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Monday, August 23, 2010

Reflection: What I have Learned

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

Throughout this course, I furthered my knowledge about “how people learn”. The course material provided was very relevant and systematically sorted according to the time frame. As my day to day work involves with curriculum development and teacher training related to secondary education in my country, some of the striking points I noted are as follows:
 It is important to consider that our teachers have their own learning styles and therefore we as teacher educators have to consider various learning strategies to provide them better learning environment.
 We need to apply the features discussed in various learning theories such as constructivism, adult learning, and multiple intelligence theory.

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

In the very beginning of this course, we were exposed to re-think about our own learning. I think this is also a good strategy imposed by our course providers. So, I recalled my memories from k-12 education, undergraduate and postgraduate education. This course directed me to analyze my learning styles, what type of learning theories our teachers had used, how they had directed me and why my past teachers had punished and rewarded me. As according to the course literature provided and also responses and comments in our discussion forum, I always contrasted and mapped them with my personal learning process. Further, these days I mapped the things I learned with my kids learning styles and try to apply relevant theories and strategies into practice. These home based trials will lead me to a better understanding of ‘theory into practice’ and about the difficulties that I have to face as a teacher trainer.

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

Within this course, I have clearly seen the importance of the connection of these four elements. However, I believe the connection should be varies according to the context. Moreover, when connecting educational technologies with learning theories and strategies, we have to consider cost-effective ways because technology lies in a wide spectrum. In other words, we do not need to go for high-end technologies if it is not essential for that particular context. The motivation is a compulsory element in learning process. It is true not only for learning but also for our day to day work we need some kind of motivation because we all are humans.

How will your learning in this course help you as you further your career in the field of instructional design?
This course provided me a vast knowledge related to learning theories and instruction. Contributing to discussion forums within this course further broaden my thinking directed to instructional designing. By having in depth understanding about various learning theories, learning styles and knowing about the availability of latest technologies, I have confidence to sort appropriate things needed for my career in the field of instructional design. But, I think confidence it self is not enough. Therefore, to become a good instructional designer, I need real time experience by designing and developing instructional material as according to the course we learned. I hope we all will get a chance to expose ourselves to this environment within the forthcoming courses.

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

Ormrod, J; A series of video programs on learning theories

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fitting the Pieces Together: Learning theories & Learning Styles

The literature related to different learning theories and learning styles, I reviewed last few weeks, awakened me to rethink about how I learned? As I mentioned in week one, we (students) were taught by our teachers mostly using conventional methods like ‘chalk and talk’. Even within this chalk and talk method, now I can see our teachers had used various teaching strategies and styles such as spelling bees, debates and artwork competitions. Sometimes we were taken on field trips and another time we were given group works. Now I can see these activities have relationships with some features discussed in learning theories such as constructivism and connectivism.

Actually as a student in primary and secondary classes I did not have any idea about my learning styles or strategies. Though I like or not, I had to follow what my teacher preferred. But after learning about various learning theories and learning styles, now I can say many preferred learning theories and styles are available for learners. Out of the learning theories I read these days I mostly preferred are constructivism and connectivism because both of these theories have features like exploration, knowledge construction and sharing, team work, collaboration and so on. As I involve in curriculum development, I have to think about the infrastructure facilities currently we have in our country. Still we have some problems like band width and availability of the Internet facility every where in the country.
However, computers can be used to enhance our learning process by introducing computer assisted learning (CAL) tools and computer based learning (CBL) tools across the curricula. As offline tools we can integrate these software. Some of these tolls have behaviouristic features and some have constructivist features.

The latest technology available to me in my work place is multimedia computer with the Internet facility. For my day to day to work, I use the Internet for searching information related to my office work such as teacher training and interactive material development. I used ‘cloud computing’ tools such as Google groups, reader, scholar, Facebook, Blogger, TeacherTube, Slideshare and You tube. Most of the application software is available as free and open source software (FOSS) or freeware. FOSS and freeware is used for the teacher training as well as material development. Some of the software, I currently used are OpenOffice, GIMP, Dia, VLC and Hotpotatoes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reflection- Mind map

How connectivism facilitates my learning

I strongly believe people learn through variety of networks. According to my own mind map, I can understand that how I have benefited by social networks since my childhood. In my childhood, we did not have on-line networks like what we have nowadays. However, most of the features like cultural values, team working, knowledge sharing and listen to others were inculcated in our minds even by the off-line networks which I truly participated in. My mind map shows how I have changed my learning style. Now I use both types of networks for my learning. Some of them are on-line and the rest are off-line.

Thinking about the digital tools, which were facilitated in my learning, let me describe my usage of computers. In 1981, I was exposed to use computers as I did a computer course related to BASIC language. Those days, I got hands on experience with computers for a limited time. We had face to face sessions and the only digital tool we used was the computer (PC). Though dot matrix printers were located in the laboratory we were not permitted to get printouts. In 1987, I was appointed to my present workplace (NIE) and I had a chance to use PCs with dot matrix printers and Apple Macs with scanners and a laser printer. We used PC computers mostly for applications like Wordstar 2000 for word processing, Lotus 123 for spreadsheets and dBASE III+ for data base applications. Apple Mac was used for our desktop publishing work.
I had a chance to use multi-media computers in 1990s as I followed a short-term course in a local university. There we were exposed to use various software tools for material development including authoring systems. However, we did not get any experience related to the Internet usage.

I had a turning point in my learning style in 1997, as I went to New Zealand for my master’s degree. I used the Internet and its services including on-line libraries for information searching for my research work. I did an on-line survey related to ICT usage for professional development. Therefore, I used e-mail communication and text based chatting to collect data from my on-line participants. At the same time, I got another opportunity to assist my wife, as she did a course on computer assisted language learning (CALL). In CALL, they had a discussion group very similar to our present discussion group. That group was created with Eudora mail software and I assisted her to configure our home computer with the university’s server computer. The experiences I got from New Zealand were used to initiate a CALL component to the Dip. TESL course that we currently conduct in our own institutes (NIE). We do not use any LMS software but we use facilities given by Google to create discussion groups. As we experience some limitations, I think we need to shift for a LMS like MOODLE in future. My participation in this ID course at Walden University encourages me to shift for a good cost effective LMS for our institute.

When seeking for new things, it is natural that we all face questions, issues and barriers. Normally, I think these are challenges for any person. There must be an answer to any question or issue. Sometimes, I may not able to solve it by myself at once. So, I use various types of tools available in the Internet, especially Web 2.0/3.0 tools. I use search engines like Google or Askme to get information. I post my questions to blogs and groups where I have already subscribed or search for new ones. Sometimes I use Skype or Google Talk to communicate with my friends dispersed all over the world to clarify the issues. I search on-line databases like ERIC or Google Scholar to get abstracts or journal articles to update my knowledge. I frequently use “ “ and various Wiki sites to read computer-related information.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Interesting web reources on Brain and Problem Solving

Regarding brain functioning and academic learning, the artice I found was very interseting. It tries to discover the link between the brain and music. The author has raised some research questions related with the "mozart effect" and how this can be used to improve problem solving and brain functioning. Moreover, this article provides us to think whether we can use music in our curricula to improve mathematics and IQ. The web link is as follows:

The second article I got is related to problem solving. The link it as follows:
This article provides over 50 problem solving strategies with the explanations and these strategies have sorted by types. Though this is a lenghty article, it is worth to read as it gives explanations with examples.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Web resources for Instructional Design

Information regarding instructional design (ID) can be found in many blogs and websites. These sites provide us useful information regarding ID and how technology can be used to enhance our lerning. Scholars and variuos professionals have contributed their valuable ideas to these blogs and sites. By reading and contributing to these sites, I think we can get a thorough about ID.
Some of the blogs and sites I visited are as follows:
This site is designed to provide information about ID principals and how they relate to teaching and learning. The term ID has defined as the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of learning material. Instructional designers often use instructional technology or educationaal technology as tools for developing instruction. Moreover, this site shows some of the contributors to the field of ID. Number of ID models are also explained and a glossary of terms related to ID can be found here.
Theory into practice (TIP) is another web site which deals with learning and instruction. TIP is a tool (database) intended to make learning and instructional theory more accessible to to educators. This database contains brief summaries of 50 major theories of learning and instruction. More information regarding learning domains and learning concepts can be obtained from this site.
In this blog, you will find practical ideas that will help you create lively, powerful e-learning material for adults in the business world. Webminars, presentations and e-learning samples can be found here. This blog is a collection of good postings for instructional designers.
This site belongs to Stephen Downes. he works as a researcher for the National Research Council, Institute of Information Technology, in MOncton, New Brunswick, Canada. His special interests are for on-line learning, content syndication and new media. A good collection of technical and philosophical articles are linked to this site. It is worth seeing some of articlees like "Educational Blogging", "Ten Future" under the link Popular Articles. Another two interesting articles can be found under the following links.
I think we can enhance our knowledge on ID through these valuable web resources.