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Fitting the Pieces Together

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Text messages.  Email.  Google searches.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Instagram.  Video conferencing.  We are inundated with technology on a daily basis, so it is only befitting that the educational sector see it as a viable method of instruction.  Through this course, I have been introduced to so many different resources available to educators.  I must admit though, I was quite overwhelmed the first two weeks of the course.  I am so happy that I was tenacious in my desire to successfully complete this course!

 During the first week of my learning theories course, I identified the cognitive theory as my theory of choice because I felt it coincided with how I learn best. The cognitive theory allows the learner to create knowledge through the learning experience.  This theory recognizes that learning does not occur in a bubble; it is a collective effort made of several interactions with the learner’s environment.  According to Ertmer and Newby, “Cognitivist theories emphasize making knowledge meaningful and helping learners organize and relate new information to existing knowledge in memory,” (1993).

 Based on what I have learned the past several weeks, my view on how I learn has not changed.  What has changed is my knowledge of various learning theories and how critical it is to consider the learning preference of my current and future students.  The use of technology can be an effective instructional tool only if it is implemented properly.  According to Lim, “Learners may get lost due to the navigation aspects of interface, become de-motivated or fail to make connections in the knowledge they have constructed; as a result, they become disengaged from the learning process,” (2004).  As a result, the technology has to be appropriate and related to the learning.

 The primary role of technology in my learning is it allows me to stay current on the latest and greatest resources in the industry.  Knowing what’s available helps me to maintain my competitive edge in an industry that is always changing.

 

Ertmer, P.A. & Newby, T.J. (1993).  Behaviorism, cognitivism, cognitivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective.

Lim, C. P. (2004). Engaging learners in online learning environments.  TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 48(4), 16–23.

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Mapping Your Learning Connections

Much of what we know about education and learning has evolved immensely over the past 20 years.  Not only has the field changed, but the focus of how educators relate and teach learners has also transformed.  The 21st Century learner demands to be challenged creatively and intellectually, and therefore will not settle for an hour long course delivered primarily through lecture.  Students need to be involved; they must connect.

 Connectivism theory recognizes that learning extends beyond the four walls of a classroom or training facility by incorporating technology, social networks, and information.  This theory allows the learner to use various technological resources to grow their knowledge base and also become a conduit for others.

When I begin to think about creating a mind map that would reflect my network connections, I had to decide on the categories I wanted to explore.  I finally narrowed the categories to the following:  Education, work, technology, social network, secondary educators, and spiritual.  As I begin to place my connections in this format, I quickly begin to see how strong my educational network is – which is not a surprise.  I love learning and my thirst for knowledge has provoked me to seek those sources that would satisfy my need to know.

My networks have molded the way that I receive, process, and retain new information.  When I was in high school, my 11th grade teacher told me how good my writing was and that I should pursue a career in writing.  Those words led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in English and later publish my first book.  When I have questions, I reach out to one of my contacts in my network and sometimes I will be referred to another contact within my network, or possibly a new contact.  I also use the Internet to view innovations in the field and to gain tips on how I can use them in training.  One of these advancements is incorporating digital resources in learning.

The training and development industry is focused on providing effective training at the lowest cost.  Digital resources are an important part of this objective.  This becomes critically important when there are multiple locations.  Currently, we use GoTo Meeting, Webex, and Citrix to communicate with other locations.

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The Brain and the Adult Learner

I am currently enrolled in a Learning Theories and Instruction course and this week’s focus is on the brain and how it processes information.  It is very enlightening to understand how brain functions directly affect a person’s ability to absorb and retain information.  I have worked in training and development for almost 10 years.  I have trained many learners from diverse backgrounds, experience levels, and age groups, so I am keenly aware of the need to adjust how I deliver information to meet the need of learners I teach.  However, reviewing the following articles on the brain and processing information, have disrupted my curriculum!

In Mind Your Brain: Why Lifelong Learning Matters, Lucas discusses how imperative it is for educators not forget the aging population.  He further suggests that trainers use their understanding of the key principles of adult learning to improve learning at work,” (Lucas, 2005).  He also discussed implementing the following during the educational process:

  1.  Allow more time for people to process experiences and learn new things
  2. Use older workers as mentors
  3. Provide for regular comfort stops

With this information in mind, I’m not sure I’ve done enough servicing older adult learners.  The working population is aging and many times they are shoved to the side and mistreated when they have the knowledge and experience companies need to grow business.

In “Teaching problem-solving skills to adults,” Jozwiak interviews representatives from the work force and higher education to discuss problem solving skills in the workplace.  The article focuses on college graduate who have the technical ability jobs require, but lack soft skills i.e. teamwork, communication, effective listening, paying attention to detail, and problem solving (Jozwiak, 2004).  Workers new to the field or recent graduates have to rely on the industry for these skills because these topics were not taught in college.  The representatives from higher education agreed they could do more to prepare students for the real world by teaching these soft skills.

From this week’s lesson, I have learned that the brain is more than an organ functioning in my skull.  It is a refined piece of machinery that can be expanded when it processes information.  As an educator I am responsible for teaching and expecting the learner to use what is imparted.

Jozwiak, J. (2004). Teaching problem-solving skills to adults. Journal of Adult (1), 19-34. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/204583669?accountid=14872

Stewart, B., & Waight, C. (2008). E-learning teams and their adult learning efforts in corporate settings: A cross analysis of four case studies. International Journal on ELearning, 7(2), 293-309. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/210328789?accountid=14872

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Blogging Newbie – In Search of “Blentors”

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I must admit – incorporating e-Learning tools into my training sessions is daunting to me.  There I said it!  Yes, I am able to troubleshoot basic technological issues and handle complex training issues.  But there is something about e-Learning that has me shaking in my educational boots.  However, if I want to advance in my career and be the best resource I can be, this is a must!

 I am new to blogging and I am looking for a few good mentors hence the title.  I must say, I feel like I have the master key that has accessed the doors of colleague collaboration and knowledge sharing.  For the past several hours, I found bloggers that peaked my interest by either challenging my thinking or by calming my training nerve because I know I am not an island.  Here’s my take on a few of them:

Internet Time, by: Jay Cross

From the very first sentence, Jay had me captivated.  In his post “Tell Me Why,” Jay asks the question “What on earth has led us to a situation where corporations overwhelmingly invest in formal training but workers overwhelmingly learn informally?”  What a huge wake up call to trainers who spend hours of preparing lessons and facilitating lessons that result in ZERO culture change in the organization.  Jay also discusses the differences between informal and formal and why it is so difficult for corporate leadership to understand or even care to address the true educational needs of their employees.

Jay has been coined the “informal learning guru” because he is credited with inventing the term e-Learning.  He also developed the first online courses for the University of Phoenix.  Jay’s wealth of knowledge and insight into the field of e-Learning will help me as I blaze my own trail.

 Grad Program in T&D at Roosevelt University, by: Nancy Solberg

 This blog is sponsored by the Training and Development Department at Roosevelt University.  I have over 10 years of experience in formal training, with some webinar and LMS application.  The information available is relevant to those new to the field, as well as seasoned professionals. 

In the latest post, guest blogger Nancy shares that her company has made the transition from instructor-led to Web-based training (WBT).  The organization as a whole was very supportive in this decision and the staff seemed to enjoy the use of technology.  However, feedback from the staff suggests the current e-Learning solutions are boring, so gamification is currently being explored as an option.  Her goal is to transfer work scenarios into an engaging method of training.  Nancy asks readers who have implemented gamification to share their experiences.

Let’s save the world from boring e-Learning!, by: Cathy Moore

Cathy Moore is known as a thought leader, who specializes in performance improvement, instructional design, and e-Learning.  Cathy is where I see myself in my professional future.  She has traveled all over the world with the purpose of “saving the world from boring e-Learning!  Her clients include Microsoft, Pfizer, the US Army, UNICEF, and New York University, just to name a few.

In her latest post “Is training really the answer? Ask the flowchart, Cathy provides a different approach to the “We need training” statement we have all heard hundreds of times.  To most, a performance problem equals a training need however, if the source of the issue is environmental or motivational, a formal training course may not address the issue.  The use of the flowchart helps the trainer / designer ask the right questions to develop correct resolution.  The intent of the post is summarized in this closing statement, “The time we don’t spend on creating unnecessary training becomes time we can invest on designing much higher quality activities.”

Cathy’s blog seems to be focused on assisting instructional designers and educators to be the right resource to their clients and learners.  Her writing is concise, easy to understand, and very practical.  She has developed the “e-Learning Blueprint,” a resource that displays information in a way that’s visually appealing.  A link of the program is available on her site.  She also includes a schedule of her workshops and webinar sessions and from what I can tell, it would be well worth the investment!