Monday, April 25, 2011


               As I reflect on all of the concepts learned in this course, the most surprising aspects were the brain functions and the zone of proximal development.   I have always known that specific psychological functions affect each learner’s ability to process information.  However, I was unaware of the components within the human nervous system and how each one plays a significant role in the learning process.  After reading chapter two, I was intrigued by the statements involving sensory neurons and distinct structures that make up the human brain.  “The human brain is an incredibly complicated mechanism that involves somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred billion neurons” (Goodman & Tessier-Lavigne, 1997).  This information helped me understand the similarities and differences in each learner’s behavioral patterns.
                Secondly, the zone of proximal development was an interesting concept. This concept makes perfect sense as to why certain things are so difficult to comprehend without additional help from a more knowledgeable source.  In the past, I have punished myself for my inability to comprehend specific subject matter.  I could not come to terms with the fact that I was unable to learn this information so to understand that there is a philosophy behind it is most helpful.
                This course has deepened my understanding of the learning process by thoroughly exploring the theoretical perspective behind each learning theory.  Each theory supports an individual’s learning process based on what the person is learning.  In the beginning, I believed that I could categorize my learning behavior in one theory, but I soon realized that I could relate to each learning theory depending on what I was learning.  I also understand that learning occurs over a period of time and the process is a complex one that involves a combination of all the learning theories. 
                I have also learned that every individual has a driving force that motivates them to succeed.  For most adult learners in the workforce, professional development is a motivation to learn more and have exposure to different business opportunities.  For children, motivation comes with succeeding at new tasks and being rewarded for desired behaviors.  The similarities between the two are the fact that learners enjoy gratification after the learning experience takes place.  We all have a strong desire to feel good about our learning experiences and to walk away knowing that we have accomplished something new.  The second piece that is also important to understand is that learning takes place in many forms.  There are people-oriented and task oriented learners.  While some learners find joy in accomplishing a task, others find that maximizing their learning through the development of others is the most gratifying.  In this course, I have learned that simple daily tasks can be classified as a learning experience. For example, checking your e-mail and/or Facebook page, using an Internet search engine and conversing with a close friend can all be viewed as learning and development experiences. Learning does not always take the form of reading a book or a trip to the library.  There is knowledge in everything that we do.
                As a new Instructional Designer, this course had many eye opening moments for me. I learned just as much from conversing with my peers in the class as I did from reading the text assignments.  The most valuable lesson learned is not to become complacent as an Instructional Designer.  An effective Instructional Designer knows that individuals learn differently and continuously looks for ways to incorporate various techniques and theories in their work. As the world changes, our technology progresses and learning styles change with it.  My most important takeaway is to be aware of the environmental, social and economic factors that influence the learning process all the time.


Goodman, C.S., & Tessier-Lavigne, M. (1997). Molecular mechanisms of axon guidance and target recognition.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fitting the Pieces Together

As I reflect on the last seven weeks, I have had some eye opening realizations. I was unaware of the various learning theories and how each one played such a significant role in my learning ability. In week one, I was asked the question, "Have you ever really thought about how you learned before now?" I answered the question with a "yes" and further explained how the behaviorist and constructivist theories best suit my learning style. Before week one, I had given a lot of thought to how I learned but did not know the correct terminology to express it. Additionally, I never knew that my daily learning interactions were supported by different theories.

If we fast forward to the present, with seven weeks of learning under my belt and more knowledge around the many learning theories, I would answer that question differently. The question now asks, "Now that I have a deeper understanding, how has my view changed since week one?" I must say that I had tunnel vision seven weeks ago. I was not connecting the dots before. The first thing I have learned is that there is not a "one size fits all" when it comes to the learning process. There are so many moving parts that make individuals successful at learning. When you think about the learning environment, social networks and media, technology, personal knowledge, etc., it explains why each individuals' learning experience is unique. Now that I have a deeper understanding, I see my learning style in every theory we have discussed. Connectivism really hit home for me because it speaks to the learners' environment and how we connect with different sources. In today's age of technology, this makes sense. The technology that we are exposed to now did not exist when I was an adolescent. Our main source for information back then was the library and/or encyclopedia. Now, we have Google, Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, and numerous blog sites to send and receive information. There is a massive amount of information out there to the point that is overwhelming and we can use technology to help us filter through it, pulling out only the pieces that you want and need to know.

I have evolved with time and can now see the role technology plays in my learning. As an Instructor, technology helps me to be efficient and resourceful. My facilitation skills have improved with the use of virtual classrooms, Microsoft Live Meeting and Intercall. I also see a change in the learner. My training participants are always so enthused to be a part of the virtual world, especially since most of them have been with the company for 20+ years and have never experienced that learning forum. As an adult learner, I prefer the online environment and the convenience that it provides. I was slightly resistant to change over from the traditional classroom to a virtual one. The driving force today is social interaction and how technology can take us to the next level. The old saying, "you learn something new everyday" is the most truthful statement out there!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Connectivism - Mind Map/Reflection

As I reflect on the resources noted in my mind map, I am grateful for the knowledge and experience each resource provides. First, I will begin with the technological resources. As a Corporate Trainer, it is necessary to continuously learn and master new technology and software to enhance my skill set and learner experience.  Three years ago, my primary role consisted of face-to-face training deliverables.  As the economic conditions changed, my organization redefined our role to include more cost effective ways to teach learners and still receive a comparable lift in performance improvement. With this in mind, the organization introduced Intercall and Microsoft Live Meeting. Intercall and Live Meeting allow me to facilitate training in a virtual world, while giving learners access to similar audio and visual components that are present in the classroom. Comparably, both tools allow me to create an interactive environment that sends and receives information based on the course concepts. Although the technical functionality can not replace the visual connection you receive face-to-face, each tool exposes the learner to different learning methods needed to assist with various learning styles.

Second, the Internet is a powerful resource for learning connections. LinkedIn and Facebook are two dimensions that are relatively new to me. LinkedIn and Facebook are two social networking sites that enhance my development personally and professionally. In terms of connectivism, both tools provide real world knowledge from the perspective of others who are directly affected. If I want feedback on a specific topic, I use both tools to reach out to individuals who I may not otherwise talk to on a regular basis. This is a profound way of receiving numerous view points and expanding my knowledge beyond my own thought process. With this information, I use the knowledge gained and provide real world examples to learners within my organization to create a debate or drive a certain point.

In addition to social networking sites, I cited a few Internet search engines and blog sites in my mind map. I frequently browse these sites to receive information. Connectivism is based on the principle that knowledge and learning takes place within the diverse opinion of others. What better way to gain one's opinion than through a blog site? As I peruse through these sites, I read various thought-provoking ideas and provide my own opinion on the subject matter. I find certain points that are similar to my own along with ideas that I strongly disagree with. I believe this insight provides a "worldly" view and prevents me from having tunnel vision. If I have a question, I can simply pose one to the author or other participants to receive feedback. I have referred colleagues to certain blog sites to gain their opinion which creates another avenue of healthy debate. In reflection, my mind map creates a network of ideas, information, images and reference points that support the connectivism principles.    

Monday, March 14, 2011

Learning and the Brain

I have come across two great articles that speak to the connection of learning and the brain.

The first article discusses the misperception of when and how often people learn.  It is often that you will hear the phrase, "You learn something new everyday" and the trueful fact is people do learn often. However, there are many things that fight against the brain's normal information processing functions. This list includes: teachers, designers, traditional schooling techniques, etc. The article continues to provide core principles and instructional techniques of brain-based learning. Every brain is unique in creation; so in learning, one must find meaning and purpose in what they learn.  I find this information relevant because the article discloses helpful information and solutions to ensure that the learner is engaged in a safe learning environment. There are also numerous thought-provoking blog posts from other readers. To read more, click the following:

The next article discusses cognitive brain functions, comparing it analogically to a computer. When I read this article, it reminded me of the points that Dr. Ormond made in the Information Processing and the Brain video. Comparingly, the article mentions "upgrading your cognitive skills" and "processing speeds" which is necessary to analyze and store infomation efficiently in the brain. The article goes on to provide six categories of cognitive skills and how brain training helps your brain move faster and better than before. I think this article is a great link to our class discussions in Week 2. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Learning and Development in the Workplace

As a Corporate Trainer, it is important to understand how individuals learn and the psychological processes that occur in the brain. A thorough knowledge of the learning theories, design models, and the difference between training and educating is crucial. There are numerous theories and models that support an individual’s learning process.   As I researched this topic, here are a few insightful articles and blog sites that speak to this topic.
The first resource that I will share is Jack Shaw’s Training and Development blog.  The blog post focuses on the difference between training and teaching.  The blog gives a side-by-side comparison of the two and how trainers and teachers can be equally described. What interests me about this article is the reference to training being the “how to” and teaching being the “why”.  There are several training related blog posts and categories ranging from Adult Learning to Talent Management.  I found this to be an interesting read.  This site will serve as an informative ongoing resource for comprehensible training topics.  If you are intrigued to learn more, click on the following link:
The second resource is Michael Hanley’s E-Learning Curve Blog which speaks on blog and web-based eLearning, technology in education and continuous professional development. In the referenced article, “Constructivism in Workplace Learning and Development”, Michael shares his view on the constructivist approach to workplace learning.  The article continues to provide background information on Educational Psychologist, Jerome Bruner, and Bruner’s assertion that learning can occur without observable, apparent behavior.  I enjoyed reading Bruner’s take on the Instructor’s role in the learning process.  He states that the Instructor’s main responsibility is to help learners discover principles by themselves and to build on what the learner has already absorbed.  This process occurs through engaging dialogue between the Instructor and learner.  The article concludes with Handley sharing Bruner’s Learning Spiral which symbolizes a structured learning model that takes the individual through a sequence of stimulating learning methods.  To view this article, click on the following:
The next resource that I would like to share is the Instructional Design Process found on the Repro Line’s, The Reading Room site. Being new to the Instructional Design role, I found this article extremely significant.  The article provides information on all components of the Instructional Design process from the simple definition to a breakdown of the ADDIE model.  I feel the article is a great refresher for experienced designers and a must read for beginners like myself.  I will use this resource as a guide to ensure that I am in touch with the basics of the ID process.  The full article is available through the following link:

The next article, “Instructional Design in Elearning” compliments the previous article well. It not only builds on the definitions and processes, but also provides alternative ID models.  In this resource, George Siemens explains how the role of an Instructional Designer has become relevant in Elearning.  The basis of this article revolves around the Instructional Designer’s objective which is “to serve the learning needs and success of students through effective presentation of content and fostering of interaction.” (Siemens, 2002)  To read more, click: