Sunday, July 31, 2011


I remember how I was taught in school.  Everything was memorized and drilled.  I remember I hated the history class because it was extremely boring; especially when my teacher made me memorize a whole bunch of dates that did not have any meaning in my life. 
Now I that I am an educator, I understand the difference between education in the past and now in the 21st century.  I understand that I was taught using a behaviorist approach.  Boghossian (2006) defines behaviorism as the acquisition of knowledge based on external observation of relations between observable stimuli and the responses that follow.  As I began to study at the college level, I could see how the paradigm shifted from memory to critical thinking to reflection and finally to social learning networks. 
In my BA studies I experienced the importance of answering why in class discussions.  This was the result of a cognitive approach to teaching and learning.  Nagowah (2009) defines the cognitive learning theory as the active mental processing of the learner.  It was important for the professor to know what was going on in my mind, rather that the ability to memorize the proposed lesson.
In my MAED and ED. D. studies, my professors were very interested in the experiences I had related to the given material.  Critical reflections were the order of the day.  Their teaching relied on a constructivist view of education.  Nagowah (2009) defines constructivism as a learning theory where the learner actively constructs knowledge out of their experiences in the world.  Each learner generates their own rules through the experience and reflection of things.
In the present, I decided to study online for the first time.  I just found out that connectivism is considered a form of viewing and experiencing learning.  Kop & Hill (2008) define connectivism as a theoretical framework for understanding learning.  According to this theory, learning begins to take place when the learner connects the knowledge to a learning community and feeds information to it as well.  In this same line of thought, a learning community is the relationship between learners of similar interests in which they interact, share, talk, and think together. 
Now I realize how my learning networks (see mind map) have changed.  In the past I needed to be sitting in a classroom in order to learn.  Now with the nonstop evolution of a variety of technologies, I have learned how to access knowledge breaking the barrier of time and space.  I have incorporated these technologies in all aspects of my life such as, work, family, home, community and studies.  Every day I use technologies such as the cell phone, computer, internet, Ipod, among other advances that make my life and my learning easier to achieve. 
The technology that I use the most is the internet incorporated in my cell phone.  I am always connected to my job and my studies through this technology.  If I have any questions about how to get to some place, how to pronounce a word, the meaning of a word, anything that I need to know, I just search the internet and find a body of knowledge from different perspectives to answer any question I might have. 
Connectivism depicts how I and many people learn constantly, anytime and anywhere.  I relate the connectivism theory and my learning networks (see the mind map above) to Bronfrenbrenner’s Ecological Theory.  This theory states that a person learns and develops through his or her social and cultural interactions through five main environmental systems: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosytem, and chronosystem.  In other words, learning and development is the result of internal and external relationships that extend to all that relates to each of these relationships; individually and collectively.
In conclusion, it is imperative that educators and instructional designers become aware that there are many ways to approach learning and using an eclectic method that combines many forms would be the most effective way to create successful learning experiences. 
We learn from everything and everyone anywhere and anytime.           
Boghossian, P.  (2006).  Behaviorism, constructivism, and socratic pedagogy.  Educational Philosophy and Theory 38 (6). 
Kop, R.  & Hill, A.  (2008).  Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?  International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning (9) 3.   
Nagowah, L.  (2009).  A reflection on the dominant learning theories: Behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism.  International Journal of Learning 16 (2).  
Oswalt, A.  (2008).  Urie Bronfrenbrenner and child development.  Mental Help Net.  Retrieved from  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Brain Based Learning

Worden, Hinton & Fischer (2011) indicate the dangers of ignoring neuroscience studies regarding the brain and learning.  According to these authors, there is an emerging field of Mind, Brain and Education also known as MBE which dedicates its efforts in studying the relationship between the brain and leaning separating myths from facts in these areas of study.  
These are the most common myths about the brain and learning:
1)       The brain is irrelevant in learning.
2)      Neuroscientists know it all and teachers don’t understand research.
3)      Johnny is right brained and that is why…
4)      Everyone knows you can’t learn a language after age _____.
5)       Girls are better at reading, but boys dominate math and science.
These are common myths that transfer to education practices affecting the teaching and learning process.  Various educational fields such as instructional design need to pay careful attention to brain-based research in order to design appropriate lessons and experiences that match with the most effective ways of learning.    It is clear that the brain has much to do if not everything to do with learning, but there are also many misconceptions about this relationship which need to be cleared before integrating this science into the teaching and learning process.  It is our task to be up to date with neuroscience research. 
Worden, J. M., Hinton, C & Fischer, K. W. (2011, May).  What does the brain have to do with learning?  Kappan Magazine Org.    Phi Delta Kappan.

Problem Solving Skills and Transfer of Knowledge

Bagby &  Sulak (2009) investigated the importance of integrating strategies to promote problem solving skills in education scenarios today through the evaluation of the Montessori learning model.   Today, students not only should master the knowledge provided by the traditional curriculum, but should also learn how to solve problems and transfer the solutions to new situations.  In short, memorization and concept learning are not enough to develop the necessary skills to be functional in society.  The need for a deeper knowledge of skills and the ability to apply this knowledge in real life situations is a must in educational scenarios today. 
Problem solving skills become the higher thinking element that students need today in order to become functional members of society.  For example, there are many jobs today that will not exist in the immediate future, which makes it necessary for students to learn a body of knowledge that involves the ability to solve problems which they may encounter in the workplace and in life.  Students must learn to be able to function in unexpected situations non dependent from mechanical operation, but rather be able to apply of critical and creative thinking skills to deal with unpredictable situations.  This requires that the teaching and learning process moves away from rote learning and moves closer to a depth of understanding in order to judge, evaluate and make decisions about presented issues.  Similarly, the teaching and learning process must be oriented towards the transfer of these problem solving skills in new situations due to the unexpected nature of situations in the present.  Some of the strategies mentioned in the study are the importance of providing students with meaningful and real life experiences leaving space for discovery learning. 
I believe this study is of outmost importance for educators and instructional designers today.  The way we view education and its importance, is the way we will impart it.  I encourage you to read the study and internalize this knowledge into your instructional practices. 
Bagby,  J & Sulak, T.  (2009).  Strategies for promoting problem solving skills and transfer: A qualitative study.  Montessori Life (4), 38-42.        

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Instructional Design Tips

Just after you get your instructional design assignment, there a few questions that need to be answer before getting to work. MaryAn klein instructs us how to prepare for design by answering five essential questions. These questions will facilitate the instructional design task by providing the framework of the organization in order to understand and anticipate the possible change process and resistance to change.  As instructional designers, getting to know the ground before making any decisions is extremely important.  For example, one of the questions addresses the purpose of the solution; is it short term or long term?  Knowing the answer to this question could give us a starting point on how to initiate the change or modification process in the organization.  In addition, it could provide us with some background information and the type of commitment the leaders and the members of the organization have with the company and its future.  Check out this blog for more on instructional design tips or informative and useful articles.

Talking about how we learn...

Talking about how we learn has been a topic for discussion for many years. Theorists, scholars, educators, etc., have always been interested in this topic in order to improve educational practices. The following blog provides a variety of articles about learning.  One of the most interesting articles is 11 ways to learn in 2011. Just as technology advances, in the same way the way we learn is modified. For instructional designers this article is a call to take into consideration the 2011 learners in order to design effective learning experiences.  It is interesting to see how the notion of learning has change through the years.  In the past, learning was seen as the memorization of great amount of content (behaviorist).  Repetition and drills were a normal part of learning without paying any importance to meaningful learning.  Then, meaningful content became a key aspect of learning (cognitive).  Experts began to ask questions related to the processes that took place before, during and after learning.  After these two points of view, a more opened and combined view of learning came into the picture.  The idea that everyone learns differently and each person adapts and assimilates new content to previously existing schemata making the learning experience unique and progressive as new learning accommodates appears to be the norm of the day (constructivist).  Embedded in all these learning theories, we can find new and innovative ideas on how we learn as this article suggests taking learning theories to a whole new level.  Remember to check out the blog.