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.

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