Distance Learning

distanceLearning

Prior Definition of Distance Learning

I learned about distance learning when I started my career in higher education in 2003. Before this time I thought distance learning was a correspondence study for the student to be able to complete a high school diploma or for a technical career like data entry. In college, I did an independent study in which I meet with the instructor once or twice a week. So, my thought was that this was moved to electronic correspondence where the student will email the information instead of meeting them face to face. However, when I started working in higher education, I learned more and decided to start my Master’s degree online. Since then I have only taken online classes; first for an MBA degree and now for Instructional design.

So before this course, I think I have defined distance learning as an opportunity for working professionals to continue their career education by internet from anywhere and at any time. In the past, I viewed distance education as self-study where the instructor will provide assignments for you to complete at your own pace and you will submit them by correspondence whether through snail mail or electronically.   Further, I would probably say that my prior definition only applied to students trying to get a GED or for higher education self-study opportunity.

As a freshman college student my first view or experience with “distance education” was an independent study class. The instructor will provide me with the guided reading, and I will complete assignments and send them by email. Also, I will meet with the instructor to take any test. I took several independent courses because it provided me with flexibility and I felt I was getting individualize attention and interaction with the instructor. To me, they were more efficient than the once I took in the classroom. According to Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek (2012), “The day is coming when the work done by correspondence will be greater in amount than that done in the classrooms of our academies and colleges”.

New Perspectives

Distance education has been defined as an institution based education, where groups of learners are separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect students with resources and instructors. (Simonson et. al. (2012). It is also important to understand the four characteristics that distinguish distance education. Distance education is carried out by institutions; they are not self-study or nonacademic learning environment. There’s geographic separation and interactive telecommunications connect the learning group with each other and the teacher. (Simonson et. al. p. 31 (2012). It establishes a learning community which is composed of students, teacher, and instructional resources. (Simonson et. al. (2012). “Distance education uses technology to mediate the necessary two -way communication”. (Simonson et. al. p. 35(2012). Moreover, interaction can happen synchronous or asynchronous, but it must be two-way even though there’s physical separation between learners and the teacher

New definition

After reading chapter 1 of this week reading, my new definition of distance education is an institution based formal academic education of individuals within an accredited organization which learners are physically separated from the teacher. Learning occurs from anywhere and anytime by interacting, collaborating and sharing information/knowledge with each other via web-based tools. The original target group of distance education was busy professionals with social and family commitment, and this remains the primary target group today, although it has been adopted by K-12 and training and development because it provides the individuality of learning, flexibility in both time and place. I think distance education will continue to grow as new technologies are emerging, it will become the biggest form of education and training because technology and globalization is reshaping the learning styles for students, corporate and K-12.

References:

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C., (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implication for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K-12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63-67. Academic Search Complete database.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implication for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70-75. Academic Search Complete database.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.

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Reflection

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What did you find surprising or striking as you furthered your knowledge about how people learn?

This course gave me the opportunity to rediscover and learn and understand my learning style and strategies.  It provided me with a better understanding of the different learning styles and theories. What I found surprising was the idea that as an instructional designer you can increase the motivation level in the learner. Instruction designers can achieve learning environments and stimulate and sustain motivation, even though they cannot control it. The learner is the one responsible for their motivation, but it is clear that the environment can have a strong impact on both the direction and intensity of a person’s motivation. Furthermore, constructivism and social learning theories are very enlightening. The information about learning constructivist theories brings an understanding of the circumstance in which learning occurs and the social contexts that learners bring to the learning environment. The learning theories give a good foundation on the academic level and developments in the motivational research area, and the ARCS Model makes it possible to apply it to the online learning environment.  I was also surprised to learn that I am also a social learner.  I am a very private person and didn’t consider myself a social learner, however, I have learned that I enjoy more socializing in an online platform than in the classroom or a  face-to-face contact. I also learned that I use cognitive theory when understanding new content which is why I choose demonstrations and examples to learn new ideas and course material.

How has this course deepened your understanding of your personal learning process?

This course has helped me better understand my personal learning process, style and, techniques I can use to help myself.  It was quite interesting learning, the learning style of adult learners because I see I exhibit many qualities and, I also see those qualities in the students I help as a program coordinator. For instance, self-direct learning can be applied immediately to a real situation in life.  Not only was I very connected with adult learners I also found connectivism very enlightening because it helped me understand my learning process. These theories have given me a great knowledge and as a result, I understand that I have an active role in the learning environment. I really enjoyed creating the blog and the different activities we had to do using the blog.  I enjoyed also reading my classmates’ blog and was able to learn from everyone’s Learning Networks.  It made me understand how useful are all the resources available that can be used for personal and professional development. Being aware of my personal learning method also aided me to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses and helped me to gain a better understanding of myself and what I need to do to make my learning experiences successful. This course has also affirmed my choice, preferring an unconventional learning method and the advantages of this experience for me as an adult learner.

What have you learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation?

Understanding the connection between learning theory, styles, technology and motivation helped me realize how each person approach learning and how each learning aspect is used differently. Every learner will use their learning preferences and at the same time they utilize some aspects of each of the learning factors. The benefit I gain from understanding the connections between learning issues is how to use technology in an educational environment to offer solutions to most students who have their preferred learning methods. With the help of the learning matrix table, we did it was very helpful in understanding the connections between theories, learning styles and technology. The assignment gave us the opportunity to analyze the theories and their applications to technology integration.

How will your learning in this course help you as you further your career in the field of instructional design?

Understanding the learning process I learned in this course will have an impact on my future career as an instructional designer. The tools and knowledge I have acquired will help me to understand how to design a course and to see what mechanics to use and implement in the course and help better motivate the learner.  I’m looking forward to incorporating different technology tools in the classroom and see how it impacts he student success by providing them with many different resources available.  When designing a course, it is important to consider and understand the learning theories and the a direction they offer in the instructional designing process.

Fitting the Pieces Together

Fitting the Pieces Together 2

Now that I have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, my views on how I learn has changed. At the beginning of the course, I said I’m a visual learner. I learn by reading the materials and then create a visual in my head to better understand the information.   Although I have learned a lot through conventional methods, I believe I learn most effectively through unconventional methods.   Not only it’s more convenient, but I can control my environment and study at a time where I can focus all my attention on the material. Furthermore, I’m a metacognitive learner since I can monitor my learning and can determine if I understand the material and whether or not I can explain it and/or apply it. If I explain it to others, I’m capable of coming up with new examples to clarify my explanation. Now that I have a better understanding of the learning theory and strategies I have identified that I learn best through Social Constructivism.

Besides, cognitive theories best describe how I learn. According to Ertmer and Newby, Cognitive theories emphasize making knowledge meaningful and helping learners organize and relate new information to existing knowledge in memory”. (Ertmer & T. J. Newby., 1993).   “Thinking, problem-solving, language, concept formation, and information processing,” are the steps I need to have to learn a new material.   The addition of constructivism, connectivism, and learning styles has helped with my understanding of how I learned in the past and how my learning environment will continue to change in the future. With the introduction of Connectivism I appreciate the significance of learning through the exposure and interaction with others; with the use of the web, blogs, and wikis to find, learn, and use information.

The role of technology in my learning experiences has advanced from textbooks to primarily digital, online learning resources. These days I use web-based resources to search most of the information needed to assist my learning process. The internet based resources include videos, blogs, web searches, online digital libraries, course discussion of collaboration, social media, and network resources.

With an understanding of learning theories, learning styles, learning strategies, and motivation I can better analyze an organization and/or individuals to provide the best learning environment. Understanding the learning theory will influence the work I will do as an instructional designer because I will have a better understanding which strategy, and content to use, for each student. “Because learning is influenced by many factors from many sources, the learning process itself is constantly changing, both in nature and diversity.” (Ertmer & T. J. Newby., 1993).

 

References:

A. Ertmer & T. J. Newby. Copyright 1993 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Journals. Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly.

Dr. Jeanne Ormrod. Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). An introduction to learning

My connections facilitate learning.

connect.pngLearning is a process of linking specialized knots or information sources. “A learner can exponentially improve their own learning by plugging into an existing network.” (Description of Connectivism). After posting my mind map, I can see how my connections have expanded over the years. The connections have facilitated my learning; my network has changed the way I learned because I can connect with others and learned from their experience. “Learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions.” (Description of Connectivism).   I have more access to information from all over the world and from different backgrounds.

The digital tools that best facilitate learning for me are the internet and group interactions or socializing. There’s so much information available with just one click. I can learn by going into different blogs, or read articles or connect with social media. Learning occurs in many diverse ways. Courses, email, communities, conversations, web search, email lists, reading blogs, etc. We do not learn only in a classroom setting.

You gain new knowledge when you have questions because you are learning new information that you had an interest in or didn’t know. There’s also a possibility that you will have other questions from gaining the knowledge you didn’t have at first, and the learning will continue. Organizational and personal learning are a joined tasks. “Individual knowledge is part of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network and continue to provide learning for the individual. Connectivism attempts to provide an understanding of how both learners and organizations learn.” (Description of Connectivism).

My personal learning network support connectivism in many ways. I learned by interacting with co-workers, trainers and collaborating with the classmate. “Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources. A learner can exponentially improve their own learning by plugging into an existing network.” (Description of Connectivism). Decision-making is a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information and seeing it through the lens of ever-changing reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to adaptations in the information environment impacting the decision.

 

References:

Description of Connectivism

Retrieved from: http://connectivism.ca/about.html

Learning Theory

learning 2

The brain is an amazing tool, it allows us to learn, see, remember, hear, perceive and understand. However, the way the brain functions tells us little about how best to teach it. (Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M., 2009). Information processing in the brain is the topic of a large, ongoing body of research. Although theirs fascination of the brain by its own merits, research would be unique to tell us what information is important for people to have nor does it provide a clue how to best help learners acquire important information and skills. (Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M.,2009). However, there’s a growing number of people looking for psychology to better their study skills and cognitive performance. A great article to read is “Information Processing Theory” by Schraw and McCrudden.   In this article, the author talks how we process information efficiently and perform better than computers at problem solving and critical thinking.   He also covers information processing model (IPM). A model that consists of three main components, sensory memory, working memory, and long-term memory. “Sensory and working memory enable people to manage limited amounts of incoming information during initial processing, whereas long-term memory serves as a permanent repository for knowledge.” (Schraw and McCrudden, 2013) The authors explain that each model is constant with useful findings and provides a framework for understanding the principles of effective learning. The information processing model has important suggestions for improving learning and instruction.

The learning process involves problem-solving. Problem solving refers to the process we go through to discover, analyze and solve problems. They’re different steps to problem-solving process and a great article to read is “Problem solving strategies and obstacles.” “Before problem-solving can occur, it is important first to understand the exact nature of the problem itself. If your understanding of the issue if faulty, your attempts to resolve it will also be incorrect or flawed.” (Cherry, 2015) (http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/a/problem-solving.htm)

Problem-solving is not a flawless process; there’re many problems that can constrain our ability to solve a problem quickly and logically. Researchers have described many mental obstacles, which include functional fixedness, irrelevant information, and assumptions.   The learning process is very complex. “Learning is something external to the learner it might just happen, or it is provided by a teacher. Learning is “a process by which behavior changes as a result of experience”. According to significant questions that arise whether people are conscious of what is going on. Do they know they are engaged in learning – and if there’s any significance does if they are? Acquisition-learning is going on all the time. For example, the learning involved in parenting, which it has been referred to this unconscious learning. In conscious learning, the person is aware the engagement entails learning. ‘Learning itself is the task. What formalized learning does is to make learning more conscious in order to enhance it’ (Smith, 2003). (http://infed.org/mobi/learning-theory-models-product-and-process/)

The learning process leads us to the learning theories and the idea how or why change occurs. The four learning theories, behaviorist, cognitive, humanistic and social, these approaches involve contrasting ideas as to the purpose and process of learning and the role that instructional designers may take.

References:

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson. Chapter 2, “Overview” (p. 95)

Gregory Schraw and Matthew McCrudden

Jul 12, 2013

Information Processing Theory

http://www.education.com/reference/article/information-processing-theory/

Smith, M. K. (2003). ‘Learning theory’, the encyclopedia of informal education.

Retrieved: http://infed.org/mobi/learning-theory-models-product-and-process/

Kendra Cherry, 2015

Problem-Solving

Problem-Solving Strategies and Obstacles

Retrieved: (http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/a/problem-solving.htm)

My Future Career as Instructional Designer!

elearn 2Here’s my first blog ever.  I never imagine I would have a blog because I’m a very reserved person who doesn’t like or enjoy being in the spotlight, but here I am.  You’re probably wondering why I’m starting a blog.  Well for the last couple of months I have been contemplating expanding my career path and recently enrolled in a Master’s program in Instructional Design.  Creating a blog is part of my course requirement.  Starting a career in instructional design means I have to understand learning theory and cognitive science.  I have found several blogs with great information about Instructional design.  In this blog, I’m going to provide you with a brief overview of the type of content you can find helpful on each of the three blogs I have selected to share.

The first blog I would like to introduce is “The eLearning Coach”, this blog was created by Connie Malamed, an eLearning, information and visual designer. In her blog, you can find relevant and very useful information for those interested in an instructional design career and those working on improving their skills in the field.  On her website, you will find strategies, practical content, product reviews and resources to help you design, develop and understand online learning.  One of the most helpful blogs or articles is the one she talks about the “10 Qualities of the Ideal Instructional Design”.  Why? In this article, she explains how instructional designers come from different background and educational fields and provides a list of 10 skills and qualities you should possess or developed to be an effective and successful instructional designer.   Here’s the link so you can check it out.

http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/10-qualities-of-the-ideal-instructional-designer/

The second blog is “Cammy Bean’s Learning Visions”.  This blog is great for those interested in learning more about instructional design or want to get better at it.  She has written great blogs explaining the role of instructional design and covers different resources available where you can learn even more.  She has a great reading list title” Beginning Instructional Designers Toolkit”, for an instructional designer who would like to take their learning to the next level.

http://cammybean.kineo.com/

The last blog and certainly not the least is a blog created by Jay Cross who has been credited with inventing “e-learning”.  Jay is described as learning guru who is a pioneer in theory and practice of eLearning. This blog serves as a great resource to learn and understand why learning is important for learning and its impact on day to day activities.     In one of his blog “Farmland,” he explains that people don’t appreciate learning as a skill that you can get better at.  He views learning as a “passageway to success.”  That’s going into unfamiliar territory is where we can grow and expand our knowledge.

http://www.internettime.com/2015/04/familarland/

The sites mentioned above would be useful as they provide great resources to use and I can gain knowledge and acquired skills to work in the instructional design field.  The bloggers have many years of experience, and I can learn from their “aha” moments as we can see in “Cammy Bean’s Learning Visions” blog.  I would encourage you to take a look at each of these sites if you haven’t done so and shared your thoughts.