidance.


Edmund, N. W. (2009). Your Guide & Worksheet for Applying the Complete Method
of Creative Problem Solving & Decision Making (SM-14). In Problem solving online. Retrieved from:  http://www.problemsolving.net/wrksheet.html   November 14, 2010.

 Hill, L. H. (2001). The Brain and Consciousness: Sources of Information for Understanding Adult Learning. New Directions for Adult and ContinuingEducation.89,  73-82. Retrieved from: http://www.fsu.edu/~elps/ae/download/ade5385/Hill.pdf  November 14, 2010.

Problem Solving (2010). The Best Problem Solving Method ever devised. Retrieved from: http://www.problemsolving.net  November 14, 2010.

Rote learning (2010) In Wikipedia online. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rote_learning   November 14, 2010.

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Loving it!

Although I just started blogging last week, I am loving it! Where have I been all this time!

I recently discovered Google reader (thanks to Dr. W) and truly had a WOW moment. I am hooked on it. I subscribed to my fellow learner’s blogs, along with a dozen sites pertaining to instructional design. It is addictingbut easy to follow, as new postings ‘magically’ appear, so the time saved is incredible.

Currently, I am exploring blogs, so stayed tuned.

Who said learning was ‘boring’ !!!

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Week One Blogging Mania!

I am naïve not only to blogs, but also websites such as twitter or face book. I typically utilized the internet for research or when I needed to look up a recipe. My experience grew as I became a paramedic educator, but once again my focus was on specific sites related to Emergency Medical Services. As an instructional designer I want to be able to develop programs that move my students forward within the world we now live, which seems to move quicker than most of us ever realized.

One of the ways I want to improve training for paramedics is to give them more avenues from which to learn.  E learning is an excellent way to provide additional training and reduce classroom time. This is not only cost effective for the ambulance services, but allows the paramedic student the opportunity to learn at their own pace and times convenient to them. The website  http://www.elearninglearning.com/design/  is a good reference point for designing elearning programs. There are numerous links within the site; http://www.elearninglearning.com/design/elearning-strategy/  that will allow me to view tips on strategies related to elearning. There are articles and tips that link with instructional design. As a novice to instructional design I feel this site will answer questions I may have and if not, there are areas that provide direction to searching for the answers needed.

The following site fascinated me when I first logged into it


 It is a very interactive blog that will allow me to post my comments or views when they present new articles or books for review. I like that I am able to follow the site without having to continually re-enter when I ‘appear lost’ on links. Upside learning created the site and it certainly appeals to new designers. One of the articles discusses the 30 top online resources. These resources will increase knowledge as I move forward designing within paramedicine.

My third site http://christytucker.wordpress.com/

This site appeals to me as she is an instructional designer whose blog is easy to follow. I hope to be able to have my blog look similar (with practice). Although it focuses on E-learning, the ‘Ask a question’ section deals with instructional design and a broad spectrum of design issues. The majority of my program development will focus on E-learning so Christy’s experience will certainly be an asset as I learn.

The combination of the sites listed above will jumpstart me into the world of blogging. I encourage you to buckle up and enjoy the ride with me on my journey.


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Welcome to my blog


I look forward to chatting with my fellow learners.

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Novice at Work

Welcome to my blog.

This is my first blog so please be patient while I build the site:)

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