Best Practices Guide (Week 7 Assignment)

During this week’s assignment, we were tasked to create a best practices guide for a business manager who is planning to convert their existing training structure to a blended learning environment. I have attached the document I created for this hypothetical situation:

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EDUC 6135 – Week 1: Distance Learning Definition

Just like distance learning itself, my understanding of it is evolving. Despite being immersed in type of education for quite some time, I have witnessed distance learning adapt and grow based upon the technology that it uses. It seems to have become less of a fringe style and more of a viable and common option. Through participating in distance learning as both a student and administrator, I have adapted to some of its shortcomings in the real time connection realm, while embraced its overwhelming accessibility and the new opportunities it creates.

I learned a great deal this week about the truly intricate and ever-changing world of distance learning. I enjoyed reading about the theory and historical context regarding this pillar of education. This has significantly informed my understanding of this topic. A few years ago, I remember reading about the logistics of online learning in the advent of internet and being in awe of its functionality, as I had previously considered it to be a recent invention. Even when computers were an extraordinarily distant future invention over a century ago, the ideology of distance learning existed and its roots modestly grew over time to help influence today’s structure (Simonson, Smaldino & Zvacek, 2015).

In addressing Moore’s theory of independent study, Simonson, Smaldino and Zvacek (2015) explain that “in distance education, there is a gap between teacher and student, so the student must accept a high degree of responsibility for the conduct of the learning program” (p. 43). While I had previously considered the high degree of self-discipline that the student must adhere to, I had seldom thought about the facilitator’s role in setting up the student for success in this regard.

I’ve realized this week that my previous definition of distance learning was largely comparing it to physical classroom learning and the components it may lack. However, I’ve learned this week about its unique and separate structure. In an ideal distance learning model, the facilitator should work to overcome inherent restrictions and establish meaningful unity between all involved parties and materials to encourage growth (Simonson, Smaldino & Zvacek, 2015).

My vision of distance learning is that it must diligently stay in tune with the rapidly altering world of technology. As our relationship and reliance on technology continues to increase, the way we interact with each other will also change. By being mindful of this and promoting inclusiveness, distance learning can continue to elevate, while still maintaining its core structure separate from the modern technology that sometimes seems to encompass it.

New-Mind-Map

 

Resources:

Simonson, M. R., Smaldino, S. E., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Charlotte, NC: IAP, Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Week 8 Reflection – EDUC 6115

EDUC 6115 was an enriching experience that significantly broadened my perspective on the different intersecting ways that people learn. I was surprised to see how many different learning theories, styles and strategies resonated with me personally or reminded me of previous interactions with peers about how they learn. This illustrates the complicated and often overlapping ideas about how we learn, why we learn and, finally, how we can shape this process – either through means of our own educational journey or as that architect of instructional materials.

This course deepened my comprehension of my personal learning process insofar as I will now be cognizant of how I learn and what steps I can take to be a more efficient learner. As technology and its influx of readily available information steadily become a prominent factor in all types of learning. Creating the web diagram of the different sources of knowledge that I am constantly immersed in was a productive exercise in understanding the full scope of this reality.

I will recall upon these ideas for the rest of my life, not just limited to the rest of my educational institution endeavors. One of the biggest concepts that has been revelatory to me over these several weeks is the idea of how to approach learning in a classroom consisting of students with diverse learning backgrounds without excluding anybody. Kapp explains that “what we need is to take the best from each philosophy and use it wisely to create solid educational experiences for our learners” (Kapp, 2007). Though, the turning point in my comprehension of this quandary was Glenn’s argument that “Glenn argues that “teachers should worry about matching their instruction to the content they are teaching” (Glenn, 2009). Exploring this mentality, in addition to all the other fascinating ideas from his colleagues, will allow me to create effective learning content and will help immensely in my upcoming path towards the instructional design field.

 

Resources:

Glenn, D. (2009, December 15). Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help Students. Retrieved April 11, 2017, from http://www.chronicle.com/article/MatchingTeachingStyleto/49497/

Kapp, K. (2007, January 02). Out and About: Discussion on Educational Schools of Thought [Web log post]. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://karlkapp.com/out-and-about-discussion-on-educational

Week 7 Reflection – Newfound Perspective on Learning Theories

Over the past several weeks, my understanding of learning theories has broadened significantly. By discovering the intricacies and context of these ideas, I was able to understand the dialogue between differing viewpoints in a constantly changing framework that these theories inhabit. I found it interesting to see the traces of some of the pillars of learning theories adopted in newer schools of thought that adapt to our shiny new media landscape.

One of the factors that stood out to me in relation to how I personally learn is the emerging technologies that fuel certain newer learning theories, such as Adult Learning. I recalled the slow learning shift to online classrooms that I experienced in my early twenties during my undergraduate classes. It seemed like a nearly seamless change at the time, but it was enlightening to read about the biological background behind how my preferred method of learning evolved.

This course has reinforced the influence that technology has on how (and how often) I learn. It made me more aware of and allowed me to visualize the complex system in which I attain information. My goal is to be more discerning about the sources and to strive towards maintaining a diverse web of knowledge, as it can be tempting to remain stagnant and accustomed to my own perspective. In discussing the technological function in regards to the Adult Learning theory, Merriam indicated that “Globalization and communications technology have resulted in adult educators in the West becoming more aware of diverse worldviews and epistemologies regarding learning and knowing” (Merriam, pg. 96, 2008). I found this larger idea, that pertains to far more than the confines of this particular learning theory, to be uplifting and powerful. Embracing this mentality will allow me to be a better student, in addition to designer of instructional and learning content.

Resources:

Merriam, S. B. (2008). Adult learning theory for the twenty-first century. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 119, 93–98.

Mindmap Reflection

I found it to be beneficial and enlightening to map out the various ways in which I learn. I became mindful of how learning can seem to be a constant flow in our lives, especially in an age where one can be inundated with stimuli. As I was creating this diagram, I started to weigh the substance of each source and how beneficial each might be. I realized that much knowledge is certainly situational, but I became increasingly interested in how these types of information overlap and intersect with each other. I will now be more cognizant of the relationship these connections have or do not have with each other. This will allow me to think more critically about how I learn and establish effective strategies and anticipate resistance to change.

The digital tools that best facilitate learning for me, in broader terms, are the ever-prevalent online social forums of interaction, namely Reddit. I find myself absorbing an enormous amount of knowledge from this particular source. I feel that much information from the online sector of my mindmap end up spreading to many of the other sections.

I think my knowledge acquisition largely depends on the environment or context I am in, though the online category is omnipresent throughout. It is interesting to think how our instincts towards asking questions has been so drastically impacted by technology and its ability to immerse us in a world of constantly available information.

My personal learning mindmap aligns with connectivism, as it illustrates the constant interactions between different learning connections and emphasizes the necessary need to discern between such an influx of knowledge. George Siemens explains that “connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations” (Siemens, 2004). This exercise was a compelling snapshot of our current learning climate. I would be curious to map out learning connections from previous stages in my life and identify the possible advantages or disadvantages that a simpler mindmap might contain.

Sources:

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. [online]. Retrieved April 8, 2017 from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

A Few Intriguing Articles About Information Processing

  • “On the Brain Basis of Digital Daze in Millennial Minds: Rejoinder to ‘Digital Technology and Student Cognitive Development: The Neuroscience of the University Classroom’” by Timothy Brown

I was initially drawn to this article due to its eloquent title. It is a fascinating introspective of how modern technology impacts our ability to process information. It is a rejoinder to an article in the same journal and expands upon the disparity between how are brain is wired and the amount of stimulation and multi-tasking we are exposed to in this rapidly evolving era of multimedia. It’s a difficult issue to grasp because students are immersed into this world early on and it’s seemingly an unavoidable relationship. This essay dives into what could be the long-term effects and if we can gracefully evolve.

 

  • “Capacity Limits of Information Processing in the Brain” by René Marois

This article is somewhat connected to the previous, as it explores the limitations our brain has for processing in a world with sometimes overwhelming stimuli. The theme of how multi-tasking impacts our ability to concentrate and function is also present in this study. It is especially topical, as our relationship with technology continues to evolve at a fast pace, sometimes boosting our confidence in processing information. This exploration of why the brain’s limitations that frequently hinder our self-realized poise is a compelling reality check.

Resources

Brown, T. T. (2016). On the Brain Basis of Digital Daze in Millennial Minds: Rejoinder to “Digital Technology and Student Cognitive Development: The Neuroscience of the University Classroom”. Journal of Management Education, 40(4), 411-414. Retrieved March 18, 2017, from journals.sagepub.com/home/jme.

Marois, R. (2005). Apacity Limits of Information Processing in the Brain. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(1), 30-33. Retrieved March 18, 2017, from https://www.phikappaphi.org/publications-resources/phi-kappa-phi-forum.

Innovation In Online Learning

ID blogger extraordinaire, Cathy Moore, recently wrote a blog entry entitled, How To Really Involve Learners. The insight in this article is especially useful as online learning is becoming increasingly commonplace. It is wise to strengthen the advantages and combat the negative stigma that online curriculum can sometimes carry in our society at large. Moore suggests continually providing hands-on contextual activities intertwined with learning, rather than the standard stream of information concluded with an application of skills (Moore, 2017). Allowing students to be sprung into a new environment and not immediately be inundated with the static instruction is a compelling strategy. Instead, learners can maneuver through this unknown territory and naturally learn from mistakes.

I would be curious as to how malleable the structure of this curriculum would be. There may be students who, even after trying out an innovative new learning strategy, would prefer to revert back to a self-learning style they’ve grown accustomed to. In developing an immersive, fluid structure, I might try to envision if students could develop their own hybrid educational model within the new construct. If so, would it disrupt the overall experience for other students?

Resources

Moore, C. (2017, March 13). How to really involve learners [Web log post]. Retrieved March 18, 2017, from http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2017/03/how-to-really-involve-learners/

Instructional Design Blog Recommendations

The tagline of Cathy Moore’s blog is “Let’s Save The World From Boring Training!” This is a fitting motto for a collection of inspiring and cutting edge ideas about how to make learning materials new and exciting, while still emphasizing effectiveness. The humor balanced with insight from this experienced training designer establishes a unique voice that is pleasant and informative. I appreciate how the information is concisely sectioned and presented in an easy-to-read and conversational manner. These are all valuable components that I would aim to implement in the content I create.

This blog is operated by a communications consultant named Garr Reynolds, who has pioneered a fascinating instructional design vision by combining the art of communication and Japanese Zen arts. His ability to put a spotlight on ideas that are sometimes commonplace and offer his unique commentary regarding how it relates to his school of thought is valuable and refreshing. I also enjoy the recurring theme of storytelling throughout many of the posts, as so much of communication as a whole and learning technology does rely on our integral ability to effectively tell a story to others. This ability is an important tool that I will be sure to keep in mind when creating e-learning materials.

E-Learning Provocateur is run by an Australian learning experience designer and features concise articles with an enormous amount of depth. I enjoy this blog greatly due to its candid style. It often reads more like a journal or editorial from someone in the instructional design industry, rather than a mosaic of articles. Like the previous two blogs I’ve recommended, I appreciate that he’s able to interweave modern technologies and ideas within his commentaries on instructional design. It allows me to see the larger, less-isolated spectrum that learning inhabits in society. He’s had several recent posts discussing the use of virtual reality in the ID realm, which is compelling.