Wrapping up the Theories

As I approach the end of my Learning Theories and Instruction course, I appreciate the insight I’ve gained from this class.  Prior to this course, I focused on learning style: auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc.  This course has changed how I view the theories related to learning, and I realize that there’s a closer link to the psychology of learning than I had previously understood.

I mentioned in a previous blog that each learning theory I studied would elicit a reaction of “that’s the best style for me.” The real insight I gained in this class is that all the learning theories – Behaviorist, Cognitive, Constructivist, Connectivism, and Adult learning theory each have an application that best utilizes that theory.

I’ve learned a great deal about my learning style, and also my son’s style of learning. When working with my son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, I found the work of Vygotsky to be very helpful in understanding some of the challenges my son faces. Vygotsky’s stress of social factors in learning is key to helping my understanding. I’ve never analyzed the learning process in terms of social interactions and a socially mediation. Given the social deficiencies implicit with Asperger’s, I found this theory to be especially insightful to understanding on-going issues. I also gained a much better understanding of the applied behavior analysis (ABA) approach. I’ve always considered this approach best suited for small children and children that showed extreme deficits of basic skills. I have a much better understanding that ABA can be an effective strategy to change behavior with older learners, including adults.

In regards to my own personal style, the style I identify with most is Connectivism. I rely on an evolving network that I use for my learning. I think that this may be true for many learners, especially those that are using online learning. Examining the theory of Connectivism has been the most central theory that affects my skills as an instructional designer, especially because so much of my instructional design work is computer based.

Ultimately, one of the theories that I found most applicable to my work is the Adult Learning theories. I find that the ideas for increasing motivation, especially the ARCS model is especially critical to making online learning better for learners. It helps me understand that I need to factor the motivation of learners and better understand how making small changes to materials can make them more appealing to users and more likely to actually complete a course.

I found the application of technology to be both interesting and challenging. Again, I think I’ve focused on a very narrow window of technology. This course has given me an opportunity to discover new and changing technology, such as mobile apps, personalized internets, and game theory. I look forward to exploring these theories as they become readily available to utilize in our instructional design.

Ultimately, I think this was a wonderful class for laying the foundation for becoming a more effective instructional designer. I’m excited to see how I can use analysis to determine which learning theory best applies to my future course materials and realize that I’m now open to utilizing more theories, instead of falling back on the tried and true methods I may have employed in the past.

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