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

Connectivism (contd!)

Since the start of my educational career here at Walden University, my pathways to learning have multiplied, and actually seem to be exponentially increasing.  I am amazed at all of the resources available to a person in this day and age.  I was always proud of myself for being on Facebook and Pinterest; I felt so connected!  Yeah right!  With the start of my classes, I have come to love (and hate at times!) all of the learning opportunities I have, such as through reading blogs related to my field, or through discovering how to use new technology such as XMind to share my learning.  I am shocked at all of the various media resources available through my school’s online library, such as entire books or educational videos.  I think I am still in the shock-and-awe phase and have not become overwhelmed by it all, yet.

Blogs are my newest favorite tool; it is easy for me to learn from other people’s learning and sharing, though I still prefer getting my hands dirty and constructing my own knowledge.  Catching up on the blogs I follow through Feedreader has become a new favorite pastime; adding blogs which I uncover through research or recommendation is an exciting part of my workload.  Though I still go to Google with questions, I find myself starting with a blog in the list of search results over .edu or news sites.  I’m becoming quite the nerd!

According to connectivism, individuals learn as part of a complex network of people with varying experiences.  I am very much a part of a world-wide network of people, and I plug in to this network and each of its available data sources in order to gain information.  In our world today, we cannot separate ourselves from technology.  In fact, technology seems to have taken on a life of its own as it shapes our world and changes our networks of learning.  Hence, the development of terms such as Web 2.0, a newer version of internet activity that is “more social and participatory,” according to Paul Anderson (2007).  These networks of learning are constantly changing due to many factors including technology, a characteristic that adds to the complexity of my learning experience.  Even so, I find myself motivated by these challenges and opportunities!

References

Anderson, Paul. (2007). What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies, and implications for education. JISC Technology and Stardards Watch, 2. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/techwatch/tsw0701b.pdf

Reflections on RSS aggregators and learning from my classmates – THE best teachers?

I have to say that this RSS aggregator (spelling?! This blog and my EDUC 6115 class has introduced a whole new language to me that I have to get fluent in and PRONTO!) is about as addicting as Pinterest! As I read through my classmates’ blogs and complete research for my class, I can’t help but add the URLs for the sites I find both informational and eye-catching. I’m spending a lot more time reading and learning, copying and pasting URLs, and digging through the internet for relevant information, which I know will help me in my path to becoming an Instructional Designer in the long run, but right now, it’s keeping me from getting dinner on the table and playing with my kids! Choices, choices…

One site has repeatedly presented itself in the posts of my colleagues this week, and that is the blog of Cathy Moore. I am so glad I jumped on the bandwagon and checked her out! She apparently is a guru on “adult education,” and not in any traditional meaning of that phrase. The slogan below her webpage reads “Let’s save the world from boring training!” She is the Super Woman of educating people by respecting and challenging them as learners. When I found this infographic later in the week, it made me think of Cathy Moore and what I had learned from her site. Blog post after blog post showcases strategies and tools that can be used to engage adult learners, and I have to say I found myself thinking how I could apply what I read to my 2nd graders! In fact, I found this post from 2010 (4 years ago!), yet it points out the research that supports the critically different teaching styles employed by teachers of the Common Core – that helping students learn the strategies of metacognitive thinking creates a more effective, successful learner, more so that engaging them according to their learning style. I only JUST started teaching Common Core last year! I have to say, I, too, am greatly impressed by this woman!

References

Gutierrez, Karla. (2014, January 9). 10 Super Powers of the World’s Greatest Instructional Designers [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/331573/10-Super-Powers-of-the-World-s-Greatest-Instructional-Designer?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+shiftelearningblog+(SHIFT’s+eLearning+Blog)

Moore, Cathy. (2010, September 10). Learning Styles: Worth our Time? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2010/09/learning-styles-worth-our-time/

Some interesting links…

This is my first-ever blog post.  (*Eek!) I will be providing links to some sites and resources that should benefit my classmates and me as we complete our coursework and later jump into the field of Instructional Design and Technology.  Here is what I’ve found so far…

 

ASTD Links  This e-newsletter is published twice a month and hosts a variety of articles relevant to Instructional Design and Technology.  ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) will shortly be known as ATD (Association for Talent Development.  I hope to gain a better and ever-updated sense of what is going on in the world of education and technology by utilizing this newsletter for its advice and research content.

Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners This site offers some incredible tools to use for teachers trying to integrate technology into their classroom.  If you’re like me, you’re a teacher who grew up in a world that had internet and was educated in an area with access to the basics (think ELMO and SmartBoards).  This site looks like it dives SO MUCH DEEPER in order to help teachers be one step ahead of their students rather than asking them for help using this stuff.  Can’t wait to dig around and see what I can tailor for use in my elementary classroom!

ABC Splash  This site is actually Australian, but I LOVE IT!  As a teacher in the US (Maryland, actually!), I stumbled upon this site and wondered why I haven’t seen something similar here at home.  Scholastic comes pretty close, but this site is so much FUN!  (Probably just because it’s Australian-based – who doesn’t love the land down under?!) It has endless links to games, articles, videos, and even event posts for teachers of all grades across all curriculums.  This will probably be one of my go-tos for activities to use to expand on my school’s curriculum and resources.  I’ve already found a game I can use tomorrow in class!

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Ever had any experience with any of these resources?