Fitting the Pieces Together

At the risk of sounding redundant, I find myself fascinated once again this week because of what I’ve learned in my class.  We are wrapping things up, and as always is good practice at the end of an experience, we are reflecting on what we’ve learned and how we’ve changed.  In the beginning of this course, I had decided that the constructivist theory of learning was the best description of how I learn.  Now, after six more weeks of research and discussion, I find myself having trouble putting a label on how I learn.  I truly believe this is our instructor’s intent!  If nothing else, I have come to understand that the best instruction is a hodgepodge of learning theories and strategies.  Looking over each theory, I am able to find a little piece of myself and how I learn.  Most significantly, constructivism still explains how the knowledge I build for myself remains the most worthy and applicable; social learning theory explains why I learn from my peers so easily, especially in the context of our university’s and country’s culture; and finally, connectivism explains why I always thought knowledge was a changing “thing” I could gain and manipulate from every network I am a part of, including the complex social networks founded in technology.

Can’t make a post for an instructional design class without reflecting on how to use technology in instruction, including my own!  I am truly thankful for my instructor’s list of technologies that can be used as resources to research, create, record, and assess my own understanding of new information.  Some of my favorites from her list have been RSS aggregators, which allow me to stay on top of the up and comings in our field as well as my other personal interests, and mindmapping software such as XMind, a brainstorming tool that seems limitless.  Since the start of my quest for my degree, I’ve become pretty comfortable with collaboration tools such as Google Docs, but I find that the “old school” Blackboard system (which was around when I was in undergrad) is still invaluable as a way to collaborate, discuss, and ask for help when necessary.  The discussion boards and “Doc Sharing” sections have allowed me to see alternative perspectives or examples that help me assess my own understanding.  After exploring NMC’s Horizon Report, K-12 Edition, I can’t wait to explore the uses of emerging technologies such as gaming, wearable technologies, clouds, and what has become known as “the Internet of Things.”

I wonder how adult learners used to gain graduate and doctorate degrees without all this fantastic technology we have available to assist us today?!  In the course of my research on connectivism, I came across the term “half-life,” which describes the length of time that new information is applicable before it becomes outdated (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).  If it only takes seconds these days for information to be shared on technologies such as social networks, blogs, or wearable technologies, what will information sharing be like in the future?  Will the term “half-life” even be relevant any more if it is too short to be measured?

References

Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu

New Media Consortium. (2014). The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publications/2014-horizon-report-k12

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