Defining Distance Learning

For me, the term for Distance Learning is a form of instructional delivery that connects a learner with multiple educational resources that provides the learner with educational and learning opportunities that incorporates current and emerging technologies.  The fast pace of technological advances that are being marketed is changing and challenging the way our educational system is and will be. Educational institutions develop distance education programs that provide adults with a second chance at a college education, reach those disadvantaged by limited time, distance or physical disability, and update the knowledge base of workers at their places of employment. Whether the delivery of distance education involves audio conferencing, video, computer assisted instruction for tracking purposes, or print, it has become a vital part of the higher education assembly because it reaches a broader student audience.

In our reading material, Desmond Keegan (1996), defined the five elements of distance learning that included: separation of teacher and learner, planning and preparation of learning materials, use of technical media, two-way communication for students benefit, and absence of the learning group throughout the learning process.  Yet some critics argue that Keegan’s definition did not offer a valid outlook of current and practical purposes of online distance education.

Distance education is a positive alternative for some states to offer schools via the No Child Left Behind Act that allows better options to students attending those schools that do not progress successfully during the school year, (Moller, Foshay, Huett, 2008). Two issues that reasoned the need for distance education were teacher shortages and overcrowded schools, that would permit qualified teachers to teach students where instructor shortages outweigh increased populations, (Moller, Foshay, Huett, 2008).

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

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

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Reflection

       Compared to when we first discussed how we learned and how it affects our retrieval of pertinent information, I tend to remain the Constructivist Theory of Learning because of how I tend to interact with other people in developing my own learning experiences, as well as absorbing theirs while unconsciously collaborating meaning with significant results (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). Bringing in experience and different cultural standards are combined with new knowledge that I’ve interpreted and have developed my own knowledge and logic (Ertmer & Newby 1993). During the past several weeks in class, I have read and reviewed the other theories, I’ve also had some insight towards other theories like Connectivism which I’ll refer to in a little bit.  I know I’ve been able to retain more information in the constructivist arena because there remains more value and significance to me, especially when I’ve asked questions from different experiences that help increase my knowledge (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009). Active Learning that involves learners working in pairs/group work, discussing study material and role-playing, while engaged in cooperative learning (Ertmer &  Newby 1993). Being a hands on person helps me stay engaged while absorbing what I’ve learned.

 My learning style reflects a constructivist and connectivism theory. Connectivism allows the use of learning communities, blogs, and other social networks in giving me the opportunity to access information to acquire information that would have seemed old school as going to the library and researching it. ‘Learning is a process of joining particular data sources and nurturing and maintaining connections facilitates continual learning (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). 

       In my goal to become an Instructional Designer, I try to develop new learning skills that would benefit not only me but my students and staff members with new training opportunities. Workshops are excellent in strengthening and providing insight on new knowledge in my field of work. When I experience learning first hand, it allows me to integrate those experiences that I have assembled in constructing new knowledge with project based learning (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003).

With staff employees in our organization, the in-house and required training includes e-learning training courses that are interactive with some tutorials to assist those that lack the computer skills in today’s advanced technology. Advancements in technology have not only evolved into a powerful and prestigious learning field, but has opened a wonder of intellect towards networks including the very basic email, texting, Facebook, blogging, and of course Twitter. Our main source of online training for in-house training is maintained through the use of a Learning Management System (LMS) that allows us as training specialists to keep insight on how staff employees are progressing within their mandated work competencies. They’re also responsible in the management of their profile content as we can produce daily reports on their progress. One other networking tool we maintain is in audio-video conferencing in collaboration with other government organizations, to incorporate new learning tools that would be beneficial towards our learning environment.

 References

 Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K.. (2003). Adult Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

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

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50–71.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Fitting the Pieces Together

Through all the readings of articles and different researches we’ve been reading, I admit I wish I had studied in the field of education a lot sooner than waiting until now for completion of my masters. Yet my learning still conforms to “constructivism” in constructing knowledge and meaning for myself as I learn. Constructing meaning is learning of which I have reviewed from Piaget and Vigotsky, to name a few. Hands on learning, I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with an array of learning in understanding how to construct my own learning environment (Kim 2001).

Vygotsky focused on humans using tools ‘that develop from a culture, such as speech and writing, to mediate their social environments.’ We as children develop these tools and gradually become more functional in ways to communicate our needs, and eventually higher thinking skills. Learning becomes a mutual experience for students and instructors in promoting learning contexts where the students/learners do their part in drawing their learning potential into action, while we as instructors collaborate with our students in order to help facilitate their meaning and construction. Learning will eventually becomes a mutual experience for the students and teacher.

I have become more reliant on new technology which I find useful and also a burden at the same time. Forgetting my phone at home at times gives me a sick feeling that I’m missing so much. What did I do before I had a cell phone? I think my life was a little bit easier. But I take the opportunity to use new information and skills in programs like Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator of which I can incorporate into actual work programs like Captivate in designing teaching presentations, especially to those in our organization that are not computer savvy.

Bandura’s (2011)social learning theory focuses on how people learn by observing others behavior, attitudes, and outcomes. A person can form an idea of new behavior from modeling another or having continuous interaction and use this as a guide line. Of course, as he states, effective modeling would include attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

I realized my learning pattern has changed and don’t doubt that I’ll ever stop learning new learning practices because I find them interesting and enriching for my benefit.

 Resources:

Bandura, A. (Feb 2011) Learning Theories Knowledgebase. Social Learning Theory at Learning-Theories.com. Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/social-learning-theory-bandura.html

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher mental processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Connectivism

 

Mind Map for Connectivism

 

I’m fortunate to have a spouse that’s an IT and has been able to program our internet and upgrade all the software in our computer, as well as our kids laptops. I mainly used the home computer for miscellaneous tasks, but mostly the laptop for homework while I was working on my Bachelors, because of the convenience and mobility it provided. As new tools emerged, especially like social networks such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, I realized the potential of communication with family, friends, classmates, as well as keeping up with current events. Before all these internet tools arrived, I wouldn’t have considered them as a benefit because I’m still a bit old fashioned and appreciate certain aspects of learning like simply ‘writing’ on paper which seems to be such a task in today’s technological world. Usage of the keyboard is the standard of writing foregoing pencils or pens, and at times I feel we’ve abandoned them because they’re not compliant in today’s modern world.

Recently we just upgraded our cell phones to the new 4G phones and I cannot live without it! It keeps everything for me as far as helpful apps that I can download anywhere. I can blog wherever I am and check my bank account, and yes my Facebook too. I’m glad it helps my daughter in Chicago in finding the closest bus route so she won’t end up in the wrong areas in the city. I’ve been able to take advantage of the iPhone is finding useful apps for work programs that I can request for our training programs such as our Learning Management System (LMS).

I learn by example a lot of times when I converse with other learners and I take their experiences and relate them to my own. Once I complete my masters in Instructional Design, I’m hoping to assist students in their thinking patterns that best help them remember, understand, and apply the material they’ve been taught. By doing this, I could establish a more receptive and cordial learning environment that allows them to address those cognitive, emotional, and physical aspects.

Adult learners bring an assortment of various experiences with them, including a wealth of practical knowledge from their personal life, work, family and outcomes of previous learning experiences. These experiences are relevant to our learning needs and engaging with each other helps us direct our learning by utilizing motivating tools and key aspects of learning. They can relate their career and professionalism by immersing themselves with other learners and apply their own knowledge within a social environment.

Finally, I hope my map learning explains visually all the different principles of connectivism in how technology has infused itself into my life, and how it’s used on a daily basis. I don’t know what the future holds for us in this technical world, but I’m sure without the network, our lives would be interrupted.

 

 

2. Blog Assignment: Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources

2. Blog Assignment: Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources

The Brain and Learning

http://teacher.scholastic.com/professional/bruceperry/brainlearns.htm

This site by Dr. Perry discusses Neural System Fatigue in how learning is affected by stimulation on different parts of the brain and within the process of learning. Without the neurons responding to stimuli, they can fatigue and need time to recover. I like the analogy in the article about comparing neurons to the piano and the organ, where a piano only plays the one note while the organ keeps the sound going when you push down on the key. The same is true with the neurons in response to repartitioned patterns. I found it interesting in a classroom setting when a child is given straightforward information that their brain loses any indication of interest and it fatigues in comparison to learning material that is intriguing and challenging.

Perry, B., M.D., Ph.D., 2011.  How the Brain learns best.

Problem-solving methods during the learning process.

http://www.personal.psu.edu/hoh5021/kb/pbl.htm

This site focuses on Psychological Research in problem solving experiences involving both content and thinking strategies, especially with real world problems.  The PBL Process  provides a list of problem solving supplements including problem scenarios, ID Knowledge  Deficiencies, and involves the roles of the student and teacher in collaborating learning. In  fostering complex thinking for the student, problems promote fundamental motivation. This article focuses on strategies that facilitators should use with the learning and thinking of students  instead of just being subject matter experts. Facilitators are to guide students to foster theircognitive skills  in developing higher thinking. The article also lists 5 goals of effective problem solving methods and skills. In the field of Instructional Design, you need to be able to define  learning strategies especially if you’re developing content such as problem based instruction.

 Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2004). Problem-based learning: What and how do students learner? Educational Psychology Review, 16(3), 235-266.

Hmelo, C. E., Holton, D. L., & Kolodner, J. L. (2000). Designing to learn about complex systems. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 9(3), 247-298.

Interactive Whiteboard (IWB)

Avoney,

  I found the article you presented very informative and similar to the Smart Boards that we currently use in our education department. They’re great when you’re facilitating a class and you have either a power point presentation or have the need to display graphics in engaging the students. The boards also have various functions like using special digitized markers that simulate what a highlighter would do on a standard wipeout board. The touch screen effect is a plus because it allows you to interact and process information while still creating a functional learning environment. I’ve imported three dimensional images connected with the curriculum I was teaching and the class was so mesmerized by that illustration which also created an in class discussion, prompting even those students that usually didn’t respond to my presentation. I’m sure in an elementary classroom setting, the boards are an excellent teaching sources for cognitive stimulation. The boards are also a great way of switching from board to video teleconference enabling all instructors to directly interact with other facilitators or organizations.  I reposted your blog site as well as the informative article on the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB).

http://avoney.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/the-doorway-to-professional-learning-communities/

http://hwsdlc.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/introducing-interactive-white-boards-iwb/http://avoney.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/the-doorway-to-professional-learning-communities/

Taking a Break – Zeigarnik Effect

http://blogs.adobe.com/captivate/2011/11/want-to-improve-learning-take-a-break%e2%80%a6.html

I found this blog discussing what happens when you’re fully committed to a task like learning or reading something and you’re suddenly interrupted by something. For me to not complete a task stays forever in my mind and I anticipate when I can actually complete it because I could have finished it sooner. Apparently this is called the Zeigarnik Effect (Zeigarnik, 1927; McKinney 1935) which occurs when people remember tasks that are interrupted with the wrong information or it’s incomplete and it stays in memory longer than mostly when they’re motivated in a learning setting. Some ways that are listed in getting students back on the right track would be in action plans of providing explanations of learning on a website and having the students refer back to it for more information. I didn’t have a website at the time, but I did refer my students to their books on certain pages for references if they wanted additional information. It did help but the adjunct of having a website really could have benefitted them. For future classes, I’ll keep in mind to have a reliable site available. I like this information because it’s something I’ve experienced as a student or even when I was at home trying to complete a task like cooking a recipe and I get interrupted numerous times. I end missing an ingredient the recipe is just not going to work! See other comments people are inputting towards this site.