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.


  1. Kanelia,

    I could not agree with you more! Students, whether children or adults, need to feel safe in a learning environment. Each students should feel safe in providing answers, opinions, and thoughts without the fear of being ridiculed by other students or the teacher/instructor.

    I instruct adults in an on-line learning environment and it is key to establish a sense of community before any learning can take place. The math course I instruct has four modules, and for each one, I have an icebreaker activity in order that students can get to know each other better. For example, my first icebreaker asks each person to post two truths and one lie about themselves. Other respond by guessing which one out of the three is the lie. In this way, the class gets to know each other on a personal level, which can help in having safe and welcoming discussion on the forum.

    Students should be allowed the flexibility to demonstrate their learning in a way in which they will be successful. For example, one student might want to write a letter explaining a concept because they write well, while another student, who is musically inclined, might write a song or a rap to explain the same concept.

    It is part of our job as educators to ensure that our students are allowed to demonstrate their learning in ways in which they are not only comfortable, but ways in which they will be successful.

  2. Konelia,

    Your post addresses both what teachers and course designers need to do in order to have meaningful, interactive, and motivating instruction. Do you teach online? If so, do you see a disconnect at times between what needs to be provided for students and what the instructional designer has provided? I wonder what you can do as a teacher to change the course then.