Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Connectivism

Here's a mind map I drafted on my education network.  Below it are some thoughts on why it is drafted this way.

Connectivism deals with networks and how they help us learn.  My network consists of six major branches.  The first three, on the left, are my home base of people support.  Family is first.  Without them I couldn’t have started a degree program.  Most of my responsibilities after work revolve around them and they continue to be my biggest and best support network.  Then friends from church, of whom Tim is foremost.  I get a lot of support from work.  My boss helps me with the resources I need for class.  Terry takes classes at Walden in a different program and we encourage each other. 
Walden has many supporting people and features that have helped me through the first couple of courses.  My counselor helped me with enrollment and program.  My instructors have helped me by providing challenging and interesting material to study.  Fellow classmates encouraged me to think and respond to their questions and comments.  My internet network includes this blog, LinkedIn and Facebook.  These have been less helpful because I’m not too social.  This is an area I need to work on to get better at it.  Resources are the other-than-people aspects of my support network.  One of the foremost of these is the Walden library.  This is my source for all things class related when it comes to my study materials.  There is little that isn’t found there.  The other side of the chart is my home communications network so that I can get and post assignments to my classes.  Together these help me learn and grow with Walden.
Questions are handled in a couple of ways.  When I have questions for an instructor, there is a link to leave them.  The great thing about this link is that it is seen by all of my classmates, as well as the instructor.  My classmates can answer and add to the question.  The instructor’s answer and comments are seen by all.  The other area in which questions are asked is in the group discussions.  We ask questions of our classmates and they respond, often with questions of their own.  It is a great part of the course and where most of the learning occurs.
These pieces of my network fully support Connectivism.  Many people think you need to be in a face-to-face classroom to network successfully.  Not in today’s technology driven world.  Interface today occurs by such tools as Skype, conference calling, video chatting and webinars.  Discussing subjects in an online classroom can be as effective as in a room in a building.  Actually, one of the benefits of an online classroom is that I can think of how I want to word my answer as I write it.  Not so in a typical classroom.  Once I speak the answer it is out there for all to hear.  I’m just saying, with the way I speak before I think, the online room is much safer. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017


I was looking for some resources that highlight information processing theory and came across two that I think you’ll enjoy reading.  The first of these is an article found in Cornell University’s Human Ecology (Booker, 2013).  The url is from Walden’s library and is: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=4283b221-7eb5-4ae8-8b7b-0dfa38a7e1a3%40sessionmgr4009&vid=3&hid=4210.

The cite for the article is: Booker, K. (2013). A Window Into the Brain. Human Ecology, 41(2), 4-7.

Dr. Valerie Reyna, a neuroscientist at Cornell’s Ithaca campus, uses MRI technology to map brain activity when we think and react to various stimuli.  This allows researchers to predict the areas of the brain that will react to certain stimuli and map those reactions.  They are looking at what happens in the brain when a person is experiencing various feelings, such as happiness and depression.  Dr. Reyna compares this use of MRI technology to study the brain to the use of microscopes to study cells.  This article is well written and provides good and interesting.  It provides information into a new use of MRI technology to help us understand what goes on in the brain when we have different feelings and think on different things.  An understanding of how different stimuli affect emotional responses can help us understand how the brain processes information.  We know that people learn and retain the information more when it is tied to emotions.  This insight may allow instructional designers to develop training that affects emotional responses, making the training more effective to learners. 

            The second article deals with the adolescent brain (Bessant, 2008).  The url is again from Walden library’s database and is: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=4bdd40b8-42c5-44cc-a67e-41388273088c%40sessionmgr4006&hid=4210.

The cite for the article is: Bessant, J. (2008). Hard wired for risk: neurological science, ‘the adolescent brain’ and developmental theory. Journal of Youth Studies, 11(3), 347-360.

The article begins by saying that much of what research has said about the way the adolescent brain functions has been wrong.  Youth have been stereotyped as causing problems so they should be given certain responsibilities later in life.  The author, Judith Bessant,  disagrees with this, feeling that youth should be given the opportunity to learn from responsibility so they can make good decisions on their own.  Dr. Bessant brings in MRI technology on pp 351 to say that it may not show everything going on in the brain.  There may be activity that it is unable to register.  This doesn’t refute the first article but says that MRI technology cannot show us everything going on in brain activity.  Even when we observe parts of the brain firing synapses during an activity, the article states that there isn’t “a single one-to-one relationship between brain anatomy and mental experience of a behavior or perception” (pp 352). 

This article is well written and covers how research is conducted and then applied to try to create a mold of how a typical you should react in a given situation.  The article points out that the research is conducted primarily in laboratory settings and does not take into account the differences in how a person is brought up, their background and culture.  These play significantly in how a person reacts in a given situation, thus the areas of the brain involved in a reaction.  They can be very different in a group of people.  There is no one map that fits everyone.  When research is conducted with bias built into it, the researchers can direct the outcome to fit those biases.  This is important to instructional designers because we design the training for adolescents.  We need to be careful not to take a particular piece of research or theory at face value and base our design philosophy on it.  As Dr Artino, my teacher in Learning Theories and Instruction at Walden University, mentioned in a discussion, “Just having a theory of learning doesn't automatically mean we now know how to teach or develop instruction”.  Theories change but instruction needs to be developed to engage the students so they want to learn it and so they remember it.  I recommend this article because of the insight it brings to adolescent learning.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Welcome to My Blog

This is my first blog attempt and I'd like to welcome you all to it.  Being new to the field of Instructional Design I have a couple of comments to make.

Instructional design has changed directions in the past few years.  When I was in school we used a chalkboard, film projector and took typing.  Teachers taught from a textbook, we wrote notes in a paper notebook and took tests on paper.  Research was done in the Encyclopedia Britannica and in the library.  Over 30 years later not much has changed in school instruction.  Students now take keyboarding instead of typing, use DVDs instead of film and do research online using the internet.  Much of teaching is still done by textbooks and taking notes.  It’s not because of the lack of available technology but because of a severe lack of applying available technology to the classroom.  The same applies to the corporate classroom.  We have added PowerPoint presentations and some of the slides even have animation.  Students need to work hard at paying attention to the material being presented so learning is difficult.  Much more is needed to keep student interest and to help them learn.  These instructional design blogs will help me develop material that will hold their attention and help them learn the technical material being presented.

            The first of these blogs is called Upside Learning and the url is https://www.upsidelearning.com/blog/index.php/2010/05/20/30-top-online-resources-for-instructional-designers-to-keep-up/.  This site boasts “30 Top Online Resources For Instructional Designers To Keep Up With” and offers a wealth of valuable information on different aspects of instructional design.  The individual sites range from technology to K-12 classroom help to corporate help.  I highly recommend this site as a starting point for instructional designers.  The layout is easy to follow.  Across the top you can choose from the following:  Home   eLearning (184)   Learning Management (3)   Mobile Learning (177)    All Categories.  The 30 online resources are displayed in a vertical list structure so you can scroll down and pick the link to the ones that interest you.  The blog offers bloggers to input information on helpful sites that may be added to the list.  The author, Amit Garg, includes his blog as one of the top choices, which was a nice humorous touch.  With so many resources in one location, this is a site I will visit often.

            The second site I found is Christy Tucker’s blog called Building Engaging Learning Experiences through Instructional Design and E-Learning.  The url is https://christytucker.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/instructional-design-and-e-learning-blogs/.  The site begins with a list of instructional designer sites.  These vary from sites specializing in elearning through games, corporate strategies, virtual learning and more.  Following the list of instructional designers is a list of elearning sites that contain much the same information as the previous list.  There are sites for elearning involving technology, virtual reality and several on how-to incorporate elearning into training environments.  Last on the list is a section called Workplace Learning which includes elearning applications in the corporate arena.  The site is like similar to my first choice in that it is laid out well and easy to navigate.  One of the things I found interesting about this site is the “Hire Me” link.  Nice plug.  Like my first choice, this site has many resources in one location. 

            My third choice is a blog by Shanthi Priya Marla called Top 5 Blogs on the Best Practices in Instructional Design.  The url is http://blog.commlabindia.com/elearning-design/best-blogs-on-instructional-design-practices.  The five blogs are each presented with an introduction followed by a link to learn more.  The blog ends with an endorsement on the five blogs by the author and asks for feedback.  I come from a background of using Powerpoint presentations to teach subjects.  One of the links I found interesting was written by Phani Madhav.  It was on using elearning instead of animated Powerpoints to teach.  Ironic.  As I move from Powerpoint presentations towards the elearning world, this site will be helpful.

            Overall, I found these sites interesting and educational.  The blogs are in an easy to navigate format, which is always helpful to those of us who are old school in computer savviness.  I hope you will check them out.