Note for Dr. Moller: I have posted on the following two blogs for this module: Sarah Dillahunt’s blog http://sarahdwaldenu.blogspot.com/ and Toni Duke’s blog http://momtech-eeducatorblogger.blogspot.com/.
Learning in a Digital World
The elements that I consider to be critical and non-negotiable in teaching and learning are based on multiple learning theories, although my focus is centered mostly on constructivism. In other words, learning is a complex matter in which it seems impossible to conceive of a single theory broad enough to encompass all important aspects of learning and yet still specific enough to be useful for instruction (Driscoll, 2005, p. 411). We have little choice but to work together, adding to the body of knowledge ways in which we can help to improve instruction. Hopefully, as educators in America, we can come up with new learning and/or instructional theories that will help to keep Americans creative in this fast-paced competitive digital age. As teachers, we should encourage our students to grow different intelligences that would help him or her to achieve the required learning goal. Behaviorism served the purpose of accessing students’ mastery of learning objectives. Cognitivism served the purpose of promoting students’ motivation. Constructivism served the purpose of students’ learning in a social environment, as they work together to make sense of their experiences (Driscoll, 2005, page 387). On the otherhand, in this digital age, connectivism served the purpose of an instructional theory in that it identified methods that will best provide the conditions under which learning goals will most likely be attained (Reigeluth, 1983). Connectivism as an instructional theory, supports constructivism as in which Siemens urged educators and designers to move with the times in assisting learners in making use of information in today’s digital world (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). In essence, what I believe to be critical and non-negotiable in teaching and learning, is an ongoing patch work of present learning theories and instructional theories that are related to the required learning outcomes.
Like many doctoral students today, I have experienced learning in both online and face-to-face learning environments. Technology has not changed the way we learn as individuals, although it does have an impact on our learning environment. In short, what it means to know has not changed; however, the means might have changed in this digital era. Result or outcome is part of Driscoll’s list of three basic components that are needed for building a learning theory: results, means and inputs (Driscoll, 2005, p. 9). How students learn best in this technological era depends on the learning outcome and whether the means and input work well with that required learning outcome. Therefore, learners’ results (or learning outcomes) will be affected if the means and inputs are lacking. From what I have seen, often learners who are well connected and resourceful online tend to stand a better chance of performing well in school these days. Judging from my experience, face-to-face learning versus online learning is by far richer in respect to richness of media. In 2002, Qureshi, Morton, and Antosz expressed that students in distance learning were less motivated than their on-campus counterparts. In contrast, during 2007, Huett, Moller, Harvey and Engstrom revealed that groups have a motivational impact on learners in an online environment, although the impact was not transferable to changes in students’ attitudes. Also, as sited in Huett et al. (2007), Kruger (2000) explained that students in distant learning are capable of developing meaningful relationships with faculty and fellow students when they engage in learning communities “unbound by the barriers of time and place” (p. 59). Going by my experience, face-to-face is a richer form of learning than online learning, of which I have seen some disturbing differences between the two forms of learning. For instance, I recall feeling isolated during my MBA online program to the point where I felt like dropping out entirely. Despite the numerous means of communal support that were introduced, I felt lonely. Fortunately, I came across an ex-class mate from one of my onsite undergrad classes who was enrolled in the same MBA program but onsite. We would meet occasionally with the aim of making sense of everything. One thing remained with me was that the onsite equivalent MBA program was not as challenging as the online version. For example, once I had to submit a five sheet excel work book for one of my courses, while my friend onsite only had to submit a single sheet! It seems that teachers online tend to stick with the curriculum, while those onsite might tinker with it, making it less challenging for learners. My impression of online learning versus face-to-face learning is that while online learning is convenient in that learners can work at their own pace asynchronously, learning online is strict and demanding for both the teacher and the learner.
Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Huett, J.B., Moller, L.A, Harvey, D., & Engstrom, M.E. (2007). Examining the use of learning communities to increase motivation. Information age publishing
Qureshi, E., Morton, L. L., & Antosz, E. (2002). An interesting profile: University students who take distance education courses show weaker motivation than on-campus students. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 5(4).
Reigeluth, C. M. (1983). Instructional design: What is it and why is it? In C.M. Reighluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Siemens, G. (2006), Connectivism Learning Theory [Video file]. Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer) Baltimore: Author.