Learning Theories: Ever-Present in a Life of Learning

September 29, 2018

After reading the assigned articles for EC&I833 this week about learning theories, (Ah yes, you cannot have an education grad class without reading about and discussing learning theories 😊)

I have taken some time to reflect on my learning, my teaching and on my own children’s learning. I am currently on maternity leave and have only had my two children as my learning examples and have thought about how these theories apply to a two and half year old and a nine-month-old. Observing how they learn has become an interesting prospect.

I can observe behaviourism in my two-year-old when she learns how to act socially within and outside of our house. Through guided action and response, I watch her learn that if she hits her brother there will be a consequence or if she uses the potty there will be a reward. She learns what is expected of her through the responses she gets either from me or from her surrounding environment. These are things that cannot just be told to her but she must experience a number of times to understand the positive and negative consequences with each action. I observe behaviorism with my nine-month-old when he cries and realizes that he can get the attention of his mom or dad. I can also see the irony that, I too, am becoming conditioned in the same process. I use behaviourism in my classroom with my classroom management. It takes a little time to teach the students what responses will be attached to each action, but I believe that in order for it to work to the greatest affect, I need to be consistent.

I observe forms of cognitivism with my two-year-old when I see her using her knowledge of the alphabet to recognize written names in our family that are familiar to her or noticing the numbers that she has learned and seeing them on objects around the house or outside. Whereas my nine-month-old is learning which shape fits into the similarly shaped hole in his shape puzzle ball. In my classroom, I realize that forms of cognitivism are changing as the educational technology changes, such as memorizing math formulas or specific facts, such memorizing the authors of ten different books (or what I remember doing when I went to school) that can be looked up instead of storing in our memories.

I see the constructivism when my two-year-old who is used to eating popcorn corn-on-the-cob that is warm or having to blow on it when it is hot and then she goes to Happy Hallow where they have a sandbox of corn for the kids to play in and my daughter picks up the corn in her hand and confused say “hot?”. She has to create meaning to the fact that the corn she is playing with looks and feels different that the corn she eats and even though it is not hot it is still corn.

The impact that technology has on these learning theories has changed the way people learn. Knowledge storage is not as necessary for us because we have devices readily available to help us retrieve the new things we learn, such as a computer. We do not need to memorize phone numbers or dates because that information an be stored in our phones. Students do not need to memorize the times tables because they have access to some type of calculator that would do it for them. (Even still, I encourage my students to memorize their times tables despite these technologies).

Connectivism (created by George Siemens) depends on the connections one has within a network of connections to other people and other information. In my classroom students can understand that learning does not only occur from other people but from non-human appliances or that we can learn from a variety of opinions and not only from the opinion of one source. I found this short video to help outline the ideas of connectivism a bit better for myself:

Connectivism

Image result for examples of connectivism in the classroom

I find that my goal for life-long learning and teaching my students and children about is quite dependant upon me keeping up with the changing technologies so that I can assist my student with their learning. I know that I need to make more of an effort to continue to use new technologies in my teaching not just for the learning of my students but also for my own learning. This is where I need to implement the theory of connectivism into my teaching so that I am able to allow for the learning to be less individualized and more with the community in the rapidly changing digital world.

When I read about “the Learning Pyramid” I was surprised at first that I had not seen (or really recalled seeing) it before. Then as I read further to see that it was a debunked theory, I was glad not to be unfamiliar with it. It reminded me of an article I read (after a former professor of mine had mentioned it to me in one of my previous grad classes) about the debunking of the different types of learners “auditory”, “visual”, “kinesthetic” (as I have included here Learning Styles Debunked) because of the lack of evidence in supporting the research as is similar in the “Learning Pyramid”.

Image result for learning pyramid

There are multiple theories on learning but I think what is important is that learning is occurring in the classroom regardless of what I do as a teacher. I am not the only source of learning and thus need to be able to be aware of this so that I can assist my students in their learning journeys to allow for multiple learning experience through multiple learning sources. This too, leads to my ever-changing ideas and knowledge in teaching, where I too become a continuous learner.

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Response to Readings Week 2: “Historical Foundations” by Michael Molenda, “Five Things we Need to Know About Technological Change” by Neil Postman and “A Short History of Educational Technology” by Tony Bates

The SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition)

Image result for SAMR model

made me think about my own teaching and how I am still hovering between the Substitution and the Augmentation (sadly with more emphasis towards the S than the A). I have unfortunately been avoiding educating myself on many current technologies, especially in newer educational technologies, and have been relying on what I used when I began interning many years ago.

My excuse?

I’d like to say it was because my life was busy and I was spending so much time on creating and finding lesson plans, or technology seems to fail when I’m around, or (the big one) I’ll learn how to use it later. Well, later is now. Taking this course for EC&I 833 Foundations of Educational Technology: History, Theory and Practice is a perfect time to begin. Will I have it all figured out by the end of the course? I doubt it. But that is not my goal for taking this course. My goal for this course is to educate myself in the history, theory and practice of Educational Technology so that I can continue to improve my teaching practices in order to better educate my students in a way that they deserve and to contribute to my own life-long learning.

In the talk “Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change” delivered by Neil Postman I include his five points and my thoughts on each point. I am also adding in my ideas on two other readings: “Historical Foundations” by Michael Molenda and “A Short History of Educational Technology” by Tony Bates Chapter 6.2.

  1. Culture Pays a Price for Technology

In what ways do our technologies benefit us yet also come with disadvantages? The pen allows us to write words. The printing press allows us to read the written word. Yet this takes away from oral traditions and memorization. Television and radio have allowed for education in a different form than orally or written and mainly in a school-based situation. Maybe this will change the careers of educators; drastically change their positions? The iPhone has allowed for immediate access to all types of knowledge and instant communication. But has it created a de-socialized society? What prices will be paid next?

  1. There are always winners and losers in technological change.

Technology benefits some and yet could harm others. It is supposed to give us the ability to access all information. But what can we do with information if we do not know how to act? Just because we know how to fix something, doesn’t mean we are going to fix it. Postman mentioned how television could be the end of the career of school teachers (page 2) because schools were created because print became available to all people. This gave the teachers a job to teach reading, writing, and etc. But then the television can give the same information (and now computers and internet through such sites as YouTube and more) and people do not necessarily need to be completely literate. If you type something into Google to find out more information about it and you don’t really know how to spell it, Google will try to translate what you want to find. Is this what you mean?  Or it will type out the rest of your sentence. Once you have a basic idea you can watch videos about the topic you are enquiring upon. My husband built our deck and our cold room and other such building tasks around the house from YouTube videos. I am able to fix things, find gardening tips and tricks, recipes for cooking, and more from YouTube videos. We are bother educators ourselves, who never really thought about how this could perhaps make our careers obsolete one day. Already, I am able to take this class without leaving my house or buying a text book because everything is available to me through the internet. If education ends up becoming completing online, those who teach face to face will either need to adapt to technology or not will no longer be needed.

Technology has greatly improved the access of education to people that may not have had the opportunity to it. Technology such as the radio, the phonograph, television, computers, the World Wide Web and more have allowed for distance education to be possible as is discussed in Molenda’s article. So, these distance educational technologies have benefited those who cannot access education in face to face terms, to be educated.

  1. Every technology gives us a different way of thinking about, acting in response to, reacting upon and sensing the world.

Whatever technology we associate with becomes the way we respond to the world. As a teacher my job has a lot to do with the written word (and much more, but I will use this one to make my point). (Also discussed in further depth in the chapter “6.2 A short history of educational technology” by Anthony William (Tony) Bates.  I have also always love books and print in different forms. I love to read, I read to my children and will encourage them when they are older. I still prefer a concrete book, the smell, the feel, and even the fun bookmarks. But now, I am now getting more into audiobooks since I discovered an online app, (hibooks, which is like Netflix but with books), which I have come to love. I read (listen to) many of my books this way because I am either commuting to and from work or for family, busy with the kids or housework or yard work, or constantly on the move and find that I am too busy to sit down to read (mostly my sit-down reading is for my grad studies). My books and more recently, my Kindle, have been sadly neglected. The chaos of life (or maybe the expectation to have such a busy life) has kept me from being able to sit and read and the technology of portable and easily-accessible audio books has allowed me to continue my passion of reading and manage my life. As Postman said “to every person with a pencil, everything looks like a sentence” (page 3) I might say to me, with a book, everything looks like a story. But the culture of sitting down to read with an actual book is slowly being replaced by digital books or audio books. I have finished three books since I signed up for hibooks in the past month. If I had to have read a paper copy, I may have only read one or most of one because I rarely find the time to sit down to read them. So the changing technologies of today, from before have greatly improved my opportunities to read for pleasure.

  1. Technological change is not additive, its ecological.

We aren’t just society with technology, technology completely changes what we once were into something new. Before the iPhone (or whichever phone was the first to allow for the internet accessible in the palm of one’s hand, I haven’t researched this) the computer was one main (and only?) way to access the internet. Back then, you usually couldn’t use both the phone and internet because you had to use dial-up, which rendered the phone useless. Now, people are walking (or driving) around using their phones not just as a form of communication but to access the internet. This has led to a society that spends most of their social time ignoring one another but calling it social because they are in the same room with one another. You see people at restaurants, eating their food and not saying a word to each other because their eyes are glued to their phones. Our society has created (and continues to create) socially awkward or socially absent individuals. Has social anxiety always been an issue or has it just become more prevalent because of the lack of socialization of which children are exposed? What does the future hold for the children of today in regards to social protocols? Is the curriculum up to date to include the ways children interact with the increasing and changing technology of today and how to keep safe and healthy?

With the internet being readily available to people, it becomes a necessity for businesses to become digitized in order to survive. Most people prefer to check out restaurant menus online before going to eat there, to check a store or place online before going to shop, to shop online, or to answer their questions about a business online. You can buy your food and the grocery store on line and someone else with do the physical shopping for you! We are doing much more, but going out physically much less. We hide in our homes, behind our screens and talk to others who are in their own homes behind their own screens, never really needing to go outside for much anymore. I believe that this could possibly lead to a generation that no longer knows how to be face to face with another person or without a piece of technology to hide behind when things get awkward or boring. As an educator, I believe that we need to teach our students a balance of both and how to interact and use technology in a healthy way but also teach them how to manage without it as well.

  1. Media tends to become mythic.

Postman says that the myth of media is that it has always existed and is, in a sense, God given, instead of man-made. He gives the example of the alphabet and challenging you to think about when it was created. Children may think of it as always being and not as a man-made creation which leads to its idea of being mythic. For me, I was shocked as a child, to learn that the written word did not always exist, but was a creation of man (if you think about the Bible and the ten commandments I guess you could argue differently, but I did not think of this then). To learn that language was not always recorded (or even a thing in itself that had a beginning orally) was an interesting thing for me to learn. To fathom the beginning of something but not really quite understand the impact it would have had on a society. It wasn’t until much later (closer to the invention of the printing press as Postman has mentioned in this talk) that the written word became available to all.

Nowadays, children will come to learn that the internet didn’t always exist. It may excite them in the same way that I was excited about the invention of the written word. But, by then, there may be some other type of technology that complete changes society and another grad student will be reflecting back upon the technologies and the effects it has on his or her life.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Suess

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September 13, 2018

I’m reading up about technology and all its wonders as I begin my journey in EC&I 833 Foundations of Educational Technology. I have created a blog for the first time in my life and joined Twitter! I tweeted! Never done that before. Looking forward to the course and how much I will learn along the way.