Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Learning in a Digital World

I have become quite reliant on technology now than I was, say ten years ago. In college, the majority of the time I physically visited the library to complete my assignments find resources for my papers. I had to learn to format in MLA and APA style. I had to use a dictionary to find any word I did not know and I would ask my friends and professors for help if I was lost on an assignment. Today, it’s not the same case. Now, I have an iPad, iPhone, and instant connectivity to the Internet. All of this can help me to complete any learning task quickly and efficiently find the answer to my questions. If the Internet cannot answer my question, then no one can, right? Now, don’t get me wrong. Everyone online is not golden and it is definitely not meant for everyone. For instance, I have learned that I’m a much better learner in a face-to-face setting than I am in an online environment. I have continuously struggle through my degree program because I feel a bit disconnected from it. However, had I not enrolled in an online degree program, I never would have known this about myself. I would have always assumed because I was a good student in a face-to-face setting and that my performance would translate to any online classroom setting. I have had to adjust my learning strategies in order to successfully complete my courses. I cannot simply read a text and rely on in-class discussion to further my understanding. I now read the text, take notes, and create a visual aid. I search out resources to support my learning far more than I did before and I also find myself rereading a text more than twice, something I never would have done before. And one of the biggest adjustments has been implementing a study schedule that MUST follow in order to get my work complete in time. The slightest illness, late meeting, or conference can throw me completely off. I never worried about my schedule before being an online student. I have had to really think about what I need to do in order to succeed as a learner. I think back to my senior year as an undergraduate. One of the graduation requirements was to create a portfolio. The portfolio needed to contain things like lesson plan samples, student work, assessments, and our own philosophy for teaching. I remember centering my philosophy around what probably 90% of teachers believe or say – “Every child can learn.” That was almost seven years ago. Now, I do believe that all children can learn but my philosophy of learning encompasses more than just that now. I now know believe in equipping students with the necessary tools to learn. These tools need to be founded on theory and research before I introduce them to my students. I incorporate instructional strategies into my classroom that are based in behaviorist (learning objectives, reinforcement, tutorials), cognitivist (chunking, images, visual cues, graphic organizers), and constructivist (authentic assessment, choice, student voice) theories. I think what we cannot do is rely solely on one theory to influence how we teach our students. Multiple theories would not exist if only one set of principles changed performance 100% of the time. However, that is not the case. How individuals learn is not one size fits all; it can even change from environment to environment i.e. my experience with online learning that I mentioned earlier. The key is being knowledgeable about different learning theories, and the resulting instructional theories, in order to knowledgeable shape our instruction to meet the needs of our diverse students. References Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Technologies

                I remember being given the task of acting as a sort school expert for our computer-assisted instruction program upgrade.  Once I completed my training, I had to present what I'd learned to my colleagues and help them with any questions they may have had.  Teachers were expected to create lessons for students and monitor student progress using the program.  However, very few teachers were following suit.  The administrator looked to me to help those who clearly complained about the difficulty they faced with getting started however none of these people reached out to me for help. I managed to create  a mini-manual for those who wanted one and personally helped a few people.  I then volunteered to hold a small tutorial session.  However, the administration never took me up on my offer.  Needless to say, the program is still used by very few teachers within my school.

                My colleagues low self-efficacy caused them to dismiss the benefits of this program because they feared they could not implement it correctly.  They also have negative expectations associated with the program i.e. more work for them, focus taken away from the standards.  If I'd had Keller's ARCS model for stimulating motivation to follow, I could have done the following things that may have motivated my colleagues more.

  • ·         Gaining and Sustaining Attention: My presentation could have gone beyond what the district had provided and I could have incorporated video  and small group discussions.  I could have also developed the mini-manual for the presentation and inserted color and graphics.

  • ·         Enhancing Relevance: I could have provided  my colleagues with data where the program enhanced learner performance so that the program wouldn't be seen as a distraction from their lessons.

  • ·         Building Confidence: I could have walked my colleagues through the process of setting up their classes and building assignments.  I also could have set them up in a class and had them work through a lesson themselves.

  • ·         Generating Satisfaction: I could then give them a month to practice with their students and then report back on their findings.  We could discuss what worked, what didn't, and plan our next step with the program.  This way, they are actively involved in the decision process.
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Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Talab, D. (2013, February 7). The ARCS model of motivational design-learner motivation. Retrived from 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Connectivism Mindmap

        My network has taken me from the realm of independent learner to collaborator and contributor.  It's much less demanding and tedious when you can pull from a pool of knowledge versus simply relying on what you, alone, know and understand.  This in turn, deepens my understanding because I have such a wealth of knowledge at my access.

        At home, I'm constantly connected by either my smartphone or IPad.  I also have my Kindle app downloaded to both and use it tremendously because I find that I read faster using my Kindle or eReader app than I do a physical text.  Being that I'm a visual learner, colorful graphic organizers help me as well, as do videos. 

        Now, when I have questions, I ask questions.  If I'm at work, I'll first ask my team leader and team members.  I'll also go to my administration if I have a question specifically for them.  I also rely on my organizational ties, such as the National Council for Teachers if English (NCTE), Aiken Council of the International Reading Association (ACIRA), Simple K12, Education Technology News, TES, Share My Lesson, and my new favorite, Teachers Pay Teachers.  I then take what I've learned and apply it in my classroom.  When I am at home and I come across a subject I'm interested in, first I'll either use Google or Bing to locate information.  If there is Wikipedia entry, I'll read that first and use the hyperlinks within the entry to further my understanding.  By the time I'm done, I've usually read four-five different resources on the topic.  Afterwards, I usually end of sharing what I've learned with my family and friends.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013


But I think we can see the very beginnings of a new story beginning to emerge.  It's a narrative spread across a number of different disciplines, in which cooperation, collective action and complex interdependencies play a more important role.  And the central, and not all-important, role of competition and survival of the fittest shrinks just a little bit to make room. (Rheingold, 2008).
     In nature there are many examples of species that when they procreate, they leave their young to fend for themselves (i.e. snakes and turtles).  However, humans do not; we have what is known as the family unit.  In my classroom, my students readily rely on me as their instructor and one another to complete their tasks.  One of the first questions out of their mouths after I give instructions is "Can we work together?"  I do believe that most humans have an intrinsic desire to interact and work with others.   
     The constructivist theory is centered around authentic instruction or realistic learning that challenges learners to reason and think critically.  Collaboration can help ease the challenge of authentic instruction as technology can help facilitate collaboration.  Collaborative learning through social negotiation, can help learners with retention, understanding and use (Driscoll, 2005).  Web-based collaboration can provide problem scaffolding as learners have access to knowledge experts and online support.  "In this way, students can identify learning goals, conduct investigations, keep track of their progress, think about their ideas and those of others, and communicate to others within and outside the immediate learning community" (Driscoll, 2005, p. 404). 

     Huang-Yao Hong conducted an 18 week study in which two fifth grade science classes participated in online collaboration.  Hong desire to see the effect of knowledge building pedagogy and technology on these students' views of collaboration.  The study found that students were able to gradually work together beyond group collaboration and "that knowledge building pedagogy, as compared with conventional instruction, is more likely to help students develop a more idea-centered view of collaboration"(Hong, 2011, p. 256)

     Janelle Turk conducted an action research study when she desired to promote collegial collaboration among the students at her middle school and the special education students.  The study had two specific goals: 1) " involve the art club and life skills students in a collaborative and inclusive project at FMS" (Turk, 2012, p. 51); and 2) " create change in both the physical appearance of the life skills room and social change among the participants" (Turk, 2012, p. 51).  It was found that the use of authentic instruction, collaboration, and inclusion provided a life-changing experience for all involved.

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Huang-Yao, H. (2011). Beyond group collaboration: Facilitating an Idea-centered view of collaboration through knowledge building in a science class of fifth-graders. Asia-Pacific education researcher20(2), 246-260.

Rheingold, H. (2008, February). Howard Rheingold on collaboration [Video file]. Retrieved from

Turk, J. (2012). Collaboration, inclusion, and empowerment: A life skills mural. Art education65(6), 50-53.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cognitivism as a Learning Theory

         _isms are important but use them as a filter, not as a blinker (Kerr, 2007).  I agree with Bill Kerr's statement.  I believe that learning theories serve as a guide for thinking about how we learn.  As an educator, I shouldn't rely on one sole theory to guide my instruction.  "Under a close analysis of the behaviorist, cognitivist, and constructivist schools of thought, many overlaps in the ideas and principles become apparent" (Ally, 2008 ,p.20).  Behaviorist strategies lends itself to certain tasks, as does cognitivism, as does constructivism.  Though dominate during different times in educational history, they all serve a purpose and can be built one upon the other to reach learners.  "Behaviorists' strategies can be used to teach the facts (what); cognitivist strategies, the principles and processes (how); and constructivist strategies to teach the real-life and personal applications and contextual learning" (Ally, 2008 , p. 39).
        Karl Kapp (2007) states that we need to  "take the best from each philosophy and use it wisely to create solid educational experiences for our learners."  I couldn't have said it better.  Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, connectivism, and etc, can exist harmoniously within instruction and the use of educational technology.  The reality is that one model cannot explain the multifaceted world of learning.  Education, as has been proven over and over again, is not one size fits all.  

       The reality is that one model cannot explain the multifaceted world of learning.  Education, as has been proven over and over again, is not one size fits all.  

Further Reading:

Ally, M. (2008). Foundations of educational theory for online learning. In Anderson, T. (Ed.), The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.) (p. 15-44). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.
Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about: Discussion on educational schools of thought [Web log post]. Retrieved from
[Untitled image of people holding hands]. Retrieved December 29, 2012 from

Monday, June 17, 2013

Learning Theory and Educational Technology

          I feel that people learn best when they are relaxed and supported.  In order for that to occur, they need to be in an environment in which they trust those around them, whether it be a face-to-face or online setting.  So I believe the sense of a trusting and supporting community should be established before learners are able to branch out and find what works for them.  " distance education, attention needs to be paid to the developing sense of community within the group of participants in order for the learning process to be successful" (Palloff & Pratt, 2007, p. 40). 

          At this point, students are able to explore or implement the appropriate strategy to meet their needs.  Learning theory would not exist if not for the matter that people learn differently.  Every learner will not succeed with solely behaviorist strategies, solely cognitive strategies, or solely constructivist strategies.  Content needs to be presented in a variety of forms to meet the needs of diverse students.  Learners can then choose the appropriate strategy to meet their needs.

          Effective instruction is informed by theories of learning, whether face-to-face or online.  They help the instructor to determine the needs of his/her students and then assign the appropriate materials for the learners to select from.  In designing a course, a combination of theories, from behaviorist to emerging theories like connectivism, should be used to develop materials.  "Strategies should be selected to motivate learners, facilitate deep processing, build the whole person, cater to individual differences, promote meaningful learning, encourage interaction, provide relevant feedback, facilitate contextual learning, and provide support during the learning process" (Ally, 2008, pp. 18-19).  Learning theory should help in providing diversity to learners as they represent a wide array of learning cultures, styles, and motivations.

Ally, M. (2008). Foundations of educational theory for online learning. In Anderson, T. (Ed.), The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.) (p. 15-44). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson    

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Identify an Emerged Technology: Virtual Classrooms

Virtual K-12 Classrooms

                In the past decade, there has been an a steady increase in the presence of virtual K-12 classrooms.  More and more teachers are using course management software in their classrooms to supplement their lessons.  Districts are also designing and operation their own online schools as well as cyber charter schools are popping up and operating as their own school districts.
                Though it is quite evident that there is a steady trend in the development of more and varied types of virtual classrooms, there hasn't been much research to support the outcomes of a virtual classroom when compared to the performance of those students within an traditional K-12 classroom setting.  There are mixed findings about online education and most of the studies conducted do not compare the two classroom settings to examine the effectiveness of virtual K-12 classrooms. (Carnahan, 2012).  Also, with virtual classrooms, there are challenges in designing online classrooms as well as evaluating its effectiveness.   There is also the concern over the amount of interaction students have with the teacher.  Within an virtual K-12 classroom, student s need to have a high level of self-efficacy to ensure achievement.  Finally, not every person will have access to this type of technology due to the equipment (Internet, Wi-Fi, computers, etc.) and appropriate staff needed.
                Virtual K-12 classrooms do have benefits concerning student achievement.  The U.S. Department of Education (Patrick & Powell, 2009)found that:
·         "Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.
·          Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.
·         Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection."
Virtual classrooms allow students to receive a somewhat customized education that allows a greater level of flexibility than they would have in a face-to-face classroom.  Virtual K-12 classrooms can also be used to help students recover credits they failed to receive in a traditional classroom or take advance classes they may not have access to in their own schools.  This type of instruction also allows parents the opportunity to preview the curriculum.  This is especially important for parents who may have concerns or conflicts with their religious beliefs.  To combat the stigma of isolation, more and more socialization opportunities are being and can be implemented for students within a course or virtual school to participate in outside of the online environment (Carnahan, 2012).
                Carnahan (2012) found through his study that virtual K-12 students perform at least at the same level of those students who are enrolled in the traditional K-12 classroom.  Throughout it all, this immersive learning allows students to be engaged through simulations, provides them with  immediate feedback, helps them to construct their own learning, and practically apply the knowledge they've gained. 


Carnahan, C. D. (2012). The Effects of Learning in an Online Virtual Environment on K-12 Students . Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Patrick, S., & Powell, A. (2009). A Summary of Research on the Effectiveness of K-12 Online Learning. Vienna: InternatIonal Association for K-12 Online Learning.