As I study the different learning theories and learning styles, I come to understand how I learn best. There are four major learning theories: behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism and connectivism. Behaviorism operates under the principle that learning is the result of stimulus response and that learning takes place when the intended behavior is observed. On the other hand, the cognitive theory of learning views the learner as an information processor and emphasizes on the mental processes that take place in the learner’s brain in order to understand how learning is achieved. Furthermore, constructivism is based on the assumption that learning is an active and constructive process whereas the learner builds up learning based on his/her own previous experiences (Learning theories knowledgebase, 2011). Moreover, connectivism theorizes that learning takes place by the social network connections that the learner has in a undefined time and space and where the information is unlimited and in constant change (Siemens, 2004). At the same time there are numerous learning styles that help people approach learning in most effective and productive ways.
After reviewing the different learning theories, I am able to look back and analyze some of my learning experiences, as well as understanding how I learn. Although my first learning experiences were based on a behaviorist approach to learning, I had a great deal of learning experiences based on a cognitive and constructivist approaches to education since I have been a formal learner for many years.
I consider myself a linguistic, visual and hands on learner. I’m definitely not an auditory learner. I learn best by reading and writing, viewing and doing. I believe that the fact that I love to read and write, makes the learning task easier. When I need to memorize something I write it, read it and record it. In addition, I tend to remember pictures better than spoken words. I also benefit when I can do the things I’m learning.
I remember than in school it was hard for me just to sit there and listen to the teacher talk and talk with no visual representation whatsoever, especially in the history class. I remember I used to hate this class, but now I love it. The emergence of technology has provided a variety of ways to teach and to present pedagogical material to students in multiple interactive and non traditional ways considering the different learning styles of the learners. Some examples are videos, picture stories, songs, interactive activities, etc. As a result, teachers are provided with numerous tools to enhance the class and pair up their teaching with students’ multiple learning styles.
My teaching and learning are greatly influenced by technology. I use technology for most of the things in my professional and personal life. For example, I work as an academic chair at a technical college in charge of an EFL program and the faculty’s professional development. In order for me to provide the needed professional development to the faculty, I need to be up to date in the latest educational trends. I take advantage of technology in terms of performing the necessary research to keep the faculty informed. I also use a WIKI as a learning community platform to share and communicate materials, activities, events, news, etc., among all the faculty members from the all the different programs we offer. This example shows that technology plays a very important role in my professional life and that my work would not be as effective and time saving as now if I would only relied on only one theory of learning or learning style.
Knowing there are different learning theories and learning styles, I realize that instructional designers and educators must keep up with changing times in terms of teaching, learning and technological advances that would boost their job performance and the way they relate to others. Just think about how would we be able to multitask and reach many people at the same time if technology was ignored?
Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2011, August). Constructivism at Learning-Theories.com. Retrieved August 14th, 2011 from http://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.htmlSiemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Elearnspace. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm