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.