|Reflecting on a terrific trip - photo by Tischann 2011|
As a professional educator, learning theories have been a topic of conversation and professional development classes throughout my career. However, this much exposure to the topic only added to my level of development throughout this course. So much of the K-12 educational world is consumed with learning styles. I found it surprising to realize that I too had confused learning styles and methods for learning theories. Through the structured readings and chronological discovery of learning theory developments, I gained an understanding of how human learning develops over time from behavioral and cognitive means into social and adult learning.
|Reflecting Pool - Denver Botanical Gardens|
photo by Tischann 2010 (modified using Photosketch iPad app)
While technology has an immediate engagement factor when first adopted in the classroom, engagement in the technology does not always equal learning. Today’s students are constantly bombarded with digital media and without careful designing of the classroom content, classroom environment (both physical and virtual) and the scaffolding of skills and learning methods, technology easily becomes a toy instead of a tool. When this happens a valuable opportunity to connect the learner to meaning is lost. As teachers adopt new technologies, the focus must always be on the learning outcomes and then matching the best instructional practices to those goals. Sometimes the best methods negate the use of technology entirely. Pursuing the use of technology for technology’s sake, or for engagement alone is a dangerous habit that performs a disservice to our students.
This course and the valuable discussions posted by my fellow scholars has helped me as I begin to step into the role of an Instructional Designer with blended learning. During the last three weeks of the course, my title and role changed at my office and a very large instructional design project has been given to me to author and implement. As I read the materials in those weeks and watched the media provided, I gained a single view of the content. However, as I read how others viewed the ideas and conversations evolved, the material became immediately applicable to the challenge I currently face. The concepts on motivating learners, matching learning methods to content, and connecting with learners to meet their needs will assist me greatly moving forward.