The knowledge of learning theories provides a framework for conducting research into how learning takes place and the processes involved in learning. This knowledge has been instrumental to the development of the major theories of learning. My new knowledge about learning theories has widened my perspectives in terms of the interpretation of the learning process and its relationship with the way I learned. I have been able to study the underlying concept of each theory and reflect on how each has been applied to my learning experiences in the past and even presently. This deeper understanding has changed my view on how I learned because I now realize that learning is a process that brings together a number of factors which together change an individual’s skills, knowledge and views. Therefore, learning is much more than responding to external stimuli in a passive manner.
One thing I found fascinating but intriguing in my new knowledge about how people learn is the unique way in which individuals learn and how “one person can have several learning styles relative to specific course or subject” Gilbert &Swanier (2008). This is a fascinating new knowledge to me because in the past, I had a unidirectional view of learning and believe that though individuals may have different learning styles, they do not necessarily have more than one style. With this new knowledge, I am able to reflect back on how I had learned in the past and found that my learning styles indeed determined what I learned easily and what I found difficult to understand. This in a nutshell is how this course has deepened my understanding of my personal learning process.
As I studied the learning theories deeper, I see the interrelatedness of the theories and how each impact on instructional design. I tend to believe that the learning theories were propounded in an evolutionary sequence with the most recent and modern probing deeper into factors of learning like the brain, environment, social interaction and application of technology.
I find the theory of constructivism and social learning as very illuminating. Although this is a seemingly common occurrence, it is a theory one scarcely considers as important to how learning takes place. The knowledge of learning constructivist theories brings an understanding of the context in which learning occurs and the social contexts that learners bring to the learning environment – two key concepts on which learning is dependent. The social constructivism theory seems to be the most researched from Vygotsky to Bruner to Bandura.
As one gradually progresses through the knowledge of how information is processed to the learning theories and integrating technology into instruction, we see a close relationship between the learning theories and other theories like learning styles, multiple intelligence and motivation. A very crucial factor in the interrelationship of these theories is the influence of the environment in learning and how individual differences define the way we learn. These are factors that have far reaching implications for the instructional designer and how instruction is to be designed.
The learning theories and instruction course is the foundation upon which an instructional designer will begin as a practitioner in the area of instructional design because it does not only provide the basic knowledge about the learner, but also about how he learns, his environment and experiences and the individual differences of learners. According to Gardner (2003), “if individuals differ in their intellectual profiles, it makes sense to take this into account in devising an educational system”. This knowledge is the basis upon which multiple intelligences can be exploited by the instructional designer in designing effective instruction. The knowledge of how individuals learn is also important to the instructional designer because of the distinctive styles and learning experiences. “One of the things that’s important for the instructional designer to know is the nature of not only the learner in general but also the nature of specific learners and the fact that different people approach learning tasks in somewhat different ways. It is important in any instructionally designed learning environment that you account for those differences and take them into consideration” Ormrod (2010).
With the mass of knowledge available in today’s digital world, the integration of technology into instruction becomes inevitable. Studies in this course have shown that increasing globalization will continue to affect not only the way we work and play but also to a very large extent the way we learn. According to The Horizon Report 2009 edition, “with the growing availability of tools to connect learners and scholars all over the world – online collaborative workspaces, social networking tools, mobiles, voice-over-IP and more – teaching and scholarship are transcending borders more and more all the time”. Therefore, the instructional designer will continue to rely on these connections in order to effectively design instruction that would meet the specific requirements of this digital age.
As I reflect on what I have learned in this course, I see a mass of new knowledge that would propel me into the world of instructional design with a good understanding of how learning takes place, how individuals learn and how to exploit new technology to make teaching and learning more meaningful and exciting.
Gardner, H. (2003, April 21). Multiple intelligences after 20 years. Paper presented to The American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from http://www.pz.harvard.edu/PIs/HG_MI_after_20_years.pdf
Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning Styles. How do they fluctuate?
Institute of Learning Styles Journal [Vol.I ]. Retrieved from
Johnson, L., Levine, A., & smith, R. (2009). The Horizon Report (2009 ed). Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://wp.nmc.org/horizon2009/
Ormrod, J. (2010). Learning styles and strategies. (Laureate Education Inc.)