Friday, January 16, 2015

EDUC 7722 - Week 2 - Learning Theory and Distance Learning

The argument is made that it is not just the incorporation of technology in pedagogy that facilitates learning, but it is instead the design of the environment and the interactions and types of connections that the technology affords. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? How will you design your environment considering these concepts and the theories discussed?

When technology was first introduced into classrooms, I think the first part of the statement, "the incorporation of technology in pedagogy," probably facilitated learning. Most people did not have computers at home in the 1980's. Video games, the most visible computer software, consisted of eye-hand coordination challenges. Students were enthralled by the magic they could perform programming with BASIC. Even rote practice exercises seemed less dull using a keyboard and screen rather than paper and pencil.

Today's technology is very different. The utilitarian data processing machine has transformed into a playground of information, games, and "productivity" for all age groups. Television is now dull compared to the magic of apps and the Internet. When students can connect instantly in exciting ways to friends and strangers with a palm-sized device in their pocket, why should they expect any less from their school interactions on a computer?

In today's technology context, I fully agree with the second part of the statement, "the design of the environment and the interactions and types of connections" facilitate learning today. Teachers have been creating lessons based on the cognitive learning style since before the class of 2015 entered Kindergarten. Today's students have an expectation that they will be building off of prior knowledge. Material will be chunked or they will have been given an outline, the presentation of the material will engage their senses, and, if they are going to challenge themselves to learn it, the information in the lesson should seem "relevant" beyond the next summative assessment.

My work environment is the school's library media center. I started to look into the Learning Commons movement a couple of years ago. This vision posits the library as the academic and social hub of the school. This allows for much student independence, but in my relatively small space that is frequently used for testing and classes, it will not work. It would be too chaotic for my vision of the library as a productive work space.

Right now, when monitoring students from study hall, I fall back on Behaviorist-style prompts to keep students on task when their school tasks alone don't engage them. I see my design goal to be rely on Constructivism. Research and other library skills lend themselves to building on current knowledge and using it in the real world.

Storify - Learning Theories

Image from Jonathan Vernon's My Mind Bursts Blog.
Reference: Ally, M. Foundations fo Educational Theory for Online Learning. Chapter 1.

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