In this course I had the opportunity to refresh existing knowledge and learn new information that has opened my eyes to how people learn in a more effective manner. For instance, this is not the first time I have studied the learning theories; however, through this course I had the chance to review that prior knowledge and update it. One thing that surprised me was the connectivism theory. The extent of my knowledge was only to constructivism and reconstructivism, so I had no idea this theory existed. It was amazing to find out that people not only learn by personal experiences and their zone of proximal development, but they also acquire knowledge throughout the social connections they make on site and from a distance using technology. Based on this information, I was able to relate the Ecological Theory of Urie Bronfenbrenner to this social learning.
The resources provided in the course also made me think about how the learning philosophies and theories have evolved. For example, in the past theorists were able to list without doubt the information that should be learned and how this data was exact. Now, the information is too much for people to control and process as irrefutable facts because it is in constant change. In addition, no one holds the truth and everyone is an expert. Additionally, everyone has access to it anywhere and anytime. As a result, knowledge becomes a common asset for everybody which takes the learning task to a new level. As learning becomes accessible, it changes the way we work with the information in terms of handling and interchanging data. By this I mean how the information is access, processed, attained and passed on to others as a never ending cycle that grows and shrinks constantly being modified by each person it encounters.
To illustrate, I need to do a paper on the Spanish-American War. I search the information in the net to do my paper but I already have first hand information about the war because my great grandfather was a participant. The information I search contradicts some of the information I already have. I log in to a blog of people who are experts on war conflicts. From this site I am able to write a paper that is the product of the combination of information that I found about this particular war. At the end, I will have a paper that was not only based on my knowledge and experiences, but it will be the result of all the knowledge and experiences that others had in my search for the truth. At the same time, it will be difficult for me and the readers to determine the accuracy of my words and how skillful I could be to include or exclude what might be useful or not useful information. In other words, this example shows how difficult the learning tasks have become with the overload of information and the presence of technology in the process.
The previous example demonstrates how this course has deepened my learning process. I am aware now that learning has become more accessible, but at the same time more difficult. Knowing this, It had made me reflect that I need to be more prepared to design learning experiences for others in order to guarantee learning. With the intention of designing effective learning experiences, it is imperative that I have knowledge of the different learning theories so that I can understand how people process information more effectively thus they could achieve the proposed objectives. Furthermore, I also need to have a deep understanding of the different learning styles so I can pair up the way people learn best to the way I present the learning material.
One way of presenting the learning material is using the numerous technologies that exist and that can be positive and useful tools for learning. In the same way, I recognize that motivation in learning is the key to success. Regardless of the environment where learning is taking place; in a classroom or online, motivation is the drive that moves people to acquire knowledge. I need to pay close attention to the things that motivate learners internally and externally. As an instructional designer, I can create a motivating environment for learners to feel comfortable enough affecting their readiness to learn. Correspondingly, I must provide learners with enough external stimuli to feel satisfied with the learning experience influencing the way see themselves achieving their goals.
This course has helped me make all these connections such as the links between the learning theories and styles, technology, motivation and how I design learning experiences. I understand that the planning, designing, development and evaluation of learning experiences for learners have to be linked to these factors in order for learning to take place and that these factors are the foundation for learning to be effective furthering my role as an instructional designer.