Winding Down or What’s it All About Ralphie?

Learning has always been something I thought I innately knew but could not really describe very well. How I viewed learning was not unlike how former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart felt about obscenity. In his court opinion on an obscenity case before the U.S. Supreme Court in the early 1970s he famously wrote, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced…[b]ut I know it when I see it…”. ] So when learning was the topic of conversation or mentioned in the media, I went along as best I could, but with a less than full comprehension of something that was essential to my career in the e-Learning training and educational field.

I may never fully comprehend, nor may anyone for that matter, the human learning process in its entirety, but I have come much closer over the past eight weeks in understanding the underlying mechanisms and processes that frame the current body of knowledge of the subject of learning. The foundational neurophysiology and psychological sections were for me was a critical component in that much of what I had learned previously on these topics either had changed or was erroneous.

At this point of my journey to become an instructional designer, my inclination is towards the cognitivist and behaviorist theories as being closer to the “ground truth” as to how people learn; however, the theories of constructivism, the concepts multiple intelligences and connectivism have shaped how I view the learning process and from my perspective these all have merit and are relative to the discussion.

It helps me to view the behaviorist and cognivist learning theories as internal or intrinsic processes that occur in the mind and this enables me to have a fairly coherent framework to build upon when it comes to understanding learning processes and individual learning styles and approaches. While connectivism and constructivism present for me an internal and external aspect that oftentimes seem to have blurred boundaries between the mind and external nodes or networks. I also see much promise in connectivism In fact, connectivism may hold the key to linking together the various theories and concepts into a more comprehensive whole as the role of learning technology and networks expands and becomes more and more an essential tool and process in the acquisition and application of knowledge.

From some angles it could be said that I had a fairly in-depth comprehension of much of what was presented in the course from my time working as an e-Learning courseware designer and developer. In this job I interact with official IDs, some with PhD credentials in their name, so through a process of interaction and absorption, I became aware of educational concepts such as Bloom’s Taxonomy, Kilpatrick’s Four Level Evaluation Model and the cognivist approach of Richard Clark’s Guided Experiential Learning (GEL). That being said I have to admit that my understanding of learning was shallow or at least sufficient enough to follow what was being provided by our in-house IDs in terms of lesson and courseware guidance that I was responsible for delivering.

In the beginning of this reflection post I said that I may never fully understand how we learn. That being said at least I can now misunderstand with better clarity. Perhaps of more of along the lines of a personal interest is now I can hold my own a bit better when discussing courseware and curriculum approaches with those at work that are already in the ID guild. This however might be enough.


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