Life by Design

Course Reflections – EDUC 6115-3

Posted on: December 18, 2009

In this blog posting I will offer my reflection on the ways this course has opened up new awareness for myself with regard to learning, deepened my understanding of my personal learning process, helped me to develop a connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology and motivation, and how the knowledge gained in this course will prove valuable as I enter the field as an instructional designer.

There were many things I found surprising as we progressed through the course’s resources.  First of all, I did not have the appreciation I do now of the complexity and variability of the learning process.  I realize that there is no ‘magic bullet’ when it comes to creating good instructional design and that there is no one size fits all approach.  There has to be a careful and thoughtful analysis of the situation, the learners, the content and the available technology.  Concepts that were entirely new to me include:  connectivism, learning style fluctuation, ARCS theory, multiple intelligences and the idea that learning styles doesn’t carry quite the weight that I thought it did.  I was happy to see that I am a typical adult learner with high needs for relevance and independence.

My own learning process is much more complex than I had originally thought and informed by a large high tech village of resources that didn’t even exist a few years ago.  I can keep learning about how to learn which builds my confidence in tackling new and challenging topics in the future.  I used to be a student who would avoid taking courses I knew would be difficult for me.  I do not view myself that way anymore.

I have learned that there is a strong and valuable connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology and motivation.  Each of these four variables could be put together in a matrix as a useful analytic tool to use when evaluating each new design project.  Learning theory and motivation seem to be at the core of good instructional design.  Learning styles can be taken into account and choices need to be made about the right technological delivery system.  The key to making ‘best practices’ choices depend on a careful understanding of the specific learning situation and the unique needs of the learner.

The best thing this course has given me is an appreciation for the complexity of learning.  I will need to be aware of many things:  the learning styles or preferences of the audience, how to design motivationally, the appropriate use of technology and how to increase comfort with the use of these tools especially for the older adult learner, and how learning theory plays into the mix.  “The Horizon Report” and the ARCS model were especially enjoyable and important for me.  The ARCS model has given me a road map to follow for good motivational design.  I also felt that designing the Learning Theory Matrix was a very useful exercise that I will refer to often. Finally, learning to blog will ensure that I can remain part of an active learning community both giving and receiving information that will help in the construction of new knowledge as the reality of this field continue to change at a rapid pace.

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