The Theory of Theories

As I began this class on theories related to Instructional Design, I’d read a new theory and think “that’s the theory that best applies to my learning style.” But as I spent more time studying different learning theories, I realized that there is no one theory that describes my style. I learn using a variety of methods, technologies, social networks, etc.  My style adapts to the learning situation and the resources and technologies available.

I’ve always assumed that my learning is most effective when giving an opportunity to self-direct the process, to have as much control over learning as possible. It’s one of the reasons I’ve always embraced computer-based classes. I thought it was essential to have the ability to navigate at my own speed and pace through materials, deciding what was important and what I already knew.

I underestimated the importance that social interactions have on the learning process. I realize that effective training has to provide an opportunity to discuss and learn from peers, to discover new information, and to learn to search for information in different ways. My former idea of the perfect computer based training simulation didn’t offer any of those options. It was a higher tech version of the behaviorist model for learning.

My learning network has changed dramatically, as has my expectations for creating useful training materials. I’m much more cognizant of the importance of social groups for learners and instructors. I believe it’s critical to build in exploration of a topic for a learner. My assumption of what a learner needs is not always definitive.

I’m excited by the role that technology plays in my learning and in the future application for my instructional design. My network of information has expanded to include discussion groups, peer conversations via Skype, searches of educational databases and libraries, combined with the software tools to create more effective training – learning management systems, blogging, etc. I’m excited about changes that are on the horizon for technology and especially excited about how these changes will affect my future work.

In the not too distant future, I can imagine offering training classes that incorporate tablet computing for remote users. I can picture courses that include game based learning, and better/smarter personalized web searches.

This course illustrated how little I actually knew about learning styles – my own and others. It’s been an eye-opening experience that will help me with my work towards my Master’s degree and, I hope, ultimately make me a better instructional designer.





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