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.