I was a firm believer that all I needed to learn was a tablet computer and the internet. Searching for information is remarkable easy and I can do it almost anywhere. There is nothing to prevent me, aside from my own limitations, from learning about a subject in a parking lot. What I have come to realize though is while I can learn anything I wish, I can DO anything I wish with the power of a strong social group and mentor.
The powerful role of social groups for learners surprised me. Multiple theories propose that learning within a social environment can help students retain information and place it into context. This applies even to elearning courses where face to face interactions do not occur. Regardless of the type of learning theory you choose you focus on, the idea of interacting with classmates and instructors in order to solidify understanding of a topic is an important realization as an instructional designer.
One of the phrases that stuck with me as an aspiring instructional designer was written by Clarissa Davis, Earl Edmunds, and Vivian Kelly-Bateman:
“Just like anything else that involves human experience or interactions, the act of learning does not happen in a vacuum. It is at the intersection of prior knowledge, experience, perception, reality, comprehension, and flexibility that learning occurs” (2008, p.1).
This recognition of prior experience is welcomed. I attempt to consider the prior knowledge of my students when teaching which, in turn, allows me to build context into the information. The goal is to help with the transfer of information and retention by ensuring the student can relate to the new content.
As for technology, I will use everything I can get my hands on. Internet searches and online databases are incredibly useful so long as the information can be verified. Content management systems allow me to build a course and track my student’s progress while a variety of content creation programs make my courses simple to navigate. As a student, the proliferation of internet access and mobile networked devices has allowed me to keep up with the pace of instruction regardless of my location.
Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved 9/30/2012 from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/