When I started this course I had the expectation of getting a lot of answers to how I should do the teaching, so the student would learn a lot and finish the course. That did not happen, since (and I do know that) there are no simple answers or solutions to how things should be done. There is no panacea, no “one solution fix it all”, but there are different models and theories that can give directions of how to design a course, so it appeals to many students.

Looking back on what we study, I would not say that I found things surprising or striking when it comes to how people learn. I knew before this course that people learn in different ways, but for me, that meant that people have to find out about their learning style and be mature enough to apply that knowledge to their study. I also knew that I, as a teacher, can implement a course in a different way to meet these different styles. The thing I found most interesting, has been about the brain, and the fact that involving many parts of the brain functionality help me to remember more. Then add some emotions to that will increase it even more (Laureate Education, Inc., N.A). So, it is not so much about the students to understand their learning style (even if that would help them). The importance is that I, as a teacher, make sure to use all learning styles when teaching the subject in a course, and to make it fun, since that will help them remember (learning) more.

This course has of course given me a deeper understanding of my own personal learning process. I wrote in the first discussion post that I believed I was a cognitivist. Before I started this course I had read about different learning styles like audio, visual and kinesthetic. I had also met the word behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism but never really understood what it meant. Now, after also meeting the theories around social learning, connectivism and adult learning, I understand more and realized I am not a cognitivist only, since there is not one theory that explains it all. All theories are important, but they act as a filter for understanding learning (Kerr, 2007). Meaning that all theories will apply to my learning process depending on the subject and how new it is to me, and where in the process I am.

So, what have I learned? I have learned that it all is connected, and we need to use it all in a well mix. From learning theories, we have the importance of the environment but also other people and the interaction between those and the learner. We also find the knowledge of how we response to stimuli, but also need metacognition and problem-solving together with a social network to learn. It is also important to apply knowledge in different contexts, and if we are talking about adult learners they need to see the relevance to their job or life (Ertmer & Newby, 1993; Conlan et al., 2003). Add that knowledge to learning styles, that more “refers to the way the brain perceives and processes what it needs to learn” (Tomlinson, 2012). Whether we talk about VAK (visual, audio, kinesthetic) or MI (naturalist, interpersonal, logic/mathematical, spatial/visual, intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, musical and linguistic) it comes down to the brain and mentioned above, the more the brain has to work (encoding in a different way) the more we learn (remember). So we take these different parts that a learner need to experience in a course, and use technology to help the learner to activate the brain and to connect to reality. I wrote in the discussion in week 6, “Technology is a tool and should be used according to the syllabus and objectives of a course. We should never use technology just because it is available. Today almost every professional is using technology in their work and not only for emailing or writing documents. Because of that, students should use this technology when they learn that profession. Using the tool in that way is how the constructivism would suggest us to work with learning. To use realistic settings and tasks that are relevant (Ertmer & Newby, 1993)”. Using all this in a sufficient way will help us to create courses that help learners to feel motivated. Although, I can not control that motivation. If students are in a course of the wrong reasons (motivation), then we might be lucky to make them actually interested in our course.

“It is too easy to reject an approach because it does not resonate with our personal experiences of learning and teaching. This shuts out the possibility not only of other people having very different experiences but also of opening ourselves to challenging new explanations of learning, which may demand that we step away from our personal worlds of comfortable beliefs and values.” (Foley, 2004). I used this quote in week 5, and I like it. It challenges me as a teacher (and an instructional designer) to look at different ways of designing a course and in that design challenge students to step out of their comfort zone and find new ways of learning, but also that they might learn more than they thought was possible. The challenge is also to help students to use their life experience and learn from them, and from others life experience (Foley, 2004, p. 60).

 

References

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4),50-71.

Foley, G. (Ed.). (2004). Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. McGraw-Hill Education. Chapter 4, “Understanding Adult Learners” by Tara Fenwick and Mark Tennant (pp.55-73), Chapter 11, ” On-line Adult Learning” by Bruce  Spencer (pp.189-200)

Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from http://billkerr2.blogspot.se/2007/01/isms-as-filter-not-blinker.html

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (N.A). Information Processing and the Brain [DVD]. In Series Title. Baltimore, MD: Author

Tomlinson, C.A., Parrish, W.C. (2012, March 25). Presentation presented at ASCD Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA. Retrieved from http://www.caroltomlinson.com/Presentations/2012ASCD_LearningStyleControversy.pdf

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