I must admit that I would have failed testing about learning theories before this class. I have had no exposure to educational training and little recollection of learning theories from my college psychology classes. I do remember, however, that one of my roommates was a psychology major, and she had a dog named Skinner, after BF Skinner. Funny how human memory works. I can say that now with meaning. I never actually knew that there were so many ways defined that one could learn. I do remember hearing conversations of right brain versus left brain and I would always say that I was a right brainer that was creative or a “mid brainer”.
From the start, this class as made me think about how I learn, how I transfer knowledge to my staff and customers, and what elements truly affect those things. I have a much broader understanding of learning and the many layers to consider when designing instructional materials. Being able to analyze how I learn has helped me identify that I am a visual learner but also excel at auditory learning. When I talk to my friends about how they learn, I would often hear "I have to do it in order to learn it” or “if I can put my hands on it, I will get it." I can honestly say that I am not that way. Don't get me wrong, I would learn something by doing it, but I don't have to have my hands on it to get it. I can visualize what is needed by hearing a description or grasp the concept if it is shown to me. I never seriously thought about that until taking this class. Additionally, I did not realized factors such as environment, social and cultural influences, and personal experiences could affect the way someone learns (Gilbert, J. & Swainer, C. 2008). As I studied the various theories, it became apparent to me that, though, learning styles have been studied and classified, they are not rigid rules for instruction. They can be used as guidelines when planning instructional design, but learners are unique and should be viewed as such, and each learner may learn differently. One of the significant messages for me was in Dr. Ormond’s presentation about learning styles and strategies. She said that, rather than focusing on learning theories, we should try to focus on learning strategies. “A much more optimistic view about how to help people learn is that you teach them strategies for learning effectively rather than cater to these preferences that may or may not actually exist in the self-report kinds of assessment techniques” (Laureate Education, n.d.). This message put learning theories in perspective for me and gave me a way to apply them without getting lost in trying to include and accommodate them all.
Technology additionally has a growing significance in learning today. Luckily, I have a higher aptitude for technology and finding creative was to use it for projects, because my career has been in software technology field for many years. I am able to keep up with the latest trends and have access to numerous technology resources. While this may be a plus, on some level, for instructional design, it is only one small part of delivering effective designs. My academic focus will be on content building and delivery, and the studies from this class will be extremely valuable in this journey. I understand that fancy delivery with bells and whistles is of little value without proper content geared specifically for your learning audience. I plan to continue to develop creative but effective methods that incorporate technology, learning styles and strategies and effective delivery.
Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~witteje/ilsrj/Journal%20Volumes/Fall%202008%20Volume%201%20PDFs/Learning%20Styles%20How%20do%20They%20Fluctuate.pdf
Ormrod, J. Learning styles and strategies. Laureate Education, Inc. (Accessed 2011). [Video Program]. Walden University Resources.