Two Courses Down… What Have I Learned So Far?

As I just finished up my second course in my Masters Degree in Instructional Design and Technology, which I passed with an A (I have to brag a little!), I want to stop and reflect for a moment on what I have learned so far.

I was sitting around a fire pit with friends the other night and a 16-year-old sophomore started talking about under water dragons or dinosaurs. She was fascinated with the subject and started telling us all these different facts. When we inquired where she learned all of this she said that she initially saw it on TV, but she was so intrigued that she Googled it and read more about them. This was an “ah ha” moment for me, connecting what I have learned about how children, and adults really, are learning in such a different world than they ever have before. They have access to all of this information at their finger tips, and when the motivation is right, they can learn about any topic by simply using a search engine. What an amazing tool that could be used within the world of education. We need to take advantage of this new way of learning and not avoid it.

Change is happening! Change is ALWAYS happening. It is the one thing we can always rely on – Change! So, as we develop instruction for any field we must consider the learners and the channels which they typically use to gather information. If we are using out of date, dinosaur aged technology will we ever really be effective in helping these learners to grasp our curriculum? I don’t think so. If they are bored with how we present the information, then it may not matter what the information is. There must be a change in the mindset of instructional design to meet the needs of this new generation of learners! It’s an exciting time to enter this field!

So, change and technology… and the theory behind both, this is what we have gotten through so far. So much more to learn!

My Learning Networks

“Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical.” (Siemens, 2004)

In reading about connectivism I find myself fascinated with how it describes the clear process that so many people take now when there is something they want to learn. In every day conversations, when a question arises that no one knows the answer to, inevitably someone will say, “Google it!” This is the world we now live in.

The assignment this week in my Learning Theories and Instruction course at Walden University was to create a mind map of my network connections. Basically, break down how you learn and from what nodes I gain knowledge. I tackled this assignment from the same aspect that I typically attach writing my goals on an annual basis; I looked at the same areas of life as I set my goals: career, education, health, social, financial and emotional/spiritual. In looking at each of the areas I then started asking myself, how do I learn and grow in my ability to meet me goals in these areas. The resulting mind map can be seen in this post.

As I created the mind map, and thought about how technology has changed the way I learn, I see how even in the past few months through my courses at Walden University, I have become more equipped to learn in a vast, ever-changing world. I have been in the ID field for the past 5 years, and I have learned more in the past 4 months than in the rest of this time. Why? Because I have been introduced to the world of connectivism through blogs, online journals, and other technological resources, like mind maps, that have changed the way I look at how I learn. I would say that I have found the use of blogs and conversations with other ID professionals, even through the posts in my courses, the most beneficial. Learning from others and their experiences and having constructive conversation around the topics that are affecting my career and education has allowed me to grow in both my knowledge level and skills needed to be the best I can be at what I do.

As I look at my personal learning network through my mind map, I have to agree that connectivism is a part of the learning scene now and that cannot be denied. One of the principles of connectivism is that “learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions” (Davis, Edmunds, & Bateman, 2008). I can see this in my mind map as I notice that I learn so much from others. I believe that having my opinion is important but when I hear from others through a variety of resources, their opinions are able to affect my own and sometime change them completely. Another principle is that “learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources” (Davis, Edmunds, & Bateman, 2008). My mind map is pretty extensive and clearly shows this principle of many nodes or information sources being used to learn.

The clearest principle I am able to see by looking at my mind map of my personal learning network is that “nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning” (Davis, Edmunds, & Bateman, 2008). If I did not have the connections that I have, my learning would not be able to grow as effectively as it would with them.  The truth of the matter is that in this day and age, “the span of time between learning something new, being able to apply it, and finding that it is outdated and no longer useful continues to decrease” (Davis, Edmunds, & Bateman, 2008). So, not nurturing and maintaining connections would mean losing out on the new and improved ways of thinking and doing things. We must always be thinking and improving as instructional designers. Connectivism seems to give a clear picture of how we can do this.

References:

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

Siemens, G. (2004, December) Connectivism: a learning theory for the digital age. Elearnspace, everything elearning. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Blogs I Follow

“Thousands of accomplished educators are now writing blogs about teaching and learning, bringing transparency to both the art and the science of their practice… And all of this collective knowledge is readily available for free” (Ferriter, 2009). What an incredible truth! I am so excited to begin participating in this knowledge field – both to contribute through my own blog, The Arch of Learning, and to start taking advantage of all of the resources available to me.

As I started doing some research for l blogs to follow in the field of Instructional Design, I found there are a lot to choose from. I have chosen to follow a number of blogs, but I wanted to share three of them here and give a brief description of each one and how I feel they can give me an advantage and help me to be the best in my place in the instructional design world.

The first blog site is The Learning Circuits Blog. This is a blog that is a community feature of Learning Circuits which is a newsletter from ASTD. The site allows anyone in the training and development field to share ideas and opinions about the state of learning and technology. Anyone can post on the blog and comment on the blogs posted. The latest blog post “Face Up To It: Are You the CBT Lady?” had me laughing as I have had similar experiences as the ones described in the blog. As I perused the other blog posts I knew I would have to follow this one. It has relevant information to the field and will give multiple viewpoints as it is an open forum as opposed to being just one author. I also like the idea of being able to post on the blog itself. Maybe one day I will get my confidence to the point of feeling I can do so!

The second blog I would like to share is online learning insights. This blog is authored by Debbie Morrison. I was drawn to this blog because of the content, focusing on online learning as well as the volume, as Debbie seems to post to her blog on a regular basis. The topics of her blogs drew me in and made me think more about online learning in my world. I like that Debbie is an instructional designer in a world much like mine. It makes me feel as though I could not only learn from what she has to say but that I can also contribute to the conversation.

The final blog I will list here is Allison Rossett. The name of the blog is the same as the author. She is a consultant in training and technology-based performance. I am immediately drawn to her because I would like to have this title myself one day. She also has an impressive list of credentials and experience. I feel as though I can learn a lot from Allison about the field of instructional design and this is why I am following her blog. Her most recent blog post “Consulting with executives to turn technology investments into results” drew me in right away! This is a topic, ROI, that is important in the field of Training and Development. The topics covered in the blog are varied throughout the T&D field and how it can be made more effective. This will definitely be one worth following!

There are a large number of other blog sites that I have bookmarked and started following. I feel as though I will find which ones will be most relevant to me in the coming weeks as I check in with my Google Reader. I will keep you posted. 🙂

References:

Ferriter, B. (2009). Learning with blogs and wikis. Educational Leadership, 66(5), 34–38.